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Case Study - OpenCVgrabber - Using frame grabbers and web cameras with Micro-Manager

Until now Micro-Manager (MM) has supported mostly expensive cameras with numerous features. During the development of an imaging system for a client the need arose for a simple, cost effective and readily available frame grabber that could be used with Micro-Manager. Searching for easy solutions to add to an existing computer proved difficult, especially when a PCI card is not an option. As a result OpenCVgrabber was born, the goal of this project is to bring low cost and easy to use cameras and grabbers to Micro-manager.

Update: OpenCVgrabber is now included in all MM1.4 Nightly builds for Windows since September 14th 2011

N. B. This article remains here as reference for users of MM1.3. It is recommended that new users should download MM1.4 or newer as this includes OpenCVGrabber when you install.

Click here to view the MM nightly builds. The Imaging Source sell a capture device for USB, this seemed ideal but was not supported directly by MM. The device has a WDM Stream Class driver and this works well with OpenCV. There are many similar devices that may work with this device adapter. Support will be added for more features as they become needed, please contact us with your requests.


   Standard resolutions
   Colour and greyscale modes
   Exposure control for cameras


These instructions assume Micro-Manager 1.3 is installed in the default installation location, for most users, this will be the case. It is also assumed that your capture hardware already works with the software provided by the manufacturer. Binary downloads are for Windows 32 bit only. Source code should be platform independent, although hardware support varies with platforms.

In order to make your device work with Micro-Manager using the OpenCV Device Adapter do the following:

Download and install OpenCV 2.1

When given the option during the installation, add the OpenCV installation to your PATH.

Download and install OpenCVgrabber

Accept the defaults, or change the path in the installer to point at your MM installation directory if it is not the default of C:\Program Files\Micro-Manager-1.3\.

Configure Micro-Manager

Create a new configuration for MM by running the Hardware Configuration Wizard and adding the OpenCVgrabber device on step three (as well as any other devices you use.) Make sure the device is actually connected to the computer and the manufacturer’s drivers have been installed.

If you wish to change anything to suit the device you have or build for another platform you can download the OpenCVgrabber source. Alternatively, contact us and we can make the chages for you. This has currently only been tested on Windows; Linux testing to follow shortly.

Please let us know how you get on!

Users wishing to obtain and compile the source code for OpenCVGrabber should check out MM1.4 from the source code repository at Vale Lab.

Click here to search for OpenCVGrabber on the Micro-Manager mailing list archive.