Another Microscope Camera Review
by Bill Resch, USA
Ever since I read David Walker's review of the Moticam 1000 in the March 2005 'Micscape', I wanted to buy one of those, but was unwilling to spend $400. Over the years, I must have purchased at least 5 web cams for this purpose. The results were always disappointing. Recently, I searched eBay for similar cameras as the Moticam. I came across this HVM130 for $179. It seems to have the same half inch chip with an identical pixel number as the Moticam. I ordered it.
The picture right was on the eBay website:
High-Resolution USB 2.0 Color Camera
Powered directly from the USB 2.0 port
Picture Element: 1280 x 1024 maximum (1.3 Megapixel)
Output: High speed USB 2.0 Port; 6 foot USB cord
Low-noise, light, compact.
Image Sensor: 1/2 inch color CMOS chip
Warranty: One year on materials and workmanship
Dimensions: 45 x 45 x 45mm; Diameter - 32mm
It seems, this camera is longer available on eBay. There is another source: http://www.allab.com/shop/index.php?cPath=59
What the picture shows is all you get, as far as hardware is concerned, the camera has a c-mount thread. I did not want to buy a c-mount adapter, which was offered for $69. I decided to build my own. C-mount specs are readily available on the internet. The only real info needed is the thread: 1 inch diameter and 32 threads per inch. If you have a metric lathe, then a 0.8 mm thread is close enough.
I used 1 inch round aluminum. Cut it 2 inches long and bored it out as shown in the drawing. I intended to use the camera over the eye pieces. The 30 mm bore accommodates all the eye pieces I have. I also drilled threaded holes 120 degrees and 0.5 inches from the right end. I inserted plastic screws to clamp and center the camera to the microscope.
The dimensions on the drawing are given in millimeters. Anybody that has a lathe should have no problem converting between metric and inch.
You could also make this c-mount out of plastic, like delrin =, nylon etc. I just happened to have aluminum at hand.
The camera shown right attached to an Accuscope 3016.
The camera came with a small CD with some software, that includes the driver and some, what looks like, privately written capture software. The software is useless and messy, some of it is in Chinese. I went on the developer's website to get an upgrade. All I was offered was a sample and an offer to register the software. I tried to register it, but this turned out to be a way for the developer to charge me. Since the price was reasonable, I paid. I got to download the registered software. I don't recommend it. I found it frustrating to use and its very basic.
David Walker, in his article mentioned some shareware by Marien van Westen, which I downloaded. It is easier to use and has more features. You can get to it here: http://members.home.nl/mvanwesten/en_microscope.html
Also, once the driver is installed, you can use many different photo programs to access the camera. I tried Adobe Photoshop and it works too.
My thoughts about this camera.
Well, I am stuck with it. But I will use it most of the time. In astronomy, they say:" The best telescope is the one that is used. After all this long search of cameras, illuminators and microscopes, I am back to the Lomo with its lousy Koehler illuminator, because it gives good images and it is easy to set up. The same is true for this camera. It is easy to mount, set up and I get to focus the image while I see it on the monitor. I can set the resolution, I can save an image with a click and I can take movies.
I do not know if I did get a good deal, but I had fun playing with it. Since I am very inexperienced in what I did, I would welcome commends and ideas from my fellow microscopists. Comments in German are ok too.
Here are a few early attempts with this camera
Diatoms from a Turtox slide: "Marine Recent". Lomo 20X APO, Lomo 10X compensating eye piece. Lomo Koehler illuminator and aplanatic condenser.
as above, except 40X Lomo achromat and Turtox Pleurosigma angulatum
slide. No adjustment has been done to the pictures.
One of the drawbacks of the Lomo is the lack of contrast.
Nerve cell. Lomo 20X APO.
All comments to the author Bill Resch are welcomed.
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