Software > PictureSnapApp

PictureSnapApp version 1.8.4

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John Donovan:
We're pleased to announce a new software product, PictureSnapApp, for sample navigation for EPMA, SEM and TEM instruments.   Actually PictureSnapApp will work with any instrument that has an XY or XYZ stage, though we currently only have drivers for FEI, Cameca and JEOL instruments.

This is a very inexpensive application (US$499 for the hardware enabled version), and please note that in the *free* "Text Input" mode discussed below, PictureSnapApp will be useful on any instrument with an X/Y stage

Essentially this is a "standalone" version of the PictureSnap feature in Probe for EPMA, but designed to be utilized on various SEM, EPMA and TEM instruments (and any other instrument in the free "Text Input" mode), using an image of the sample or sample holder obtained from any optical (or other imaging) device. The idea is to be able to quickly take a picture of your sample holder, open it in PictureSnapApp, calibrate it, and navigate your sample holder in say, visible light.  For example, navigate quickly to the sample location with the brownish stain...

In addition PictureSnapApp allows one to annotate unlimited points and fields of view (FOV) *and* subsequently move your images and annotations to different instruments, easily recalibrate to the new instrument stage, and then accurately navigate back to those annotation coordinates or any other arbitrary sample location.

PictureSnapApp is available free for downloading here:

This free version of PictureSnapApp software has both a demonstration mode and also a text based input mode. The demonstration mode will allow everyone to play around with the software and see what it does, while the text input mode will allow PictureSnapApp to be utilized on any instrument, even if there is no hardware connection to the instrument stage.  Although the text input mode requires the user to enter the stage calibration coordinates using a keyboard.

For this $499 fee (per computer) we provide a registration number which will unlock the interface drivers for the FEI DCOM interface for all FEI SEM and TEM instruments, and also the EIKS interface for all JEOL SEM, TEM instruments (and also JEOL EPMA instruments for those that do not already have our Probe for EPMA product). We hope to add support for additional instrument vendor SEM/TEM stages soon.

Edit: We have now also added support for Cameca EPMA instruments if you don't already have our Probe for EPMA product or want the image annotation and image/stage transformation capabilities of PictrureSnapApp for moving images and annotations between different instruments...

Attached below (remember to login to see attachments) is a flyer describing the basic functions of the PictureSnapApp software. As a reminder, this app can import any JPG, GIF or BMP image up to 32K by 32K pixels for detailed sample navigation. For example the document camera described here is an inexpensive ($99) device for taking high resolution images of your sample or sample holder:

However, the image source can be from any device including other optical or beam instruments or even your cell phone camera!  In addition, any text annotations (which are calibrated in stage coordinates), will be automatically transformed if the files are transferred to another instrument and re-calibrated to that instrument's stage coordinate system.

But the best way to learn the software features and capabilities is to download it (it's free) and try it out! 

Please contact Barbara ( for pricing and other details.

PictureSnapApp Version Changes:

06/16/2022    Add display of current mag to main window. Add right and left arrow keys for 2% change in mag for demo and text input modes.

                       Add new keyword in PictureSnapApp.ini for setting initial magnification (demo and text input modes only):


06/12/2022    Add FOV label for "typical" FOVs for FEI, JEOL and Cameca instruments at 100x (horizontal FOV).
v. 1.8.2

03/24/2021    Add INI keywords for modifying Cameca (SX100 and SXFive) stage motor speeds (Neill).  See new entries for:
v. 1.8.2          XMotorSpeedCameca=10000

12/29/2020    Update copyright.
v. 1.8.1

09/03/2020    Modify Current Stage Position window to update position automatically, unless user is entering new stage positions.
v. 1.8.0

08/14/2020    Add stage position menu to Window menu
v. 1.7.9

02/13/2019    Modify stage limit drawing code to handle rotated samples.
v. 1.7.7

11/14/2018    Add code to automatically read stage limits and check for locked axes on FEI instruments.
v. 1.7.6

11/3/2018      Add code to display stage limits on main PSA window and also full view window (Seward).
v. 1.7.5

09/22/2018    Fix code for error when closing app on 32 bit operating systems (Neill).
v. 1.7.4

09/15/2018    Add red annotation color.  Fix JEOL SEM stage orientation.
v. 1.7.3

09/13/2018    Fix bug in JEOL 8900/8200/8500 comms interface.
v. 1.7.2

08/24/2018    Modified the update download code to utilize https secure connections. 
v. 1.7.1

08/03/2018    Re-set the PictureSnapCalibration mode automatically back to two points when loading a new uncalibrated image.
v. 1.6.9

07/25/2018    Fix un-calibrated image bug in display current mag box code.
v. 1.6.8

07/19/2018    Modify GDI+ graphics to open/close in form load/unload events to prevent Microsoft memory leak.
v. 1.6.7

07/17/2018    Fix blinking problem with graphics drawing.
v. 1.6.6

07/11/2018    Modify ruler measurement feature to utilize GDI+ for anti-aliasing graphics.

