Most microscope cameras use computer software to capture images from microscopes. The image acquisition software plays an important role in the quality of the images taken by the camera. Through the image acquisition software, the microscopist can adjust various settings, such as color, contrast, exposure, to affect the quality of the images. Ideally, you want the software to be “what you see is what you get” but in reality the microscope camera software is far from perfect. The colors can off tune and sometimes over-expose while other times under exposed.
I have been using TSView (comes with Tucsen microscope camera) for taking pictures since acquired the camera. Lately, I have fiddled with MICAM. The results are surprisingly good. In this post, I am comparing the quality of images taken by Tucsen microscope camera with TSView (184.108.40.206) and MICAM (1.4). Both image acquisition software are capable of using manual adjustment to tweak the settings to obtain optimal image quality but most users use autoamtic setting and there is learning curve to become an expert in manual settings. This post, I am comparing the photo quality aquired by both software with their automatic settings (i.e. auto-exposure and auto-white balance).
The test was done on Tucsen 3.0MP CMOS camera was attached to the eyepiece socket of Nexcope CM701 microscope with the Tucsen 0.5x reduce lens. Three slides are used: A prepared slide of Paramecium which has stained red, yellow and green, a prepared slide of from epidermis for high contrast comparison and a home-made slide of onion epidermis slide stained with Methylene Blue. Before I take the photos, I move the mechanical stage to blank space, perform a white balance then snap a photo with TSView. The same procedure was done with MICAM.
Low Light Condition
To perform this test, I turned the illumination of the microscope all the way down. The TSView software seems to lose the color balance (Top) when the light turned dim. MICAM seems to be able to adjust the color even at low light condition (Bottom). The picture acquired by TSView also are appreared to be too dark.
Normal Light Condition
The images acquired by both software are very close to what I actually see through the eyepiece. TSView seems to produce a little bit brighter image.
Since the paramecium slide does not have any stained with blue, I am using the methylene blue stained onion epidermis. Both images seems to be able to product very real blue color like I observed through microscope. TSView seems to have a little bit more contrast, however, some cytoplasm seems to be over-exposed. However, due to its high contrast, its seems to show a little bit more 3D feel. While the images acquired by MICAM are little bit better with the setting the correct exposure.
Hight contrast Hight contrast seems to be the trouble condition which we might face. It’s very challenge for microscopists to take photos with good quality because the difficulty of setting right exposure and contrast. I am picking this frog epidermis slide because the tissues are semi-transparent while some what space are completely transparent. This creates the hight contrast between different areas.
The images acquired by TSView (Top) is brighter and has higher contrast. The white area seems to be over exposed. While MICAM produce very pleasant image by softening up the contrast. The images are a little bit darker than the what I see through the eyepiece.
Overall, both software product quality images under normal light condition. MICAM produces better pictures when dealing with trouble light conditions, such as low light and high contrast.
TSView Version 7 is currently in beta-testing phase. It should be interesting to compare Version 7 with MICAM.