New camera suggestions

We have an old Zeiss Axiophot with a Zeiss Axiocam ICc 5 camera, but sadly the camera is not micromanager compatible. We’d like to replace the camera to use the microscope with micromanager, preferably with a mono channel camera. We have 2.5-100X objectives and do both brightfield and fluorescence imaging. Any suggestions?

There are quite a few different cameras that could meet your specifications. Do you have any other requirements? Are you for example price sensitive? Only concerned about FPS? Number of pixels? Want a camera that is as similar to a Zeiss Axiocam ICc 5 as possible?


Something < $5k would be preferable. It doesn’t need to have the absolute best specs, since it’s an auxiliary microscope for the lab. We won’t be doing any high-speed imaging with it, so FPS isn’t critical. ~5MP should be fine. The ICc 5 has been pretty good and I wouldn’t want something with substantially less sensitivity for fluorescence imaging.

A moderately expensive CMOS camera might be an option, from FLIR imaging for example Machine Vision – Area Scan Cameras | FLIR Systems. I think MM supports these cameras. Some of these are quite sensitive for example, The disadvantage is the fixed pattern noise and they are not cooled so they won’t be great for long exposures (> 1 second or so).

1 Like

Many of those types of cameras from the Point Grey product line, now offered by FLIR are supported by MM and are usually pretty easy to setup for general purpose imaging. We bought several similar to the requirements and well below the budget described from Edmund Optics. Camera only without anything else in the box.

However, what the FLIR documentation describes as “operating modes” (model specific features you might not need) across all of the camera models has not been fully implemented in MM driver. By “mono channel camera” do you mean monochrome? The Zeiss camera you mentioned is RGB if not mistaken.

Thanks, @Hazen_Babcock . That seems fine for out application.

@ShawnPatrickCasey thanks for the insight. I was a bit unsure after not seeing the FLIR cameras listed on the supported list. By mono, yes I meant monochrome. The current camera we have is indeed RGB, but we don’t use the color channels.

Your current camera might work, or at least most of its capabilities. It might require going through the MM documentation/developer docs or just trial and error. A lot of things work in MM without having to code (much) and without being expressly listed. Quite a bit is not listed as it is either from the OEM manufacturer, or lost somewhere in history.

The Point Grey (FLIR) cameras, I know from 10~15 years ago, using Firewire and a Carnegie-Mellon (CMU) driver. The cameras are reliable/rugged and we still have those old ones floating around the lab. For newer/current models FLIR or most companies will provide support for 3rd party software such as MM.

The problem with the Zeiss cameras is that they do not provide the drivers for third-party software. I did try to get it to work, but it seems this issue has been posted before on the old MM forum.

Often its possible to get the same bit of hardware working several different ways in MM. Sometimes using drivers/files and instructions listed under other companies/projects in the forum. That Zeiss camera looks curiously similar to any number of Firewire cameras produced by camera companies…just happens to be powder coated blue with “Zeiss” stenciled on it.

You might try the CMU driver (dc1394), seeing if you can’t get it to work well enough for your purposes. It works well with MATLAB too.

Thanks for the tip. I briefly tried to get it working with that driver. but it doesn’t seem to be working.

You bought a new computer? Lost all the Zeiss software. Bought a new PC and a PCI-e Firewire card? I am 100% sure that your old camera can “work” with MM.

It’s an old computer with the Lite version of the Zeiss software. The camera doesn’t come up as an imaging device, but rather as Other. I wasn’t able to install the CMU driver on it, but I’m not exactly sure of what I’m doing and the instructions aren’t specific to my use case.

This is maybe trial and error part. So it would be helpful to take a screenshot of what comes up in device manager and post it :thinking:. There are two sets of drivers, one for the Firewire port/card and one for the camera (imaging device) which are relevant The original drivers, regardless of manufacturer, and the CMU drivers are mutually exclusive. It requires manually specifying the correct pair of drivers. If you want to go back to using non-MM software, the reverse case applies.

Besides Point Grey amongst others we’ve had success with Firewire cameras from older Motic automated microscope (which are curiously similar to Baslar’s old cameras). It just took time/patience, trial/error, rebooting, dis/reconnecting, etc. It might be helpful to consult the IT Department. Often there are no instructions specific to each use case for a lot of older hardware and MM. Our problem was we upgraded computers, and didn’t want to get rid of perfectly working hardware. It might be a little frustrating or time consuming, but don’t give up, the money may be better spent elsewhere.

Its also good that you mention its an older computer. USB 3.0 simply did not exist when Firewire was popular. If it is the original computer for the Firewire camera, then it is likely that it does not have USB 3.0 ports. Which means that previously mentioned new FLIR cameras will not work unless you buy an PCI card adding USB 3.0 functionality or upgrade to a newer computer.

@ShawnPatrickCasey our computer isn’t terribly old and I was able to get the FLIR camera working with little effort. Something is wrong with the Zeiss camera installation, as it doesn’t show up in device manager anymore after several attempts to reinstall the drivers. We have a working solution now, and I will have to come back to the Zeiss camera as time permits. We have a very small IT team and I seem to recall someone else had already tried.