Digital Microscopy

There are several ways to capture digital images with a microscope. The options are documented below.

  1. Built-in microscope digital camera. This option is usually best for educational purposes where having a camera that detaches from the microscope might result in damage to the camera or theft. The down-side to having the camera built-in to the microscope is that it can not be upgraded over time.
  2. Attaching a microscope camera to a microscope. The best way to do this is by using a c-mount adapter on the trinocular port to connect a microscope camera. The camera connects to either the computer or directly to an LCD projector or TV monitor. If you do not have a trinocular microscope (camera port) you can attach a camera over an existing eyepiece.
  3. Using a camera adapter to connect a standard digital camera to the microscope. This will often provide some of the highest-quality images, but will not include microscopoy software and live-image features that many of the microscope cameras offer.

Several things to consider when determining which digital method is best for your needs include the following:

  • Do you need a high live frame rate? If so you might want to consider a video camera that connects directly to a TV monitor. These generally have a higher live frame rate than microscope digital cameras.
  • Do you need a high-quality image that can be published, or is a lower-quality image for documentation purposes ok? For higher quality images consider a CCD camera rather than CMOS (see right column).
  • Do you want to be able to capture and save images, or simply view a live image on a screen? If you want to capture and save images a digital camera is necessary. Video cameras will allow you to view images only, unless you have a capture card device.
  • Do you need to take measurements of your microscopic images? If so a microscope camera that connects to the computer and includes software with measuring features would be best.
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