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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A nice litle gadget.
After spending much time trying to take decent shots with my Fuji A370 digi-cam simply offered up to the eyepiece (my new Pentax X5 bridge camera (review to follow shortly) couldn't be used at all due to the lens size) and finding it a very much hit and miss affair I decided to do the right thing and purchase a camera that was designed specifically for microscope...
Published 12 months ago by J. G. Roland

versus
32 of 35 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars What you see is not what you get
There is a major omission from the product description. The camera only captures `1/5th of what you will see down a x10 eye piece'. So while it is easy to set up and the images produced are excellent they are not what was hoping for. If I had known this I would not have bought the product.
Published on 16 July 2011 by MikeG


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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A nice litle gadget., 30 Sep 2013
By 
J. G. Roland "Bildeborg" (Cornwall, UK.) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Apex Minigrab (Electronics)
After spending much time trying to take decent shots with my Fuji A370 digi-cam simply offered up to the eyepiece (my new Pentax X5 bridge camera (review to follow shortly) couldn't be used at all due to the lens size) and finding it a very much hit and miss affair I decided to do the right thing and purchase a camera that was designed specifically for microscope work.

The obvious thing for me was to look at what Apex/Brunel Microscopes had in that department, as it was one of their microscopes that I would be using. Having done business with this company in the past I reckoned I would be in a safe pair of hands so to speak, and I wasn't to be disappointed.

I read all the reviews here on Amazon a few times over so I had a rough idea of what I would be getting as I have never had anything to compare the Minigrab with. I contacted Apex with a few queries I had and they responded positively, so the purchase was made.

Two days later it arrived and I was immediately taken by how small the package was, but of course a device of this nature would indeed be small. Inside the (very well padded) box you get a roughly 48 inch mini-standard USB cable, the camera itself, two metal collars of different diameters (30 & 30.5 mm) presumably to fit other microscopes, a mini CD ROM disc and a very short `quick guide' and I do mean short. More on this later!

Setting up was pretty straightforward, I simply routed the cable down the back of my desk (my PC sits on the floor underneath) and plugged it into a spare USB port. The same at the other end, I placed the `scope on the desk and removed one of the 10x eyepieces (my `scope is a binocular model) and popped the Minigrab camera in its place. The camera by the way is roughly the same size of the 10x ocular I removed and comes with a protective rubber cap for when not in use. I found an old 35mm film canister and it fits in there a treat for safe keeping when not in use.

Then came the loading of the `Minisee' software from the mini (everything in this review seems to be mini) CD ROM. This was straightforward in itself, but alas I found the software to be wholly inadequately provided for as far as guidance was concerned. Press the `help' button and nothing happens, so that was pretty helpless/hopeless (excuse the pun). The same applies to the `check for update' button, nothing happens. The fact that the language options are just English or simplified Chinese speaks volumes here!

It is with the lack of instructions or a manual for this software that puts a cloud over this device. There is no advice as to how to operate the camera to get the best from it.

One of the first things the new owner should do is to orientate the camera in the eyetube so that the image in the eyepiece matches the image on the screen. This is important because the north/south & east/west (X & Y axis) movement of the stage controls must tally so that any adjustment made will be replicated exactly in the eyepiece and on the computer screen (assuming one is using a `scope with more than one eyetube i.e. trinocular or binocular). This is done by positioning the camera such that the USB `sign' on the cable is uppermost. Why is this not explained anywhere? I had to work it out by trial and error, which shouldn't be the case!

I e-mailed Apex with several questions and they were as helpful as ever, to the point of `phoning me to explain various functions of the camera (some which I wasn't even aware existed) and other issues I raised, such as saving files etc. Now, how many companies go to such trouble/effort to sort out a customer's concerns? Not many in my experience, most take your money then leave you on your own.

From a practical point of view this camera is ok at what it does, but it does not excel. I find image quality quickly diminishes beyond 100x magnification. That is not to say that images are not possible at higher magnification, but the resolution and contrast quickly fades away despite tinkering with the various adjustments allowed by the `options/video source property' tabs on the image screen. I have uploaded several images to this page so take a look and compare the two images of some peat, one at 100x and the other at 400x.

As for the video aspect of this device I feel I should warn anyone wanting to film any quick moving micro-organisms to use some `quieting solution' otherwise you will likely be disappointed. This IS NOT any reflection on the camera, it would apply to a £500 microscope camera, it is down to the field of view available. As well as single frame capture and video output (user defined for frames per second and length of clip etc) there is also a time lapse feature which will be mighty useful to me once I work out quite how it works!

I have two major niggles with this device and they are that once the image is in perfect focus using the eyepiece on the `scope, it is not in perfect focus on the computer monitor. This can be a pain whilst showing a visitor a particular specimen, me using the `scope and them looking at the screen.

The other niggle (and this is *possibly* down to me using Windows Vista which I was advised was not a system that works happily with the software) is that if I were to shut down the camera and software but wish to return to it again the software will not open until I have closed down all running applications and rebooted the computer. This is pretty poor going considering how many folk use Vista.

