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I need help choosing a camera (specific needs)

Old 07-09-14, 02:33 PM
  #26  
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Buy any used Canon DSLR and it will have the EOS utility control that allow PC access and control.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r0CX_3tguXI

If buying used make sure it includes the original software disk, then you you can get updated version of the software if you need.
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Old 07-09-14, 02:47 PM
  #27  
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Huh, that's the software that I used before. Must be the other lab we were in had a Canon. Do you have any camera or lens recommendations that I should look into?
Basically, I want to take a picture of this:

and get an output like this:
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Old 07-09-14, 03:10 PM
  #28  
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For your need and budget there is no need to spend a lot. Someone mentioned they had an XTI and that should work. It has an 8M sensor which is probably sufficient. Even it is a dark room, you can just shoot with ISO 100 and use long shutter and picture quality should be good enough.

If you get anything newer than that it should work.

I have an old XT (EOS 350) sitting at home doing nothing and I also have an EF 28-105 lens too. I got couple batteries as well as 2 GB CF card. If you are interested I can send them to you try it out. If it works then you can pay me later. If it doesn't suit your purpose you can just send them back to me. I think the fair market value for that setup is around $200-$300. PM me if you are interested.
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Old 07-09-14, 04:27 PM
  #29  
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You will need a Macro lens for dimensional accuracy. That's why I asked the question. If some barrel distortion, and fuzzy corners was acceptable then yes, you could get away with a consumer lens. If they're not then a good Macro lens is needed. 1/2" depth of field in a Macro situation is a LOT of depth of field. You will really need to stop the lens down to achieve anything like that.

I'm not sure about the required lens size. In the old days of 35mm film size then 105mm focal length would be recommended. When using smaller than 35mm sensors you get a multiplication factor and the lens is effectively bigger than it would be on a full frame camera. This would be a situation when a digital camera with a smaller sensor size than 35mm (cheaper) would work out well.

Borrowing some gear (or hiring if necessary) would be a good idea to see if it will work for you.

Anthony

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Old 07-09-14, 05:44 PM
  #30  
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I've asked the people I've worked with who used a similar setup which Canon camera and lens they use. I know the camera they use will be way more than I want to spend, but at least I'll be able to see which lens they use. Thanks for your help. I'll probably have more questions when I get that info.

Unfortunately, I think I'm going to have to buy through established storefronts to be able to use lab money, so I doubt I can take you up on your offer as much as I'd like to Tuxbailey. Most of the used storefronts I see don't make mention of coming with software, but I'll keep looking and see what comes up too.
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Old 07-09-14, 07:47 PM
  #31  
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Most camera specific software is a free down load.

It's the camera to OS that will cost.
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Old 07-09-14, 07:52 PM
  #32  
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Originally Posted by himespau View Post
Is it safe to assume that the D300 is better than the D90 even though the D90 is newer?
D90 and D300 came out at almost the same time. The D300 is the last of Nikon's pro quality small sensor cameras. From D200 to D300, and similarly from D80 to D90, Nikon changed sensor technology and the newer sensors have about a 2 f-stop advantage in noise threshold. I have a D300 that I upgraded to from a D70S. I had considered a D90 but went with the D300 instead. The D300 is a very good body, severe overkill for what the OP needs. The D90 and D300 are probably close in capability, but the D300 has a magnesium body frame while the D90 is plastic.

It is almost funny to read the recommendations for macro lenses. Depending on how close you need to focus, any simple 50mm lens will probably do. If you do need to focus closer then you could get a good autofocus macro but it will be expensive. There are good macro focus lenses made in a variety of focal lengths. People like to use 105mm, even out to 180mm, for shooting wildlife because it gets them farther away, but on a copy stand even a 105 might be too long and not get you the field of view that you need. On my D300 I sometimes use a 28mm macro lens. A good macro lens will be very sharp too, but unless you are printing large prints even a standard 50mm will be more than sharp enough. Since you are shooting a stationary object from a copy stand, an older manual focus macro lens would work fine and owuld cost 1/4 as much. KEH has been mentioned and they will have a good selection of used macro lenses. Some of the older macro lenses will only focus to 1:2 without extension tubes but that is more than enough unless your subject is smaller than 32mmx48mm.
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Old 07-09-14, 08:04 PM
  #33  
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Originally Posted by tuxbailey View Post
Buy any used Canon DSLR and it will have the EOS utility control that allow PC access and control.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r0CX_3tguXI

