Using Camera without Intermediate Optics - Nikon SMZ-U

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BombusT
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Using Camera without Intermediate Optics - Nikon SMZ-U

#1 Post by BombusT » Wed Feb 12, 2020 8:34 pm

I have an SMZ-U with the dual camera port that I've restored from a fairly beaten up state. All is working well and I'm very happy with it, and I've now started trying to get a camera working on it. I have an Olympus E-M10 Mark II mirror-less camera with its 16mp micro four thirds sensor and experimented with using this without any intermediate optics. I've 3D printed an adapter to fit the iso port directly to the camera mount, and found that if I created only a 10.2mm gap between mount and the top of the port (without any additional parts), then I was able to achieve a parfocal image (maybe not quite perfect) with the eyepieces and I'm pretty happy with the image quality. The image is a cropped image of the eyepieces, but not a massive crop, also feels like it is capturing more to the back of the image created by the eyepieces. I don't want to use this camera as a purely dedicated microscope system and it is very easy for me to remove the adapter as if it were a lens and go back to standard photography. My main use will be for imaging insects/mites however I had none quickly at hand so took a photo of an ESP32. Overall I'm very happy with this, but have a nagging doubt.

On the forum and online I've seen some monster towers over some microscopes and feel like I'm probably missing something. Is my setup giving me the best results or do you really need correcting optics or a greater distance between the sensor and the port to achieve the best possible image?
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Last edited by BombusT on Mon Feb 17, 2020 6:11 am, edited 2 times in total.
Mike

Scarodactyl
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Re: Using Camera without Intermediate Optics - Nikon SMZ-U

#2 Post by Scarodactyl » Wed Feb 12, 2020 9:26 pm

You actually do have that same long path length that you'd get in some classic 'tower' setups, it's just that some of it is inside the microscope and it also has a 90 degree kink to prevent it all being in a straight line. But you are cutting some extraneous optics out of the picture with this setup that allow it to be shorter than some Nikon setups.

The SMZ-U is an infinity-corrected system (like most (all?) modern research stereos) so the objective/zoom body produces an image focused to infinity. There are two tube lenses in the bottom of the head that refocus the image for the eyepieces to pick up, but since the intermediate camera beamsplitter sits below those it has to provide its own tube lenses so the camera sensors get a nice focused image. The two camera ports are different. The top port tube lens is built into the intermediate beamsplitter itself--it's a simple 200mm focal length lens that provides an image perfectly sized for an aps-C sensor--the geometry of this port (like all nikon ports) puts the parfocal image plane just a bit too low for a dslr to grab at the top, but within range for a mirrorless camera. The side port has an optional camera attachment which includes its own tube lens, without that attachment you just have a cap over an empty 28mm hole that produces an image focused at infinity, so you can also attach a 200mm lens of your choice focused to infinity there to direct project onto aps-C. It works great but also ends up sticking out 200mm from the side of the scope, though no doubt a telephoto lens would save length there. Not necessary for your setup since the top port does what you need.

Nikon wasn't thinking about direct projection onto aps-c when they designed this system (at least back in the 80s)--if you wanted to attach a dslr you'd use a 2x or 2.5x projective eyepiece that grabs that image, resizes it a bit and projects it up to the camera sensor above. That's why a lot of Nikon scopes end up with such tall stacks. For anything with a smaller sensor than aps-C they also provided reducing optics, though these have a much lower profile. These eyepieces/adapters don't apply corrections, though, so aside from resizing the image they don't add value over direct projection. They are, however, a magnet for dust that will show up as glaring spots in your photos if you don't keep them immaculately clean.

Basically, what you're doing is the best possible attachment for this particular microscope as long as you can get it perfectly parfocal. In theory you could get an adapter which reduces the size of the image so match what you see in the eyepieces--however since most reducing optics are designed for tiny sensor microscope cameras they might crop the image as well as resizing it, or only deliver the best quality at the center of the FoV. That might be an unfounded concern, I have not tried that. If you can live with the crop I'd definitely stick with direct projection, especially if you're taking the camera off and on a lot since dust on the intermediate optics will drive you up the wall.

