|Item Weight||14.1 ounces|
|Product Dimensions||1.5 x 1.5 x 5.5 inches|
|Item model number||26700-300|
|Size||With 2 Mega-Pixel 10x-50x Optical, 200x Digital Magnification|
|Item Package Quantity||1|
Aven 26700-300 ZipScope USB Digital Microscope with 2 Mega-Pixel 10x-50x Optical, 200x Digital Magnification
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- 2.0 megapixel digital tabletop microscope with 1/2” color complementary metal-oxide semiconductor (CMOS) image sensor
- Includes USB 2.0 computer output to display images or video
- Optical magnification of 10X to 50X, and digital magnification of 200X
- 8 built-in, white LED lights with two-step intensity control for illumination, automatic white balance, and the ability to be turned on and off
- Included software produces images (JPEG or BMP formats) or video (AVI format)
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The Aven 26700-300 zipScope is a tabletop, 2.0 megapixel digital microscope that has a USB interface, eight white LED lights with two intensity settings, a snapshot button for image capture, optical magnification of 10X to 50X, and digital magnification of 200X. This digital microscope enhances the resolution of an object or image, and connects to a computer for image display. It is commonly used for quality control (QC) inspection, medical and scientific research, geology, mineralogy, chemistry, and for printing and textile inspection.
This microscope has an adjustable magnification of 10X to 50X, and comes in an all-in-one, compact lens. A 1/2” complementary metal-oxide semiconductor (CMOS) color image sensor manages noise reduction and image quality. The microscope has a shutter speed of 1 second to 1/1000 of a second. The frame rate is 30 frames per second (FPS) at 2.0 megapixels. The zipScope uses eight white LED lights with two intensity settings to control illumination. The microscope has automatic white balance to control brightness, and automatic exposure. A snapshot trigger captures images, and the microscope outputs images or video to a PC. A large, manual focus wheel adjusts focus in a 10 to 500 mm range. The microscope body has a rubberized, anti-slip coating for durability. Included software has image (JPEG and BMP) and video (AVI) capture functions. The microscope comes with an adjustable metal stand that includes height and angle adjustment.
|Optical magnification||10X to 50X|
|Image sensor||0.50” color CMOS|
|Effective pixels||2.0 mega-pixels (M)|
|Illumination||8 white LED lights with two intensity settings|
|Shutter speed||1 second to 0.001 (1/1000) of a second|
|Frame rate||30fps, 15 fps at 1.3 M|
|Snap shot mode||Hardware and software controllable|
|Focus range||Manual, 10mm to 500mm|
|Frame rate||30fps, 15 fps at 1.3 M|
|Operating system||Microsoft Windows XP, Windows XP SP2, Windows Vista, and Windows 7|
|Formats produced||Images (JPEG or BMP formats) or video (AVI format)|
|Power source||5 VDC through 2.0 USB port|
|Overall dimensions||19.7 x 6.7 x 8.6 cm / 7.75 x 2.625 x 3.375 inches (H x W x D)|
|Weight||0.294835 kilograms (0.65 lb.)|
*(H is height, the vertical distance from the lowest to highest point; W is width, the horizontal distance from left to right; D is depth, the horizontal distance from front to back.)
Microscopes are instruments used to enhance the resolution of an object or image. Types include compound, stereo, or digital. Compound microscopes use a compound optical system with an objective lens and an eyepiece. Stereo microscopes show object depth in a three-dimensional image. Digital microscopes are used to display an image on a monitor, rather than looking through a lens. Microscopes can have monocular (one), binocular (two), or trinocular (three) eyepieces, with varying magnification abilities. Magnification ability refers to the size of an image. Resolution, also known as resolvant power, refers to the clarity of the image. The interaction between field of view (FOV), numerical aperture (NA), and working distance (WD) determines resolution. Microscopes can control magnification through a fixed focus, or through a range of adjustments. They can also utilize LED, fluorescent, and mirror light sources to help control viewing capabilities. Microscopes are widely used in education, lab research, biology, metallurgy, engineering, chemistry, manufacturing, and in the medical, forensic science, and veterinary industries.
Aven manufactures optical inspection tools, precision tools, and bench accessories for industrial, scientific, and research applications. The company was founded in 1983 and is headquartered in Ann Arbor, MI.
What’s in the Box?
- 26700-300 zipScope microscope
- Adjustable metal stand
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EDIT: Please see W. Nicholls review for more current information on software and a solution for the weak stand! We've both found that the stand is okay for very basic use, but leaves a lot to be desired. The software is the same way, but there are several excellent freeware alternatives available.
