TECHNICAL SUPPORT FAQs
A. It's a precision, multi-element optical lens, along with precision mechanical attachments that allow you to select and use one of the hundreds of high-resolution "consumer" type digital cameras that are currently available! The performance of modern digital cameras have dramatically improved, and at the same time their price has plummeted. It only makes sense that we should use them to take high-resolution pictures with our microscopes. However there are many different manufacturers of digital cameras and they follow no particular optical or mechanical standard in their design. Up until recently there was no single system that could be used to attach them to a microscope. You would need to get a particular attachment from the microscope manufacturer that would only work with a very limited number of cameras, and the cost was usually very high. Now, by combining state-of-the-art optical design with a huge selection of camera attachments, our Clearshot 600 kit solves that problem affordably and with amazing results.
A. The kit bundle consists of two separate elements. 1) the Clearshot 600 kit (PN: S-04107) and; 2) the camera-specific attachment kit (PN: various).
1) The Clearshot 600 kit contains:
2) The camera-specific attachment kit varies depending on which camera you are using. It can be a very simple ring, or an assembly of several different components.
A. It's quite easy. First you determine what kind of adapter will fit your microscope. The majority of compound microscopes will use the 23mm eyetube adapter, and the majority of stereo microscopes will use the 30mm eyetube adapter.
If you have a trinocular or dual-view microscope, you should mount the adapter/camera in the vertical port (example pictures). If you have any other style you will mount it in one of the eyepiece tubes. You select the adapter that fits your microscope, screw it on to the bottom of the optical core. Then screw the camera-specific attachment kit to the top of the optical core. Then assemble this to your camera and you're all set! On some cameras it's easier to attach the camera-specific ring to it first, and then onto the optical core.
Exactly how you will adjust your camera for the optimum picture will vary significantly from camera to camera. Often the manufacturer will have suggestions (Nikon is very good about this). Usually you will zoom the camera lens out to full wide-angle viewing, and then zoom it back in to minimize any vignetting, or to obtain the desired field-of-view. You will also probably obtain the best picture by setting the camera to manual shutter and aperture rather than an auto mode. You will need to experiment with your camera and the type of specimen you are photographing to obtain the best picture.
A. This question is really best answered by your camera manufacturer. It will depend on many factors including your camera's lens system, the type of specimen you are looking at, the microscope's illumination system and intensity required, etc. If your camera manufacturer does not offer any help in this area, then you are probably in for a lot of trial and error (which may be true regardless). In general however, following the guidelines outlined in the last paragraph of the previous question will be a good place to start.
A. Typically yes, that's it. If anything else is required there will be a note displayed indicating what else may be needed. Just be sure your microscope has one of the standard optical connections that the Clearshot 600 supports. These are a 23mm or 30mm eyetube, a C/CS mount or a T-mount. This covers the vast majority of the microscopes on the market. The bundle number also includes the attachment ring that will fit your camera, so you have everything you need. Please note: there are one or two camera models out of the hundreds we support that will require an additional adapter of some sort not included in the Clearshot 600 kit. If that is the case, there will be a note displayed when you select your camera model right below the kit price. However if there is no such note, there are no additional parts needed.
A. Yes. The kit also includes the standard 1.25" eyetube adapter for use on telescopes.
A. When you see the quality and precision of this system you may be surprised at how we can offer it at such a low price. There are a few reasons: Because we have one system that will fit so many different cameras and microscopes, significant manufacturing efficiencies are attained by producing just one model in large quantities. Because it uses the T-mount standard, in many cases we can also use standard camera attachment rings that are also made in very large quantities by various camera accessory suppliers. In addition, we frankly believe that many of the large manufacturers of microscopes charge extraordinarily high prices for accessories like this. If you are lucky enough to find a product from the manufacturer that will fit your microscope and camera combination, you may be surprised at how much they expect you to pay. We believe we will all be better served by charging a fair price and therefore selling more units.
