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InfiniProbe TS-160: Quality? Value?

 
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scottburgess



Joined: 24 Mar 2013
Posts: 20
Location: California

PostPosted: Mon Jan 11, 2016 9:56 pm    Post subject: InfiniProbe TS-160: Quality? Value? Reply with quote

Hi, I just ran across the InfiniProbe TS-160, and was wondering what experience folks had with it? Does the MACRO objective compare favorably with a Canon 65mm 1x-5x Macro Zoom at 4x? Does the MICRO HM objective compare well with a Mitutoyo M Plan 10x APO LWD, or with a 15x objective? For someone working at multiple magnifications is this a decent value play?

Oddly, this has apparently been around for several years yet I find little mention of it in the forums. I recall a number of articles comparing different objectives a ways back, but am not sure if this didn't make the cut or just has not seen much interest yet.

For the equally curious, here is a link to the web page for this product:
http://www.infinity-usa.com/products/infiniprobe/InfiniProbe-TS160.aspx

Scott
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Chris S.
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 11, 2016 11:35 pm    Post subject: Re: InfiniProbe TS-160: Quality? Value? Reply with quote

Scott,

scottburgess wrote:
Does the MICRO HM objective compare well with a Mitutoyo M Plan 10x APO LWD. . . . For someone working at multiple magnifications is this a decent value play?

As you say, it's been some time since this system came out. Back when it was released, I read about it and communicated with a person experienced in using it. Based on this, I discounted the system as a poor choice for most members of our community. But as time has elapsed, my recollection of why has grown fuzzy.

To my recollection, the marketing materials for the Infiniprobe TS-160 are wince-producingly over-enthusiastic. In optics, we never get something for nothing, and the marketing for this product omits sober discussion of trade-offs. If I recall correctly, the numerical apertures for this system's taking lenses are rather limited. Therefore, resolution is also limited. And these numerical apertures are not disclosed in the marketing materials I just now perused--an enormous omission.

Were the marketing toned down, it might be more appropriate. Perhaps this might not strike discord in the knowledgeable: "If you are more interested in convenience than resolution, consider our product." I don't mean this to sound nearly as snide as it may appear; for quite a bit of work--such as a large portion of professional macro and micro videography--high resolution isn't needed, while quick, convenient shooting is.

But most of us on this forum do place a high value on resolution. In this case, using a set of high-quality microscope objectives is best, along with the practice of using the highest possible numerical aperture in any given situation where best resolution is desired.

--Chris
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rjlittlefield
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 11, 2016 11:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm not aware of any hands-on test reports that would allow comparing against the MP-E 65, or any other lens for that matter.

I also don't see how to do a comparison by spec, since the key parameter NA (Numerical Aperture) is conspicuously missing from the OEM_Handbook document that describes the device (http://www.infinity-usa.com/downloads/OEM_Handbook/InfiniProbe-TS-160.pdf).

A couple of years ago, I wrote in private email that
Quote:
There is a YouTube posting http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NI2tFaUw4KY dated Feb 29, 2012, that shows its use in a video system. It's titled "INFINITY PHOTO OPTICAL TS-160 MACRO/MICROSCOPE FOR DSLR/MILC OR CMT CAMERAS". Operation as shown in the video suggests that the NA's cannot possibly be very large, just due to lens diameter vs working distance. But the convenience is excellent, more like "remarkable" really. To get a quick jump into the video, skip forward to about 11:00.

Regarding image quality, I would be very surprised if the Infiniprobe system could equal or exceed a Mitutoyo M Plan Apo 10X at same magnification. That's based on not much more than the above, plus prices of the InfiniProbe modules compared to the Mitutoyo's, and noting that the Mitutoyo's are produced in larger quantity but even so are more expensive, and are considered "gold standard" by people who have looked at lots of different objectives. But how much it might fall short of the Mitutoyo's quality, I can't even guess.

In any case, you've asked a harder question: "for someone working at multiple magnifications is this a decent value play?" To answer that I imagine it's necessary to factor in convenience as well as pixel-peeping image quality. Unfortunately I have no idea how you might weight those things, so I have to plead too much ignorance in too many areas.

If the behavior shown in the YouTube video is interesting to you, then I suggest contacting Infinity to see if it's possible to get an evaluation unit, or at least get access to some good images for evaluation. (I'm hoping that the fly's eye shown at http://www.infinity-usa.com/products/infiniprobe/InfiniProbe-TS160.aspx is not the best that they have. By the standards of photomacrography.net, that one might be described as "a promising start", but it has lots of issues with aberrations and sharpness.)

