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The Canon EOS 1200D: a simple camera suitable for microscope use that offers a good price/performance ratio

For several years, Canon has been offering a range of DSLR cameras that provide substantial value for their cost. We wondered whether these cameras were also suitable for the specialised field of photomicrography. Having already tested the Canon EOS 1000D, we now felt that the time had come to subject the Canon EOS 1200D to extensive investigation and provide a detailed description of our findings.

Canon EOS 1200D microscope adapter

The Canon EOS 1200D has a simple polycarbonate body. Since it weighs in at just 445 grams (without lens), it is very well suited for use with more delicate microscope stands. The camera is definitely on the smaller size and comfortable to hold. Its body is more than adequate for use in microscopy. As a rule, the camera is attached to the microscope with an LM digital microscope adapter, and then remains in place. Once mounted, the camera should be touched as little as possible to avoid creating vibration blurs. For this reason, the camera body is not subjected to much use. 

When used in microscopy, cameras are typically controlled via a PC or Mac, and as with every camera in the Canon EOS line, the EOS 1200D can be controlled remotely using the Canon EOS Utility software (included free of charge with Canon cameras). The EOS Utility software offers numerous advantages: improvement of the image quality, ability to save photos and videos directly to the PC/Mac, increased convenience of camera operation, etc.

Unlike the more expensive EOS models, Canon’s EOS 1200D does not have a display that rotates or tilts, which is a disadvantage when working without the Canon EOS Utility software. To check the focus setting, for example, it is necessary to repeatedly get up and look at the display from above. The display itself, just 3" in size, offers an average resolution (approximately 460,000 pixels) but is not touch sensitive. 

Canon EOS 1200D front view

Canon EOS 1200D back view

The camera has an 18.6 megapixel APS-C sensor, which represents a considerable performance increase over the Canon EOS 1000D (which has only 10 megapixels). The automatic light sensitivity ranges from ISO 100 to 6,400 and can be increased manually to ISO 12,800. The colour depth is 42 bits. At 11.3 f-stops, the camera’s dynamic range is adequate, and the signal to noise ratio is low. Videos can be recorded in full HD format at a 30 fps frame rate.

Canon EOS  1200D Zoom Plus-Minus buttons

When using a camera for microscopy applications, an important factor to consider is the magnification function in Live View mode. The Canon EOS 1200D offers that capability. The + and - buttons that control the zoom are located at the rear of the camera.

If necessary, a large HD monitor can be connected to the camera via an HDMI cable. This connectivity makes it possible to share the Live View image with larger groups of people, such as during presentations, lectures or in working groups. It is very easy to turn off the camera information display by pressing the “Disp” button.

Compared to other models, Canon has economised on some features in the EOS 1200D. However, many of these functions – for example the slower autofocus – are irrelevant for microscopy applications since the focus is adjusted via the microscope and not the camera.

The Canon EOS 1200D does not have GPS or WiFi capabilities, but those functions are usually not required for photomicrography anyway.  Since the camera is permanently attached to the microscope in most cases (to the eyepiece, photo tube, C-mount connection, etc.) and then remains stationary in the studio or lab, the GPS function is superfluous. Similarly, the absence of wireless connectivity is no great detriment since the currently available apps are not nearly as effective as the USB connections with Canon’s EOS Utility software. 

Conclusion:

The Canon EOS 1200D is a real money saver. With our tried and tested LM digital adapters, it can be easily attached to both photo tubes and eyepiece tubes. While the camera has everything most microscopy users could wish for, a display that rotates and tilts would have been advantageous – but Canon’s EOS Utility software more than fills that void.

28.10.2015


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