Choosing The Right Digital Inspection System

Choosing the right Digital Inspection system can be confusing. There are many different types of systems available today at price points ranging from $150 to over $10,000.

It is important to clearly establish what functions you expect the system to perform and what you hope to accomplish with the system.  For example, will this be used at a desk infrequently for quick inspection or in a quality lab to take measurements or on a production line to reduce eye fatigue or for a variety of different applications.

Below are typical types of digital microscopes on the market today with typical applications.

USB Digital Microscope

These scopes are generally lower cost and provide quick magnification on a computer. Most come with software that allows you to capture images and perform basic measurement functions. General magnification ranges from 10x-50x.

Typical Applications:  Spot Check Inspection and Measurement, Portable for Field Applications


Dual HDMI & USB Output Scopes

These systems tend to be larger in size and higher in cost than a USB Digital Microscope. They allow the user the convenience of looking at an image directly on a HD Monitor without a computer, but also when needed a user can connect a computer to capture images and perform basic measurements.    Higher end systems like this may have an auto focus feature.
Typical Applications:  Presentations/Classrooms, Quality Controls, Low Magnification Product Line work.
Example: Aven Cyclops

Auto Focus HDMI Systems

These systems are the most advanced and generally feature a high quality HD camera with nearly instantaneous auto focus.  In most cases, systems of this type offer a greater working distance and ease of use to the operator. The high-end HD camera allows the operator to work at various magnifications without sacrificing working distance. Premium Auto Focus HD Systems also generally feature a USB output to connect to a computer.

Typical Applications:  Production lines, Quality Labs High Volume Quality Inspections and Documentation.

In addition to determining your requirements for an inspection system, it is also important to remember not all inspection systems are “one size fits all”. It is critical to work with an expert that has a diverse product offering to tailor a solution to fit your needs, whether in production, parts inspection, engineering or casual product review.

Professional Applications of Aven’s SharpVue Digital Inspection System

Microscopes are required across many aspects of industry for inspection purposes. Products coming off electronic, agricultural, medical and automotive production lines need to be carefully scrutinized. Passports need to be manually looked at, PCB and IC’s need to be checked for integrity. And while machine vision can automate the rapid inspection of an ever-expanding spectrum of products, the majority industrial inspection applications still rely on a visual confirmation from a real human.

SharpVue For Automotive Inspection

The assembly process for automotive parts involves both inspection for defects and verification of measurements. To handle the wide variety of parts in the automobile assembly process, visual inspection tools must have a wide magnification range. They should be able to focus on an extremely small area and magnify it while retaining sharpness and depth, all without distortion. They must also be able to look at all sides of each piece, preferably without moving the piece. The best inspection tools must be able to aim the magnifying element and the lights at a highly targeted area to minimize the effect of shadows on the inspection
process. This means the tool should ideally be able to view components on their horizontal as well as vertical axes. This can increase inspection throughput without reduction in efficiency and accuracy. The SharpVue Inspection System is ergonomically designed so operators do not have to hunch over a microscope or push their eyes into awkward and uncomfortable eyepieces. Users can sit comfortably and view results on large monitors, minimizing fatigue and reducing the chance of errors due to tiredness. This way of inspection also allows collaboration: Operators can share results on the screen, or can freeze and capture images.

SharpVue For Quality Control in Agriculture Industries

With a SharpVue digital microscope using sufficient magnification levels, operators can view seeds and grains in high magnification with extremely high image quality. This allows operators to quickly perform processes such as seed germination, testing and purity determination of a seed, grain test with wheat, barley or rye seeds – making it very easy to identify foreign varieties, mites or fungal diseases in your sample. Taking a picture requires only a single click and you will have the image documentation of the purity of your seed and grain test samples readily
at hand. When working with our systems, the image from the camera is shown on a screen, relieving your operators of unnecessary neck and shoulder pains, enabling them to work more efficiently. With SharpVue you have a partner for optimization of your quality processes. We offer you higher quality, enhanced productivity and equipment suitable for your staff.

SharpVue For Manual Visual Inspection in the Electronics Sector

SharpVue Inspection Systems are ideal for inspecting electronic components. The SharpVue’s 1080p autofocus camera, as well as the user-friendly interface makes inspecting small components stress-free. Viewing images on a monitor also gives you a great range of ergonomic advantages, avoiding neck and shoulder problems. SharpVue also allows operators to capture images on a PC. The SharpVue comes with imaging and measurement software, allowing users to capture images and make accurate measurements on directly from a computer. The measurement software also enables operators to measure basic geometric figures.
SharpVue is ideal for a variety of application areas within the electronics industries including  quality control, documentation, measurement, training, rework and repair of printed circuit boards.

SharpVue For Forensics

Forensic science gathers and examines information about the past. Technicians inspect fingerprints, signatures, crime scene details, hair samples, and other physical pieces of evidence. They also inspect currency to assess potential for counterfeiting. Most forensics is
done in a lab in highly rigid environments. Inspections must be detailed and consistent, to avoid having evidence compromised or dismissed. The SharpVue can be used to closely look at artifacts in order to look for defects, make measurements, save image files, and more.

How to Create Your Video Inspection System

There are a lot of options available when it comes to imaging systems. This is a good thing, as there is almost certainly an imaging system that will suit your individual needs. Here are some tips for finding the best system for your applications.

Select Your Lens

First, consider these four key elements:

  • Field of View
  • Depth of Field
  • Resolution
  • Working Distance

These will determine what sort of lens is required for your ideal imaging system. A field of view is the area that the lens can see, and depth of field is the area in focus at one time under magnification. Very small objects will require a micro lens with a higher level of magnification and lower depth of field. Larger objects will require a macro lens, which will offer a lower level of magnification and higher depth of field. Additionally, higher magnification reduces working distance while lower magnification increases working distance.