Of course if you do happen to get some hands-on experience, we would be very interested to hear the report!

--Rik
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scottburgess



Joined: 24 Mar 2013
Posts: 20
Location: California

PostPosted: Wed Jan 13, 2016 8:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you Chris and Rik. I didn't expect this to be a great performer for the reasons stated, but figured if by some chance it was really great someone here would know and share. I haven't had a chance to try one but will post a few quick comparisons if I can find someone's to borrow.

Convenience can be an important factor. I would buy one if resultant image quality was close to that of my existing gear, especially for long road trips where I don't want to carry every supermacro item I own.

My dream at this point is that Canon will produce their own optically superior version of this product someday. It is certainly different from anything they make and fills an interesting niche.
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calocedrus



Joined: 08 Jan 2014
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 19, 2016 9:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Until I can provide a more detailed and objective answer, I can comment on the TS-160. I have had the chance to borrow one (with macro 0 to 4x lens) and try it both outdoors and indoors. What was most striking is the need for a lot of light for a proper exposure, even outdoor under a noon time blue sky / yellow sun. The image quality is, subjectively, not disappointing, but this means little without a side by side comparison, or images of a resolution target of some sort. There is a variable iris to control the amount of contrast, and the user guide explains that a jump in contrast (not obvious to my un-experimented eyes) corresponds to the optimum balance between contrast and resolution. I don't know what optical concepts are behind this, and whether this also implies that the setting corresponds to when diffraction sets in. I too was surprised that no MTF, NA or resolution information is provided anywhere I've looked (there's maybe some somewhere), while several pages are dedicated to various mechanical blueprints:
http://www.infinity-usa.com/downloads/OEM_Handbook/InfiniProbe-TS-160.pdf

Ludovic
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g4lab



Joined: 23 May 2008
Posts: 1424

PostPosted: Tue Jan 19, 2016 10:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think these are the same people that made the Katopteron reflective macro objective which I had some interest in,until Dr. Klaus outbid me on a couple of them, and later and told me to "Curb your enthusiasm" . The Katopterons were off axis reflective devices with long working distance and theoretically no CA.
But Dr. Klaus said or implied that they didn't perform that impressively.
They made lots of claims for those optics too, which was what got my attention in the first place.

When this series came out, I made an inquiry of the company, and I got a response that made me feel I was speaking to a marketing or sales person , in the pejorative sense of those words. I believe they were located in Colorado. There may have been a corporate reorganization or acquisition between the Katopteron and the Infinity.
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Charles Krebs



Joined: 01 Aug 2006
Posts: 5671
Location: Issaquah, WA USA

PostPosted: Tue Jan 19, 2016 3:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This is a unique piece with some really nice characteristics and one primary "issue" for people who want the highest possible resolution and are willing to do stacking (as is the case with many here).

It is beautifully machined and finished, and on a stand (or tripod I suppose... never tried that) is much nicer to use than the Canon MP-65. The thing many will not like is the small maximum aperture. As a result you are immediately into "diffraction" territory right way, and as such it will not yield the maximum resolution of a "faster" quality optic.

In my mind it is a little analogous to a stereo microscope verses a microscope objective of the same magnification with a much larger NA, in that you compromise some resolution for greater DOF and usage convenience. Used as a video "inspection" unit or in situations where there is no possibility to stack it would work nicely. For the highest resolution stacked images it is more limited because of the aperture..

In practice I find that when the final image is used at low to modest enlargement, it is hard to see much difference. But as reproduction size increases higher NA optics show better detail. On the forum here, our maximum long dimension is 1024 pixels. The first fly shot here:
http://www.photomacrography.net/forum/viewtopic.php?t=26073 was taken with the TS-160, as were the coin shots here:
http://www.photomacrography.net/forum/viewtopic.php?t=28260

On the fly shot I also did a direct comparison stack with a 5X Mitutoyo (at 4.5X with the Olympus 180mm tube lens). Two things were interesting, but really not surprising. The TS-160 series "stacked" much more easily with far less retouching needed for overlapping hairs and such. (Again, not unexpected because of the much larger DOF). At 1024 pixel width (after "appropriate" sharpening) it was difficult to discern a detail difference between the two. When view at 100% full-res (not sampled to a smaller size) the higher resolution of the Mitutoyo was easily seen (again not unexpected due to the much higher NA).

Infinity-USA was very generous in providing me access so I let them have some of the resulting images. If you look toward the bottom of the page: http://www.infinity-usa.com/products.aspx?pg=InfiniProbe-TS160
you can see a few other images I made with this piece.

