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PostPosted: Wed Dec 06, 2017 3:59 pm 
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I will soon be purchasing my first compound microscope. The one I am interested in is a Leitz SM-LUX with a trinoccular head. There is already a third tube on the head. I interested in what to use as a camera?

Unfortunately, then main lens on my SLR died a year ago and I ended up selling the body so I no longer have an SLR. By the time I have purchased the microscope I will not have much in the way of funds for a camera. I have purchased a small adapter to attach a mobile phone. I have a Nokia 930 with a high resolution (50mp - not sure of the exact effective mp) camera. I also have a Lumix LX5 camera (essentially the same as the Leica D-Lux 5) and a telescope eyepiece adapter which I am hoping to try on the tube.

My question is whether either of these is likely to produce reasonable photographs? What settings are best used with the LX5?

I notice on eBay there are a number of Far East webcam type cameras with microscope eyepiece tubes. for example:

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/5MP-Microsco ... SwtZVZruNT

ttps://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/2MP-HD-USB-CM ... SwqfNXkcwb

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Bresser-Full ... 1438.l2649

Of course there are also extortionate examples like this:

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/LEICA-Micros ... SwOA1Z~t8C

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Leica-DFC295 ... Swol5YwlvY

So a variety of resolutions (2mp - 14mp), budgets and design types. Apart from the last two very expensive examples, do any of the remaining examples produce worthwhile images? Are these better suited than the mobile phone or the LX5?


Last edited by Amoeba on Wed Dec 06, 2017 9:47 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Wed Dec 06, 2017 9:28 pm 
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Your phone will probably alread offer a quality that is not so easy to beat. I would just start with this. Camera adapation is a difficult and expensiv topic on it's own.


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 06, 2017 9:46 pm 
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Thanks MicroBob. At just over 6GBP, the mobile phone mounting adapter was the cheapest starting point and I should be able to use it for the Nikon stereoscope as well. In fact I have done handheld images using the mobile phone placed over one eyepiece of the stereoscope and these have turned out OK, but I imagine the light levels available on a compound microscope withe a high power objective will be much lower. Still worth a shot.

The next step might be to consider forking out 50-60GBP on one of these webcam type units, but I am curious as to what kind of results members might have had, or whether they are best avoided? Also does sensor size matter?

Is it possible to do stacked images with a mobile phone? With an SLR this can be done by using a suitable shutter release timer. I don't think I can do it on my LX5 as there appears to be no external shutter control.

Camera adaption and imaging is a subject in its own right when it comes to telescopes, so i'm not surprised that the same is true when it comes to microscopes.


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 06, 2017 10:02 pm 
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The "web cam" type USB cameras are very convenient, some come with very good software. Some of our forum members have produced some very good photos using them. If you have the money to spend though, a DSLR will produce superior images.
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 06, 2017 10:08 pm 
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Amoeba wrote:
Is it possible to do stacked images with a mobile phone?

If you mean capturing the images, rather than doing the processing: I see no reason why not.
Note: Bluetooth triggers [with dual buttons for iOS & Android] are available for about £1
It should then be a simple matter to export a batch of images to a computer application such as Zerene Stacker. http://zerenesystems.com/cms/home

Sadly; I am not aware of any Z-stacking Apps for mobile phones.

MichaelG.
.
Edit: Prices for the triggers are rather variable ... so do shop around !
https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Blue-Bluetooth-Selfie-Monopod-Phone-Camera-Remote-Shutter-For-IOS-Android/332470173898

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PostPosted: Wed Dec 06, 2017 11:29 pm 
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Several things overlooked by camera buyers are the following. 1) you are not likely going to be using the camera lens for micrography. You might want it for other purposes but if you are buying a camera strictly for micrography, you don't need a lens.
2) DSLRs can be heavy and induce mirror vibration. Smaller mirrorless bodies are often a better choice, for mounting on the trinocular tube, due to vibration considerations.
3) How are you going to monitor your camera? You can peer at a screen that points vertically, look at a screen that can be adjusted to face your position at eyepiece view or tether it to a monitor. You will always need to check focus now and then, despite your confidence of parfocality.
4) 20 pixels is considered to be about the same resolution as the old fine grain 35mm colour film.
5) The most important technical aspect of micrography, are the corrections of your relay lens with respect to your objectives and or tube lens. It doesn't matter if you have a Hasselblad H5D-200C stuck up on the trino. If your relay lens stinks, your pictures will stink.


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 07, 2017 8:19 am 
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Phone cameras usually don't have a defined focus position. When you take a picture, the camera always has to focus again through the whole focus range. This makes it impossible to do focus stacking. Correct me if I'm wrong or if there are exceptions.

The cheap microscope USB cameras have either a chip that is placed somewhere down the tube or a lens that projects from within the tube on the chip.
In case A you get a small cutout of the picture your objective places in the tube. In case B you can be shure that this lens won't know what your objective is and what correction it needs. My impression is that you can get so-so image quality from these cameras, but the images with really great technical quality are made with more complicated equipment. Your phone is probably a lot better. BTW does you phone offer raw image capture?

