Saturday, January 14, 2012

New USB microscope

As previously mentioned, I've been using a USB powered microscope recently, which I purchased on Amazon for about 60 bucks. The Veho Discovery VMS 004 deluxe is tiny (a little larger than a cigar), and plugs right in to a USB port - I've already used it at UC Berkeley on a couple visits to photograph tiny vertebrate bones and teeth for a colleague. I had about 70-100 specimens I needed to photograph, all under 1cm in length, and using the microscope which was plugged in to my laptop, I was able to take photographs of all the cardinal anatomical directions in about three hours (~300 photos, so a rate of a minute per photo). Unlike a digital camera, the microscope immediately shows you if the picture turned out or not on a relatively large screen (digital photography has sped up picture taking so much that I occasionally get careless, and unintentionally let one or two photos out of every hundred get blurry and crappy, which is less of an issue with a larger display screen).

At Nick Gardner's request, I've posted some examples of USB photos I've taken. It's not the highest quality in terms of photography, and sometimes some of the images appear a little pixelated. Most of the time, the photos look okay, if not on the smaller end of publishable quality (i.e. smaller in terms of file size and resolution). Furthermore - don't buy this product if you're expecting continuous zooming, which they advertise that it has, but it really doesn't. It really only has two focal points, which is a problem. But then again, this thing is only 60 bucks, so you get what you paid for. All in all for the money I spent, I'm fairly satisfied as it effectively acts as a low-price, portable electronic dissecting scope. Lastly - the photos I've uploaded have not been modified in any way, so you can get an idea of what to expect.

Edit: I forgot I should add this in here - on the Amazon page for this item, there is a pretty lengthy review of the product by Paul Clifford, who has graciously written his own impromptu user manual for the microscope. He discusses some of the finer technical points a bit more technically than I have, and I'll admit I found his review very helpful when trying to experiment using this thing.

Most of these photos would not be high-resolution enough to be published at full page or even column width size - *but* would probably work well in a situation where you're figuring a number of small specimens all on the same figure.

An oral tooth of a wolf eel, Anarrhichthys sp. from the late Miocene Wilson Grove
Formation of Sonoma County.

A lateral tooth of a bat ray, Myliobatis sp., also from the Wilson Grove Formation. Yes, that is play-doh that Pat Holroyd gave me to photograph on; they don't like using clay at UCMP because it has nasty oil in it.

The apical view of the same Myliobatis sp. tooth.

Lastly, for all you cetaceaphiles, here is the stapes of UCMP 219111, a well preserved cranium of Herpetocetus bramblei from the Purisima Formation of Northern CA.

Up next - tales from my recent southern California museum collection visit with my wife and Morgan Churchill, to examine fossil pinnipeds at the San Diego Natural History Museum and the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County.

1 comment:

Nick Gardner said...

Cool! Thanks for posting this up Bobby, very helpful for those of us trying to make a decision.