If buying used make sure it includes the original software disk, then you you can get updated version of the software if you need.
If the control software works with newer Canon DSLR's then this might be the way to go. I had a co-worker that was interested in telescopes. He had computer control of his telescope and computer control of his Canon DSLR. He would sit in the house with the telescope outside and operate everything with his computer.

If you buy a Canon DSLR you can buy their basic 50mm lens that is relatively inexpensive, or you can even buy manual focus third party macro lenses that are relatively inexpensive. Your best bet would be to tell us the dimensions of the display that you want to photo and maybe someone can compare it to their own lenses, or take it to a big camera store and try out various lenses for their ability to focus close enough for it.

But I still think a Canon G series camera might work with their software and do what you need, and it is about as advanced as the cheaper Canon DSLR's but for less money.
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Old 07-09-14, 08:14 PM
  #34  
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The whole rectangular object I'm photographing should be at the very minimum 2"x3" and usually 3" by 5", but those individual bands I'm trying to make out are that are demonstrated in the picture are usually more like 1 mm thick by 3-10 mm wide. The freeware I use to analyze the images and crop them and stuff has the ability to count pixels to compare intensity between bands, but I can honestly say that I've only wanted to do that at most a handful of times in my 14 years or so of running these types of gels so, if I lose that, it's not the end of the world, as long as I can differentiate between two bands that are maybe 2-3 mm apart. Is that something I can do with a manual focus 50 mm lens? I guess that's the real question. Depth of field for me is almost always in terms of mm, but can I see the whole image without distortions and can I distinguish two lines with 2-3 mm in between them. Of course that depends on the intensity of the lines, but, if the edges of the image are a bit distorted, that really doesn't matter if the edges of the field of view are outside of the image I need and can be cropped out without loss of information.

If the sensor is going to be frequently hit with UV light whenever it's on, should I get a UV filter to put in front of the lens to protect the sensor?
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Old 07-09-14, 08:16 PM
  #35  
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Originally Posted by ahsposo View Post
Most camera specific software is a free down load.

It's the camera to OS that will cost.
I wonder if, since the camera to OS software ships free with Canons, it would be free (or at least inexpensive) to download from them. Probably not, they have to get their money back somehow.
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Old 07-09-14, 08:48 PM
  #36  
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Maybe not. I have yet to find a Canon owner that knows or uses the software that ships with their camera. I realize maybe I've been asking the wrong people (photo students).

And I realize as a leader of basic photo classes I should explore what's in the Canon box, but I haven't.

It's a failing...
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Old 07-09-14, 08:55 PM
  #37  
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I haven't been in the lab since 2010, but I used to do quite a bit of analytical and quantitative DNA and RNA gel electrophoresis, PCR, Northern blots, and Southern blots. My last lab had a fancy CCD gel documentation system that included a computer and analytical software. Something similar to this: https://ni.vwr.com/app/Header?tmpl=/...osmart_gel.htm

It's a shame that they no longer make the Polaroid gel documentation systems - they were inexpensive, reliable, and useful for photographing analytical gels. Of course quantification was problematic because the dynamic range of Polaroid film was so limited. There are several of free image processing and quantitation programs available - I used to use NIH Image.

I would suggest checking out these vendors. Give them a call and explain your needs and budget.
Syngene DigiGenius: Low Cost Gel Imaging System | Integrated Scientific Solutions Inc.
DNA documentation system
Gel documentation system | Agarose gel electrophoresis | Digital camera
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Old 07-09-14, 09:15 PM
  #38  
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Originally Posted by qtoffer View Post
I haven't been in the lab since 2010, but I used to do quite a bit of analytical and quantitative DNA and RNA gel electrophoresis, PCR, Northern blots, and Southern blots. My last lab had a fancy CCD gel documentation system that included a computer and analytical software. Something similar to this: https://ni.vwr.com/app/Header?tmpl=/...osmart_gel.htm

It's a shame that they no longer make the Polaroid gel documentation systems - they were inexpensive, reliable, and useful for photographing analytical gels. Of course quantification was problematic because the dynamic range of Polaroid film was so limited. There are several of free image processing and quantitation programs available - I used to use NIH Image.

