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Photometrics PVCAM Device Adapter

Summary:Interfaces with Roper, Photometrics (this adapter used to work with Princeton Instruments cameras, however, now please use the Princeton Instruments adapter)
Authors:Nenad Amodaj, with contributions from Nico Stuurman (Mac adaptation) and Ji Yu (expose more PVCAM properties), Oleksiy Danikhnov and Arthur Edelstein (reliability in streaming mode).
Platforms:Windows and Mac OS X (linux possible but not tested), for Windows 7 see issue below
Devices:PVCAM compatible cameras
Example Config File:Media:MMConfig_pvcam_simple.cfg
Driver Needed:Roper/Photometrics PVCAM


Make sure you have the latest version of the Photometrics PVCAM Driver supporting your camera. You might need to update PVCAM after you upgrade Micro-Manager (if you get an error, of PVCAM becomes "unavailable").


This adapter should work with Photometrics PVCAM compatible cameras that work with recent PVCAM versions (If you have an older Photometrics camera that does not work with a recent PVCAM version, please try the Princeton Instruments adapter). To use it, you will need to have the (PVCAM software) installed and working. At the very least, the pvcam test application (included with PVCAM) should give you an image, and preferably RSImage works with your camera (although we have seen cases where Micro-Manager works with a PVCAM camera whereas RSImage does not). We tested it with an old MicroMax, a newer Firewire CoolSnap, Cascade II, and Evolve cameras on Windows and a Firewire Coolsnap ES, EZ, and HQ2 on Intel Mac. Thanks to Ji Yu, most available camera properties are exposed.

The Photometrics website has a video showing how to configure Micro-Manager for use with a Photometrics camera.

Firewire issues

From the Photometrics website:

In recent updates, Microsoft released two hotfixes which updated their FireWire stack file. However, these updates cause performance drops in the functionality of Texas Instruments (TI) FireWire Controllers which ship with Photometrics cameras. These performance drops manifest with the following symptoms:

  • Image Tearing
  • Interference Lines
  • Black Images
  • Reduced Frames-per-second

Installing the Thesycon 1394 stack fixes these problems by replacing the default Microsoft stack. This remedies any problems caused by the updates. The Thesycon FireWire stack has been thoroughly tested and does not cause any other conflicts or problems with any devices.

The Thesycon stack installer can be downloaded here.

Windows 7 issue

Paul Forscher reported that Micro-Manager does not find any PVCAM cameras under Windows 7. The problem is that Micro-Manager can not find the file 'PVCAM.ini'. To fix this, run RSConfig.exe from the Photometrics folder in the start menu. This will create the proper PVCam. Ini in the c:\windows folder. If that fails, type 'cmd' in the "Search programs and files' box in the Start menu, and then type:

copy C:\Users\username\AppData\Local\VirtualStore\Windows\PVCAM.ini C:\Program Files\Micro-Manager1.3

where you should replace 'username' with your username.

The directory 'Appdata' is not visible to the Windows file explorer.

--Nico 11:33, 31 August 2007 (PDT)

Notable changes

Apr 8, 2016

Added support for Photometrics Prime camera. PrimeEnhance (DENOISING PP) and PrimeLocate (Centroids) features are supported. Users are kindly requested to upgrade PVCAM Runtime to version that is available at Customers who are using the Presets feature of Micro-Manager may need to re-create or update their preset configuration because names of some camera properties have changed. E.g. "Frame Transfer Parallel Clocking" has been shortened to "Frame Transfer". A configuration that was prepared with older PVCAM and that is using such property will not work with the new PVCAM.

Feb 14, 2014

[Windows only] Added support for the new OptiMos camera. New property "ExposeOutMode" has been added. This property controls the expose out signal of the sCMOS sensor. Please see the OptiMos user manual for more details. This feature is supported since PVCAM 3.0.1.

Sep 5, 2013

[Windows only] Added support for FRAME_INFO metadata and callback acquisition. The FRAME_INFO provides precise frame time-stamps with supported cameras. Users are kindly requested to upgrade PVCAM to version 2.9.11.

Jun 20, 2013

The adapter now supports micro-second exposure resolution. Exposure values shorter than 60ms are automatically treated in micro-second resolution. From now users can use exposure values like 50.5, 2.8, 0.09, etc.

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

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