You did it! You got your perfect microscopy specimen – you fixed it, you mounted it, you labeled it with your favorite fluorophore – now there is only one step left: To image it. And to do this, and do this well, you need a good camera.
Luckily, Lumenera® has a fantastic selection of fluorescence microscopy cameras in the INFINITY series to fulfill all your imaging needs. But firstly what do you need to know in order to get the best microscopy camera for your imaging needs?
Things to consider when shopping for cameras
Things to look for when shopping for a camera include dynamic range, sensitivity, noise, speeds, and price. And while some of these factors are self explanatory (price!), others may be less familiar, so lets review:
Dynamic range – Cameras have limits, both a maximum and a minimum level of light that they can sense. Any amount of light above a camera’s maximum level and the camera just sees “white”, and any light level below the minimum level and the camera just sees “black”. In the real world, however, there are no such cutoffs: colors are on an infinite gradient, so the bigger your camera’s dynamic range the more accurate it is to the real world.
Sensitivity – Sensitivity is a critical component to your signal-to-noise ratio. The better the signal-to-noise ratio, the better the quality of the image as it is a closer representation to the actual sample. Additionally, high sensitivity is especially important if you need to perform long-term observations or time-lapse recordings. As high sensitivity cameras do not need as much excitation light they can slow photobleaching and extend the lifetime of your fluorophores.
Noise – Too much noise can overpower your real signals making them impossible to detect. Noise can be caused by a variety of sources including read noise and dark noise. Dark noise, which is associated with thermally produced dark current, is usually combated with cooling of a camera’s sensor.
Speed – Your camera must be fast enough to capture the event you are trying to image. Therefore, if you plan on doing live-cell imaging, fast speed can be very important. Speed is expressed in frame-rate per second (FPS).
INFINITY Fluorescence Camera Series
With so many different requirements for each application there is a different camera for each unique need. So with that, let us take a look at Lumenera’s INFINITY Fluorescence series of cameras:
This 1.4 MP camera offers what most need at a price you can afford. The INFINITY3-1URF is an uncooled camera that offers high sensitivity and low noise for a reasonable price. It has an exceptional dynamic range and has proven itself as a great general fluorescence camera.
Some times things move too fast to get a proper image, or you need to get as many images as you can before the conditions change affecting the data that you are collecting. And in these cases you need to turn to something that can go fast enough to deliver on your expectations, which is where a high frame rate camera comes into play. Florescence signals degrade over time (thanks photobleaching!) and therefore imaging speed is a very real concern. Luckily for you this is where the INFINITY3-3URF camera excels.
The INFINITY3-3URF is a 3.0 MP, uncooled, high speed, high sensitivity camera that offers a high frame rate of 53 fps at 1936 x 1456. It also (sexily) is able to simultaneously stream video while taking still captures.
Sometimes thermal noise can be enough of a factor that you need a cooled camera to reduce the amount of noise injected into the image, especially when you are taking longer exposure shots where compounding noise over time can really impact the quality. The INFINITY3-1PF is a COOLED, 1.4 MP, high sensitivity camera with little dark current noise, making it ideal for experiments involving low light fluorescence and long integration times. What is especially notable about the INFINITY3-1PF camera is how well it performs when compared to other (much!) more expensive cooled cameras.
INFINITY Software Package
Of course, the camera is only one part of the imaging equation and you need software to make things work. These cameras also come with their own imaging software, INFINITY Analyze & INFINITY capture. Or what I really like: All of these Lumenera cameras have fully integrated drivers for Media Cybernetics Image-Pro Premier 9.1 (a much beloved and powerful imaging software), which makes capturing, processing, measuring, analyzing and sharing yourimages that much easier. And by-the-by, Lumenera is currently offering a 9-month trial of Image-Pro Premier with the purchase of their INFINITY Fluorescence Series bundle.
The Fluorescence bundle also includes a full 5-year warranty (up from the standard 2-years that Lumenera currently offers on their cameras). They also offer one advanced loaner replacement camera – so in the unlikely event that the camera malfunctions, they will send you an advanced replacement to get back up and running again while they fix the other one – means that everything is worry free.
So whether you are looking for an all round basic one, a high-speed one or one with all the bells and whistles, Lumenera’s INFINITY series has a microscopy camera for your imaging needs.