Monday, April 12, 2010

Celestron Digital Microscope Imager - A Deal!

I've purchased and tested seven different digital imaging products designed to be used with a microscope. The latest is the brand new Celestron Digital Microscope Imager item #44421. While I had a love/hate relationship with the Celestron Digital LCD Camera, I can truthfully say that my relationship with Celestron's latest offering is all love.

I love the price. At just $49.95 retail it is the least expensive of all the digital microscope cameras. And, by a wide margin.

I love the software interface. It's intuitive and easy. And, it is the only software of the offerings I've tested that will work with Windows 7! Plus, it is supposed to be able to be used with the Mac using one of the Mac's image capture programs. Testing for that will have to wait until a few weeks when I visit my granddaughter's and try it on their Mac.

I love the adjustable collar that permits me to synchronize the focus of the camera with the eyepiece when used with a microscope having a second eyepiece tube, like the MF-04 Dual-View Microscope from C7A Scientific.

I love the video quality. If you have a fast enough computer you can even save video at 1600x1200. Of course, 640x480 is the preferred balance between speed and resoluton. The video is astonishingly good due to an excellent auto-brightness algorythm. It generally seems to get the right brightness for the subject under the lens. Not all the cameras I tested handle that chore all too well. By the way, if you have a microphone and want to record sound with your video, the software permits that as well. Again, the only micrscope camera I've tested that seems to offer this capability.

And, I love the still image capture as it allows easy single image capture or a burst of multiple images. The user determines how many images will be captured with each burst. The normal image capture is 2mpx or 1280x1024. This is more than double that of its closest competitor.

Here is a short video that demonstrates the versatility and simplicity of the software provided with the Celestron Digital Microscope Imager.

Here is a link to a Flickr gallery where you can see some of the test images captured with this product. My interest is in helping parents and children enjoy microscopy. So, I try to use good value microscopes that are in the price range that most parents could afford. Most of the images and videos were captured using a microscope that can be purchased for under $60 on the web, the My First Lab Duo-Scope. While I always recommend a microscope with fine focus and a mechanical stage, the Duo-Scope is great to demonstrate the minimal quality one should expect from a video imager.

Celestron Digital Microscope Imager - Flickr Gallery

I purchased two units. One was purchased from Adorama and the other from Celestron's web site. Both were $49.95 and Adorama shipped it free.

If you do purchase any microscope imager, here is a helpful hint. It's important to line up the imager so that the image moves up and down as the specimen is moved forward and backward on the microscope stage. But, these cameras tend to have bulky cables that can make it hard to keep the camera lined up. I've found that if I wrap a rubber band around the camera before putting it into the microscope eyepiece tube that the camera tends NOT to rotate easily after it's lined up correctly.

The bottom line...

This is one great bargain. And, it will extend the fun and usefulness of your microscope well beyond what would normally be expected for such a modest investment. Buy and enjoy!