A. Because the old 35mm style removable lens film cameras can often be attached to a microscope with a simple mechanical ring, many people think that a digital camera should attach the same way. However, due to the built-in lenses and the detector size on today's digital cameras, this does not work satisfactorily (or at all). Another optical element is required to compensate for these factors. The optical core of the Clearshot 600 system is a sophisticated 4 lens element that adjusts the microscope's image accordingly. Plus, the lenses are oversize to minimize vignetting. This is then attached to a special attachment kit made especially for your particular digital camera.
A. Yes, it will work with any microscope that has either a 23mm, 30mm, C/CS mount, or T-Mount attachment capability. This encompasses the vast majority of all microscopes on the market. Click here to see sample pictures of different configurations. Although the adapter may fit on a particular microscope, there may be situations where you have to be extremely careful as the assembly may be unstable or may damage your microscope. For example, although you can attach our system to a small, monocular student microscope, it may not be a great idea to have your expensive camera hanging out at a 45 degree angle, and it may just tip the microscope over.
A. It's not easy to talk "apples-to-apples" when discussing magnification obtained through an eyepiece vs. magnification as seen with an electronic device such as a monitor or from a printed image. It becomes more accurate to discuss field-of-view rather than magnification. Unfortunately the details of this topic are beyond the scope of this FAQ. However, that said, on a microscope the Clearshot 600 will approximate a 6x eyepiece by itself, not taking into account the position of the digital camera's zoom lens. On a telescope it emulates a 40mm eyepiece.
A. The simple answer is: resolution and cost. Because of the fantastic increases in resolution obtained by digital cameras in the past few years, and the dramatic reduction in cost, it is absolutely the most cost-effective way to get a high-resolution picture from your microscope. It could literally cost $10,000 dollars to get an equivalent resolution camera specifically designed for microscopy. And, if you want to print large, good quality pictures of your images, you must use a high-resolution camera.
However most of the microscopy cameras we offer are also "live" cameras. If you want to display a moving image on a monitor or projector, this is the only way to do it. It also tends to be much easier and faster to get an acceptable image using a live camera since you immediately see the effect of varying the illumination, focus, etc. Plus it's the only way to take advantage of the sophisticated software available with some of our microscopy cameras which enable measurement, counting, image comparison, etc. Click here to view our camera section.
A. We've heard great things about the Nikon 4300 and the Canon G3 or G5.
A. No, microscopes are our specialty, and there are literally hundreds of companies that specialize in cameras.
A. Yes. Typically this is done by attaching the Clearshot 600 to a tube that covers the zoom lens. However different cameras may have different mounting techniques. You can be confident that if your camera is on the list it will attach to the Clearshot 600 system.
A. The bundle consists of a Clearshot 600 and a camera-specific attachment kit. Different cameras require different styles and complexities of attachment kit, so the price for this part of the bundle will vary a little.
A. The Clearshot 600 kit includes adapters to fit the following eyepiece tubes or optical ports: 23mm eyetube, 30mm eyetube, C/CS mount, 1.25in. and T mount. This covers the vast majority of all microscopes on the market.
A. Unfortunately at this time we can only offer the adapters that are included in the Clearshot 600 kit. If your microscope has a different type of optical connection, you can probably contact your microscope manufacturer to obtain one of the standards that are supported by the Clearshot 600.
A. Unfortunately no. We don't have access to all the records of all microscopes. However it should be pretty easy to verify what configuration you have, just read these FAQs. If you have any trouble at all, please feel free to contact us for assistance.
A. This is a good question and we have looked into it carefully. We found that we are able to enjoy significant cost savings by having only one configuration of the Clearshot 600 kit that covers virtually all of the microscope requirements in the market. If we were to manufacture, process and ship several different configurations, each with only one specific adapter, we would not be able to drop the price due to the increase in processing and parts cost. Although the included adapters are precision parts, they are purchased in large quantity and relatively inexpensive (the lion's share of the cost is in the optical lens assembly). Therefore, you could actually consider the extra adapters as having been "thrown in" at no additional cost! Plus, with the complete kit you have the flexibility to upgrade your microscope or use another one without having to purchase the additional adapters.