I have discussed the small aperture limitation with them, and the possibility of modifications to allow for larger apertures.

BTW... this is the company that makes the K2 that Steve Valley showed us in his "Visionary Digital" setup used in Oregon:
http://www.photomacrography.net/forum/viewtopic.php?t=12145
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H Jay Margolis



Joined: 23 Jul 2016
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Location: Boulder, CO

PostPosted: Tue Aug 23, 2016 6:42 pm    Post subject: Confusion About INFINIPROBE TS-160 and Makowsky Katoptaron. Reply with quote

Hi Everyone!
I am H Jay Margolis, president of Infinity Photo-Optical and new to the forum.
I am enjoying how much is being discussed about some of my products and or inventions. But I am afraid that there is much confusion about all of this.
I will get to the TS-160 soon and how it has been misunderstood. A lot of the criticism (that, for example, it has small aperture) has come from a misunderstanding of its "pedigree." It actually incorporates a very sophisticated design, going back to concepts originated when I was a Bausch & Lomb in the 1970's by the late, great Harold Rosenberger. As I said, more in a later posting.

Mean time, I want to thank Charles Krebs for things too many to note here. But that will come, too.

No, for now, I would like to explain something about the Katoptaron--the work of my friend and mentor, the late Helmut Makowsky of Cologne, Germany.

There has been confusion about the Katoptaron, too. First, I was the one who pleaded with Helmut to make it into a long-distance microscope. Until I did, he was happy to have it be a pretty great f/8 (so he said) all-mirror optic for 35mm SLRs.. But I saw its possibilities for other things and got to know him through many visits to his home over the years, eventually importing the optics to sell in the USA.

Helmut was a man who felt he was not appreciated. He protected his "baby" with a passion. Consequently, he did not see that "building a better mousetrap" was not enough. He had hit upon a way to use two spherical Zerodur mirrors in just such a spacing and offset, that spherical aberration and astigmatism were countered. But not perfectly. To make this all work, he put an articulation to the main mirror to set manually with the position of the focusing (moving) mirror. This meant that the image "climbed" with focus movement and this offset caused the need to reset the relationships of the mirrors constantly for the ONE working distance desired. It was unwieldy because of this. It was years later that he finally admitted he should have made a linkage to the focus and the corrective positioning of the mirror, but by then, it was too late.

Claims for excellent chromatic correction were correct. But the other aberrations had to be corrected by the user very critically by turning the offset control. If all was keyed in just right, the image was incredible, but the least error of adjustment meant more or less imperfect results. Ironically, if he ad allowed me to use my afocal variation system focuser the mirrors could have remained in position. But he would not allow any glass to be introduced in any way.

Klaus and I have discussed that he was a bitter man. Not to other people, but to circumstance. That was the unfortunate thing about him. He felt the world had not appreciated him. He went through a very hard patent fight with a former partner. It hurt him.

He gave me some great tips on optics and I think of him every day. The K2 which I developed was an homage to him. I still have some Katoptarons which I will NOT part with. They represent a chapter in my life, too.

All the same, if I REALLY want to check out an image, I pull out a Katoptaron and spend the minutes to set it up exactly. It is a great lesson in how to counter aberrations. But when the image of a Katoptaron is set, wonderment is at hand. I miss him.

H Jay Margolis
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ChrisR
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 25, 2016 6:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Welcome to the forum!

Just in case anyone is under the illusion that diffraction blur is an "aberration" that can be corrected, it's not. It's just - blur.
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rjlittlefield
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 25, 2016 3:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

ChrisR wrote:
Just in case anyone is under the illusion that diffraction blur is an "aberration" that can be corrected, it's not. It's just - blur.

Sure enough.

But if that comment is motivated at all by the TS-160, then (as I understand the situation) the key thing we didn't know is that the production TS-160 can actually provide higher NA from what has been talked about previously.

I'm currently working offline with Jay to get this all sorted out. I'm confident that everything will become clear in the near future.

Cheers,
--Rik
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ChrisR
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 25, 2016 6:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Of course it's motivated by this thread.
What everyone questions is the aperture.
We have a lengthy reply, which avoids giving any information about it and diverts to other things. The word used before - "conspicuously".

However. looking at the document here:
http://www.infinity-usa.com/downloads/OEM_Handbook/InfiniProbe-TS-160.pdf
Plugging in WD 28mm at 4x, yields an NA of 0.123, which of course isn't bad - if the heuristic is sound.
I get 0.156 at 10x, which is less good, but not awful.
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