BombusT
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Re: Using Camera without Intermediate Optics - Nikon SMZ-U

#3 Post by BombusT » Thu Feb 13, 2020 2:31 am

Oh great, glad to hear I've stumbled on to a good way to handle it and nice to keep the whole setup a little more compact. I had tried with my now largely unused Canon 550D but couldn't figure out how I could make it parfocal and found the PC software to be rather clunky for determining exposure etc. I largely use the eyepieces as I'm often hunting for damage to plants and the associated pests, so definitely nice to have it parfocal. The E-M10 Mark II does a good job of handling things, but wish I had an E-M1 or E-m5 Mark II so I could also use the "Olympus Capture" software. I've been trialing O.I Share on my android phone to control the camera, it works pretty well, mostly better handling than using the camera directly, however would be nice if I could have also used the zoom function or focus peaking. I'm not really getting a bright enough image, especially when zoomed in, to use the silent shutter.

Just checked my 3D image and I had actually designed the spacer between the mount and tube to be 10mm, and using a caliper on the printed adapter shows it is more like 10.2mm after printing. I will update my original post so I don't lead anyone looking to do something similar astray. Looking at the results, I would say at least to my eye, the 10.2mm is pretty much perfect for getting my system parfocal.
Mike

BombusT
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Re: Using Camera without Intermediate Optics - Nikon SMZ-U

#4 Post by BombusT » Thu Feb 13, 2020 2:59 am

For reference, this is the difference in the image through the objective versus from the camera. The eyepiece is the standard SMZ-U UW10xA/24.

Through eyepiece
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From camera port with E-M10 Mark II
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Actually looking through the eyepieces it feels much more similar to the camera port image, but a bit more coverage. Using my phone through the eyepiece gives the impression of the image being more different than it probably is.
Mike

jfiresto
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Re: Using Camera without Intermediate Optics - Nikon SMZ-U

#5 Post by jfiresto » Thu Feb 13, 2020 2:01 pm

BombusT wrote:
Wed Feb 12, 2020 8:34 pm
... On the forum and online I've seen some monster towers over some microscopes and feel like I'm probably missing something. Is my setup giving me the best results or do you really need correcting optics or a greater distance between the sensor and the port to achieve the best possible image?...
I bet you are doing things just fine, but first I have a simple question: What is the outer diameter of the the tube you have attached to the camera in the second picture?
-John

BombusT
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Re: Using Camera without Intermediate Optics - Nikon SMZ-U

#6 Post by BombusT » Thu Feb 13, 2020 7:34 pm

Hi John, the outer diameter of the tube that inserts into the camera port is 37.9mm, as confirmed by a caliper. It was printed as 38mm but this was pretty tight so I shaved it down a little.
Mike

jfiresto
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Re: Using Camera without Intermediate Optics - Nikon SMZ-U

#7 Post by jfiresto » Thu Feb 13, 2020 8:30 pm

BombusT wrote:
Thu Feb 13, 2020 7:34 pm
Hi John, the outer diameter of the tube that inserts into the camera port is 37.9mm, as confirmed by a caliper. It was printed as 38mm but this was pretty tight so I shaved it down a little.
Very good. I am not surprised about having to shave down the 3D-printed part. They come out a little over, even when you use an industrial printer.

I settled on optic-less, direct projection, out of Wild microscope ISO-38 photo ports in to micro four thirds cameras, a couple summers ago. I am happy to learn that it apparently works just as well with a Nikon microscope. I having been meaning to write up my experiences and will start this weekend, over my birthday. :) In the meantime, I will measure and calculate the flange-to-flange distance I expect will make your adapter parfocal.

Here, is the camera I recently added to a Wild M3 (clickable):

Image

The adapter is the thin black ring over thicker silver ring you see below the camera. It is not much of a tower, but it just works (and worked), and demands little extra focus tension.
-John

BombusT
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Re: Using Camera without Intermediate Optics - Nikon SMZ-U

#8 Post by BombusT » Thu Feb 13, 2020 9:49 pm

jfiresto wrote:
Thu Feb 13, 2020 8:30 pm
I having been meaning to write up my experiences and will start this weekend, over my birthday. :) In the meantime, I will measure and calculate the flange-to-flange distance I expect will make your adapter parfocal.

...