I am an IT professional for a major police department. I specialize in video enhancement and conversion. I ordered this for my Mom, who collects and sells antique buttons. Because of my Prime Membership, and because I would be the one installing this for my parents (naturally), I had it shipped to my place. When the package came in, I couldn't resist opening it and trying it out on my system. There are a few things that I didn't like, but more that I did like. First, the stand is stable enough, but not rock-solid steady like a tripod. Specifically, the stand itself appears to be very sturdy stainless steel, although the arms holding the camera are plastic. The software included (for my Win7x64 system) is actually a very basic Microsoft program, so don't expect a custom application. That's okay, though. It gets the job done, and I had no problems with program or driver installation. The magic is in the scope itself.
The grippy rubber surrounding the unit helps with positioning, especially when you are using it in a hand-held photo/video shoot. The focus ring might be a little tough at each of the extreme ends, but is otherwise very smooth and easy to adjust.
I was able to grab several very high quality images right off the bat. I used a twenty dollar bill as a test subject. I was able to zoom in so much that the ultra-tiny "USA 20" shadows under the right-side text were clearly visible, yet I was also able to zoom out enough to capture almost the entire bill. Going further, I captured an entire US Quarter at about a half-screen size, and was able to zoom in so close that I the screen was filled with only 3 grooves of the 119 grooves around the edge of the quarter. That's pretty impressive. In fact, that is a HUGE range of magnification. Ask your photographer friends. They will confirm this.
The software was a piece of cake to install (Win 7 x64), although I had to use my other computer to copy the mini-CD to a regular CD. My second computer has a tray-load CD drive, while the system I wanted to use it on has a "suck-load" (ie slot-load) CD drive. This program/driver package is NOT available on the manufacturer's website, and the mini-CD is not labeled, but it's really a minor problem. If you use any other webcam or video capture program, this camera will work with them as well. Also, any other webcams you have will work with this software for effortless still and video capture.
Overall, the stand is nice and stable, provided you really crank down the screw (which still allows for some forceful movement but still keeps the camera in place), but the arms that hold the camera are a little weak. This is a tiny weakness that can be easily overcome by adjusting from the bracket instead of grabbing the camera itself. If you won't be using the very wide range of zoom/focus levels, this will NOT be a problem for you. The best way to operate this camera is by moving the object instead of the camera. My mother just wants a little visual aid in identifying manufacturing marks on antique clothing buttons. For her, I set up the focus and camera angle, and she hasn't touched it in several weeks of examining antique buttons. She just moves the buttons around beneath the lens.
The LED lights are very good. Even with the rest of my household lights turned off, the built-in LEDs had enough power to provide plenty of bright light for proper exposure. At some zoom/focus levels, I even had to move the switch to the "half-led" position to prevent washout.
The zoom/focus range is incredible. To make it clear, please understand that "zooming" means moving the camera away from the object and adjusting the focus, but I was really impressed with the incredibly wide range of zoom/focus on this system. I got great pictures in the range from less than 1/10 of an inch all the way to 6 inches+ away from the subject. To give this some context, I should remind you that I got a picture of a US Quarter that took up 1/2 the frame, then "zoomed in" (aka moved closer and adjusted focus) so that I had a shot of only 3 of the 119 ridges on the edge of the coin. Both shots provided great detail, and the 2 MP resolution was a pleasant surprise. At 1280x1024, it isn't quite true HD, but provides a very good image.
Because the cradle that holds the camera is a little weak, you might need to push the "shutter" button a few times to get a clear shot, but this is a very minor inconvenience, and doesn't cause any software or storage problems, since you only save the image when you're happy with the result. A typical shot was just under 1 MB in size, and only took two to three attempts to get one without blur. That probably sounds terrible in a review, but I want to emphasize that it is really easy to get a nice clear shot. Just press the camera-mounted shutter button a couple of times until your image is nice and crisp. This works reliably even when holding the object and camera in each hand.
Overall, I can say this. I would love to have one of the four hundred dollar super precise professional forensics lab-type USB microscopes, but for anything less than a couple hundred bucks, this is the best of the bunch. I loved it so much that I ordered one for myself. I am not a professional, but I am a very good amateur. You can see some of my close-up my videos by looking for "SloMoHolic" on a very popular video sharing website that starts with "You" and ends with "Tube", taken with non-microscope professional equipment :-). Hopefully you will see actual ZipScope footage very soon!
Have fun and explore things you've never seen before. There are a lot of options out there, and I have researched them all (although I have not tried them all). This particular model seems to be the best option for anyone who is not in a forensics lab, that wants to have high-quality still and video imagery, with a very wide range of focus/zoom. I hope my review helps you make your decision.
