C. D. FENTON AND M. FENTON*
(presented at the 1999 New Zealand
Microbiological Society (NZMS) conference at Otago University, November)
- Materials and Methods
We have been investigating the application of an
Internet WebCam digital camera as a versatile photomicroscopy unit.
Still images from a light microscope are saved to disk and can be
printed later as photographic quality poster sized images, or viewed
and enhanced on screen. This very cheap system comes with the ability
to capture full motion video of the microbes found in pond water,
motility of bacteria, cell division, etc. The software provided with
the camera also allows the transmission of images over the internet for
identification, problem solving or publicity purposes.
Materials and Method
A C.U.C. US (see-you-see us) web camera purchased from
Dick Smith Electronics ($244) was connected to a Pentium II computer
with a free PCI slot and 16 Mb RAM. The camera comes with its own video
capture card and CD-ROM with software requiring approximately 30 Mb of
hard drive space. An adapter was constructed from a cardboard tube cut
lengthways to accommodate the webcam unit and a retort stand held this
assembly in place over the eye-piece of a standard monocular light
microscope. The microscope was of the type commonly found in a High
School and lacked phase contrast. Captured digitised images were
printed on a Hewlett Packard 710c DeskJet printer using HP Photo Paper.
Paramecium, a single
celled animal (100 X)
Cillia. Hair-like projections
that whip back and forth allowing the animal to swim around.
Bacillus megaterium (x1000).
Bacterium. Gram postive rod.
Related to Anthrax organism.
Trypanosomes in Human blood (x1000).
Single celled animal spread via
mosquito bite. Some of these are arrowed, more are present.They use up
blood sugars so brain runs out of energy source and shuts down. Cause
of Sleeping Sickness.
Tradescantia plant root
cells undergoing cell division for growth (mitosis). Cell walls arrowed
- Cell nucleus
- Chromosomes visible
Tradescantia plant root
cells undergoing cell division for growth (mitosis). Individual
chromosomes arrowed (x1000).
Tradescantia plant leaf
- Guard cells
- Opening (stoma) for air to enter leaf (carbon
dioxide in) and water vapour and oxygen to exit leaf.
This is the underside surface
(epidermis) showing only one of many hundred stomata present.
We have used just one of the many brands of
email/internet digital video cameras (Webcams) currently available.
Typically, they use a Charge Coupled Device (CCD) to convert light
images entering a lens into digital signals sent to a computer.
- The cheapest digital camera system available.
- Easy to set up, quick to install.
- The unit did not require modification to capture
images from the microscope.
- The camera focuses down to 1 mm for extreme close-up
images (legume root nodules, sequencing gels, etc).
- Comes with software for transmission of images over
- Photographic quality images can be stored on disk
and cheaply reproduced on demand.
- Movie files can be recorded and edited.
- Distortion of periphery or centre of image due to
the wide-angle lens provided.
- Some loss of image quality when compared to the
original microscope image.
- Requires a more expensive video capture card for
full screen video playback.
We have demonstrated that this digital system is cost
effective and fast. As low cost models with higher resolution are being
developed, this technology will appeal to most research laboratories.
The ability to tramsit images to other computer screens via the
Internet has a number of applications. Images of organisms or samples
can be sent instantly to other institutions for identification or
interpretation. Anyone with Internet access can remotely capture still
images or live video from a demonstration or experiment. In the near
future we intend designing a more permanent "quickfit" adapter for
attaching a webcam to a microscope. Subject to funding, we would
compare other models.
Original light photomicrographs taken by Jared Broad.