The adapter is the thin black ring over thicker silver ring you see below the camera. It is not much of a tower, but it just works (and worked), and demands little extra focus tension.
Well wishing you a happy birthday over the weekend John. I would definitely be keen to know your measurements when you have the opportunity and keen to read your experiences. Your adapter certainly looks a lot more professional. That also looks like an Olympus camera, do you operate your camera directly using its controls? I notice you have the USB cable connected, what software do you use on the PC? I envy your ability to access the camera more directly, with it high up and at the rear of the Nikon I feel much happier using the O.I Share software on my phone to take the photo (also prevents user shake).
Mike

BombusT
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Re: Using Camera without Intermediate Optics - Nikon SMZ-U

#9 Post by BombusT » Thu Feb 13, 2020 9:50 pm

I've added the simple adapter to Thingiverse, which can be found from the following link (https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:4161613). Credit for the bayonet fitting goes to hstahl, all I did was chop the Canon connection off and add the spacer and tube using Tinkercad online. As an aside, my cheap 3D printer has been invaluable to my microscope, camera and microcontroller addictions, and my microscope setup is sporting more than one 3D printed part. Maybe I also have a 3D printer addiction?
Mike

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Re: Using Camera without Intermediate Optics - Nikon SMZ-U

#10 Post by Scarodactyl » Fri Feb 14, 2020 5:56 am

The older Wild/Leica 38mm adapters* and Nikon 38mm adapters are similar but I don't think quite identical. That said, since they're held in place by a set screw you can adjust the height a bit to adjust parfocality if need be.

*Pictured is an older style Wild adapter, which I think I have heard is set up a little differently than the later ones but have not tried one myself.

jfiresto
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Re: Using Camera without Intermediate Optics - Nikon SMZ-U

#11 Post by jfiresto » Sun Feb 16, 2020 5:13 pm

BombusT wrote:
Thu Feb 13, 2020 9:49 pm
... Well wishing you a happy birthday over the weekend John.
Thank you. They were predicting cold, cloudy, wet and windy weather, but the day proved to be just the opposite.
I would definitely be keen to know your measurements when you have the opportunity and keen to read your experiences.
Will do. I wrote four and a half paragraphs this afternoon, in which I heap glory on DSLRs, which is not a bad start.
That also looks like an Olympus camera, do you operate your camera directly using its controls? I notice you have the USB cable connected, what software do you use on the PC?
Yes, it is a 12 megapixel E-PL3 which Olympus designed for Asian "camera girls", some of whom are pretty mean photographers. I was curious just how old and cheap I could go and still get good results. How about 8 1/2 years and under $60, shipped, with accessories and a one year warranty? 8-) I was operating it with a remote shutter release whose cable you see coming off the left. I do not need it if I use the 2.5 s self timer.

My other microscope has a later, 16 megapixel, white E-PL7 on a later, photo tube that places the camera more up front, in line with the eyepieces. My brother is encouraging me to shoot raw, which unfortunately the I.Share app doesn't support. I am working on making the camera appear as a local network, disk drive.

Did you see that Adorama is selling out its successor, the E-PL8, with the 14-42mm kit lens for $279.99? I have been quite happy with my very similar E-PL7, and I must say, they are some of the most fashionable cameras you can mount on a microscope. If you are tempted, I can see how i.Share works with my E-PL7.
-John

jfiresto
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Re: Using Camera without Intermediate Optics - Nikon SMZ-U

#12 Post by jfiresto » Sun Feb 16, 2020 5:40 pm

Scarodactyl wrote:
Fri Feb 14, 2020 5:56 am
The older Wild/Leica 38mm adapters* and Nikon 38mm adapters are similar but I don't think quite identical. That said, since they're held in place by a set screw you can adjust the height a bit to adjust parfocality if need be....
I tend to the notion, the two have the same image height. The camera is actually on a Nikon c-mount adapter, which is hidden behind the black thread adapter. Nikon's latitudinal deep groove misses the compression collar that Wild favors.

Wild (and I hope Nikon) built their microscopes to norm, rather than close to it and providing trims. Perhaps they expected customers to trim the rest of their photomicrography system with abandon: I do not know as I only have parts of one. The camera and microscope, so far, are indistinguishable from parfocal, when the adapter is hard against the photo tube flange. I want to perform some more tests, but I have a feeling I am expected to focus the camera through the eyepieces.

