The department has purchased a Sony A7 Mirrorless DSLR camera that is available for checkout. The Sony A7 camera supports 6K x 4K 24 MegaPixel (native) still-image photographs, and 1080P HD live video (HDMI) feed, and 1080P HD videorecording. If you haven't used the camera you are strongly encouraged to request a demonstration from Ed; it is an expensive and fragile piece of equipment so it is important that you know the proper handling procedures.

Checkout Guidelines

  • The Sony A7 camera system is for use only with-in Johnson Hall & ATG. Requests for usage outside of JHN & ATG can be submitted to Ed Mulligan; appeals go to the Chair.
  • Academic use (class & lab lecture aid) is the Top Priority use. Research use is permitted on an as available basis.
  • Use with Petrographic Microscopes is the priority, but other uses are permitted, within appropriate limits and subject to these policies.
  • Use of non-departmental accessories with the camera (ie lens) is prohibited without prior permission.
  • Checkout and reservations are done via the Main Office.

Using the Sony A7 Camera with ESS Dept Petrographic Microscopes

Summary

The ESS Dept has two general use petrographic microscopes that are camera-capable with beam-splitting camera mounts. There is a newer grad student research scope (STF funded), made by Olympus, and located in the Jhn-029 Grad WorkRoom. There is an older "teaching" Nikon Petrographic microscope set up on a roll-a-round cart, which is normally stored in Jhn-121.

Both microscopes had a camera systems of sorts, the teaching scope had a really old CCD camera using NTSC video (320x480) and the research scope has the "SPOT" camera purchased in (2005???) and a working resolution of (1200x1600??). So both are completely inadequate given modern video expectations. Perhaps I should add that the SPOT camera system does come with some specialty software whose features we cannot match with the new system, but those features were only rarely used.

The ESS Dept purchased a Sony A7 mirrorless DSLR in Sept 2015 to function as a multipurpose ESS Dept high quality camera, with a principal purpose being the support of teaching using a petrographic microscope. The Sony A7 camera supports 6K x 4K 24 MegaPixel (native) still-image photographs, and 1080P HD live video (HDMI) feed, and 1080P HD videorecording.

This Sony A7 camera will work with both of the above (Nikon & Olympus) Petrographic Microscopes, allowing the display of high quality live HD video, and shooting very high quality still photographs, but you do have to change the lens and use the appropriate scope-mount adaptor for each scope. Altho we had initial problems getting acceptably good quality from the Nikon scope, we have now figured out a setup that works acceptably well with the Nikon. Note that the Nikon microscope camera-focus is quite different the Nikon microscope eyepiece-focus and the set-up is a bit more of a hack, as compared to the Olympus, which has a clean setup and similar camera/eyepiece focus points.

Uses of this system includes shooting still-image photographs of Petrographic Microscope images, and providing a live video feed with 1080P HD video output of what is being viewed in the Petrographic Microscope for use in class lectures. The live video feed output can be sent to DVI Displays, HDMI Displays, or HDMI projectors. The camera can shoot 24 MPixel still-images and then display the image via the video output (with optional panning and zooming around the still-image), or transfer the still-image to a computer via the micro-USB-2-USB cable. The Sony A7 camera has a micro-HDMI connector and cable which can be used to drive either HDMI or DVI based display devices. The camera uses SD flashcards to record still-images and videos and of course the SD card can be used as a content transfer method as well, but the micro-USB-2-USB cable method is the recommended still-image transfer method for most uses.

A kit has been assembled with

  • Sony A7 camera, a mirrorless DSLR with full sized (35mm) 24 MP ccd
  • 28-70 mm zoom lens
  • 2 lithium batterypacks and a stand-alone independant AC batterypack charger
  • AC-power-supply for camera with pseudo-battery-pack
  • 6-ft micro-USB to standard-USB cable (male-2-male)
  • 6-ft micro-HDMI to standard-HDMI video cable (male-2-male)
  • standard-HDMI to standard-DVI adaptor (female-2-male)
  • standard-HDMI to standard-HDMI adaptor (female-2-female)
  • adaptor (replaceable lens mount) for Olympus Petrographic Microscope (with silver stainless steel tube)
  • adaptor (replaceable lens mount) for Nikon Petrographic Microscope (with matte black tube)
  • other adaptors (replaceable lens mount) for other optical devices

If you have any questions about using the Sony A7 Camera and/or the Petrographic Microscopes, you are strongly urged to consider getting help/training from Ed Mulligan, Nathan Briley, Dave McDougall, or Mike Harrell. Note that this camera does not have a built in flash and we do not yet have an external flash (but maybe someday).

