Over the years we have seen the transition of analog VGA/S-VHS cameras viewed on a CRT to high performance sCOMS ("Scientific") sensor digital cameras viewed on beautiful flatscreen 4K high resolution displayers. Although we are now pretty much all-digital, one key item has remain unchanged .... the CAMERA COUPLER. Most microscopists are aware of the c-mount coupler. These range in magnification from 2x to 0.33x. Such c-mount couplers are designed for CCD or CMOS sensor cameras with nominal size ranging from 1/4 inch to 1 inch.
The CCD has nearly disappeared and most cameras today will use CMOS technology. Many top performing cameras have Sony sensors (such as the latest Pregius CMOS). Some cameras will have "rolling" shutters and some will have "global" shutters. Global shutters prevent image distortion when you are moving your sample for the stitching process www.microvisioneer.com. Cameras now connect to your computer via USB3 .... much faster than old USB2, Firewire or old frame grabber boards. New manualWSI-SC version of Microvisioneer permits use of any global shutter CMOS camera with 10fps or faster operation at highest resolution. SOFTWARE SELLS FOR UNDER $3,000.00
The critical item for selecting the correct coupler is the actual dimension of the sensor diagonal (mm). This dimension will range from 4mm (1/4") to 16mm (1"). Keep in mind that the camera sensor specification of 1/2" or 2/3" is pretty meaningless. This number is useful when selecting the correct coupler in that a 1/2" sensor camera will normally call for a 0.5x coupler and a 2/3" sensor will call for a coupler with optical magnification of 0.66x-0.7x.
We have also seen the aspect ratio of monitors go from 4:3 (most CRTs and early flatscreen) to the present 16:9 format. If you use an older camera with a 16:9 format displayer you will have a distorted (stretched) image and a "letter box" display with top and bottom portions blocked out .... not good.
Now we are seeing cameras with "large format" CMOS sensors. These are found in most consumer DSLR/MILC cameras and Nikon has special cameras with large format sensors that have diagonals up to 43mm .... the same diagonal as found on a frame of 35mm film! This is not coincidental. We enjoy using our RRR efforts to adapt old 35mm film microscope attachments for use with modern large format digital cameras. The popular consumer camera sensor now is called APS-C. This is a diagonal of about 21mm. You can see the advantage of using a "full frame 35" camera sensor (43mm diagonal) .... More sample in the photographic field of view. Many modern large format cameras have easy "Live View" connectivity to your computer so that all focusing, composition and functions (like z-stacking) can be controlled without using the camera's small viewing screen. Digital cinematography is usually just another mode of operation in these wonderful cameras with resolution up to about 50MP!
Bunton also takes the fine Leitz 5:1 zoom optic and connects a 0.1x male c-mount optic for use with the small format, c-mount cameras. We also modify old Leitz 35mm film cameras such as Orthomat W and Vario-Orthomat (Selling for over $5000.00 when new!) to utilize the optical "core" while recycling (RRR, yes sometimes we have to RECYCLE) the parts not required .... electronic shutter, wiring for film advance, photomultiplier tubes etc. We then add a M42 (mm) adapter to the camera end so one can simply add the T-mount ring needed to connect a modern large format camera (Canon, Nikon, Sony, et al). Very few optical couplers for microscopes go up to "full frame 35mm". Most are set up for APS-c (21mm sensor diagonal) and vignetting (corner cropping) will occur if you use a FULL FRAME on a coupler set up for APS-C. Very important.
We should also note that there are very inexpensive camera adapters coming in from China that a hobbyist can order on Ebay or Amazon. There are also quite expensive optical couplers coming from the USA and Europe that can easily cost $750.00. As usual, you get what you pay for! GIGO. Each microscope make and model will call for camera couplers that may be proprietary but not up to the performance needed for high megapixel sensor cameras. Our camera couplers made by Leitz were all designed for maximum image quality and high performance fluorite and apochromatic optics on the microscope.
The special microscope camera couplers from Infinity Photo Optical (Ultima and InFocus) will handle c-mount (small format) or T-mount (large format) cameras .... or both with the exchange of components. Infinity Photo Optical instruments such as the MS, K2, KC and TS-160 are all set up for modern digital cameras as well as older analog video cameras and film cameras, Very unique microscopes made in the USA. www.infinity-usa.com
The USA-MADE components shown above are from Infinity Photo Optical in Colorado www.infinity-usa.com
These replace the usual trinocular tube with eyepieces on infinity corrected upright microscopes. Both INFOCUS and ULTIMA may be set up for use with DSLR or MILCs as well as the small format cameras (c-mounted) for z-stacking or WSI (stitching). INFOCUS is unique for correcting spherical aberrations when viewing biological thin sections with various coverglass between the sample and the objective lens. Great for adding to older upright microscopes with missing body tubes. Visit the Infinity website for more details and prices.
