Thread subject: :: Need alternative to stereo microscope

Posted by Leif Bloss Carstensen on 09-10-2014 10:10

This spring my old neck suddenly deteriorated so I had to have cervical surgery. This means that if I use my stereo microscope for just a few minutes, I will have neck pain. I therefore need a solution where the magnification is transferred to a computer or tv screen. I am interested in hoverflies, especially larvae, but will expand my area of interest to other fly families if I find a solution. Otherwise I'm afraid I will have to stop. Life will be boring without flies!

I think my stereo microscope is x30 and x60. Do you know any alternatives? Any experience with Dino-lite or Ken-A-Vision camera or other devices?

Posted by jakillenbeck on 11-10-2014 12:50

Although I have less experience with their application in stereo microscopy, I must recommend you avoid specialty devices such as the Dino-lite, Ken-A-Vision or Celestron LCD screens. They all employ inexpensive CMOS sensors, generally of small physical size, and surprisingly low resolution, particularly considering their intended application. It is unconscionable the price that is charged for these products. Please, do not buy one.

One is almost always better off saving the money that would have gone for such a product and purchasing a device employing a scientific CMOS, CCD, or even EMCCD sensor. Such cameras can represent a prohibitive expense, but there are alternatives. Modern consumer digital cameras feature CMOS sensors of a size well suited to their application in microscopy. If one already possesses a DSLR or mirror-less interchangeable lens digital camera take a moment to look up if there is software for tethered operation available (either third party or from the manufacturer). If their is, it's a simple matter to find an appropriate Cine Mount adapter for the camera which may then be fitted to an eyepiece of the microscope with a suitable reduction lens for the required level of magnification and size of sensor employed in the camera.

Battery eliminators are even available for many consumer cameras and one has the advantage of working with a camera one is already familiar with. I have used a Nikon 1 J1 successfully for demonstrations for some time. It is surprisingly convenient as the the camera features a HDMI output that facilitates connection to televisions and computer monitors without the need for specialty software or cables.

Sorry for rambling on but I quite love microscopes and hate to see the junk that is foisted on consumers by some manufacturers.

Posted by Leif Bloss Carstensen on 11-10-2014 15:28

Thank you for your suggestions. Why spend money on poor quality? The flip-out screen of my Canon Powershot is defective so I need a new camera anyway - one with the properties mentioned by you. This way I will protect my poor neck and be able to take pictures of magnified objects. I often wished that I could take pictures through my microscope, for instance when an egg of Cheilosia pubera hatched, and a very beautiful white larve appeared.

I hope it is okay if I contact you later when I have surfed the Internet for cameras.

Posted by jakillenbeck on 11-10-2014 17:35

I will do my best to answer any questions you may have.

As you search, permit me to mention that if you have difficulty finding a reasonably priced camera which offers tethered operation, and meets your general photography needs, look instead for one with some sort of video out connection and remote shutter release.

Posted by Leif Bloss Carstensen on 12-01-2016 20:05

You probably thought I had forgotten you:)

I was glad you took time to answer me!

My neck is a little better, so I still use my stereo microscope once in a while until my neck makes a different sound. My stereo microscope is still my favourite and cannot be replaced by a camera. For photos at home, I now use a Canon 70d, a camera stand, cheap extension rings, a used canon 100 mm macro lens and raynox lens. The camera is connected to a pc for tethered operation. I experiment a little with photo stacking. But I still have so much to learn about light, focusing, etc. I hope to upload some pictures soon.