Camera Reviews

Review of Jenoptik Gryphax digital microscopy cameras

May 2nd, 2017


Jenoptik (Germany) has launched an impressive line of USB-3 digital microscope cameras based on the latest sCMOS (scientific CMOS) sensor technology.  There are six cameras in the Gryphax series, all named after stars.  Three are for routine microscopy techniques such as brightfield, darkfield, phase contrast, DIC, and polarized light, and three are more specialized for low-light fluorescence applications.  All provide excellent color reproduction and fast live frame rates, given adequate illumination.  All share the same form factor, and all are controlled by Gryphax software which has been designed to be simple and intuitive to use.   A single USB-3 cable provides power to the camera as well as output from the camera to the computer.  They require standard microscope C-mount adapters.


SUBRA:  The Jenoptik Gryphax SUBRA is the first “star” in the Gryphax series, launched in the summer of 2015.  It’s a 2.1MP 1080p HD color camera with a 2/3″ sCMOS sensor with 5.5 micron pixels.  The SUBRA has become our most popular dedicated microscope camera as it has proven to be fast and reliable.  

ARKTUR:  The ARKTUR was launched beginning in 2016 and provides 8MP 4k HD resolution with it’s 2/3″ sensor with 2.4 micron pixels.  It outputs up to 30 fps at full 8MP resolution, and up to 50 fps at 1080p resolution.  Switching back and forth between 1080p and 4K HD resolutions (2.1MP vs 8MP) on an iMac with 5K retina display, there is an observable difference in terms of image resolution, but it is more subtle than one might expect.  In our opinion, 8MP is just about perfect for a typical microscopy camera, with plenty of resolution for scientific publications at up to 12.8″ x 7.2″ prints at 300dpi.  

NAOS:  The NAOS camera, also launched in early 2016, is a breakthrough in terms of resolution and cost for a scientific grade dedicated microscope camera.  The NAOS has a full 1″, 20MP sensor with 2.4 micron pixels.  The fact that it has a 1″ sensor means the ideal C-mount adapter is a simple 1x, typically with no lens elements and costing much less than a C-mount with reducing optics such as a 0.63x or 0.5x.  Live output from the NAOS is a maximum of 2700 x 1800 pixels (about 5MP) at 30fps, but the still capture resolution is an incredible 5400 x 3600 pixels (20MP).  This resolution is really more than a compound microscope can take advantage of, but for stereomicroscopes or macroscopes, yields superior resolution at low magnifications over very wide fields of view.    


KAPELLA:  1/1.2″ color sensor; 1920 x 1200 (2.3MP) resolution; 5.86um pixels   
RIGEL:  1/1.2″ monochrome sensor; 1920 x 1200 (2.3MP) resolution; 5.86um pixels   
PROKYON:  1/1.2″ color sensor; 1920 x 1200 (scanning up to 20.7MP) resolution; 5.86um pixels   


Gryphax-screen-shotA single software, Gryphax, controls all cameras in the Gryphax series.  It is available for Windows 7, 8 , and 10, as well as Mac and Linux operating systems.  It provides a streamlined layout of controls from basic white balance and exposure to color, contrast, gamma, sharpening, noise reduction, basic measurement tools and even some ability for live Extended Depth of Focus (EDF) and Live Tiling / Stitching.  For basic live viewing, image adjustment, still, time lapse or video capture, calibration and adding a scale bar, Gryphax software is excellent.  There’s an image gallery thumbnail view of capture images on the left side that can be hidden if desired, and all the camera controls on the right side, and these can also be hidden.  Across the top is the single REC button in the center, and to the top right selections for capturing Still Images / Time Lapse / Video.  There is a Grid overlay function, and a full-screen Presentation Mode.  Most of the initial setup is done by selecting File / Preferences and going through each screen to configure the camera, choose save settings, calibrate the microscope, etc.  Basic measurements may be performed on both Live and Captured images.  However, this is where the functionality of the software becomes limiting.  There is no easy way to handle the measurement data, although there is a basic report table for exporting the numbers.  The EDF and Live Tiling features are just okay – serious users will want additional software to do this.  It’s nice that these options are included, just don’t expect these to be full-featured.  We often recommend optional IMT i-Solution image analysis software for users needing more sophisticated quantitative analysis.  Gryphax software comes with every Gryphax camera, and updates are free.  Gryphax cameras are excellent, and the included software is simple and useful for the majority of digital microscopy applications, but for more challenging requirements, Jenoptik has drivers making these cameras compatible with 3rd party software from IMT i-Solution and others.  More information on Gryphax software


Jenoptik wants everyone to experience their superior Gryphax cameras, so they are now offering a 20% discount on any Gryphax series camera with trade in of ANY microscopy camera of ANY brand!  Contact us for pricing and/ or to take advantage of this offer.


More information from Jenoptik

Camera Comparison Images

Download the latest Gryphax Software

Optional IMT i-Solution Software


4K Ultra HD Video Microscopy

September 1st, 2015

Just as we were early adopters of 1080 HD video, we are now exploring 4K Ultra HD video for microscopy.  So called “Full HD” 1080p HD format is 1920 x 1080 pixels which is the equivalent of about a 2MP still image output at live video speeds of 30 frames/ second(+/-).  The new 4K Ultra HD is 3840 x 2160 pixels, or more like 8.3MP still images output at video frame rates.

MA7S-250pxAs of fall 2015, we haven’t found a perfect solution:  a camera that will output live 4K HD to a 4K display while simultaneously recording 4K video in-camera.  Several 4K HD camcorders will record 4K or display 4K, but will not record and display at the same time.  The camera we’ve selected as we enter into this market is the Sony Alpha a7S mirrorless, full-frame DLSR.  It will output 4K HD at 30 fps via an HDMI cable to a 4K HDTV, and the fact that it has interchangeable lenses and a full frame sensor means that we can use our MM-SLR universal microscope adapter to mount this camera on virtually any microscope.  However, this camera will not record 4K HD video internally.  It can record 1080p HD, and it can be used with an Atomos Shogun 4K recorder if one wants to spend another $2,000.00.   Despite this limitation, we find that this camera with our MM-SLR adapter does provide extremely high quality live video output to a 4K HDTV, and is eminently suitable for live classroom or conference room microscopy.  Our MA7S basic package includes the camera body, MM-SLR adapter, AC adapter, and HDMI cable.

In our testing, the Sony Alpha a7S will produce an image on a matching 4K HDTV with so much detail that it can actually surpass the optical resolution of the microscope as seen through standard 10x eyepieces.  This makes perfect sense when one considers the numerical aperture of the objective and other physical limits of light microscopy:  for instance a 20x objective with an NA of 0.40 combined with 10x eyepieces provides 200x magnification to the eye.  But because the NA is 0.40, the rule-of-thumb resolution limit is 400x, so there is more detail that could be seen by using 20x eyepieces.  The 4K HD camera makes this additional resolution visible.  In contrast to a 1080p display, one can get extremely close to the 4K HDTV display without seeing much, if any, pixelation, and without any visible noise.   However, from maybe ten feet away, the fine detail naturally becomes lost, and at that point it’s harder to say that the 4K HD image is appreciably better than 1080p.  But up close – wow!  The images below are close-ups of actual HDTV screens taken with an iPhone: