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Visual vs. video

It took us a long time to accept that digitalization is creeping into microscopy as well. And of course, this isn't tremendously surprising when keeping in mind that digitalization is taking over in many other fields, too. Nevertheless there are still some analogue realms remaining in the field of visual microscopy. Just think of the marvelous visual immersion which you are encountering when looking through the wide-field eye-piece of a high-quality dissecting microscope on one hand and the respective disappointment when looking into the same scenery by means of a tiny LCD screen. Modern LCD screens actually do have better resolution than their ancestors, so you might be able to perceive tiny detail, like e.g. the striae of diatoms as well. But up to the present day LCD screens are much inferior when you are planning to screen large microscopic areas. The reason is that even a big LCD screen is no more than a tiny "arrow loop" when compared to a classical microscopic field of view. Modern wide field eye-pieces are offering a microscopic landscape view which can easily reach from ear to ear.

Early CCD chips caused several serious problems, e.g. an insufficient contrast range, light overload striae on one hand and low light noise on the other. But most of those early classical digital problems have vanished.

Today's video is high-res, low noise. And it has an encyclopedia-like memory for detail. When focused properly the CCD video is documenting everything, even more than what we might have registered during visual inspection. The trick is to study the videos in slow motion and to extract the most interesting stills. No more low-res PAL or even lower-res VHS stills. Nowadays' still images resemble classical photomicrographs.

The following videos are reduced in resolution but even in this format some stunning detail is being revealed. You will be able to perceive individual cells and cell boundaries in live tardigrades. And you will see the tardigrade pigment spots in movement, thus giving an impression of their three-dimensional structure. By means of other stills you will get optimally clear views of the tardigrade mouth tube and the stylets.

In order to provide some visual guidance we have mixed a few stills into the following clips, just to accentuate interesting views. Just have fun and enjoy the marvelous scenes of a Macrobious sp. tardigrade mini life in mini clips!

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© Text, images and video clips by  Martin Mach  (webmaster@baertierchen.de).
The Water Bear web base is a licensed and revised version of the German language monthly magazine  Bärtierchen-Journal . Style and grammar amendments by native speakers are warmly welcomed.

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