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real-time access to Kodak digital camera

Chieh: I bought your book on Amazon thinking that the chapter on "accessing raw sensor data" would get the image directly off the camera into my computer. Unfortunately, I made a mistake.

I am trying to fit a Kodak digital camera onto a microscope. Is there any way to get real-time access to the CCD, or better yet a real time feed directly to a laptop screen? I was able to use a webcam before, but now I need higher resolution.

What are your thoughts?

Mon, 28 Aug 2006 15:23:17 -0700

Gint, it sounds like what you need is a digital camera that can also serve as a web cam. Basically a digital camera with a web cam mode. Many digital cameras have such a feature nowadays. I don't know if the Kodak ones does. Which Kodak digital camera do you have?

If you can describe the exact nature of what you want to do, I might be able to help you think of a solution. For example, did you just want to view the real-time image on your laptop? Did you want to do time-lapse image capture? Did you actually want to record it as a video on your digital camera or on your computer?

The Remote Capture software that comes with Canon PowerShot digital camera seems to be able to do real-time viewing, and time-lapse capture. But you'll need a Canon digital camera.

Chieh Cheng
Mon, 28 Aug 2006 17:03:41 -0700

Thanks for getting back to me so quickly. You have a large, active site, so I didn't expect a response this soon.

I have a Kodak DC290. I chose this camera because it records in RAW format and boasted direct USB connectivity. Oh, and they were really cheap on Ebay. It turns out, neither monitoring nor downloading is available real time.

Ideally, I was hoping to strip the guts out of the camera and plug the guts, CF card and monitor, into a battery powered computer. Of course, I still have to make a pinhole lens or add magnification, but that's another problem.

Yes, my intent is to monitor and capture short video streams on my laptop or battery powered custom computer, rather than time-lapse images.

It sounds like the Canon PowerShot delivers the performance I am looking for. Is this true for all PowerShot's or just certain ones?

Tue, 29 Aug 2006 21:00:26 -0700

Hi Gint. The web site does swamp me sometimes. But it has been ok for the past few days. ;-)

Does the Kodak DC290 have a video out that shows what the camera is seeing? If so, it might be easier to go with a video capture card for your laptop.

Not all of Canon PowerShot deliver the same performance nor features. The best way to find out what each camera can do is to refer to their operating manual on Canon's Download Library.

I know that some Canon digital cameras support time-lapse photography and remote capture. Not sure if they support remote capturing of video. People have been providing mixed reports. However, some have been gotten around it by using the video out.

It seems that FujiFilm's FinePix digital cameras do support webcam mode. Both of the following models have the webcam capability:
Fujifilm FinePix 2800 2MP Digital Camera w/ 6x Optical Zoom
Fujifilm FinePix A200 2MP Digital Camera

Is 2 MP all you need? I think there are numerous 2 MP webcams out there now. They are cheaper and probably easier to hack than digital cameras.

Chieh Cheng
Wed, 30 Aug 2006 14:17:09 -0700

I started off by using a webcam taped to one eyepiece of a microscope. The convenient USB interface worked well on the desktop, plugged into my laptop. I am prototyping a handheld unit, so carrying a microscope under your arm won't work well in production.

Instead, I was looking to the camera lens for optical and digital zoom. I am shooting only centimeters away, far too close for a webcam's depth of field. I was also considering stripping off the lens altogether and using a pinhole instead, but I still have magnification issues.

I will take as many MP as I can get in an off-the-shelf package, saving design and stuffing costs.

That is about all I can disclose without an NDA. email me direct for more info and to continue this discussion.

Fri, 01 Sep 2006 15:50:10 -0700

Gint, it's probably best if you strip off the lens and make a custom one for your needs. Most compact digital cameras today do not focus very close to the lens.

Two digital cameras I know of does focus very close. The Olympus C-2500L can focus to within millimeters at wide angle. The Nikon 950 can focus within millimeters at telephoto.

To find a digital camera with all of the criteria you need is very difficult, but not impossible.

Chieh Cheng
Tue, 05 Sep 2006 11:00:08 -0700

Kodak sold the DC290 with a $1500 microscope adapter and bundled software that delivered live video through the USB cable. There were several software solutions, including a photoshop plugin. Unfortunately, that was only available for windows 98 and mac 8.5

Sat, 16 Aug 2008 01:55:13 +0000

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