Here is a photo ( DSCF2110.JPG ) of the Sony A7 camera with plastic body cap installed and the two microscope adaptors (replaceable lens mounts) beside it. The left lens mount adaptor (all-matte-black with T2-NEX inscription) should be used with the Nikon "Teaching" Microscope. The right one (black bayonet lens mount ring with Silver Stainless Steel tube protruding up) should be used with the Olympus "Grad Student Research" Microscope. These adaptors use the Sony "E-Mount" bayonet-lens-mount style mounting system, and go on the camera body in-place-of/instead-of the 28-70 mm standard camera zoom lens that is included in the kit.


Usage Policy for the Sony A7 Camera:

The primary use/justification for the purchase of this camera is for use in teaching and research with the camera-capable Petrographic Microscopes, to provide high quality HD 1080P live video (HDMI or DVI) during lectures and to provide very high quality 24 MPixel still-images.

A kit has been assembled in an old laptop case with the camera body and all of the needed accessories to provide the desired functionality with the two general use ESS dept camera-capable Petrographic Microscopes (the newer Grad Student Olympus Research Microscope in Jhn-029 and the older Nikon teaching microscope, kept on a cart in Jhn-121).

The kit is available for reservation and checkout by ESS faculty, staff, and graduate students from the ESS Dept edu equipment pool at the Front Desk of the ESS Dept office. The camera is a multifunction device with interchangeable lenses, consequently there will be demand to use this for other purposes which is ok under the following rules:

  • The Sony A7 camera system is for use only with-in Johnson Hall & ATG.
  • Academic use (class & lab lecture aid) is the Top Priority use.
  • Research use is permitted on an as available basis.
  • Use with Petrographic Microscopes is the priority, but other uses are permitted, within appropriate limits and subject to these policies.

Exceptions to these policies determined by the computing support lead (ejm). Appeals for the exceptions and these policies are determined by the dept chair.


Set up for the Nikon "Teaching" Petrographic Microscope:

  • Checkout the Sony A7 Camera system kit from the Dept Office.
  • Get the cart with the Nikon Petrographic microscope from Jhn-121, bringing the cart and camera kit to the desired classroom or lab. Lock the cart in place near the desired display or projector video cable.
  • Note that nearly all use of the Sony A7 Camera on a Petrographic Microscope will require use of an external display, preferrably 1080P in resolution. Either a digital computer display, HD-TV, or HD-Projector will work.. The display device should preferably be HDMI, but that can be converted to DVI-D using the kit adaptor. For example, set up the cart in the front of JHN-127 near the projector cables but not blocking the screen. Use the room HDMI projector cable hanging on the wall. Note that old style VGA projectors are incompatible.
  • Find the 6 ft cable labled Micro-HDMI--2--HDMI, carefully insert the Micro-HDMI connector into the Micro-HDMI-Port on the camera. This is the bottom port of a set of 5 ports inside 2 little doors on the left side of camera. Do not confuse the Micro-HDMI and Micro-USB cables and ports!!
  • It is assumed that for most teaching exercises, the camera may be on for an hour or more at a time. If that is the case, you should probably use the AC-powered battery pack. Shorter intermittent uses will likely find the rechargeable lithium battery packs to be sufficient, but you should verify that the two rechargeable battery packs are fully charged. Make sure the appropriate power-source is installed in the camera.
  • If you want to download still-images, you should install the 6 ft Micro-USB--2--USB cable by inserting the Micro-USB connector into the Micro-USB port found on the left side of the camera, just above the Micro-HDMI port.
  • The Nikon Teaching scope has a camera mount rising above the eyepiece area of the scope. While in storage, the scope should normally have the old CCD camera mount tube installed to prevent dust etc from getting into the scope. Remove this 2+ inch diameter tube by unscrewing it counterclockwise and the lifting straight up when it is free. Find a safe place to set this tube (on its side as there are lenses on top & bottom).
  • Carefully remove the gray plastic bodycap from the Sony camera and install/attach/mount the all-matte-black scope adaptor labeled "Nikon Teaching Scope". If you have never changed the lens of an SLR camera, consider seeking help/training from Nathan Briley, Ed Mulligan, Dave McDougall, or Mike Harrell.
  • Note that after removing the above adaptor tube, the top of the microscope now has a heavy-red-paper-collar sticking up from the scope (not shown in photos). It is sized to act as a guide and allow the Sony A7 camera with the all-matte-black scope adaptor to set on top of the scope. We hope to have a better matching adaptor someday, but this will have to do for the short term. Go ahead and set the camera on top of the scope with the all-matte-black adaptor inserted into the scope.
  • Connect the camera HDMI video out cable to the Display Device. You may need a female-2-female HDMI adaptor from kit if connecting to the room HDMI projector wall cable.
  • Plug in the camera AC power supply, and the microscope power supply.
  • Turn on the scope and place the rock thin-section petrographic slide on the stage of the microscope.
  • Turn on the camera, it usually defaults to showing the last picture taken. Hopefully the projector or display is now showing the same image as the camera-back display.
  • Press the "Review-button" on the camera controls, the camera should toggle back into live-view mode.
  • Note that with the Nikon "teaching" Petrographic Microscope, the scope in-focus point for the eye-pieces is radically different than for the camera.
  • When done, please replace the CCD mounting tube.
  • It is considered good form to recharge the lithium battery backs before returning them to the kit if you made significant use.