RRR MICROSCOPE PROJECT...MANY OLD MICROSCOPE STANDS ARE PERFECT FOR "REUSE" AS A TOTALLY NEW SYSTEM. HERE IS AN OLD OLYMPUS BX MICROSCOPE THAT WE HAVE "ADAPTED" BY CUTTING OFF THE UPPER ARM WHERE THE NOSEPIECE AND BODY TUBE WOULD NORMALLY BE POSITIONED FOR HIGH MAGNIFICATION WORK. WE THEN ADDED A COARSE FOCUSING DRIVE AND RACK POST FOR HOLDING THE INFINITY PHOTO OPTICAL KC MICROSCOPE. NOTE THE BUNTON RetroCUP TILTING SAMPLE STAGE THAT IS THEN MOUNTED ON A XY MECHANICAL STAGE. NOTE THE INFINITY BEAMSPLITTER THAT ALLOWS US TO ADD A DSLR CAMERA TO THE TOP AND A SIMPLE VIEWING/COMPOSITION AND FRAMING EYEPIECE FOR DIRECT VIEWING OF THE SAMPLE. THIS IS AN IDEAL RIG FOR MANUAL Z-STACKING BY SIMPLY USING THE FINE FOCUS MOVING THE SAMPLE IN THE Z-AXIS.
NEW IN 2022...C20 SMART CAMERA 1080P WITH EMBEDDED COMPUTER 32GB ON-BOARD MEMORY AND GIG-E FOR CONNECTION TO YOUR NETWORK.
(SEE PHOTO BELOW RIGHT).
RED ANNOTATION CIRCLE HIGHLIGHTS A PRECISION MOTORIZED (Z) POSITIONING OF THE CMOS SENSOR TO ACHIEVE MULTIPLE FOCAL PLANES FOR Z-STACKING SOFTWARE INCLUDED WITH THE C20 CAMERA.
RRR....OLD ZEISS "STANDARD" (BELOW) CONVERTED FROM FINITE TUBE LENGTH (160MM) TO INFINITY CORRECTION WITH INFINITY PHOTO OPTICAL INFOCUS MODULE....THIS ONE USA-MADE ITEM REPLACES THE TRINOCULAR TUBE, OCULARS AND CAMERA COUPLER. INFOCUS IS A VERY UNIQUE ITEM THAT CORRECTS FOR SPHERICAL ABERRATIONS CAUSED BY INCORRECT COVERGLASS CORRECTION (USUALLY 0.17MM #1.5)....IF YOU USE A #1 COVERGLASS AND TOO MUCH MOUNTING MEDIA YOU END UP WITH A VERY SOFT, LOW CONTRAST IMAGE. THIS IS ESPECIALLY CRITICAL FOR PHOTOMICROSCOPY WHEN USING OBJECTIVES 20X - 100X OIL. IF COVERGLASS CORRECTION IS NOT IMPORTANT FOR YOUR WORK YOU MAY WANT TO LOOK AT THE "ULTIMA" BACK END FROM INFINITY PHOTO OPTICAL....BOTH ULTIMA AND INFOCUS ARE SET UP FOR EITHER SMALL FORMAT (SUCH AS THE GLOBAL SHUTTER CAMERA WE USE WITH MICROVISIONEER) OR YOUR FULL FRAME DSLR OR MILC . ADAPTERS ARE AVAILABLE FOR THE CURRENT CROP OF INFINITY CORRECTED NOZL INSTRUMENTS. BRING OLD MICROSCOPES BACK INTO THE LAB. UPGRADE TO LED LIGHTING. ADAPT FOR Z-STACKING AND DO MANUAL STITCHING FOR HIGH RESOLUTION WSI ON A BUDGET. BUNTON CAN GUIDE YOU ALL THE WAY TO A DIGITAL SOLUTION. CONTACT US WITH YOUR MICROSCOPE MAKE AND MODEL. TELL US WHAT YOU WANT TO DO WITH THE SYSTEM AND WHAT CAMERA FORMAT YOU WISH TO USE....WE WILL GO FROM THERE TO MEET YOUR NEEDS AND STAY WITHIN YOUR BUDGET. WE SPEAK BESPOKE! GOOD WEBSITE FOR PROSPECTIVE CAMERA BUYERS: www.scientificimaging.com
NEW TECHNOLOGY IS EMERGING: visit www.gigajot.tech