MDS 100 Digital Microscope Camera
ever a subject and a method of recording that subject fit together
like a hand in a glove, pond "micro-critters" and videomicrography
are an ideal fit. I receive an immense amount of satisfaction
from photomicrography and the still images I create but I learn
more about the pond "micro-critters" and their behavior
from videomicrography. If you have done any research into videomicrography
then you know how quickly the prices of equipment can add up to
a small monthly house payment or how cumbersome it is to convert
a color security camera for videomicrography. If you use a color
security camera then you have to connect a camera to a VCR and
the VCR to your computer via a video capture card. Too much expense
and fiddling for me!
produced a digital camera that connects to the computer via the
USB interface, the Kodak MDS100. You can find these occasionally
for relatively attractive prices. I purchased one and found it
extremely difficult to obtain satisfactory images and videos.
In fact, I know of only one person who has mastered the Kodak
MDS100 and I believe he uses a bit of voodoo to produce his images!
The Kodak MDS100 is extremely sensitive to infrared and requires
the light source be heavily filtered for infrared. Additionally,
I could never get away from images and video clips that had extremely
green centers and extremely magenta image margins. Wherein lay
an inexpensive video solution?
Quick Cam Zoom Webcam
the lowly webcam! With the advent of the USB interface and the
proliferation of video conferencing, "live cam" websites,
and video emails, the production costs of small 1/3" CCD
arrays have fallen dramatically. The result has been a plethora
of very reasonably priced webcams with a host of added features.
Before I purchased my webcam I performed extensive research into
the various brands and models available. I made a list of features
that my ideal webcam would include: an easily removed lens, built-in
infrared filtration, at least 640 x 480 pixel resolution (for
still images), at least 30 fps recording ability at 320 x 240
pixel resolution, and a software package that offered a maximum
of control features, all for under $100.00US.
extensive research I settled on the Logitech
Quick Cam® Zoom. The lens is very easily removed
and there is an infrared filter over the CCD array (this filter
later turned out to be more trouble than it was worth!). The CCD
array has a true 640 x 480 pixel resolution, not interpolated.
The camera control software was very impressive. The software
allows for control of image size, control of the color temperature
of the light source, control of the contrast/density settings,
and even control of the camera's shutter speed. Of great importance
is that the video frame rate is 30 fps at 320 x 240 pixels resolution.
The Kodak MDS100 could only muster up 15 fps in video mode. The
video rate from the Logitech webcam makes for much smoother video
clips, in my opinion. Happily, it cost just under $70.00US at
our local electronics and computer outlet! (Continue
to Part II...)