Once you’ve determined your field of view and chosen a lens, think about your overall goals. What are you viewing, and what do you want to do with it? Whatever the objective, you want the highest possible level of image resolution. At this point, it’s time to think about cameras.

Select Your Imaging Camera

Two of the most common imaging sensors found in digital cameras are CCD and CMOS. CCD stands for “charge-coupled device” and are designed to help remedy challenging lighting and color conditions. Despite low light applications or very small objects of study, the CCD sensor provides extremely precise color reproduction and highly detailed images, capturing a precise, high resolution images of moving objects. CCD cameras are ideal for examining things like cell structures, and are a popular choice among medical researchers.

CMOS stands for “complimentary metal oxide semiconductor” and is a great choice for parts inspection, clinical and industrial research, and any imaging application wherein it is critical to reduce lag time from one image to the next. Images from a CMOS camera are known for exceptional clarity, which greatly enhances the operator’s experience making measurements and annotations.

Inspection cameras come with several output options including USB and HDMI. Your choice will determine speed of frame rate and how images are viewed. Cameras with a USB 2.0 or 3.0 output both connect directly to your computer (as a result, a PC is required to view these images). Though both USB outputs function in the same manner, USB 3.0 is faster and helps to reduce lag time between images. USB cameras generally come feature rich software for image capture, annotations and measurements.

Cameras with an HDMI output connect directly to an HD monitor, eliminating the need for a computer. This saves bench top space and removes the image lag time that occurs with USB image processing. HDMI cameras generally come with an SD or USB flash drive for saving images. More advanced models come with imaging and measurement software.

Select Your Illumination

Next, think about illumination. LED ringlights are ideal for macro lenses and lower range magnifications, while Fiberoptic Illuminators (FOI) provide intensity and focus of light, and work well with micro lenses and high-range magnifications. They also save a significant amount of energy, making them better for both the environment and your budget. Backlights are generally placed underneath the object to be viewed and connected to the fiberoptic illuminator for further enhancement. A polarizer is essential for viewing shiny parts, as it helps to eliminate glare and bring out surface details.

If you are looking at highly specular or shiny surfaces and need hot spots and glare to be completely eliminated, we recommend our Diffuse Axial LED Illuminator. This, when attached to our stereo microscopes, will provide a very high level of clarity.

Lastly, choose a stand appropriate to the size and weight of your inspection system. High quality stands are made of durable material that is resistant to shaking and vibrations. Some models will have built-in mounts for attachments. Once this simple and final step is completed, you’ll have created a video inspection system tailored to your application, ready to work for you.

How to Select the Right Microscope or Video Inspection System

Choosing the right inspection system for your application can be a daunting task. For industrial applications 3 types of inspection systems are generally used. This guide describes these systems, their common applications along with pros & cons.

Stereo Zoom Microscope

The stereo zoom microscope is the most commonly used microscope in industrial applications. A stereo scope generally consists of a main objective lens, two eyepieces for viewing with a magnification range that tend to top out at 200x.

Common applications:

  • Multiple types of precision assembly work including but not limited to soldering, medical device manufacturing, and laboratory use.


  • Larger working distances allow user to work with tools (soldering iron, cutters etc.) under the microscope.
  • Live 3-D view and excellent depth of field making precision assembly easier.
  • Low first cost.


  • Image Capture and Digital Measurements are not possible.
  • Eye fatigue from constant use
  • Limited Magnification Range generally up to 200x

Trinocular Stereo Zoom Microscope Inspection System

This system features a stereo zoom microscope as described above, with an additional third port to support a camera for image capturing. The camera can then be connected to a computer (USB Type Cameras) or directly to a monitor (VGA, SXGA, HDMI type cameras).

Common Applications:

  • Assembly applications that do not require constant 3-D image with large depth of field.
  • Assembly applications where image capture and measurement may be necessary.
  • Quality Inspection where some assembly/rework/repair may be necessary.


  • 3-D View visible when working underneath the scope along with additional 2-D Screen monitor view that helps to reduce eye fatigue. No eyepieces required for this view.
  • Image Capture and Measurement capabilities when paired with a USB/Digital Camera.


  • Loss of 3-D Depth of Field when viewing on Monitor
  • Higher first Cost then Stereo Zoom Microscope

Video Lens Inspection System

Systems consist of a single lens paired with an USB/HDMI/Analog camera attached to a monitor or computer. Systems can be built piece by piece or are pre-configured and pre-assembled like the Aven Mighty Scope or Cyclops. Magnification ranges for video inspection systems can go up to 3000x.

Common Applications:

  • Quality Inspection and Documentation
  • Performing Measurement and other analysis when paired with USB Camera
  • High Magnification Applications
  • Light Assembly work at low magnifications


  • Versatile systems that can be configured in multiple ways to provide a wide range of magnifications.
  • Easy Image Capture and Analysis when paired with USB Camera
  • Significantly reduces eye fatigue when used in lieu of traditional microscope.
  • Priced for almost any budget


  • 2-D only image that significantly reduces Depth of Field at higher magnification when compared to a traditional stereo microscope.
  • When paired with USB Camera image may “lag” when moved.

When considering an inspection system that is right for you, evaluate your specific application needs, budget allocation and comfort levels. Before investing in a system it may be helpful to consult with a supplier specializing in optical instruments and professional tools, such as Aven founded in 1983.