Nikon NIS-Elements - Imaging Software
Nikon’s NIS-Elements software is a comprehensive microscopy imaging solution designed for Windows-based PCs that allows users to comfortably capture, analyse and archive images taken with Nikon cameras. Functionalities range from image capture using a C-mount microscope camera, integrated control of the motorised Nikon microscope, image analysis and data management all the way to report generation and documentation.
For our test, we used NIS-Elements version 4.4, which comes with a USB dongle for copy protection. The software installs quickly and easily, and includes options to add a variety of drivers for C-mount cameras and microscopes. Unfortunately, interfaces for other devices (such as wdmi or twain scanner drivers) are not supported.
The following is a brief summary of the features included in the Nikon NIS-Elements suite:
- Automation of microscope and camera operations
- Time lapse
- Multipoint experiments
- Image stitching (combining multiple smaller frames to produce a single, high-resolution image)
- Multidimensional imaging
- Display and data processing
- Multidimensional image display
- Various filters and colour adjustment
- Arithmetic operations
- Z-series image display
- Deconvolution (re-focusing of blurred images)
- Extended depth of focus
- Manual and auto measurement
- Histogram measurement
- Time measurement
- Object tracking
We tested the software with two different cameras: the Nikon DS-Fi2 and the Nikon Imaging Source DFK72. Supported C-mount cameras can be controlled directly via the software interface. The Live View image is displayed within the application window. Two display modes can be selected.
Auto white balance and auto exposure
Basis for measuring options: image calibration 1 pixel --> definition of length. The software offers comprehensive measurement options, such as length, area, radius, angles, etc.
The NIS-Elements suite also offers powerful image analysis features: intensity line profile (which depicts the colour intensity distribution on a defined line)
Focus stacking: compilation of a z-stack of individual frames, which are then merged into a single image with high depth of field. If the microscope being used is motorised, this function can be calculated automatically. Alternatively, it can also be performed manually, with a fixed focusing rail with micrometer adjustment for going through the focusing range.
Image enhancement options: contrast, adjust image, sharpen, size, convert, etc.
The NIS-Elements software offers a wide range of powerful features and supports Nikon C-mount cameras, third-party C-mount cameras and Nikon full-frame microscope cameras (DS-Ri2, DS-Qi2). Unfortunately, DSLR cameras cannot interface with the software. However, existing images can be imported into NIS-Elements using the “open” dialogue. This makes importing images from external sources a possible, but somewhat complicated alternative.
If cameras supported directly by NIS-Elements are used, the Live View image is displayed in near-real time by combining 4 pixels (binning 4 x 648 x 643 pixels) into a single, larger one. This aggregation of data (at the expense of decreased quality) enables transfer of the live signal to the computer with only minimal delay.
1x binning yields the maximum resolution at a reduced frame/second rate, which makes focusing more difficult. The delay is caused by the USB2 port, which cannot stream this data from the camera to the PC.
Conclusion: Nikon’s NIS-Elements software is a powerful tool for professional microscopy. To take complete advantage of the full range of its features, however, a motorised microscope is imperative. Unfortunately, the software only supports a very limited number of cameras, and universal drivers, such as wdmi or twain, are not supported at all. Another downside is that normal, standard cameras (DSLR, system and compact cameras) cannot interface with the software. The only alternative is to import previously captured images from external sources – a process that, while possible, is rather complicated.
Nikon NiS supports the following cameras:
CCU: DS-U2/L2 (for camera head DS-2Mv/Vi1/2MBW/2MBWc/5M/5Mc/Fi1/
CCU: DS-U3/L3 (for camera head DS-Vi1/Fi1/Fi1c/Qi1/Ri1/Fi2)
Cascade II 512*2
Luca S, Luca R
iXon+ 897, 888, 885
Neo 5.5 sCMOS
Zyla 5.5 sCMOS (3-Tap, 10-Tap)
Zyla 4.2 sCMOS
Retiga EXi Aqua/Blue
Retiga 2000R - Mono/Color
Retiga SRV + RGB-HM-S Slide
DFK/DMK 31,41,51,72 series
TWAIN Device ( Not compatible with 64 bit version OS !!!)
New LM Digital Adapter for: Sony Alpha 9 II (ILCE-9M2) / Sony Alpha 9 / Nikon D6 / Sony Alpha 7R IV / Sony Alpha 7S II / Sony Alpha 7R III / Nikon Z6 / Sony Alpha 7R II / Nikon Z7 / Canon EOS R with Canon Adapter EF-EOS R / Canon EOS Ra (Astro) with Canon Adapter EF-EOS R / Canon EOS RP with Canon Adapter EF-EOS R / Sony Alpha 7S / Canon EOS 1D X Mark III / Nikon Z50 / Nikon D850 / Canon EOS 1D X Mark II / Nikon D780 / Sony Alpha 7III / Nikon D5 / Sony Alpha 6600 / Sony Alpha 6400 / Sony Alpha 6100 / Canon EOS 1D X / Nikon D4s / Olympus OM-D E-M5 III / Canon EOS 90D / Canon EOS 5D Mark IV / Nikon D4 / Nikon D750 / Canon EOS 6D Mark II / Fujifilm X-T4 / Fujifilm X-T3 / Sony Alpha 6300 / Sony Alpha 6500 / Nikon D500 / Nikon D810 / Nikon D800 / Canon EOS M6 Mark II / Nikon D800E / Nikon Df / Panasonic Lumix DC-G9 / Nikon D610 / Nikon D600 / Canon EOS 250D / Canon EOS 850D / Rebel T8i / Canon EOS 6D / Sony Alpha 99 II (SLT-A99 II) / Canon EOS M200 / Canon EOS 5DS R ( without low-pass filter) / Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II /