Using CameraScope v1.0


CameraScope is a tool that allows teachers and students to actively engage in Science and Mathematics inquiry. Instruction can benefit greatly from the use of visualization tools. These tools can help us observe events that are too small (biological microorganisms), too fast (the trajectory of a dropped ball in a physics or math classroom), or too slow (transformation of a butterfly into a chrysalis) to see otherwise.

CameraScope has three basic functions:

1. Capture digital still-images and movies from a number of devices, such as the Intel QX3 Microscope, digital camera, and webcams.

2. Manage these images and be able to display them.

3. The ability to make measurements on them and feed that data into a spreadsheet for further analysis and display.

CameraScope is the first tool in a series to be made freely available to educators throughout the world through the Thinking Spaces Tools initiative. The goal is to provide a stable software platform around which educators can develop curriculum without fear that it will be made obsolete.


CameraScope is a Windows application (there are plans to support other platforms in the future and should run on any Pentium based computer running Windows 95 or later.

It does not need tremendous amounts of memory or a particularly fast processor to operate, but naturally, it will run better with more of each.


Download CameraScope from the "Initiatives" tab on our website ( After going to the CameraScope page, there will be links to download at the end.

Once downloaded, will have a file called CameraScopeInstall.exe that will install the needed files to your computer. It will load them in a new folder it will create called C:\Program Files\CameraScope. (You can install it into another folder if you want, by clicking the browse button during the install process)

To start CameraScope, double-click on the new shortcut created on your desktop named CameraScope. If your camera is not connected, or the program is not yet set up to your particular device, a dialog box will display a message, so just ignore it for now.

Supported Devices

Microsoft DirectShow Devices

We use Microsoft’s DirectShow to talk to devices other than digital still cameras. Most webcams and image capture devices you will want to use have this support built in.

NOTE: We currently look at the first device you have loaded and use that, so if you have 2 webcams, you may need to re-order their dominance in the computer.

To tell CameraScope you want to capture images using a DirectShow device, choose the DirectShow /QX3 item in the File->Set Camera Type menu option.

Intel/DigitalBlue QX3 Microscope

The QX3 is a DirectShow device, just like a webcam, but we have provided a separate utility to turn on and off the lights under the microscope’s stage. (Called QX3Light.exe).

To tell CameraScope you want to capture images using a DirectShow device, choose the DirectShow /QX3 item in the File->Set Camera Type menu option.

Canon Digital Cameras

We have direct support for a number of Canon’s digital cameras, including the PowerShot series (including the A30, A40, A-60, A-70, etc.)

To tell CameraScope you want to capture images using a Canon camera, choose the Canon item in the File->Set Camera Type menu option.

The Main Screen

When you start CameraScope, the screen is divided into a number of areas:

Capture viewer

This large area covering the left side shows the live picture of what your camera sees. Below it is a button to snap still images and a focus button used by some digital cameras.

There are two slider controls to change the exposure and zoom level. These controls may not be active if your particular device does not support them.

Info Display

Below the Capture Viewer, information is displayed about what camera is active, the project name and folder (see Project Organization section), and what file analytic data will be captured to.

Image Gallery

Any stills, movies, or data files you have created that match your project name and folder will be displayed here. A scroll bar beneath the images provides control to see more pages (if any)

A set of radio buttons control what type of file will be displayed:

The Show Stills button shows still images.
Show Movies button shows the first frame of a movie file.
Show Data button shows an icon about the data file.

Capturing Still Images

Clicking on the Shoot a Picture! Button will snap a still and create a jpeg image file in your project folder. A thumbnail will appear in the Image Gallery and double clicking on it will bring up the Viewer to see it.

Image Size

You can change the actual size of the image being captured by selecting the Image->Size menu option, from Small to Large The actual size of the images is dependent on the particular camera.

Image Quality

Likewise, the image’s quality ranges from Good to Best, reflecting the amount of distortion, image artifacts, and of course, the size of the image file on the disk.

Making Movies

One of CameraScope’s most powerful features is the ability to make movies, either real time or time lapse. These movies are stored as AVI files, and like JPEG still files, can be easily brought into other applications for editing and presentation.

Time Lapse Movies

When making a time-lapse movie, CameraScope will record a frame of the movie ever so much time you ask. To record a time-lapse movie, choose the Make Time-Lapse option in the Movie menu.

A dialog box will appear with 3 ways to specify that time period. Changing any one will change one of the others, but basically, we are looking at the number of seconds between successive shots.

Clicking the Start button will bring up a second dialog box the will ask you to pick a codec (kind of compression) and a quality. We support all Microsoft Type I Codecs including MPEG4, (probably the best) Cinepak, Uncompressed, (makes huge files) and any other codec installed on your computer.

Once selected, the time-lapse recording will begin, creating a movie file by snapping still images at the time interval you specified. The Info Display will show you the Movie Time (how long the movie will play for when completed) and the Real Time (the total time it took to capture).

To stop the time-lapse, click on the Stop Recording button underneath the Capture Viewer. . A thumbnail will appear in the Image Gallery and double clicking on it will bring up the Viewer to see it.