I would suggest checking out these vendors. Give them a call and explain your needs and budget.
Syngene DigiGenius: Low Cost Gel Imaging System | Integrated Scientific Solutions Inc.
DNA documentation system
Gel documentation system | Agarose gel electrophoresis | Digital camera
Yeah, the really fancy ones that can analyze the faint signal from chemiluminesence of Western Blots in addition to DNA-Ethidium Bromide fluorescence with their ccd cameras are nice (as are phosphorimagers), but can run from $30-50k, and that's more than my entire start up fund package. I've also run into situations where one part of the all-in-one system breaks, and the whole thing is broken. Other times, similar pieces of equipment have to be run on the oldest most rickety computer around because their software only runs on windows 98 or something and someone has to nurse an obsolete computer to allow use of a very expensive piece of equipment (in that case a $80 grand HPLC). Was hoping a piecemeal approach would allow more flexibility.

I do use ImageJ from NIH for my quantification/analysis of images, and it works great for what I need it for (and has capabilities far beyond what I can use).

I did find an old cone or two from a Polaroid back in the day that had been left behind by a previous lab occupant (but sadly no camera - and film might be a problem even if I did find it). Since I have a transilluminator, I'm essentially trying to replicate that with a digital camera. I could try attaching the camera to the cone, but, since I have a dark room and a copy stand that allows changing of height of the camera (as well as has four outside mounted white lights if I wanted to image something like an agar plate with bacteria growing on it) I thought I'd try using that instead.

I've seen several of the systems like the ones you link and those are a good idea that I considered, but, as I already have pretty much everything but the camera at this point, I thought I'd try figuring out what camera and lens I needed rather than buying extra parts that I don't need. With what new uv transilluminators go for these days, I figured the fact that I scavenged one that someone was going to throw out would lead to me saving a bit of money.

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Old 07-09-14, 10:28 PM
  #39  
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Originally Posted by himespau View Post
I hadn't realized Nikon's were all that much better than Canon or whatever.
They're not ...

It's kind of like how the Giant, and Trek, and Specialized, and the others have a range of road bicycles from entry-level to pro ... and if you compare the same level of bicycle across the brands there are a lot of similarities and a few differences ... and one person likes one of the differences and so he might get a Trek and another person likes another difference so she might get a Giant ...

Camera brands are very similar.

If you compare a certain level of Nikon with a certain level of Canon ... and the other brands, they'll all do basically the same thing. But there will be a few features that Nikon will do better than Canon and a few features that Canon will do better than Nikon, and so on.

And just like with bicycles you can get "entry level" cameras for relatively inexpensive prices (i.e. $500) ... and they go up from there.

Once you start getting into specialty lenses, which is what you need, they can really "go up from there". (Personally, I'd like to pick up two more lenses for my Canon, but we're buying new bicycles just now, and don't have the extra $2000+ lying around at the moment).
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Old 07-09-14, 10:30 PM
  #40  
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Originally Posted by AnthonyG View Post
My two bobs worth. The heart of what you need is the Lens. You want/need a good quality Macro lens. Good macro lenses are not cheap. They don't have to be that expensive but they are not cheap. Just because a huge range consumer lens say's that its "Macro" doesn't mean that its up to your job.

So lens first. A good copy stand and whatever lighting you need. Will the slide be back lit or front lit? I suggest backlighting would work better but you would need to look into it. Is colour temperature an issue? If you don't know what I mean when I say colour temperature then you need to look into it.

After lens and stand/lighting the camera body comes third in the scheme of things. The lens could well dictate the body you choose. Don't' but a Nikon body first and then decide that the lens that works for you is a Canon lens. I think a mid range Digital SLR would be suitable. The other factors are first though.

