Tom Harnish, a former EA-6B Naval Flight Officer, scientist, consultant, and astrophotography enthusiast, used the LabCam with his microscopes. Now, he's using the LabCam to capture the night sky. Here is his personal take on using LabCam with a telescope:
Since my first foray into astrophotography, finding a way to attach a camera to a telescope has been a challenge. Soldering a metal tube to a film camera was a desperate solution that worked back in the '70s, although it sacrificed the camera for anything but astrophotography. When webcams appeared in the '90s, they became an affordable entry into digital astrophotography—but, again, a home brew solution (glueing the camera to a 35mm film canister as an ocular) was required. Enter the iPhone. A truly portable astrophotography camera with built-in image processing, it was perfect; but it suffered from the same "how to attach it" problem. I tried literally every available gadget, and all were frustrating to attach and easy to misalign with even a small bump.
Along came the LabCam. The perfect solution for microphotography with any one of my three microscopes, why wouldn't it work with a telescope? Except for the size of the ocular, it was perfect. Then, iDu Optics began offering a 1.25-inch tube with the LabCam. Problem solved! My camera snapped into the LabCam, the LabCam eyepiece fit snugly in the telescope tube, and alignment was guaranteed all the time, every time.
Orion Nebula (M42) using LabCam and ETX-90
The LabCam was custom fit to my iPhone 8—as it is for every iPhone model—so when I upgraded to an iPhone X, I knew I'd have to get a new LabCam. But I decided a better solution was to simply dedicate the old iPhone to astrophotography so I had a permanent solution. (For that matter, used iPhone 8s are available for around $100, if you want to go that route). When I upgraded to an iPhone 11 Pro Max, the better camera demanded a new LabCam. The decision was easy, thanks to what I saved in time and frustration, and improved image quality.
Entry-level telescopes, so-called "department store scopes," are cheaper than a LabCam, admittedly, but they're hobby killers because their performance simply doesn't match expectations. Don't waste your money. But a LabCam is a reasonable addition to a moderately priced ($300-$600) entry-level telescope. LabCam solves the camera alignment problem for a beginner or dedicated backyard astronomer and makes observing and photographing the night sky far more satisfying.
In an era when 300 million photos are uploaded every day (yes, really), sharing images has become an essential part of daily life, especially on social media. The LabCam makes that an integral, easy-to-use part of modern astronomy. Plus, with the iPhone mounted, it's much easier to share the view with friends and neighbors; you can even use AirPlay to share your view with a large screen TV or livestream images or video to the Internet.
All of which is to say, the LabCam is a permanent part of my astronomy kit, and the perfect solution to grab-and-go astrophotography. To steal the line from a credit card ad, don't go skywatching without it.
Ariel Waldman, host of the Offworld series, shares her favorite things of the year, including tech and gear she found indispensable on her recent trip to Antarctica, including our LabCam.
You may not be working in the harsh conditions she did, but the LabCam iPhone adapter makes capturing and sharing microscope images easy and precise.
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