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QuickPHOTO MICRO 3.1

10/05/2016

QuickPHOTO MICRO 3.1 is part of a suite of programs for the photographer of both Macro subjects and all areas of microscopic imaging. Additional ...

modules include capabilities for Fluorescence, Focus stacking, High Dynamic Range and real-time video recording.

I came to this software while looking for a way to capture images through the microscope while using my existing Canon dSLR camera without using a CCD or CMOS device. High quality CCD or CMOS cameras are very expensive for the amateur user, although this may change now with the release of SONY PREGIUS CMOS cameras.

So I was looking for a way to photograph through the microscope using my Canon 700d dSLR. Additionally I needed to be able to measure what I was looking at in microns (one micron is one thousandth of a millimetre). Ease-of-use was a priority also and lastly, it would be nice if the software allowed some direct control of the camera and had good editing features to allow work on the end result.

In stepped QuickPHOTO MICRO 3.1 (promicra.com). It runs under MS Windows 7, 8, 8.1 and 10. I tested it on MS Windows 10 (upgraded free from Windows 7). There is no OS X Apple version available, although I did test the software on a Mac Pro 2013, under the Window?s emulator software Parallels. Its performance in that environment was flawless and actually faster than on my Windows laptop.

QuickPHOTO MICRO 3.1 supports dSLR cameras from Olympus and Canon. My Canon 700d / Rebel T5i was on the list. I also inherited a Canon EOS 50D, and while it's missing from the list of supported devices, I found it worked just fine. I didn't get around to trying my old Olympus E330, but it's there on the support list. It's a pity Nikon dSLR cameras are not supported. My old Nikon D700 is here waiting. A list of other supported cameras can be found on the PROMICRA web site.

With my camera supported and the software set up I was keen to check out the measuring features. Of course, calibration with the microscope objects needed to be set up first. This was intuitive and easy. As calibration was carried out for each objective, the software kept an eye on my settings and any obvious error was presented on a graph. Not a feature unique to PROMICRA, but implemented very well.

Interaction with the camera is immediate through the live view feature (called up by pressing the F4 function key). What you see through the microscope is what you see in QuickPHOTO MICRO 3.1. Options to control the camera include allowing the user to apply White Balance, ISO, Exposure Correction and Exposure Time.

Use of the calibrated settings is easy and convenient. Prepare your microscope slide; pop it on the microscope stage and swing in the appropriate objective. Run the software, select your camera and then select the objective you are using. Take a photo and then tell the software the objective you used. A scale bar is immediately applied to the image (defaults horizontally to the bottom right but can be placed vertically on the upper right). All subsequent images taken will have the selected calibration applied. If you change objective, say to 40X, then tell the software to use the 40X calibration (by a simple and quickly accessible drop down menu) and then this is applied to all measurements, including the scale bar automatically. Various types of scale bar styles may be applied. Calibrations can be easily exported for use on another computer (using the same imaging device of course).

It was easy to move between microns and millimeters to the extent that a measurement made in one unit automatically updates to the alternative unit once selected. A nice touch. However it was disappointing to see that the scale bar could not be picked up and moved to any position on the image. Of course you can zoom in on the image and the scale bar will relocate itself. This will allow you to then Crop the image with the scale bar where you desire.

If you decide to work in another photo-editing application such as Adobe Photoshop or Affinity Photo, the workaround is to make such a scale bar in the application and set it on its own layer and drop it in where you like.

There is some reasoning behind PROMICRA's limitation re freely moving the scale bar. When you merge layers (e.g. scale bar with the image - an option allowed when saving the image) you will know where the scale bar is positioned in the image regardless of the current zoom level. If you could move the scale bar freely, its position in the merged image would be dependent on current image zoom (when the image would be zoomed in) and there would be no control of its position in merged images. The 'likability' of this thinking is up to the user.

QuickPHOTO MICRO 3.1 allows measurement of linear objects using line segment and polyline tools, areas and perimeters (ellipse, rectangle and polygon tools), measurement of angles (arbitrary angle, angle from the X axis, angle from the Y axis), counting of objects, phase analysis and the display of calibrated overlay orthogonal grid. Measured values can be exported (optionally with the image with measuring objects) to a Microsoft Excel file or a text file. One feature I missed was the ability to tell the measuring tools which dimensions were lengths and which were breadth. This is really an essential feature for measuring spore size and applying statistical computations to the data in MS Excel.

The software is very user friendly and has a comprehensive array of image editing tools such as Crop, Rotate, Flip, Mirror, Resize, Sharpen, Blur, Grey Scale, Black Balance Adjustment, Colour (Color, on the menu), Contrast and Histogram. Several cameras can be held in the software so that it's easy to switch between say your Canon 700d and an Olympus E330, providing many options for saving your acquired images. I appreciated the option to quickly set a default folder to store the files. In my case I assigned folders named with the species I was working with. Image acquisition is fast and allows zooming in to check focus. Save and Save As commands are well implemented with options such as Save All and Save All As. Several images can be selected and the Save options applied, although it would be nice to see a separate Save Selected images option.

Conclusion
Overall, QuickPHOTO MICRO 3.1 will rise to satisfy most microscopic imaging needs. It's excellent at what it does: capture, measure and edit. However the amateur will find it expensive when it comes to the add-on modules for Fluorescence, Focus stacking and High Dynamic Range.
A 30-day trial version can be downloaded from the PROMICRA web site.

QuickPHOTO MICRO 3.1 Rating 4.5/5

To purchase:
QuickPHOTO MICRO 3.1

Text: Paul Whelan