Anthony
+1
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Old 07-09-14, 11:14 PM
  #41  
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Originally Posted by himespau View Post

If the sensor is going to be frequently hit with UV light whenever it's on, should I get a UV filter to put in front of the lens to protect the sensor?
I don't think that matters. The point of a filter is to block out what wavelength you don't want for a photograph as it creates noise... but in this case, you want the UV light, no? I don't think it would harm the sensor, but perhaps someone will know more about this. I've never explored the world of UV light, but my old camera had the IR filter removed because the IR light is what I wanted to capture; in that case, I added a filter to block out non-IR light. If any old camera is already capturing what you want, then there is no reason go start experimenting with filters. An additional challenge of adding any filters is that if you put a filter on the lens itself (as opposed to on the sensor itself) then you make it more difficult to set up your photo in the first place (in the case of an IR filter, they can be so black as to not see anything when you look through a view finder or on a screen if connected to a computer... not sure if that would be the case with UV, but I'm sure the problems are similar). What I'm trying to say, is that it could make the whole procedure more complicated (although I say this without having used any UV filters, so I don't know). Keep it simple if simple works.

Another thing to keep in mind is that SLR mirrors wear out. I have a useless Nikon D70 sitting in a drawer for this reason. I think the cameras are being made with better shutter life now, but they will eventually fail. For that reason, a mirrorless digital camera might be a better long term solution as it has no moving parts to wear out... the trade off is that you get a smaller sensor size but that might be moot if a cheap basic camera is already *good enough* for what you are trying to do.

The only time I've used a camera in a lab setting was when I attempted to measure the greenness of algae in a white styrofoam coffee cup and for that my little point and shoot Canon S95 and manual controls was sufficient. I would think that in a dark room that a full sensor is preferable to get as much light captured as possible, so additionally a lens with a 1.8 or 2.0 f stop (or wider, for that matter). It doesn't sound to me like a macro lens is necessary, especially if you are just trying to capture light being emitted... but as someone else said, I suppose the distortion around the edges could be an issue (personally, I doubt it, but I'm just a hobbyist).
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Old 07-10-14, 12:11 AM
  #42  
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The advantage of a macro lens is that it is designed to shoot flat surfaces. This would be of value unless you always shoot at f8 or higher. My Nikon D60 is more camera than I ever had or needed. Its almost hard to take a bad picture (technically) with it. The kit lens it comes with is a 18-55 mm zoom with motion control and autofocus. The motion compensation allows me to handhold shots of .25 seconds and still have a reasonably sharp photo. It focuses as close as 5 inches. The USB plugs into your computer where it looks like another drive. I have no idea about computer control features on the camera.
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Old 07-10-14, 03:31 AM
  #43  
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I've been thinking that the shorter, cheaper Macro lens could well work for you just fine. The usual need for the longer Macro lenses is to allow the lens to stand back far enough to allow you to front light without the lens getting in the way. Since your back lighting its not an issue. Search online for reviews of the specific lenses that you are looking at purchasing. Lots of lens reviews online.

Anthony
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Old 07-10-14, 05:43 AM
  #44  
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Definitely read some lens reviews.
Here's a start, Best macro lens for Nikons: 8 tested | News | TechRadar

They pick a Sigma lens as being the best and better overall than the Nikon lenses. You may be able to get away with the 40mm Nikon Micro lens (Nikon calls them Micro) if you can live with the lens being really close to the subject. Review other lenses as well. Reading this review will give you an idea about the performance characteristics and requirements for Macro photography. Consumer multifunction lenses which state that they have a Macro function are passable for an amateur but not really up to professional use.

Anhony
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Old 07-10-14, 07:09 AM
  #45  
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Yeah, I get confused by all the reviews. That review says a sigma lens is the best and Ken Rockwell says that Sigma and Tamron lenses aren't worth the money.
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Old 07-10-14, 07:13 AM
  #46  
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Originally Posted by himespau View Post
Yeah, I get confused by all the reviews. That review says a sigma lens is the best and Ken Rockwell says that Sigma and Tamron lenses aren't worth the money.
You have to be VERY specific about the model. You can't just go on brand. Some Nikon lenses are great. Some are average. The 40mm Nikon Micro lens referred to in the review I posted has excellent performance but is rated down because its not as versatile and ends up being VERY close to the subject to obtain maximum magnification. If you can live with the lens being very close to the subject and use a smaller sensor body then it may well work for you at a reasonable price.

