Dec 17 2014

Pimp your microscope – automatic objective lens detection

Bastian Asmus


EPIPOL16QR..for any  microscope you might happen to work with. During your microscopy sessions, did you ever wish for less of the dull work, such as noting meta data, contrast method, sample id, photo no or image width? Well – I did.

I did wish for a long time to have a way that my microscope and my camera would speak to each other whenever I change objectives. I am working with Zeiss Universal microscope, mostly with reflected polarising light, i.e. there is no objective revolver. I have to change the objectives individually, which of course, all has to do with the ability to centre the objective for certain steps in polarising microscopy.

To make a long story short: the old days where I have to sit there with a notepad and have to write down all these dull informations are over! From now on my camera, or rather my computer registers any change of my microscope objective and adds this information to my micrographs automatically.

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Oct 7 2013

Canon EOS 600D and Ubuntu – tethered shooting

Bastian Asmus

There are a number of Linux software solutions that do tethered shooting, aka remote capture and they do it well. In this article I am describing the difficulties of setting up darktable for tethered shooting with a Canon EOS 600D digital camera on Ubuntu 12.04. Plenty of people managed to do this and I meant to do the same. I was quite surprised when it did not work the way it should have worked.

I am using a Canon EOS 600D digital camera as a microscope camera, because I can put its liveview functionality to very good use. Either to teach or to produce good quality micrographs. If you are using Mac OS X or Microsoft Windows you can use the Canon EOS utility to use tethering to control a digital camera with your PC. However if  you like to – or have to – use a brand of Linux you will find that the Canon software does not run with Wine. Of course you could run Windows or OS X on a virtual machine, such as Virtualbox, but that became too cumbersome for me.

darktable

The image shows the darktable interface for tethered shooting. With Canon Liveview cameras the computer may be used to control the camera and take pictures. The image shows a section of an etched copper roof from the 18th century.

My enthusiam for tethered shooting on a linux machine was beginning to wane when I connected my camera to the USB port. All I got was a generic error message:

Unable to mount Canon Digital Camera Error initializing camera: -1: Unspecified error

The camera was not  mounted. I could not even get it to work with digiKam to download images. I did check for SD card corruption, updates for all sorts of related software libraries, tried to access the camera with  gphoto2. …and nothing did work. Eventually it turned out that the USB 3.0 ports did not work well with the camera. After figuring this out I did find this post which seems to confirm my findings. Plugging the camera into the USB 2.0 port  the cameras was mounted as a storage device, however now Ubuntu issued the following error message:

Error (-60: 'Could not lock the device')

After checking for this error I found this post, which solved the problem:

  • make sure your camera is connected to a USB 2.0 port
  • unmount the camera with your file browser
  • start darktable, switch to the “Tethering” tab
  • the software should be able to find your camera

Addendum 9.11.2014

If you remove the SD card from your camera darktable will work out of the box as long as you start after you have plugged in your camera. Where there is no storage device the gvfs cannot mount it. Hence the camera is not blocked. Give it a try. 1. If If you are looking for more permanent solutions check this post: Delete or rather rename the following files, so you can undo things if they go wrong:

/usr/share/dbus-1/services/org.gtk.Private.GPhoto2VolumeMonitor.service
/usr/share/gvfs/mounts/gphoto2.mount
/usr/share/gvfs/remote-volume-monitors/gphoto2.monitor

and optionally:

/usr/lib/gvfs/gvfs-gphoto2-volume-monitor

2. Try this solution: remove the execute rights of the following file:

  1. open terminal
  2.  command: sudo killall gvfs-gphoto2-volume-monitor
  3. command: sudo chmod -x /usr/lib/gvfs/gvfs-gphoto2-volume-monitor
  4. close terminal and restart.

These two solutions have the same effect, because they disable the same feature: It prevents gvfs from mounting your cameras SD card as a storage device. So unless you are happy with the fact the camera will not appear in your file browser any more, I would recommend the other solutions. Photo managing software should still be able to find your camera, though.

Well, I hope this helps. Let me know if you found any other solutions.