For really great image quality you can either buy a special camera for impressive sums of money or you can use a well chosen digital camera.
Important point for this choice are:
- EFSC (electronis first shutter curtain) - vibrations are a much bigger problem in micro-photography than elsewhere
only few cameras offer this: A couple of Canon DSLRs, very few other DSLRs, Sony A6XXX, NEX7 and some others, Nikon One, to some degree some Olympus MFT cameras, some Panasonic MFT cameras
- suitable optical system (eyepiece, relay lens if needed... no plastic lenses in this system!) often these parts are rare and expensive
- suitable ergonmics (tiltable display, thethering to phone, tablet, notebook)
- sturdy and adjustable mechanical coupling (what size is your lathe? :D )

You can see that it is not simple and cheap to go beyond what your phone camera offers.


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 07, 2017 10:04 am 
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Sorry not much time right now, but here's a link to an earlier post re mounting a Canon DSLR onto my 'scope...
EOS 1200D mounted

Back later with some images of my Toupcam mounted similarly,

John B.

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 07, 2017 10:41 am 
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MicroBob wrote:
Phone cameras usually don't have a defined focus position. When you take a 'picture, the camera always has to focus again through the whole focus range. This makes it impossible to do focus stacking. Correct me if I'm wrong or if there are exceptions.

I haven't tried using the 'phone camera [being reasonably content with my 'micro four thirds' body] so this is admittedly hypothetical:
The 'phone camera will be used as an 'afocal' attachment, imaging the output from the standard visual eyepiece, and should therefore not need to re-focus itself.

MichaelG.
.
Edit: This looks very encouraging
https://www.microscopy-uk.org.uk/mag/artapr16/tj-cell-phone-photomicro.pdf

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 07, 2017 12:56 pm 
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Two advises based on my own experience.

1. When using the smartphone camera with adapter OVER AN EYEPIECE (one of the eyepieces used for viewing), try to position the phone lens at the focal point of the eyepiece. This point may be at about 10-20mm higher than the objective itself. This way you will better fill the field of view into the camera sensor. If the adapter you purchased is such that the phone camera lens is too close to the eyepiece, image quality is less than optimal. I modified my adapter by adding a flat plate between the adapter and camera.
2. If you buy a USB camera from China and shipment is by postal services, verify that it is registered mail, with a parcel postal code that you can use to track the camera during the transit.

Good luck.

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 07, 2017 1:41 pm 
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More tips according to my experience.

1. Indeed the phone camera will re-focus every time - and in a sequence, occasionally an out-of focus image may result.
2. At least for an Android phone, free market applications like Open Camera (from the Play Store) function better than the phone firmware camera app.
3. It is easy to locate the focal point of the eyepiece: Turn the microscope on, adjust illumination and focusing for correct view of a specimen, then place a piece of ground glass or even a parchment paper on top of the eyepiece and increase the distance until the light spot on the glass/paper is smallest. Then place the phone so that the camera lens is this distant from the eyepiece.
4. To take a picture, touch the screen as lightly as possible. Or even use the timer to insert a 1-2 seconds stabilization delay between your touch and the camera shot.
5. Even for a 16mp camera, high contrast fields of view yield much better images than low contrast fields of view.

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 07, 2017 1:50 pm 
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Hobbyst46 wrote:
More tips according to my experience.

''''''''''''''
5. Even for a 16mp camera, high contrast fields of view yield much better images than low contrast fields of view.


Must agree 100% with this - the camera feasts upon contrast in my experience with Toucam USB eyepiece plug-in cameras of 2mp and 5mp, and my Canon EOS 1200D 18mp DSLR - the contrast is by far the most significant factor. So much so is this the case that when a slide 'turns out' to have poor contrast (my fault of course as I make my own :oops: ) I most often throw it in the bin.

A sound piece of advice from Hobbyst46...

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 07, 2017 3:03 pm 
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I think that a different camera app can not adress the problem with the focusing mechanism. As far as I know these lenses don't know how they are focused at the moment before the image capture. An electrical signal is changed through a cycle and the picture is taken when the result seem best to the camera. When you change focus on the microscope, the camera will repeat this process with unknown result. I doubt that there won't result a halfway regular stack of images. So far I never had a phone with a better camera, so I never tested it intensively. May be your results are more promising?


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 07, 2017 4:03 pm 
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Microbob: Yes I fully agree. The Open Camera app offers more ergonomic (IMHO) control of exposures, text stamps and zoom. Auto focusing remains an issue no matter what the app.

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 07, 2017 4:36 pm 
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Microbob and others: I have just revealed that the Open Camera Android phone app has several options for focusing, which the firmware Samsung Galaxy camera app does not have. Still have to test this on the microscope. One can focus at infinity, one can lock focus. This is not to say automatic Z-stack is possible.

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 07, 2017 8:37 pm 
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You may want to consider low light (high iso / high noise) performance as well. I tried phone camera before, but I think the best compromise is using a camera with micro four thirds (2x crop) sensor or APSC (1.6x crop) sensor.

A used Olympus E-M10 Mark II may be a good option at around $360 USD, if you buy it from a camera forum (which save 10% off eBay price). It does in-camera focus bracketing too, which is very convenient and useful for macro photographers.

You want electronic first shutter curtain or full electronic shutter to reduce/remove vibration.

Also the ability to use remote speedlite/flash may be very important. Phone camera cannot reliably provide that.

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PostPosted: Tue Dec 12, 2017 11:14 am 
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Thanks for all the replies. Really appreciated.


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