Digital Sight ACT-1 for L-1 Software

Introduction

The automatic camera tamer software (ACT-1 for L-1 Version) is an application program designed to allow operation of the Nikon Digital Sight DS-L1 camera control unit from a networked high-performance PC. Multiple Digital Sight camera systems, connected to the network, can be controlled from the PC, with the selection of the desired camera being accomplished by simple menu selection. The ACT-1 program allows basic digital imaging operations such as image capture, saving, printing, and deleting to be performed, and in addition provides access to more advanced image processing, display manipulation, and image analysis functions.

After initial installation of the ACT-1 software on the PC, and configuration of network settings so that the camera is recognized on the local area network, the program may be launched by selecting it from the programs list in the Windows Start menu. It may be closed by selecting Exit from the window File menu list. When the ACT-1 control software is launched, the window illustrated in Figure 1 appears on the computer monitor. The window serves as the primary interface to the Digital Sight camera system, and presents a variety of on-screen elements including a standard Windows-style menu bar and toolbars that allow the user to capture, save, and print images as well as to specify the display areas for the live image and the last captured image. The window elements illustrated in Figure 1 are described in the following list, and most of the menu functions are detailed in the menu features review sections, which are accessed by clicking on the corresponding links. An interactive Java tutorial provides a means to explore many of the digital imaging control features available through the ACT-1 software.

  • Title Bar - A blue bar spanning the top portion of the ACT-1 control software window, this area shows the application program name (Nikon ACT-1 for L-1) and the filename and pixel dimensions of a captured image when displayed in either the main window or the subwindow.

  • Menu Bar - This group of pull-down menus follows the standard Windows configuration that is a feature of most Windows application programs. Each menu item contains a pull-down command or access list that can be loaded or executed by clicking on the item name.

  • Toolbars - Toolbars displayed above both the main window and subwindow consist of buttons that allow the user immediate access to frequently used functions such as opening, saving, deleting, and printing image files, reducing and enlarging the displayed images, and switching the position of the live image between the display windows.

  • Image Display Areas - Two image display areas are provided in the software control window - a large main window, and a smaller subwindow. The large window may be used to display the live image from the CCD camera or a captured image, while the subwindow displays the live or captured image, or a graph display. The positions of the images may be switched with the Change Live Window button in the toolbar, or from the Live pull-down list in the menu bar.

  • Thumbnail Display Area - This area displays an index of captured and saved images, in thumbnail-size, from the current image directory. The area accommodates five images, and arrow buttons on the left and right ends of the thumbnail area permit the operator to scroll through all images stored in the current folder (directory).

  • Analysis Window - The focus rating of the live image is displayed in this window in both numerical and bar-graph form when the Focus checkbox is selected.

  • Line Profile and Histogram Buttons - These buttons allow the user to select a variety of graphical displays for image brightness evaluation. The two image analysis modes provided are a signal intensity profile of RGB values displayed in line graph form (which corresponds to a single line of pixels across the image), and a histogram display of brightness distribution for the entire image.

  • Settings Panels - Five settings panels are available to allow control of various camera system features. Individual panels are selectable by clicking on the appropriate tab, and each provides a number of functions for specifying parameters pertaining to image capture, image correction features, file saving, and display characteristics, among other options.

  • Image Size Settings - Pull-down menus allow the pixel dimensions and resize percentage of the captured image to be selected. Four basic image size choices are available as well as resize percentages ranging from 10 to 100 percent, which allow intermediate output image dimensions to be attained.

  • Exposure Time Control - Camera exposure time is displayed numerically, and can be selected in manual mode by a slider, which provides adjustment between 1/1000 and 60 seconds.

  • Exposure Button - This button is used to capture a single image, or to initiate an image sequence when the system is in time-lapse photomicrography mode.

More detailed reviews of the various functions that are commonly required during camera operation are presented in the following links, which are categorized either by specific function or by control menu element, including the five selectable settings panels.

ACT-1 Software Feature and Menu Reviews

Photo Panel Functions - Clicking the Photo tab displays the Photo panel at the forefront of the settings panels for access to its features, which include many of the exposure-related camera controls as well as certain hardware configuration settings.

Options Panel Image Capture Functions - A number of functions related to image capture are accessed in the ACT-1 software through the Options panel, one of the group of five settings panels displayed within the main control window. Among the settings provided in this panel are image color balance (including white balance), color mode, shading correction, and sharpness and noise reduction selection.

Live Panel Functions - The Live panel provides the user with the capability to flip and/or rotate the live image to match its orientation to the image seen in the microscope eyepieces. Additionally, adjustment sliders enable changes to be made to the image brightness, contrast, and gamma.

File Panel and Image Saving Functions - A number of software features related to file saving are accessed by clicking on the File panel tab to display the panel at the front of the settings panel group. Among the File panel features are options that allow the user to specify an image format, filename, and designated saving location, as well as to choose to automatically save or print an image immediately upon capture.

Timer Panel Functions - The time-lapse photomicrography capabilities of the Digital Sight camera system are configured and enabled through settings made in the Timer panel, one of five settings panels displayed in the main window of the ACT-1 software.

Image Display and Analysis Features - The ACT-1 main window contains two display areas for live and captured images, as well as an area for display of thumbnail-size images. The window's menu bar and toolbars provide the capability to easily enlarge, reduce, crop, and position the images, to display them full-screen, and to interchange images in the large and small areas. The small subwindow also serves to display graphs for line profile and histogram analyses of image brightness.

Annotation Tools - The ACT-1 software provides a variety of annotation tools for adding text and graphics to captured digital images, as well as the ability to superimpose a scale as a size reference for specimen features. Text can be positioned at any location in the image field, and the graphics tools provide the capability to draw straight lines, rectangles, ellipses, polygons, polylines, and freehand curves onto any image captured by the Digital Sight camera system. In addition, each of the tools is fully configurable through a variety of options that can be accessed with the Set button located on the annotation toolbar.

Saving and Retrieving Image Capture Settings - A feature of the Digital Sight ACT-1 software that provides considerable time saving and convenience is the capability to save image capture settings in a Setting File, which can later be retrieved at any time that the same configuration is required. Image capture variables that are set in the Photo, File, Options, and other panels can be collectively saved in a Setting File under a user-selected file name.

Printing Digital Images - The Digital Sight ACT-1 software package provides the microscopist with the capability to print captured images either from the main image window or from the thumbnail display panel. The procedure involves the initial configuration of a printer, common to most Windows applications, examination of the print image in a preview window, and output of the image to the printer.

Deleting Digital Images - Images captured with the Digital Sight ACT-1 software may be conveniently selected and deleted from the Thumbnail display area of the main window, either individually or in groups. After being selected, images are deleted by clicking the Delete button in the left-hand toolbar.

Interactive Java Tutorial

ACT-1 Main Window - Upon initialization, the ACT-1 software main window appears on the computer monitor. This window presents a variety of on-screen elements including menu bars and a Windows-style toolbar that facilitates capture and correction of digital images. There are two image display areas, a larger window appearing on the left portion and a smaller window positioned on the right. The tutorial operates in a manner that is similar to the native Nikon software. A pop-up window will alert the user when a feature of the ACT-1 software is not available from the interactive Java tutorial.


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