Setup for the Olympus "Grad Student Research" Petrographic Microscope:

  • Checkout the Sony A7 Camera system from the Dept Office, and bring it to the Jhn-029 Grad Student WorkRoom.
  • Note that nearly all use of the Sony A7 Camera on a Petrographic Microscope will require use of an external display, preferrably 1080P in resolution, either a display, TV, or Projector. Preferably HDMI, but that can be converted to DVI-D using the kit adaptor. The Camera Capable Olympus Scope in Jhn-029 has immediately to its left a 1080P screen that can be connected via the screen's DVI-D cable.
  • If the old Spot CCD camera is still mounted on the Olympus scope, make sure it's power is switched "off", and then carefully lift the SPOT camera straight up, removing it from the Olympus Microscope, setting it down in a protected location on table top. (see photo DSCF1754a.JPG for view of Olympus scope with old Spot camera mounted.)
  • Carefully remove the gray plastic bodycap from the Sony Camera and install/attach/mount the scope adaptor, which is a black e-mount ring with a silver stainless steel tube labeled "Olympus Research Scope". The stainless steel tube is the exact same as the one on the Spot CCD camera. If you have never changed the lens of an SLR camera, consider seeking help/training from Nathan Briley, Ed Mulligan, Dave McDougall, or Mike Harrell. (see photo DSCF1768.JPG)
  • Find the 6 ft cable labled Micro-HDMI--2--HDMI, carefully insert the Micro-HDMI connector into the Micro-HDMI-Port on the camera. This is the bottom port of a set of 5 ports inside 2 little doors on the left side of camera. Do not confuse the Micro-HDMI and Micro-USB cables and ports!!
  • Short intermittent uses of the camera will likely find the rechargeable lithium camera battery packs to be sufficient, but you should verify that the two rechargeable battery packs are fully charged. Otherwise you canconsider using the AC-powered battery pack as well. Make sure an appropriate power-source is installed in the camera.
  • If you want to download still-images, you should install the 6 ft Micro-USB--2--USB cable by inserting the Micro-USB connector into the Micro-USB port found on the left side of the camera, just above the Micro-HDMI port.
  • Note that after removing the above Spot CCD camra, the top of the microscope is now ready for the Sony A7 camera to be installed by carefully inserting the stainless steel tube into the top of the microscope. (see photos DSCF1770.JPG and DSCF1774.JPG)
  • Connect the camera HDMI video out cable to the Display Device. You will need from the kit the female-2-male HDMI--2--DVI-D adaptor and the female-2-female DVI-D adaptor to connect the display left of the camera to the camera HDMI video out cable. (see photo DSCF1772.JPG)(order of cables and adaptors in photo Front to Back are male Camera HDMI Cable, female HDMI to male DVI-D adaptor, female DVI-D to female DVI-D adaptor, male DVI-D cable to the display.)
  • Turn on the display, then change the video source of the display from VGA to DVI-D by using the four buttons on the lower right of the display and working your way thru the menu. (also see photo DSCF1772.JPG for example of display menu to choose video source)
  • Plug in the camera AC power supply if needed, and the turn on the microscope power supply.
  • Place the rock thin-section petrographic slide on the stage of the microscope.
  • Turn on the camera, it usually defaults to showing the last picture taken. Hopefully the display is now showing the same image as the camera-back display.
  • Press the "Review-button" on the camera controls, the camera should toggle back into live-view mode.
  • Note that with the Olympus "grad-student-research" Petrographic Microscope, the scope in-focus point for the eye-pieces is fairly close to that for the camera.
  • It is considered good form to recharge the lithium battery backs before returning them to the kit if you made significant use.

