DIGITAL VIDEO MICROSCOPY: A PRACTICAL VISUAL ANALYSIS TECHNIQUE FOR THE CONSERVATOR
1 1. INTRODUCTION
A conservator often uses microscopy to perform close visual examinations as a part of his or her daily routine. Such observations help to identify materials or choose an appropriate conservation treatment for an object. Microscopy may also help to form a long-term storage plan for more sensitive and fragile objects. Many conservation laboratories are complementing their microscope systems with cooled charged coupled device (CCD) video cameras and high-resolution color monitors. The addition of these cameras and monitors allows more than one person to view the display in excellent detail, which is very helpful in consultation or training scenarios. The systems have also been found to be a very valuable aid in treating objects (Biggs 1994). They have been extensively used in industrial, medical, and scientific research in all fields, including conservation.
The capabilities of video microscopy systems can be further enhanced by incorporating a computer and a computer monitor. To link a video camera with a computer, one needs a computer peripheral such as a video capture device to digitize images. The system is invaluable when performing critical side-by-side visual comparison studies of specimens. It is equally valuable when carrying out such comparison studies as those involving the reaction of materials. This article will discuss the value of digital video microscopy in a conservation laboratory setting.