A. No, the Clearshot 600 kit is strictly an optical and mechanical device. Any software you may need to work with your camera is provided by the camera manufacturer.
A. No. All you would need is an additional camera-specific attachment ring that matches your other camera. Please contact us to order.
A. Absolutely! The adapters that are included will fit the vast majority of microscopes on the market.
A. It depends. If you have a T mount port for your microscope, you won't need the Clearshot 600 kit, just the camera attachment kit (contact us to order). If you want to use an eyepiece tube or C/CS mount on your microscope to mount the camera, you will need the Clearshot 600 kit.
A. Most microscopes will have a 23mm or 30mm eyetube where you can mount the Clearshot 600 assembly. You would just remove the eyepiece from this tube. It is also common to have an eyetube in the vertical position of a trinocular or dual-view microscope. You can check by removing the eyepiece and measuring the inside diameter of the tube that is attached to the microscope. Also, you can connect the Clearshot 600 to a T mount or C/CS mount on the microscope as well. If you are not sure whether you have one of these other optical ports on your microscope, you should contact the microscope manufacturer or dealer where you purchased it.
A. This can mean one of two things. Either we could not adequately attach to your camera (it doesn't have threads, etc.) or we have not yet tested it. Camera manufacturers are constantly introducing new cameras and we try and keep up, but it can sometimes take a little time. However many times they will introduce a model and it will have the same attachment characteristics (thread sizes, etc.) as an existing model we have already tested. In that case we just have to confirm this and we're ready to go. So...if the model is not on the list, please contact us so we can check.
A. Vignetting is the appearance of darkness around the edge of the picture, as if you are looking at the image through a pipe. This is particularly noticeable while looking through a microscope because the microscope's image is round, and the camera's format is rectangular. Sometimes you can eliminate this effect by magnifying the microscope's image until it completely covers the camera's detector, but many times you cannot. It is a function of the microscope's projected image size, the lens size of the relay optical system (the Clearshot 600), the optics built into the camera and the camera's detector size. It will be particularly noticeable while using the smallest adapter (23mm) and a camera with a large detector (e.g., an SLR style digital camera with removable lenses). However rest assured the Clearshot 600 has been specifically designed to minimize this effect (oversize optics, tight spacing, precision tolerances, etc.) and we believe will give you the best result currently available.
A. Please see the previous question for a discussion of this effect. The typical procedure when using a digital camera with built-in lenses is to zoom the camera lens out to full wide-angle position, and then slowly zoom back in until the vignetting effect is minimized, or you achieve the desired field-of-view of your microscopic specimen. Often as you zoom in the vignetting will be reduced to a certain point, but then will not reduce any further. At that point you should stop.
A. Yes...and here's why: Today's digital cameras can have an extremely high pixel count for the price. Even if the image you end up with has vignetting, the portion of the picture that contains the microscope's image is going to be so chock-full-of-pixels that you can still get a very high resolution picture. If you don't want the darkness around the edge, you can crop it out with an inexpensive image processing program (e.g., Microsoft Picture It!) and still have plenty of resolution to view or print a highly detailed picture.
Now, with that said, sometimes people will want to upgrade their camera to get more resolution and will get disappointing results. For example, let's say you have a 4 mega pixel camera and you decide to upgrade to a 5 mega pixel. However the new camera's higher resolution is obtained by increasing the physical size of the detector by 25%. You may not benefit from the increased detector resolution if the actual exposed area is proportionally smaller (assuming no change in lens design, etc.). However this will not always be the case. For example, the 5 mega pixel Canon G5 has the same size detector as the 4 mega pixel Canon G3, so upgrading would not change the vignetting effect and you could expect an increase in image resolution.