Camera Controls:

See photo DSCF2115-B.JPG to see the critical controls on the back of the camera. The points of interest are:

  1. The Micro-HDMI cable connector, plugged into the camera. Provides the live video feed.
  2. The Micro-USB cable connector, plugged into the camera. Provides still-image transfer method when other end is plugged into a computer.
  3. Camera Main Menu Button (Press again to exit Main Menu). (Note this button is also used to exit review-mode-zoom back to review-mode)
  4. Eyepiece viewfinder (traditional SLR viewfinder style eyepiece delivered digitally)
  5. C2 Button (multi-function) | Review mode : zoom-in button (when in review mode, this button causes a jump to zoom-in preset, more pressess gives more zoom-in)
  6. Knob on top for controlling main camera picture taking modes (Auto, Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority, etc)(use Auto as default)
  7. Switch
  8. Back Knob
  9. Camera ON/OFF (outer ring), Shutter button large silver inner button will take a still-image
  10. Knob on top for under-exposure & over-exposure of still-images
  11. Button (multi-function) | Review-zoom mode : zoom-out button
  12. Start/Stop Video Recording
  13. Fn Button (function button)
  14. Control wheel top (multi-function) | Review-zoom mode : pan-up |
  15. Control wheel center button (multi-function)
  16. Control wheel right (multi-function) | Review mode : next image | Review-zoom mode : pan-right |
  17. Control wheel bottom (multi-function) | Review-zoom mode : pan-down |
  18. Garbage Can button (Be Careful !!!!)
  19. Review Mode Button
  20. Control wheel left (multi-function), Review mode previous image, Review-zoom mode pan-left
  21. Back viewpanel

Live Video Feed From Camera To Projector In A Classroom:

First follow the above directions for setting up the Nikon Teaching Microscope with the Sony A7 camera. You really want to display this via a 1080P capable display device (projector or large screen display).


Shooting Still-images (photographs):

Once the Sony A7 camera has been set-up for use on a Petrographic Microscope, a "Still-image" (photograph) can be taken at any time simply by pressing the shutter button. The still-image ( 4K x 6K ) is at significantly higher resolution than the live video feed ( 1K x 2K ).


Viewing Still-images Via The Live Video Feed:

Still-image photographs can be viewed via the live video feed by pressing the review button. Press forward and back on the wheel to find the desired image. Once on the desired image you can zoom in and pan around causing the live feed to show portions of the desired image with much more detail.


Downloading Still-images Via USB cable to a Computer:

Still-images can easily be downloaded to an adjacent computer by use of the 6 ft micro-USB--2--USB cable. Just simply connect the USB cable to a computer, and the camera should automatically drop into "flashdrive-mode" whereby it acts like a flashdrive-like storage device to the computer. Just drag&drop the desired images over to the computer. In general, I would avoid writing or deleteing from the computer to the camera. When done transferring, tell the computer to dismount the camera (but this does not seem to be an option with Win-7) so then switch off the camera, wait 5 seconds, and then yank the USB cable from the computer.

  • comphelp/equipment/sony_a7.txt
  • Last modified: 2016/10/24 17:01
  • by essach