January 1992 Issue 02
A fibre optic video microscope
The Conservation Department has purchased a fibre optic based video micro-scope system. The complete system is known as a Finlay Vision/Moritex Video Microscope System Scopeman and is marketed in the UK by Finlay Vision. It is available to all members of the Conservation Department. The complete microscope is sufficiently portable to allow use within a studio or in galleries, providing mains power is available.
The system consists of an adjustable light source; a camera head with four inter-changeable lenses (magnification x 20, 50, 100 and 400) attached to a four metre flexible fibre optic cable; a video screen and a Mitsubishi colour video copy processor.
Surface examination and interior examination are both possible because of the interchangeable nature of the objective lens. Of particular value is the ability to examine large or immovable objects which preclude examination by the more conventional bench mounted microscopes. The hand-held objective lens has a flexible cable and can be moved across the surface of an object and the image viewed on the video screen.
A hand-held remote control operates the bench-mounted colour video copy processor. An image may be held in the memory (and on screen) and the required number of copies made. These are similar to 'Polaroid' colour prints in that the processing is automatic and a full colour print is produced at the touch of a button.
Good focus and depth of field are easier to acquire at low objective magnifications. At the highest magnification the lens must be in contact with the surface of the object. To obviate 'hand-shake' at these high magnifications the head should be clamped.
The microscope provides an excellent training and demonstration tool. Particularly advantageous is the ability to scan large areas in a short period of time. At a cost of £12,000, it compares favourably with the bench-mounted systems. It was the first to be marketed in the UK but other systems are now becoming available.
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