[EDIT: I had mistakenly written "longitudinal".]
Last edited by jfiresto on Sun Feb 16, 2020 6:55 pm, edited 2 times in total.
-John

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Re: Using Camera without Intermediate Optics - Nikon SMZ-U

#13 Post by Scarodactyl » Sun Feb 16, 2020 5:42 pm

jfiresto wrote:
Sun Feb 16, 2020 5:13 pm
they are some of the most fashionable cameras you can mount on a microscope.
Oh, that reminds me I found the picture of my side port adapter for my canon.
Image
This might be the least fashionable way to mount a camera on a microscope :) Using a kenko no 5 closeup filter as a 200mm tube lens.
In regular usage you'd probably want to put a tripod or something on there, but it worked quite well using the phone app via wifi to take pictures. Totally parfocal and well placed within the eyepiece FoV.

I'm glad to hear you've had such complete success with interchanging the nikon and wild parts--I have some of each lying around and this should reopen some avenues of exploration. My earlier experiences probably come down to using weirder, mixed era parts in ways that weren't maybe 100% how they were intended to be used. It's a darn shame Leica decided a 37mm port was a better idea at some point.

jfiresto
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Re: Using Camera without Intermediate Optics - Nikon SMZ-U

#14 Post by jfiresto » Sun Feb 16, 2020 6:09 pm

Scarodactyl wrote:
Sun Feb 16, 2020 5:42 pm
This might be the least fashionable way to mount a camera on a microscope :) Using a kenko no 5 closeup filter as a 200mm tube lens.
It looks like it should be on a trestle.
It's a darn shame Leica decided a 37mm port was a better idea at some point....
I agree. Did Leica also change the intermediate image which would somewhat excuse the change?

At one time, I tracked down the ISO standard covering the 38mm photo port, but the keeper wanted money and I could not find a copy on an Asian web site. I wonder if a friendly librarian I know is still at the local Technische Hochschule and could borrow a copy.
-John

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Re: Using Camera without Intermediate Optics - Nikon SMZ-U

#15 Post by Scarodactyl » Sun Feb 16, 2020 6:38 pm

The two styles of trinocular port are compatible with the same scopes, so they could have changed the focal length and location of the tube lens in the adapter but not much else. There are definitely some updates that could have been done to improve the design to account better for modern dslrs (make the metal bit just a little shorter! aaaaaa!!!) but they really seem almost identical, just with a 37mm opening.

BombusT
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Re: Using Camera without Intermediate Optics - Nikon SMZ-U

#16 Post by BombusT » Mon Feb 17, 2020 2:57 am

jfiresto wrote:
Sun Feb 16, 2020 5:13 pm
If you are tempted, I can see how i.Share works with my E-PL7.
That's ok, I've been using it on the E-M10 and probably not ready to invest in another camera at this point with a few floating around!

I've had a bit of dig around my various parts from previous experimenting and have figured out I can set up a c-mount camera with a cheap 1/2 reducing lens (with focus capabilities) and get it parfocal as well. To do this, I had to remove the 38mm tube inside the trinocular head, so there was enough clearance for the reducing lens to get closer to the mirror (expanded the tube size to 43mm). Another 3D printed spacer slightly shorter than required and I was able to use the focus of the reducing lens to get a parfocal image. Quite workable.

I've also found with a tiny and cheap c-mount 2x lens attached to a c-mount adapter on the Canon 550D (Rebel T2i) I can also get it parfocal at close range. It's fairly cropped, at quick glance I believe more so than the M43 camera, would be nice if there was a 1.5 or 1.6x c-mount lens out there, but doubt it. I'll have to take another look at the effect of the 2x adapter on the image quality, and the over all ergonomics and work-ability of the Canon setup. The Olympus E-M10 Mark II is probably the winner without any optics required, but since I'm still using this for other purposes, I might only put it on when quality is paramount.
Mike

BombusT
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Re: Using Camera without Intermediate Optics - Nikon SMZ-U

#17 Post by BombusT » Mon Feb 17, 2020 3:11 am

BombusT wrote:
Mon Feb 17, 2020 2:57 am
...would be nice if there was a 1.5 or 1.6x c-mount lens out there...
No, that would still be too cropped, the ideal would be a 1x lens, wouldn't it?
Mike

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