Detailed Image of Dragonfly Eye

November 21, 2022



Photographer: Greg Parker 

Summary Author: Greg Parker  

Shown above is a full resolution, microscopic image of a dragonfly’s eye. The huge compound eyes of dragonflies are composed of up to 30,000 facets or little lenses. These compound eyes have a dorsal (upper) region that detects light directly from the sky above, and a ventral (under) region that collects light reflected off objects on the ground.

We humans like to think our eyesight is pretty good, and thanks in large part to our big brains, we have excellent vision. We rely only on three opsin genes, so we have three photoreceptors (cones), that are sensitive to blue, green, and red light. It turns out that the diversity of opsin proteins that animals have in their eyes is related to the quality of their vision. Dragonflies have between 15 and 33 such opsin genes, which should give some indication of just how well they can see.

Note that this image looks like it’s been taken with an electron microscope as it has an enormous depth of focus. However, the focus-stacking approach I use has a major advantage over electron microscope images in that the image is reproduced in real color!

Photo details: Both focus-stacking and assembling a mosaic are required to create an image such as this. I used a Canon 5D MkII DSLR and a L300BHTG research trinocular microscope, operating at a magnification of x20.


Hampshire, U.K Coordinates: 50.819444, -1.59

Related Links:

Blue Dasher Dragonfly

Ray Cannon's Nature Notes