Real Time Movies

When making a real-time movie, CameraScope will record a 30 frames per second the movie from your camera. To record real-time movie, choose the Make Real Time option in the Movie menu.

A dialog box will confirm the recording and the actual recording will begin when the beep sounds.

Note: These movies can be huge in their file size!!!

Viewing Stills and Movies

Double clicking on an image in the Image Gallery will bring up a separate window, called the Media Viewer displaying the image larger.

If it’s a movie file, you can see the various frame of the movie by clicking on the arrow buttons beneath the image. The frame’s time (in seconds) is displayed to the in the middle of the buttons.

The Right and Left Arrow Keys will also move you through the movie in time. The Home Key will bring you to the start of the movie. A slider shows the place you are within the movies, and dragging the slider’s triangle will scroll through the movie.

Clicking on the Close button at the top-right corner will close the viewer and bring you back to the main CameraScope screen.

Viewing Data Files

Double clicking on a Data file in the Image Gallery will bring up that data file up in Excel, provided you have it on the computer. You can then use Excel’s excellent data manipulation and graphing tools to create an Excel XLS file.

If you want to make changes to the original CSV file, you will have to manually navigate back to your project folder.

NOTE: If Excel does not launch when you double click on the data file, you need to tell CameraScope where is on your computer. Choose the Locate Excel Program option in the File menu, and then find the actual Excel application called Excel.exe. This is typically buried somewhere in the Microsoft Office folder in the Program Files folder of your C: drive.

Project Organization

In order to easily manage the large number of images, we have set up system where you define a Project Name and Project Folder by which the various still, movie, and data files are organized.

Project Folder

The Project Folder is the folder in which all the files are stored, and is set by choosing a folder from a dialog in the Project->Set Project Folder menu.

Project Name

The Project Name is the name that all the project files will begin with are stored, and is set by choosing typing a name in the Project->Set Project Name menu.

As each still or movie file is created, it will automatically be given that name with an increasing number attached.

For example, if you had type MyClass, still images would be named MyClass001.jpg, MyClass002.jpg, etc.; movie files would be named MyClass1.avi, MyClass2.avi, etc.; and data files would be named MyClass1.csv, MyClass2.csv, etc.

Since data files may want to reference multiple images, you must explicitly advance the number by clicking on the File->New Data File menu option. The name of the file currently recording data is shown in the Info Screen below the Capture Viewer.

Deleting Project Files

You can delete all the files in a project by clicking on the Delete Files option in the File menu and choosing the subset of files to delete.

To delete just one file, right-click on a files image in the Image Gallery. The files after the one you deleted will be re-named, so a contiguous sequence is maintained.

Importing Project Files

You can import JPEG, AVI and CSV files created outside of CameraScope project by clicking on the Import option in the File menu and choosing a file to import. That file will be moved to your project folder and renamed to the project name and next available number. You can even import directly from a digital camera

Measuring and Saving Data

One of the more powerful features of CameraScope is its ability to extract accurate measurements from the images. This process is easily done by the CameraScope Media viewer.

Measuring Images

Double clicking on in image in the Image Gallery will bring up a separate window, called the Media Viewer displaying the image larger.

In the right hand-corner, four numbers are constantly displayed as you move the cursor through the image.

The h= and v= show the coordinates of the cursor on the screen. You can measure widths (lengths) on the screen by pressing the left mouse button down and dragging the cursor. A "rubber-band" line will appear, and the length (the Pythagorean distance) of the line will appear in the w= prefix. The angle of the line in degreed appears after the r= prefix.

Resetting the Origins to Zero

You may want to reset the zero point from which measurements are taken. The default position origin is 0,0 (the bottom left hand corner of the screen). To change 0,0 to somewhere else, left click on the screen with the Shift Key down. A yellow crosshair will mark the point.

Likewise, to reset the angle position to zero, set the angle to where you want 0 degrees to be with the Shift Key down. A plus sign will be added to the display to indicate its zero point has been reset.

Finally, the time offset can be reset to zero from any time in the movie by clicking on the time display under the image with the Shift Key down. A plus sign will be added to the display to indicate its zero point has been reset.

Calibration to Real World Coordinates

You can calibrate the display to be scaled to real world coordinates by clicking on the Calibrate button in the bottom-right hand corner.

Begin by measuring an object in the image you want to associate real world values to. Clicking on the Calibrate button will being up a dialog to type the number of units in the real world this span represents.

Saving the Data

Data is saved in a comma, delimited text file (a CSV file) that can be read directly by spreadsheets such as Excel. The data is saved to whatever file is shown below the image.

Each time the ENTER key is pressed, new row (line) of data is added to file consisting of the following: the time (in seconds), the horizontal position, the vertical position, the length, and the angle of rotation.

Right-clicking on the mouse will save the data to the file as the Enter key does and will also advance the movie to the next frame.

The following data represents 4 such saves from a 30 frames per second movie (each frame is .033 seconds apart)


Displaying the Data Points

The button with the 3 dots on it will turn on and off the display of a yellow dot that will mark each data point saved.


© 2004 The University of Virginia