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Camera for microscope

Posted by Sergey Sayamov  
Sergey Sayamov January 30, 2012 06:47AM
Recently I got a new trinocular scope AmScope SZ and now the problem for me is to choose the type of camera that will be used with scope (and order appropriate adapter). Here I have 3 options:
1. Use my non-SLR Canon g11
2. Use SLR Nikon D40x, but in this case I'll have to get another camera as I use it for non-microscopic photography
3. Use some different and cheap camera which will produce sharp and rightly coloured photos.

Is there some experience with canon g11 camera and D40x camera with taking microphotos? The most cheapest for me is to use canon g11, but I'm still not sure it's the best option.
What will you advice?
Douglas Merson January 30, 2012 11:43PM

I used to use a Canon G9 on my trinocular scope. I would chose the G11 over the D40 as there should be less inducted vibration.

Nikon DSLR cameras do not have the silent mode that some of the Canon DSLR cameras have. I have switched to a Canon T2i on a bellows instead of the Nikon D300. With the T2i there is no mirror or shutter action to induce vibration when using live view while shooting.

Mineralogical Research Company January 31, 2012 12:07AM

As Doug suggests, I would also stick with the G11. It's only a small investment to adapt the camera to the scope. When you have exhausted the possibilities of that setup, you will have also gained a lot of experience. Then, it would be logical to take the next step and invest in better equipment.

Have fun!
Jonathan Levinger January 31, 2012 05:00PM
I still use my old Nikon 4500 with an adapter both still available on eBay, but you are limited to 4MP.
See the non stacked image of Laurentianite trough Wild 3c at 4x with 10x lens in the adapter and Nikon 4500 and a ring light.
open | download - Laure2Ea.jpg (370.7 KB)
Robert Simonoff January 31, 2012 10:02PM
One thing I am learning and struggling with somewhat is the mirror lock up and shutter. I don't know the cameras you speak of, so will just share what I see what what I would change if I could. For me, the big thing seems to be vibration (at least I think it is - won't know until I eliminate it and see what happens).

I started with the camera on the trinocular and pushing the button physically - bad.

Then I connected the camera to my laptop and use remote control software to trigger the camera remotely. This also allows me to focus much more precisely, since I can use the computer screen to fine tune focus. With this, the pictures improved significantly.

Then I learned about mirror lock up. Apparently photography on a DSLR occurs in several stages. The button is pressed, the mirror physically moves out of the way, a curtain slide sideways, then the electronics record the image. Any physical movement can induce camera vibration - and since the camera is on a stalk on the scope the effect is multiplied. Mirror lock-up flips the mirror up well before the shutter opens, allowing the vibrations to die down.

Even with that, the shutter (curtain) moving aside can induce some vibration. Some cameras can eliminate this and use what I believe is called an electronic shutter instead of a physically sliding one. My camera doesn't have this so I can not be sure of the effect, but I have hope that it will help.

So, in my opinion, ability to control remotely, connect to a computer and perform live view for better focusing, mirror lock up and electronic shutter are things to consider.

Douglas Merson January 31, 2012 10:32PM

I bought the Canon T2i for the express purpose of getting the silent mode operation. It is not documented for this camera but when using live view it is the default mode of operation. See Charles Krebs website form over on photomacrography website. I use remote control through my laptop and have the output to a 24 HD television. As this is a new setup for me, I do not have many stacks run yet, just some for testing. It gives better results than the Nikon D300 using 1 - 2 second exposures. I am making some other changes before I start shooting for real again - lighting and diffusion. Doug
Sergey Sayamov February 01, 2012 05:09AM
Thank you all for the replies! I thought SLR should be better than G11, but due to the replies i see it's not always correct.. So for now I'll try to connect G11 while saving on something like Canon EOS550 since D40x supports none of the useful techniques you described.
Owen Lewis (2) February 21, 2012 09:19PM
It seems good advice you get as far as one can up the learning curve by using equipment one has on hand. That said, the time does come to make life easier/better.

A word or two in favour of the Canon 600D DSLR.

- You can use it in multiple roles. In photomicrography, take the lens off the camera and buy an adapter that will mate the trinoc port on your scope directly with the camera body. Makes for a good sturdy mount as well as reducing the camera weight by maybe a half..

- You can lock up the mirror, much reducing vibration at shutter release. I find no problems with resolution at low shutter speeds - providing I keep the ISO setting unambitious. Wired and wireless options for shutter release as well as time delay release.

- The LCD screen is large, of good colour, contract and definition. It also swings out and rotates in two planes which means that the user can remain comfortably seated throughout long photo-sessions.

- The body provides for x5 and x10 digital zoom of the LCD/Liveview. This removes all issues with critical focussing of subjects on the LCD screen and is a particular help( I am finding) in composing a series of shots for combining in stacking software to increase depth of field in the final image.

Worth considering. Even more if you know someone who already has one.

Ron Gibbs February 25, 2012 07:46AM
Doug - Try this on the Nikon D300, set the menu item "Exposure Delay Mode" under the "D9 Shooting/display" menu to ON. This forces the camera to trip the mirror, wait abut 1.5 seconds then fire the shutter. If you exposures are set to about 2 seconds, then the time of shutter vibration (which is smaller than the mirror) is short verses the time of the entire exposure. Just a thought.

By the way, Live View on the Nikon does exactly the same thing. There is a free piece of software called SOFORTBILD for the Macintosh that tethers several Nikons and Canon cameras and works via live view. (Not certain if the same exists on the PC - I don't have one.) I use it all he time on the Microscope and when I have the Nikon D300 on a tripod just for table top shooting. It saves the image directly to the computer and saves the time necessary to download it.
Owen Lewis (2) February 25, 2012 04:20PM
Ron wrote:

'There is a free piece of software called SOFORTBILD for the Macintosh that tethers several Nikons and Canon cameras and works via live view. (Not certain if the same exists on the PC - I don't have one.) I use it all he time on the Microscope and when I have the Nikon D300 on a tripod just for table top shooting. It saves the image directly to the computer and saves the time necessary to download it'.

Canon have a similar software utility for their EOS series cameras (which includes the 600D) which they bundle out with the camaras. ISTR that it's also available as a free download from the Canon website. This runs on PCs and permits complete control of the camera (or multiple cameras) from the PC. I admit that my preference is to control the camera 'hands-on' and stand-alone and then to stream all a day's shots into a subdirectory that the software auto creates to hold them until I sort and process them. Canon also bundles a good image processing software program that is tuned to the needs of those who wish to work in the RAW image format. Since, at this point, I still work exclusively in the JPEG format, I find myself sticking for the time being with the Photoshop software that I know of old for all my post-camera work.
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