Overall 4 stars out of 5. Why? Despite my niggles, this camera does just what it claims to do and I reckon if one wanted to see images akin to those easily found on the web (often uploaded by professionals or wealthy amateurs) one would need to dig pretty deeply into one's pockets. Being a Yorkshireman I find that a pretty scary idea! All of this along with the help one can expect from Apex should anything go wrong, or if one has a query, I would recommend this little device as an extra tool for the amateur microscopist. Please take a look at my uploaded images to get an idea of what this camera is capable of.

UPDATE 27th June '14.

I am puzzled as to why everyone's images taken with this camera have been removed by Amazon and the only ones remaining are ones submitted by an Apex employee. Why is this anyone?
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32 of 35 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars What you see is not what you get, 16 July 2011
This review is from: The Apex Minigrab (Electronics)
There is a major omission from the product description. The camera only captures `1/5th of what you will see down a x10 eye piece'. So while it is easy to set up and the images produced are excellent they are not what was hoping for. If I had known this I would not have bought the product.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant microscope camera, 21 Mar 2011
This review is from: The Apex Minigrab (Electronics)
I've had this camera for about 6 months, after trying all sorts of image capture. This is so easy to use, and it's really compact, just take out the eyepiece and insert the camera. I use it via USB onto a PC for both still pictures and video. I haven't had to install any software on the PC, just use the software that came with the operating system. I use it with the Apex Examiner microscope and also with higher resolution microscopes with equal success. Very happy with it.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Useful, 31 Jan 2013
By 
D. A. B. (Gloucester (ex- Mercia)) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Apex Minigrab (Electronics)
I found this device useful for taking shots to use in talks and also for use with a digital projector.

When I did have some trouble with it the manufacturer offered excellent service, posting a replacement before requiring the "old" one to be returned.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent device, 14 May 2012
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This review is from: The Apex Minigrab (Electronics)
I have never been able to draw well from the microscope. Now I don't need to as the Minigrab captures very acceptable images.
Was a bit fiddly to set up initially and it does have a limited field of view but this is true of other photomicroscopic setups.

Hard to beat at the reduced price.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Apex Minigrab Camera, 21 Feb 2011
By 
Mart (Northampton UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Apex Minigrab (Electronics)
Brilliant little camera, mine works via USB with the software program supplied with the camera. Use my Minigrab with The Apex Researcher Microscope.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars excelent piece of kit, 13 Feb 2011
This review is from: The Apex Minigrab (Electronics)
an excelent camera for a microscope giving good quality images and videos. easy to set up and nice and compact
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great piece of kit - if it is right for your application!, 19 Aug 2014
This review is from: The Apex Minigrab (Electronics)
This is an ingenious and well made piece of kit. It enables you to capture images from your microscope to your computer. What you get is a small digital camera (with USB cable, adaptors etc.) and some quite powerful software which enables you to capture still and video images, take measurements (including angles etc.) and to manipulate those images to meet your requirements. Simple enough to install the software and to set up the little camera and take still or moving images, focussing the image by using the microscope's focusing adjustment until the image on your computer screen is just what you want. The user's guide on the little CD runs to over a hundred pages and will be invaluable to anyone wanting to achieve specific results. But you can be up and running with basic results within minutes of taking the Minigrab out of its well protected little box.
Downside?
Well, it will be ideal for many users and it is very good value for money for this type of specialised camera. BUT, it didn't really do what I hoped for. The main use I have for my microscope (the excellent Apex Discovery) is very much at the 'low powered' end of the range, with magnification between 10x and maybe 20x. At 10x, the field of view is a reasonable 19.5mm diameter. But the Minigrab captures just 3.5 x 2.6 mm (probably +/- 0.1 mm). For many uses (and using higher magnification) this will be just the ticket. But for what I want, it is better to do a high resolution scan or to use a camera with macro lens and a copying stand.
Apex couldn't have been more helpful. They lent me a Snapper to try and, when that still didn't do what I had hoped, gave me a full refund. You can't get better service than that!
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Nice camera and works with Linux (Ubuntu 12.04), 27 Nov 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Apex Minigrab (Electronics)
I just plugged the Minigrab into a USB port then viewed
the image with the program "Cheese" and also with the program
"guvcview" (both of which come free with my Linux distribution
Ubuntu version 12.04, 64 bit).
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5.0 out of 5 stars Superb value for money, 25 July 2014
By 
mythago (Leeds, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Apex Minigrab (Electronics)
A very necessary piece of kit if, like me, you suffer from a bad back and can't hunch over a microscope for very long. I bought it along with the Apex Practitioner. It produces images and video up to a maximum of 1600x1200, video has quite low frame rates of 5-7 fps. This means that any moving creature quickly becomes a blurry streak as it picks up speed. Capturing good still images can be tricky - I take long videos and play them back with VLC media player which can slow down playback and it's easy to take screenshots.
The camera has a magnification of roughly 12.5x with a narrower field of view than the wide field eyepieces. It works quite well with dark field illumination, using the 4x and 10x objectives. I've uploaded some pictures to demonstrate the results.
The software included is easy to use and well put together.

As others have mentioned, the bare cardboard box it comes in is rather miserable but at least it helps to keep the kit at an affordable price.
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