For watching your microscope image on a computer monitor with a standard definition video camera while going THROUGH a computer or for connection to a laptop, the easiest way to accomplish this is to use an external TV Tuner USB device . These are small boxes or USB dongles that allow you to watch broadcast TV on your computer—but instead of watching television we will watch the microscope camera.

There are many of these devices on the market. The important thing when you go in search of a unit is to make sure that the specifications state that there is s-video input or composite input capability. You will be going from the s-video output of the microscope standard definition camera to the s-video input of the device.

(Important: Beware, if you get an image capture style device, it may keep your camera image in a small view window and you will not be able to watch full screen. The TV Tuner type devices being discussed do not have that limitation.)

For viewing an HD camcorder live image on your computer, you would need the proper AV connection wire to plug into your camera’s side panel AV jack. This wire would have a composite video jack (yellow in color) and this would be plugged into the TV Tuner USB device. (For most people using HD camcorders, the primary view screen would be a HDTV and all video/image capture is done on the internal SD memory card. More about that in a bit.)

Note: The HD camcorder has an HDMI output and this is the preferred output to use for live image viewing while going into a HDTV as just mentioned. There are no computers that have HDMI inputs so to see a camcorder image live on your computer, you must use the AV output as just explained with a TV Tuner USB box/dongle arrangement.

To see a selection of TV Tuner USB units available, go to any internet electronics provider and type in the search words “TV Tuner USB”. Search electronic retailers like ( in Canada),, etc.

For PAL cameras (used in Euro countries and other areas) the above systems usually can be switched to that format. Most of these systems are for Microsoft Windows based computers, you will have to look for ones specific to Apple systems.  

Note on printing:

For standard definition imaging, the software that comes with the TV Tuner USB box that sits between the microscope camera and computer will allow you to easily capture images - either JPEG, or moving live action AVI type files. One would use the standard windows or mac file explorer to create client folders where the images could be saved. Images from those folders can then be printed one at a time using the standard windows file and fax viewer or similar viewer on a mac or by using the software that comes with the printer. With this software images could be manipulated and printed. For example, one 4x6 print could contain 2, 4, 8, or more separate microscope images.

For HD cameras, you will likely be snapping pics with your camera’s picture taking ability and then download those images to your computer through the USB connection. Once in your computer you can manipulate them any way you desire using software that came with your camera, computer or some third party. You can also just pull the SD memory card from your camcorder (if using a camcorder with this option) and plug it into a computer’s card reader and print directly from there.

Special options with HD cameras:


With the HD camcorders, we use SD memory cards to temporarily store the pictures we have taken. One type of “wireless” memory card is from Eye-Fi. With this card installed in one of your memory card slots, images that are taken with your camcorder can automatically be transferred through your network right to your computer so no USB cable hook-up is required. This is kind of nifty. Take a photo of an interesting specimen and it shows up in your computer within the Eye-Fi software so you can then do what you want with it.

Instructions for installation and use of these devices is within the manual for the particular Eye-Fi card you might have.


When you capture an image to a memory chip with a HD camera, that chip can be easily pulled out and plugged directly into many digital photo printers. You will be able to read what is on the chip as well as print photos without the need for a computer. Refer to the operating guide of your selected printer.