Masters of MicroscopyMasters of Microscopy

Karl Deckart & Nikon: A Friendship for the Ages

Welcome to Masters of Microscopy: The People Behind the Lens, where we showcase and celebrate the individuals who are the heart of the Nikon Small World competitions. They are scientists, artists, researchers, educators, and everyday curious individuals who uncover the fascinating microscopic world around us.

Karl Deckart is no stranger to the micro-world and the secret universes that hide in plain sight. Synonymous with bubbles and microchips, the German photographer has placed a total of 26 times in the Nikon Small World competition since 1988. But before he was a distinguished artist and Small World winner, he was a student with a passion for photography.

Karl Deckart

At the age of 10, Deckart captured his very first subject, a mathematical compass, utilizing a simplified, at-home microscope. Over time, his interest in microscopy grew to include the groundbreaking technology that made feats of imagery possible. As Nikon is the world leader in digital imaging, precision optics and photo imaging technology, it was no surprise that Deckart acquired a Nikon Multiphot for all of his microscopy needs – setting the foundation for a long and prosperous friendship between both parties.

My goal has always been to capture an item at a high enough resolution to show it bigger than it is in nature, giving the audience a larger-than-life experience,” said Deckart. “The Nikon Multiphot with 4x5 camera was the perfect device to accomplish this."

In 1986, while stationed in Tokyo for work with Siemens, Deckart quickly realized how close in proximity his office and the Nikon headquarters were. From there, he made inroads with Nikon employees in the microscope business. These relationships prompted Deckart to photograph microchips for promotional purposes, bringing about images that would inspire a new generation of scientists and hobbyists alike.

Karl Deckart preparing a slide in his home office.

“I enjoy sharing with the public the colorful micro-motifs that please the eye of the beholder,” said Deckart. “In the last 10 to 20 years, IT has automated the microscopy industry and offered anyone with an interest in art a new avenue to explore.”

Deckart’s imagery was included in a video featuring the winners of the 1990 Nikon Small World competition.

Beyond his stunning achievements with Nikon Small World, Deckart has been featured in over 28 exhibits across the globe including installations in the United Nations Secretariat Building in New York, New York; the National Museum of Taipei in New Delhi, India; the Museum of Art and Science of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Be'er Sheva, Israel; the HumanOptics company in Erlangen, Germany, and many more.

Deckart’s image was featured on the Summer, 2008 cover of Nikon Pro Magazine.

He has also been featured in countless publications and contributed to the industry itself as the co-author of several books, including "Mittelformatpraxis," published in 1982 alongside Hans Bortsch; “Mikroskopia,” for Nikon USA in 2005; and "Expeditions into the Light", published in 2016 with five other authors.

To many, Deckart is considered an industry leader in the world of microscopy. Today, he continues to explore his passion for all things small and serves as a member of the Royal Microscopical Society in Oxford, United Kingdom. When he’s not peering into a microscope, you can find him outside enjoying nature, and the birds that inhabit his backyard.

A bald eagle and white-naped crane photographed by Deckart while in the United States.

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