Jump to content


Photo
- - - - -

advice needed


  • Please log in to reply
9 replies to this topic

#1 Leslie

Leslie

    Worm Girl

  • Critter Expert
  • 1816 posts
  • Location:Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County
  • Interests:marine inverts (especially polychaetes), micro- and macrophotography

Posted 29 September 2005 - 03:38 PM

Hi James -- Nearly all of my photography is of small narcotized inverts through a Leica MZ12 dissecting scope. I use either a Sony F717 with a Martin Microscope adapter or an old Nikon F2 on a phototube. I'd like to go all digital & drop the film but at medium to high magnifications (30-100X) the digital images get very pixellated. Even at low magnifications (8-30X) I can always tell the difference between film & digital images - the film is much crisper while the digital is soft. Another problem is that the digital images of methyl green stained animals are nearly always poor regardless of magnification. (Poor enough that I won't post one for all to see) What's my solution? Would going to a higher MP camera help? I drool over the new Leaf Mamiya DSLR but at $23,000 it's a bit much. In an ideal world the museum would pony up the bucks for one but that ain't gonna happen (does it snow in hell?)

Also, have you done much micro or macro photography at sea? Will using strobes & 1/250 be fast enough to counteract vibration? If our proposal gets accepted I'll be spending a month at sea doing nothing but live sorting & photography while at anchor.

Thanks, Leslie

#2 anthp

anthp

    Orca

  • Member
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 1334 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Melbourne, Australia
  • Interests:Photography in Le Grand Bleu.

Posted 29 September 2005 - 07:24 PM

Hi Leslie,

I haven't done heaps of this (except as a student at uni), but intuitively a couple of things strike me...

With the Sony, you are shooting through two sets of optics (the scope and the camera), so all other things being equal - it can never be as high quality as an identical system using only the scope's optics. So it isn't really a fair test of the digi v film capabilities (not to mention the Sony only has a very tiny, relatively low resolution 5mp? sensor).

Given that you already have a phototube with an F-mount - have you thought about grabbing a D50/70 and sticking it on the top? I would be willing to bet you'd find a marked improvement over the Sony. I guess the only issue would be that you only capture a 1.5 crop of the centre of the frame. Not sure how tightly you normally frame your critters.

Another alternative would be to grab a Canon mount phototube and stick a 5D on it - where you would have the advantage of a full frame coverage and resolution enough to out perform the F2 I'd reckon.

I'm not sure the Mamiya is warranted I'm afraid - but if the museum is paying... :)

Finally re the colour of methyl green stained images. I reckon you could solve this issue by shooting RAW files with any digital and applying WB after the fact.

Re the vibration issue - i'll leave that for someone more knowledgable, but at a guess... If it is sea generated vibration I'm sure strobe will freeze it, but with engine vibration - not so sure. But you did mention being at anchor didn't you.

HTH.
Anthony Plummer
anthonyplummer.com
"It's much better down there... It's a better place..." Enzo, Le Grand Bleu.

#3 Leslie

Leslie

    Worm Girl

  • Critter Expert
  • 1816 posts
  • Location:Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County
  • Interests:marine inverts (especially polychaetes), micro- and macrophotography

Posted 29 September 2005 - 09:21 PM

With the Sony, you are shooting through two sets of optics (the scope and the camera), so all other things being equal - it can never be as high quality as an identical system using only the scope's optics. So it isn't really a fair test of the digi v film capabilities (not to mention the Sony only has a very tiny, relatively low resolution 5mp? sensor).
    Never thought about the 2 sets of optics!  and it's a 5 as compared to the 22 (26) it takes to equal film.    that's why I'd love to try the Leaf Mamiya which is 22 MP.  But I don't know enough to know if increased MP would solve the problem.

Given that you already have a phototube with an F-mount - have you thought about grabbing a D50/70 and sticking it on the top? I would be willing to bet you'd find a marked improvement over the Sony. I guess the only issue would be that you only capture a 1.5 crop of the centre of the frame. Not sure how tightly you normally frame your critters.
    I thought about buying the D2X with 14.5.  I've read thatD2X RAW files are effectively 20 MP so that would be very close to film.  How much I frame depends on the size of the animal & the scope magnification.  It's interesting - with film I learned to get a sharp focus at a small magnification then crop & enlarge during photoshop. while with digital I can shoot at higher magnification & still get the same focus as at a smaller mag.
     
Another alternative would be to grab a Canon mount phototube and stick a 5D on it - where you would have the advantage of a full frame coverage and resolution enough to out perform the F2 I'd reckon.

I'm not sure the Mamiya is warranted I'm afraid - but if the museum is paying... :)
  I repeat - does it snow in hell?

Finally re the colour of methyl green stained images. I reckon you could solve this issue by shooting RAW files with any digital and applying WB after the fact.

Re the vibration issue - i'll leave that for someone more knowledgable, but at a guess... If it is sea generated vibration I'm sure strobe will freeze it, but with engine vibration - not so sure. But you did mention being at anchor didn't you.

HTH.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>



#4 Leslie

Leslie

    Worm Girl

  • Critter Expert
  • 1816 posts
  • Location:Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County
  • Interests:marine inverts (especially polychaetes), micro- and macrophotography

Posted 29 September 2005 - 09:26 PM

Oops, did you know that if you hit the wrong combination of keys your unfinished post gets posted?

The problem with the methyl green stained animals is not the color so much as that they are always fuzzy. Strange.....