07/08/2018   Add export of sub image ACQ calibration files from Image Locator window.
v. 1.6.5

07/07/2018   Add code to handle stage to image rotation for adding calibrated images and draw rectangle modes.
v. 1.6.3

06/29/2018   Add code to rotate annotations in PictureSnapApp transform menu dialog.
v. 1.6.1

06/27/2018     Add measurement tool to PictureSnapApp (Langworthy).
v. 1.6.0

06/20/2018     Add calibration accuracy output and Load ACQ from external file to Calibrate Image window.
v. 1.5.9

06/15/2018     Add "Select Remote Image" button to Image Locator feature.
v. 1.5.8

06/07/2018     Improve code to automatically handle updating of annotations and sub images after user clicks Calibrate Image. Add
v. 1.5.7            checks for stage tilt and FOV orthogonality.

06/03/2018     Add hand cursor for Image Locator feature to show pan/zoom capability. Fix image rotation display in Transform dialog.
v. 1.5.6

06/02/2018     Add image mosaic feature (in hardware enabled versions).  Add automatic conversion of point/FOV and sub image calibration coordinates from stage to screen. Makes the conversion to/from different stage systems better and *much* easier to code.
v. 1.5.5

05/26/2018     Resize image display for smaller images.
v. 1.5.4

05/23/2018     Add Image Locator feature with zoom and pan.
v. 1.5.3

05/16/2018     Improve stage config dialog, File Save As options.
v. 1.5.2

05/09/2018     Add additional tools for configuring and testing the FEI DCOM connection. Updated installation instructions.
v. 1.5.0

04/12/2018     Move stage to current position (if in bounds) when loading new image- just for moving main window to current position.
v. 1.4.9

04/07/2018     Add support for JEOL 8800/8900/8100/8200/8500 EPMA instruments (support for 8230/8530 instruments using
v. 1.4.8           existing EIKS interface.

04/01/2018     Add image rotation feature for when the sample must be mounted in a different orientation from another instrument.
v. 1.4.7

03/28/2018     Add digitize current position, rectangular/line drawing and new quick start popup.
v. 1.4.5

03/26/2018     Minor improvements.
v. 1.4.4

03/24/2018      Add support for "half-cartesian" stages (e.g., LA-ICPMS). Add support for "nm" units and also automatically convert images
v. 1.4.3            when loading them.

03/17/2018      Add "transform" dialog for unit conversion.  Stage orientation code next!
v. 1.4.2

03/15/2018      Add Cameca EPMA support. Minor improvements.
v. 1.4.1

03/09/2018      Add recently open file list and FOV annotations. Add Move To buttons for both point and FOV annotations.
v. 1.4.0

03/01/2018      Implement labels for calibration points. Improve annotation code (Seward).
v. 1.3.9

02/28/2018      Implement new options for defining the IP address of the instrument.  Add option to disable Z stage movement.
v. 1.3.8

02/12/2018      Fix missing file issue.
v. 1.3.6

02/10/2018      Add mouse cursor movement display of stage coordinates to full view image
v. 1.3.5

02/09/2018      Initial release of PictureSnapApp
v. 1.3.4

 :)  :) :) :)

This app is bae.

I've been using the SEM/EPMA work for the past 8 years as both an undergraduate and a graduate student. My research has always required that I be able to correlate thin section images with SEM-CL/BSE/SE images, which can be challenging in the geologic samples that I work with.

In the past, I've had to do this by having a thin section high resolution scan of my sample pulled up on a separate computer, finding identifying markers to locate myself , collecting the images/data, and manually annotating the thin section scan with the approximate field of view in the SEM image and the SEM image file name.

As you can imagine, it can be quite time consuming. ADDITIONALLY, switching from the SEM, where I identified the phases I would like to analyze with either LA-ICP-MS or the microprobe I need to be able to verify that I am analyzing the exact crystals with the CL textures of interest, and the different zones of the CL in the individual crystal.

The PictureSnapApp streamlines this process, reduces the uncertainty, and is going to save me so much time! I  have used it twice now, and it is convenient and I'm able to collect data so much more efficiently.

The field of view is automatically outlined in the app, and resizes as you change magnification.

There is an annotation feature that I use to record all relevant information. The annotated image is easily exported as a BMP file.

The calibration is easy and painless. Instead of guessing my approximate location on the high-resolution thin section scans, I know automatically and with more precision EXACTLY where I am on my samples.

Every lab needs this.

-Marisa Acosta
 Department of Earth Sciences
 University of Oregon

John Donovan:
Hi Marisa,
Thanks for the nice review!   I had to google "bae" to find out what it meant!    :)

I should also mention that Marisa is the grad student here that said to me last December when she was running on the Quanta: "why don't we have PictureSnap running on the SEM?"   So she is the impetus for this app development.

John Donovan:
The latest version of PictureSnapApp ( 1.3.8 ) now allows one to define the instrument IP address in case the default IP address is not being utilized.

Normally all FEI instruments use the address for the SEM instrument.  But Gareth Seward's FEI SEM uses a hosted network switch which was set to that address, while the SEM instrument itself is set to  So now when one selects the FEI DCOM interface, the address is loaded by default, but one can specify a different IP address if necessary.

Same goes for the JEOL EIKS interface. Normally the IP address of the JEOL computer (EIKS server) is, but I just bet that someone, somewhere is using a different IP address.  So we also added code to handle that situation.

In addition we also added an option to disable the Z stage axis for movement as seen here:

Why? Because Z is essentially arbitrary in SEMs and maybe we only want to navigate in X/Y space.  It's an option anyway.

John Donovan:
The latest version of PictureSnapApp has improved annotation capabilities and now labels the calibration points (also true for PictureSnap in the latest Probe for EPMA v. 12.2.0).


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