EDIT: Also people shouldn't diss on Sigma lenses. Sigma have been making great lenses for quite a while. I used to have a Sigma 80-200mm f2.8 lens mounted on a Nikon body and it was a GREAT lens.

Anthony

Last edited by AnthonyG; 07-10-14 at 07:20 AM.
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Old 07-10-14, 07:29 AM
  #47  
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How close is very close? Are we talking inches? A foot?
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Old 07-10-14, 07:38 AM
  #48  
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There is open source software for cameras. It's free to use. I haven't used any of these.

For canon point-and-shoot: CHDK You could get a Canon Powershot very cheaply, and try it.

From this article:
...add RAW image format support (removing a lot of the in-camera processing that the camera does to an image), manual control, bracketing (taking several shots at different settings), additional onscreen info, motion sensing, time lapse, auto triggering, interval shooting, enhanced video capture, USB remote, and even games like Tetris.
or for Canon DSLR: Magic Lantern.



~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Your research needs to take photos of samples so your software can count pixels? It seems that the main thing you need is consistency / repeatability from one photo to the next. And high resolution isn't critical.

from your original post:
...shoestring budget...

It will need to be able to focus on something about the size of an index card (3"x5") to something probably 6" by 10" from 30 or so inches away at most.

It needs to give good resolution images (I'm not sure exactly what "good" means, but I'd like to be able to publish them if necessary).
Do you have to have the automatic transfer to the workstation? Or can you photo a card with the sample ID, then do the sample itself, and batch upload as usual?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

You don't want to record the UV light. It just makes the sample florescence in visible light. You might need a UV filter, but I thought camera sensors were sensitive to infrared light, not UV light.

Last edited by rm -rf; 07-10-14 at 08:01 AM.
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Old 07-10-14, 07:43 AM
  #49  
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Originally Posted by himespau View Post
How close is very close? Are we talking inches? A foot?
We are talking 3.5 cm. About an Inch and a half. Longer, more expensive lenses allow the lens to stand back more from the subject but you are always talking about fairly close distances with Macro photography.

EDIT: Now 3.5cm is the distance required to achieve 1:1 marco photography. If you don't require that kind of magnification then you can move the lens further away. It would probably help if you worked out your required magnification. 1:1 means that a 1cm object covers 1cm of the sensor.

Anthony
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Old 07-10-14, 09:23 AM
  #50  
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So it turns out that the lab where I used to do this uses a Canon 5D Mark II camera with a Canon Zoom EF 24-105mm 1:4 L IS USM macro lens. They shot from about 18 inches or so away. That was probably overkill, but was what we had available in the lab when we wanted to make the setup.

I'm not really sure how much magnification I need. I just need a good quality, reliable, reproducible image. I know some people just hold their camera phone over it to take a picture and that is good enough for 90% of what they do if they're just recording what it looks like for their own records, but, sometimes, it's important to have a higher quality image than that to work with. Doesn't need super huge blowing up, just the ability to zoom in far enough to reproducibly see separation between two white lines against a black background that are 1-2 mm apart. Would 1:4 give me that? 1:10? I just don't know.

And while automatic transfer to the computer isn't essential, most mounts that I've used tend to overlap with the slot for the memory card and I don't want to have to unmount the camera to get the sd card out as we'll be doing this all the time and want the data right away to put in their lab notebooks, not waiting until after the card is full or once every couple of days or whatever. And, like I said, I don't want my students looking down through the viewfinder and getting a face full of harmful UV light that's coming up around the camera.

It's nice if the camera can shoot directly to TIF files, but I can convert it to those with the software I use if not (the publications I submit to - not that the vast majority would ever see publication - require TIFs because apparently they can track how or if they've been modified more easily than jpg files).
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