I'm told that at least some of the ship's engines & generators are always on to provide power so there's always vibration at anchor. I've read about expensive vibration damping tables but those are as far out of my budget (non-existent) as a Mamiya. I'll try a slab of neoprene but maybe there's something better.

thanks for the feedback--

#5 MikeVeitch

MikeVeitch

    1.7kbps Manta Boy

  • Senior Moderator
  • 6167 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:In Bali, Indonesia but from Vancouver, BC
  • Interests:Teaching Underwater Photography

Posted 29 September 2005 - 11:44 PM

Sorry to take your thread off topic...

Anthp! I thought perhaps you had fallen off the planet...welcome back from wherever...

Join us for our Lembeh and Bunaken Photo Workshop 12-19 May 2014
Blog and Photo Archive/Portfolio Site www.mikeveitchblog.com
Learn underwater photography in Indonesia or Join me on a trip www.underwatertribe.com


#6 anthp

anthp

    Orca

  • Member
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 1334 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Melbourne, Australia
  • Interests:Photography in Le Grand Bleu.

Posted 29 September 2005 - 11:59 PM

Hey Mike - I didn't think anybody would miss me! :) :)

I go away for a month and Manta Boy turns into a Mod - good for you matey!

My GF and I just got back from a whirl wind tour to Mexico, El Salvador and Belize on a gig for Lonely Planet - taking pics for a new (topside) coffee table book. We did squeeze time for one dive in Belize (Hol Chan MP) on the last day which was great fun - couldn't believe how warm the water was - viz wasn't bad either. Didn't take the housing and strobes on the trip though - had enough other photographic crap to keep both our bags full.

I must admit I did check in on WP once or twice while we were away (with much eye rolling from GF who thought I might be "cured"). Didn't have much time for posting though. I caught one thread where Alex was posting for 35K" which kinda trumped anything I might have been able to pull.

And sorry Leslie - i echo Mike... I'll try to be good now.
Anthony Plummer
anthonyplummer.com
"It's much better down there... It's a better place..." Enzo, Le Grand Bleu.

#7 Leslie

Leslie

    Worm Girl

  • Critter Expert
  • 1816 posts
  • Location:Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County
  • Interests:marine inverts (especially polychaetes), micro- and macrophotography

Posted 30 September 2005 - 12:11 PM

No problem -- it's nice to know what you've been up to!

#8 JamesWood

JamesWood

    Wolf Eel

  • Scientific Photo Expert
  • 102 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Waikiki, Hawaii

Posted 30 September 2005 - 04:51 PM

I don’t do much microscope work actually, just a bit on newly settled corals using a borrowed scope and a coolpix. This system has fiberoptic lights, 1/15th is as fast a shutter speed as I can get at f7.4 which is max aperture. I’m down to ¼ shutter speed frequently. This works with corals which don’t move much but when I tried to shoot a snail. . . it could crawl all the way across the screen but the time the camera would take the shot (digital delay) and the images were blurry due to the animals motion. Gerrrr!

I’ve been meaning to ask about using flash myself. . . Hopefully someone else can advise us on if this will work on a boat. I would guess it would, since a flash is an instant in time but I don’t actually know that. I do know that this would make me sea sick fast!!!

I’ve been told that above 5 MP the microscopes resolution becomes the weak link, so getting a better camera may not help.

However, I do agree with the comment about Sony’s small pixels. Also, some of the dSLR camera’s have a long exposure noise reduction feature which may help with your images. I use this when photographing bioluminescence and for night shots.

I don’t think the cropping will be an issue. It actually gives you a bit more magnification and focuses the image through the center of the lens which is usually the sharpest part.
Dr. James B. Wood
Associate Director of the Waikiki Aquarium
The Cephalopod Page

#9 Leslie

Leslie

    Worm Girl

  • Critter Expert
  • 1816 posts
  • Location:Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County
  • Interests:marine inverts (especially polychaetes), micro- and macrophotography

Posted 02 October 2005 - 09:22 AM

With the film camera on the scope I use two synched flashes at 1/250 so animal movement is not a problem - at least on land. The shape of the animal is more problematical because of the extremely flat DOF so I both narcotize the specimens & make sequential shots at different focus heights to composite later. My flashes are for Nikons so I use only the fiberoptics with the digital & use long exposures - obviously this won't do on a ship. Another reason to get a new camera.

#10 Paul Kay

Paul Kay

    Giant Squid

  • Industry
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 1723 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:North Wales, UK

Posted 02 October 2005 - 12:39 PM

The Sony's optics are probably your problem. I'm not sure how they 'see' the image created by the microscope but they most certainly are not optimised for this sort of work and this is almost certainly the source of your problem.

Your solution is to use a dSLR and I would look at the full frame models from Canon (the cropped sensor of the Nikon's is going to effectively magnify the image by 1.5x due to its crop so will not enlarge as much as those from a full frame sensor). The new 5D is your cheapest option or perhaps a used 1DS. On this note, an adapter is available from Novoflex allowing Nikon lenses to mount on the Canon - you could use this in conjunction with the Nikon fitting Phototube.

You should shoot raw image files and optimise them afterwards - this should help with the stained specimens too.

Lastly flash illumination will 'freeze' the images I would think, but you will need to find out the best way to achieve this with your specific microscope.

The last involvement I had with digital and microscopy was some consultancy with a diatom geologist! I had to explain that his set up (a very expensive Leica microscope running oil immersed objectives) was basically diffraction limited and that higher MPixels would simply produce larger but equally fuzzy prints!
Paul Kay, Canon EOS5D/5DII, SEACAM/S45, 15, 24L, 60/2.8 (+Ext12II) & 100/2.8 Macros - UK/Ireland Seacam Sales underseacameras & marinewildlife & paulkayphotography & welshmarinefish