Open the AMCAP application window so you can frame your image. This application only has controls for capturing video. If you press the shutter button you'll get a snapshot that pops up in a new window. However, this image will only be 640x480. To snapshot at higher resolution, you must use the tray application/control panel. This gives you access to Properties controls if you select the Properties Page, but that won't give you control over photo resolution. You must right-click or click and hold on the tray application, click on the snapshot menu item, then select a resolution from the fly out list. 1600x1200 is the sensor resolution if it's 2MP, but the Chinese manufacturer's specs (Oriental Inspiration, Ltd.) say 1280x1024 (1.3MP). When you pick the resolution, a snapshot is taken and it pops up in the snapshot viewer window. You'll only see a portion of the full res image since the viewer window can't be resized and there is no zoom. If you then press the shutter button on the microscope, new images will be captured at the resolution you set via the tray application. Be sure to save the image from the viewer window since the image will be lost if you don't. Beware -- when you quit the software the snapshot resolution will set back to 640x480. There's no way to make the full resolution be the default. This software isn't just primitive, it's stone age.
I appreciate Blake Ormand's extensive review, and I don't have experience with other USB microscopes to compare, but I find the software and the stand to be significant limitations on an otherwise good device. Pushing the image capture button on the side of the microscope causes it to move and blur images that would be simple to get sharp with a software shutter control. There is the snapshot control I outlined above and I recommend you use that instead of the hardware button.
The live view via the software is a small, low resolution window. If you maximize the software window, it expands to fill the display and thus distorts the image (at least with most current display aspect ratios). You can resize the window, but this distorts the image since the view will fit any shape window you create. The digital zoom function isn't particularly useful. The image quality is low and you don't see any additional detail. Plan on a real zoom utility of 50x. And you'll only get 50x with the microscope as close to the subject as the clear front ring allows.
Also, there's no white balance control (there's a hue control in the generic control panel, but that's not a substitute). Under normal ambient light, the image has a pink cast. The color is reasonably neutral when the LEDs are turned on via the oval slide switch on the microscope. Actually, the unit is now showing pink even with the LEDs and I suspect a problem with an RGB channel.
The microscope has a poor orientation for right side up. If the shutter button was on top, you'd get a bit more stability pushing toward the base. You can rotate and mirror the image via the generic software and I haven't seen if that's a viable workaround so I can work the unit with the shutter button on top. The stand has a really weak and narrow clip that isn't in the least bit secure or stable. The base and articulating arm are nicely finished, but the clamp barely holds the microscope at all. Unfortunately, the only optional base available from Aven is designed for backlit slide use akin to conventional optical microscopes. I'd like to find a boom-type stand with a clamp that could securely hold the Aven ZipScope's body.
The Dino-Lite model I was considering before buying the Aven is over $400. There are more and better stand options for Dino-Lites, and the software appears to be better (the high end software provides measurement capability). I have no professional use for a USB microscope,so the Aven's pricepoint is more rational for me to play with. I do volunteer fossil preparation and I'd like to use the USB microscope for demonstration and documentation purposes. It would be cool if I could use the computer display to do fine detail work instead of looking through a conventional low power stereo microscope, but I'm not sure that I could set the USB microscope up without having too much parallax error to work with.
Update 01/19/2012: I've found better software that works with this microscope. I did a trial evaluation of NCH's Debut Video Capture Pro Software. You can capture from the microscope at full 1600x1200 resolution and there's a still capture button. The preview scales proportionally, and there's a control that lets you view at actual pixel resolution. There's a 14-day trial, but when the license price is $40. There are other webcam video capture utilities for Windows, Mac, and Linux that you could try. Look up AMCap at the alternativeto.net website.
I bumped up my rating to four stars because good free alternative software is available. Thanks again to Blake, for recommending ProScope HR software which is available free online for personal use. There are also Mac OS and Linux versions of this software. I've installed it but haven't tried the software yet, so I can't compare to the relatively expensive NCH utility.
I'm using a Manfrotto Nano Clamp to mount the microscope to various photographic supports like an articulating arm or flex arm and have uploaded a few to show this. The Nano Clamp does partially obscure the capture button, but using software to trigger captures is far better for vibration.
Even though this USB microscope works, I do sincerely regret buying it versus a real microscope for not much little extra money. This is the one I wish I had purchased: AmScope 40X-1000X LED Cordless All-Metal Framework Full-Glass Optical Lens Student Biological Compound Microscope + Digital Camera USB Imager. For another $40 I could have gotten a professional microscope without the handicap of the microscope stand on this unit. And there is a huge difference in capability for a mere $40. But this microscope does function as advertised and I'm stuck with it. It is manual focus, but seems to focus fairly easily. I cannot determine how to change the magnification. It seems to be a combination of a magnification and focus ring. The magnification seems to range from 35X to 55X. Depth of field seems to be reasonably good. I have no idea how they claim 200X. That must be some marketing gimmick.
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