InfiniProbe TS-160 Robusto
The TS-160 developed as an improvement and extension of Infinity's already successful InfiniProbe Standard C-mount line of video/inspection microscopes. Going beyond the formats and provided magnifications of the Standard line, the TS-160 was envisioned as their ultimate embodiment. And, as a Continuously-focusable Microscope (which also offers macro capabilities), the TS-160 was and still is in every way "just that."
But, it was not "just that," as things have turned out. Its unique characteristics were soon realized to be the fulfillment of long hoped-for aspirations of professional cinematography.
It would be easy to say that the TS-160's cinematographic aspects were intended and considered in its design from the start. Easy to say, but untrue. In many ways, the TS-160's use for cine came as no less a surprise to its own inventor, H Jay Margolis.
The TS-160's potential for cine uses can be traced back to when Infinity was contacted by Hollywood film producers originally intending to use it to photograph ants for introducing a forthcoming movie. Quickly, the TS-160 began to be used for special effects by others—still as a convenient cine-microscope. Then, respected cinematographers did the unexpected: they trained the TS-160 to image distant objects. The fact that the TS-160 could always be focused to infinity was thought more a statistic than anything to consider. We were wrong and we underestimated all that it could actually do. The reported imagery obtained from using the TS-160 out to infinity came as nothing less than a revelation. The TS-160 was always considered unique—but as a microscope, after all. Now, it turned out to be even more. When "focused out," the depth of field was almost perfectly maintained from near to infinity. This has been a long-cherished ideal of filmmakers since early days, most notably the efforts made by Orson Welles. The TS-160 did this effortlessly.
By adding aspherical correction, the performance of the SFX objectives could be fully realized. The spherical optics of the Standard TS-160 were—and still are—perfectly suited for use with the Macro and Micro HM objectives. In fact, most all sample macro and micro images shown on the regular TS-160 page were taken with a Standard spherically-equipped TS-160 model. But the performance of the TS-160 with the SFX objectives is best attained when aspherical correction is incorporated in the Main Body. All TS-160 modules bearing the ROBUSTO designation are aspherically equipped.
But better optics for Cine also suggested incorporating better mechanics as well. Clearly, the aspherically-equipped TS-160 deserved being supported by some of the finest, most precise MECHANICS that have already been used on Infinity's world-class K-series long-distance microscopes. A degree of unsurpassed refinement. In the process, they added high quality stainless steel parts that can withstand even the most rigorous day to day usage. And, as if that were not enough, they provided TS-160 ROBUSTO with the POTENTIALS for future accessories and capabilities already planned but yet to be announced.
The TS-160 ROBUSTO handles silkily yet with authority, retaining all the unique features of the original and more. It has the literal robustness to utilize Mirror Diverters or Beamsplitters so that TWO cameras can be mounted on it. And the interchangeability to be used with ALL camera formats used in cinematography. Finally, the mark of a full ROBUSTO system is that 0.8mm pitch gearing is built-in for industry-standard follow-focus motor drives.
But they also found that some Cine applications could benefit by offering a lighter-weight version of the full ROBUSTO. So, we created a ROBUSTO-Lite model— a "hybrid" of sorts. It is intended for MOST future ROBUSTO accessories and capabilities, yet retains compactness and light weight for macro out in the field. In fact, many will find that having both main body types will prove useful for meeting a slew of assignments.
The ROBUSTO models are not only better-suited to cine and photography, they can be utilized for many more advanced imaging purposes. All future accessories that expand the horizons of the InfiniProbe TS-160 concept will be made in and for the ROBUSTO versions.
In order to permit this, ROBUSTO models have provisions to interchange or accept various components. In some cases, such as when the InFocus Microscope Objective Converter is used, the TS-160 is transformed into what can virtually be considered to be an entirely new optical device. Yet, all accessories and converters can be carried on-location with the regular components, ready to be applied on-the-spot to solve even the most unanticipated challenges that arise.
SUFFOCATOR™ The SUFFOCATOR™ for the InfiniProbe TS-160 ROBUSTO™ is a module that conveniently replaces the standard rear tubes of the TS-160 and acts as an extremely sensitive secondary fine focus. It does so without introducing breathing (the changes in magnification when focus adjustments are made) for virtually any and all imaging accessories used with the TS-160.
From variable focusing Macro and Micro objectives—to a series of distance-corrected taking objectives—to snorkel dipping objectives (in preparation)—to fixed working distance microscope objectives potentially reaching the limits of classical microscope resolution—all can be fine focused essentially without breathing. When equipped with a SUFFOCATOR, the TS-160 can literally be used to image a Blood Moon to a Blood cell. Since the TS-160 maintains focus out to infinity, it is ideal for forced perspective. Now, once a primary focus is set by the TS-160’s main focusing control, the SUFFOCATOR can then be used to provide an incredibly sensitive fine focusing capability which is devoid of breathing as well.
What is SUFFOCATOR?
Lenses that exhibit little or no breathing have been produced for some time. The SUFFOCATOR makes no claim to be the first to accomplish that. What, then, distinguishes the SUFFOCATOR from other lenses that successfully counter breathing?
First, the SUFFOCATOR is totally independent on the choice of frontal lenses or accessories used on the TS-160. It will prevent breathing from Macro, Micro, SFX Series taking lenses, Snorkel—or even regular microscope objectives used with the InFocus(tm) Microscope Objective Converter.
Next, it works as a supplemental system. The regular adjustment of the TS-160 is used to set a primary focus which is “presented” to the SUFFOCATOR. The SUFFOCATOR then acts as an extremely sensitive fine focus operating on the primary focus that has been “presented” to it. The sensitivity is of an extraordinary order of refinement; details seem to “peel away” their depths. This alone would make the SUFFOCATOR a significant Cine optic.
But, in the process of “depth peeling,” the size of imaged detail remains the same throughout. Simply, the sensitivity is complemented by the virtual elimination of lens breathing.
All this means that it should now be possible to use the SUFFOCATOR to monitor images as they would OTHERWISE go in and out of focus. Such monitoring is possible because the sensitivity is so refined that the whole process can occur in REAL TIME. In short, the SUFFOCATOR holds out the POSSIBILITY of being the Cinema counterpart to Z-stacking as known in still photography. And that potentially means that that technique could be used with ANY lens or accessory mounted on the TS-160. This possibility —and the software required are now under further investigation. If successful, new artistic vistas would open to cinematographers.