The UNITRON inverted microscope is pretty cool in and of itself. When paired with the EXO Labs Camera (ELC), this vintage instrument went from old-school analog to high-tech digital, and from cool to awesome.
What is even better is that the transformation happened in a trice because the EXO Labs Camera is as easy to set up as it is to use. The ELC’s adapter lens is sized to fit into a standard eyepiece socket. All we had to do was take off the eyepiece, insert the camera, and we were good to go. It does not matter which eye piece is replaced by the camera.
In terms of viewing, the orientation of the camera will be the orientation of the image on the iPad. If the EXO label is upside down, the image will be upside down. While technically there is no “upside down” on slides, if you choose to look through the other eyepiece with your actual eye, what your eye sees and what the iPad shows will be 180° rotated. If the EXO label is upright, then the image will have the same orientation as the “eye view.”
Once the EXO app is launched, the connection between the ELC and the iPad will be automatically made and a live image will appear on the iPad. At this point, any adjustments (focus changes, stage movements, etc) on the microscope will be reflected on the iPad.
Below are screen grabs of slides of different types of plant cells as views through the EXO Focus and UNITRON microscope:
Not only did the ELC breath new life into this 40-year-old UNITRON, it gave it features (measurements, annotations, wireless sharing, etc) not found on many high-end professional microscopes just a few years ago. BTW, as EXO Labs have recently dropped the price, the ELC is now even more affordable.
Below are three different images as captured by the ELC of the Winter Jasmine leafunder different magnifications. One difference we noted between images captured by the ELC versus looking directly through the eyepiece was a loss of depth and contrast, especially at the higher magnifications. This is not surprising as it is not possible to replicate the stereo image in a 2-D image capture.
Software can, however, do amazing things. We are going to look into a few techniques for image-enhancement (focus-stacking, intelligent blurring / sharpening, etc) which may give us even better results. This is going to be a lot of fun!
There is quite a bit of dust and grime we still have to remove from the microscope, but we were quite excited that the images came out as good as they did with just the little bit of cleaning we’d done. It bodes well for the rest of the restoration project. We will have more on both the UNITRON and the EXO Labs Camera soon.