Of course there are many things that affect vignetting and the above example may be an oversimplification. However, if you want to upgrade it's important to consider the new detector size and, if possible, try it out first.
A. In the highly unlikely circumstance that you don't like the Clearshot 600 kit, don't worry. Just return it within 30 days and we'll refund your money without question, excluding shipping charges.
TECHNICAL SUPPORT ANSWERS
A. If the camera you are trying to attach is on our list, you can be sure it will fit. Usually the problem is trying to attach the wrong ring to the camera. First of all, be sure you are trying to use the camera-specific attachment kit (which could be just one ring). It would typically be shipped in its own zip-lock bag. The vast majority of the calls we get with this problem are because the attachment kit was left unnoticed in the packaging materials. The bag with this kit may also may be labeled with some other camera's model number on it. That's okay. Manufacturers often use the same mechanics when they introduce new models, so an attachment kit originally designed for one camera can work with many different cameras. If you have found the attachment kit and still can't get it to work, or you can't find it at all, please give us a call so we can resolve the problem.
A. The Clearshot 600 kit comes with the appropriate adapters to fit the following optical connections: 23mm eyepiece tube (most common for compound microscopes), 30mm eyepiece tube (most common for stereo microscopes), 1.25" eyepiece tube (telescope standard), C or CS-mount (standard for attaching closed circuit style video cameras), or T-mount (photographic attachment standard).
However, occasionally when trying to use a trinocular microscope, the third vertical port has an odd size tube, or no tube at all. In almost all situations the microscope would normally come with one of the above-mentioned standard ports. But it may have been replaced, lost or purchased with some kind of adapter unique to that particular manufacturer. In that case, you will need to get back to a standard size. Of course, if you bought the microscope from us you will have no difficult doing this, just give us a call. Otherwise you will need to get one from your microscope manufacturer or dealer. If you have a choice, get an attachment tube with a large inside diameter such as the T mount as this will help minimize vignetting. If you're not sure what to specify and the dealer is not helping much (some dealers and manufacturers are not the easiest to work with!), then just tell them you want the attachment tube that would allow you to put an eyepiece in the third port (but don't get the eyepiece). Then you know you will get something that can work.
A. If you ordered one of the bundle numbers found on our camera adapter page you will receive three items in the package: 1) The Clearshot 600 kit with lens and 4 metal attachments; 2) an instruction sheet; and 3) the camera-specific attachment kit, usually in a zip-lock plastic bag. The most common problem we hear about is the inability to attach the system to the camera because the attachment kit was left unnoticed in the packaging materials and the user is trying to attach one of the microscope adapters from the Clearshot 600 kit. If you've found all these items (or can't find them all) and still can't get it to work, please call us!
A. First of all, you need to determine what "a lot" means. Some vignetting is normal and with some configurations unavoidable (see previous question here).
However if what you see is a very small circle of the microscope's image (like the diameter of a pencil) then there's a problem. Usually this is caused by attaching the system to the wrong type of optical attachment on the microscope. Sometimes, even though the attachment will screw onto, or fit inside the microscope's adapter, it may be the wrong adapter. It may have a lens or something in it that is preventing a proper image. Make sure the attachment port is one that is designed to work with one of the 5 microscope standards that comes in the Clearshot 600 kit (see list here). Also, if the Clearshot 600 adapter will not properly screw onto an attachment, or slip into an eyepiece tube port on the microscope, there is a problem. There is never a situation where it is okay to just sit the adapter on top of a hole in the microscope. It must either screw onto a threaded tube, or slip inside an eyepiece tube (just like an eyepiece).
A. Some cameras have no threaded portion in the front. In those cases where we've determined it will work with the Clearshot 600, but has no threads, we supply a bracket that screws into the tripod hole in the bottom of the camera. This allows you to attach the Clearshot 600 optical lens assembly to the front of the camera's lens.
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