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2197RE: [beemonitoring] Taking Insect Specimen Pictures Cheaper and Better than any Microscope Setup

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  • david almquist
    Jun 6, 2012
      sorry for any crossposting
      I've done a lot of stacking, mostly with Automontage, but more recently with Zerene software. This is a great setup, although much more expensive than it has to be for most labs and not ideal in some ways. A few comments:

      The Canon EOS 5D MarkII is overkill for most laboratory needs. The other EOS cameras, such as the 7d or 60d are a grand or two less and are still overkill for scientific publications or even any printing over 8.5x11 or so at 300dpi.

      I've played around with my mpe 65 for stacked images and it was not as clear as using a good microscope, but it is a great lens for this as long as you always use the lowest number f-stop possible and always use iso 100 if possible. Really though, I would suggest checking out the cost differential between a scope and the mpe.

      If you're using flashes, there shouldn't be any need to set the exposure to anything other then 1/250. For shooting stacks, I don't like having the flashes attached to the lens and would not use the mt24exes, as although they are great for in-the-field macro, they change the lighting as you move in when doing stacks, especially on "larger" subjects, such as most bees. I would suggest playing around with 2 fixed flashes not connected to the lens, but positioned near the specimen, as they will give more uniform lighting. Some of the EOS cameras, such as the 7d, will control 430 or other flashes wirelessly.

      An automated system for taking x number of images within a certain focal range is nice and quick for automation, but may not be as good as hand/custom increments for some subjects and is definitely not a necessity. A rail of some sort is definitely a necessity if not using a scope though. I'm not sure about this automated system, but one that I used in the past introduced fuzziness, especially for antennae, because there was not enough of a pause between shots to let vibrations die down.

      I've used automontage software a good bit and have an older version of it, but Zerene is both better, at least than my older version, and much less expensive, even for the pro version, and the customer service is awesome. I highly recommend it.

      From: sdroege@...
      Date: Wed, 6 Jun 2012 18:53:40 -0400
      Subject: [beemonitoring] Taking Insect Specimen Pictures Cheaper and Better than any Microscope Setup


      We have been working with Dr. Anthony Gutierrez and Graham Snodgrass with the U S Army Institute of Public Health to develop a system of taking high quality specimen pictures that won't break the bank. Set up is still not cheap, it may cost you around $8000, but it beats the price of almost any good microscope stacking system and we think it takes better quality pictures, plus you have a camera you can use for other things too, and it takes a relatively little space, and it's relatively foolproof, and you can take it out in the field with you.

      Rather than try to explain all this in an e-mail we have put together a PDF and Word version of the specs for how to set this system up. You can download those documents at our FTP site using the following URLs:

      PDF version
      WORD version

      Note that all browsers support downloading FTP documents.

      You can see examples of our pictures, we have put up just a few right now but our plans are to put up thousands in the future at:

      An actual government approved the Flickr account

      And here is a nice way to view some of our pictures using their slideshow feature

      All these pictures are Creative Commons licensed, superhigh resolution, free for you to download and do what you want with them.… And we encourage that.  you will see a bit of variation in the pictures as we learned the process but even our poorest ones are pretty good.

      Have fun


      Five Landscapes


      Green moves through the tops of trees and grows
      lighter greens as it recedes, each of which includes a grey, and among the
      greys, or beyond them, waning finely into white, there is one white spot,
      absolute; it could be an egret or perhaps a crane at the edge of the water
      where it meets a strip of sand.


      There is a single, almost dazzling white spot of a white house out loud
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      in pieces or entire; its presence
      veneers over want; in all its moving parts, it could be something else

      half-hidden by trees. Conservatory, gloriette, gazebo, or bandshell,
      a door ajar on the top floor.


      The trees are half air. They fissure the sky; you could count the leaves, pare
      defined as that which,
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      what the eye could grasp in a glance;
      intricate woods opening out before a body of water edged
      with a swatch of meadow where someone has hung a bright white sheet
      out in the sun to dry.


      A white bird in a green forest is a danger to itself. Stands out. Shines. Builds
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      The air across the valley is slightly hazy though thinning though patches
      remain between the groves of trees that edge a clearing in which stands a
      single house. A child in a white t-shirt has just walked out of the house and
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      - Cole Swensen

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