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The Society for the study of flies (Diptera)

Affiliated to the British Entomological and Natural History Society (BENHS)

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#1 2010-04-09 14:49:29

sethirish
Registered user
Name: Array Array
Registered: 2010-03-11
Posts: 16

USB Digital Cameras

Has anyone used USB Digital Microscopes as microscopes or for taking photos?  I'd be interested in any recommendations or advice, especially for use with flies less than 1cm in length.

Thanks!

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#2 2010-04-09 15:06:49

brianh
DF Members
Name: Brian Harding
From: Kidlington, Oxfordshire
Registered: 2008-10-27
Posts: 326

Re: USB Digital Cameras

I have seen them used for both purposes. The better ones have zoom and inbuilt light.   They are relatively cheap, but less versatile than a stereo microscope, which can be as cheap. You are tied to a computer, and if you already have a compact camera I have seen people successfully take pictures through the eyepiece of a microscope.

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#3 2010-04-10 17:11:28

afbainbridge
DF Members
Name: Anthony Bainbridge
From: Codford, Wiltshire
Registered: 2008-10-25
Posts: 39

Re: USB Digital Cameras

Perhaps a related question - I've just bought a Nikon D90 and am keen to improve my macro-photography.  I'd welcome advice on macro lenses, preferably those which successfully balance the quality vs. price issues.  Has anyone used the Tamron 90mm macro, for example?

Anthony Bainbridge

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#4 2010-04-10 22:29:29

Mark
DF Members
Name: Mark Mitchell
From: Hampshire
Registered: 2008-06-17
Posts: 273

Re: USB Digital Cameras

afbainbridge wrote:

Perhaps a related question - I've just bought a Nikon D90 and am keen to improve my macro-photography.  I'd welcome advice on macro lenses, preferably those which successfully balance the quality vs. price issues.  Has anyone used the Tamron 90mm macro, for example?

Anthony Bainbridge

Money spent on quality optics is rarely wasted, on both cameras and microscopes. My reason for a buying Nikon was to get their superb lenses. If your purse will run to the Nikkor Macro lens, then get that, the VR feature would be good for macro. I have seen super results with the Sigma 150mm Marco.

You could save some money by purchasing new from Hong Kong on Ebay? I did this once in the past for a Nikon lens with no problem, just use a good seller, and one that will refund the customs charges if these get added.

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#5 2010-04-11 01:12:50

brianh
DF Members
Name: Brian Harding
From: Kidlington, Oxfordshire
Registered: 2008-10-27
Posts: 326

Re: USB Digital Cameras

I am a great fan of Nikon products, particularly the lenses. I have used the 105mm VR lens with consistent good sharp results. In the past I have used independent lenses, but they are not in my opinion as good as the Nikon lenses. Unfortunately the best often costs a little more, and no dealer is likely to let you compare lenses in the field.
If you are going for 1:1 reproduction depth of field will be a problem with available light.  I use a powerful Nikon flash which is controlled through the lens (TTL) by the camera body, and at macro distances that means that I can use f32 for maximum depth of field. I actually use the camera on manual shutter speed 1/250 sec at f32. At up to 2 metres great results every time with excellent exposure.

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#6 2010-04-11 19:56:22

Andy chick
DF Members
Name: Andy Chick
From: Nottingham
Registered: 2008-02-26
Posts: 99
Website

Re: USB Digital Cameras

i used one for a while they don't realy have the working distance for most flies, they are ok for flies that are slide mounted, but not for anything else really

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#7 2010-04-16 21:25:23

afbainbridge
DF Members
Name: Anthony Bainbridge
From: Codford, Wiltshire
Registered: 2008-10-25
Posts: 39

Re: USB Digital Cameras

Thanks to those who gave advice on getting the best results from one's new digital SLR.  I have a lot to learn.   As (if) I improve I'll post pictures from time to time.  This is really taking me back to school.

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#8 2010-04-23 12:55:47

PeterB
DF Members
Name: Peter Bolson
From: North Cumbria
Registered: 2008-08-22
Posts: 90

Re: USB Digital Cameras

Hello Anthony
I happen to have both the Tamron 90mm f2.8 and the Nikkor 60mm f2.8 and I can't honestly say I can see a lot of difference in the results. I have done some rough measurements at 1:1 magnifcation and with the tamron front of camera to object is 25cm and front of lens to object is 18cm. With the Nikon front of camera to to object is 10cm and front of lens to object is 6cm. So you can see the tamron allows to you to be a little further away when shooting in the field. If I had to choose that's the one I would go for, especially as it's a lot cheaper.
Incidentally I have a D80 and envy you your D90 as I would love to have live view to help with focussing as my eyes get older.
Peter

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#9 2010-06-19 23:00:39

8Fly
Registered user
Name: Dennis T
From: Germany
Registered: 2010-06-19
Posts: 1

Re: USB Digital Cameras

I'm pretty new to Diptera and am also wondering about the digital microscopes. I've been looking at the models from this website and was wondering if anyone here uses these? http://www.usbdigitalmicroscopes.com/products.html
I'm probably looking at a budget of ca. 300-500. Thanks for any suggestions!

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#10 2010-06-20 02:13:04

brianh
DF Members
Name: Brian Harding
From: Kidlington, Oxfordshire
Registered: 2008-10-27
Posts: 326

Re: USB Digital Cameras

The microscopes shown in the link are using a video camera which does not have a very high resolution, and in your price range does not have zoom magnification. In addition to the prices shown you would also need a video monitor at additional cost. If you intend to take photographs rather than view on a monitor these will probably not be suitable.
You probably would want a zoom trinocular microscope (usually X7 - X45) with a 5 megapixel camera. With your stated budget you may have difficulty in getting this setup.
For information purposes look at the Brunel Microscope website and look at the BMS microscope and Minicam (search in the website on stereo microcopes and photomicrography).  You can buy similar in Germany on ebay and may get them within your target budget.

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#11 2010-08-07 22:33:36

NeilF
DF Members
Name: NFrankum
Registered: 2010-04-18
Posts: 4

Re: USB Digital Cameras

I've seen passable results in photos of 2mm long cynipid wasps from a 29-99 USB 'microscope' from Maplin. Unfortunately, this product is no longer available, though there is a more expensive (50) one on their website.

As with all things, you either go for the cheap and cheerful and accept the limitations, or pay a lot more for higher quality.

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#12 2010-11-29 09:37:12

sethirish
Registered user
Name: Array Array
Registered: 2010-03-11
Posts: 16

Re: USB Digital Cameras

In the end, I got a USB microscope (with "400x magnification") from Maplin.  It was about 40 pounds.  I've been using it to take pictures of pinned mosquitoes and though it doesn't give enough detail to get the diagnostic features, such as setae or scales, it does give me a good general picture of the mosquito.  This has been helpful for confirmation, when I think I have identified the species correctly and I can look at pictures I'd taken previously and see that, sure enough, that is what it is.

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