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Description of Canon Camera Settings for Microscopy

How to Change the Live View to run for longer periods of time:

Canon EOS 600D: Activating the Live View mode

The camera normally deactivates the Live View mode after 30 seconds. When working with a microscope change this to a longer time period. If you don't do this, the Live View will stop frequently.

Extend the time to at least 15 minutes.

The software included with the Canon cameras can be controlled from the computer via a USB cable that comes with the camera. Simply plug this into the side under the plastic flap. Only one connection port will work with the USB.

Turn the camera on, and eventually you will see the window below. Select the option “Camera Settings/Remote Shooting”, or just "Remote Shooting."

remote shooting image

You will next see the following window, or something like it, for controlling the camera. Note that the mirror lock up for "silent shooting" is not available with every Canon model. Generally, you will need only to set the Exposure and the ISO. The F number setting is shown below, but this is not available to you when on a microscope.

Generally, the ISO is set as low as possible. ISO is equivalent to Gain, and it will introduce noise. However, with fluorescence imaging, it may be necessary to increase the Gain to higher levels. Note, as well, that the dynamic range is more limited with higher gain or ISO.

If you keep your illumination setting at the same place when taking images on a microscope, for color brightfield you will find that a table can be made for exposures at different magnifications, and these can be used from one session to another.

For color brightfield, set the color temperature on the camera itself. For tungsten-halogen lighting with illumination set at the highest level, the light bulb icon setting can be used. You will not have to white balance if the light level remains on at its brightest setting.

canon live view window

Immediately after clicking the shutter button in the software, the photo can be viewed on the Canon’s own software as a preview image. If the image is not to your liking, another one can be captured at a different exposure setting. The images are saved where you indicate in the Preferences on the computer or external hard drive.

When shooting in Live View, the white rectangle in the middle of the image shows the region of interest that will be displayed in full frame after the zoom button has been selected. The region of interest can be moved. The zoomed image makes focusing very easy and accurate.

Depending on the camera, the Live View appears as below.

Live View Screen

You will find that the images may not have as much color saturation as you have become accustomed to with scientific cameras. Simply increase the saturation using Hue/Saturation in Photoshop, or use the Canon Pro software that came with the camera.

You may also wish to brighten the image in Photoshop or in the Canon software, but be sure to leave the whites slightly gray for publication.