Imaging Facility

The Colorado Plateau Biodiversity Center’s (CPBC) Digital Imaging Facility was created to serve the imaging needs of the university community. The facility maintains a state-of-the art Visionary Digital imaging system for scientific applications, which is the BK Plus Lab System. To facilitate regional collaborations with other institutions, this imagining system is the same as the one used by The University of Arizona, Arizona State University, and the University of New Mexico. 

The imaging facility is an important resource for training students. Students who wish to learn to produce high-end digital images are encouraged to take Digital Imaging Techniques (BIO 698/498), an NAU course taught by CPBC staff.  Students who successfully complete the course may use the imaging facility without supervision.

Fee-based imaging services are also available through the imaging facility to support educational and research projects. To determine if the imaging facility’s services are appropriate for your project, a free initial consultation is available.


Visionary Digital BK Plus Lab System is the world’s finest digital imaging system in its magnification range. The system’s patented lighting system and customized specifications ensure that the CPBC’s Digital Imaging Facility can efficiently capture high-resolution images of biological specimens. Small biological specimens and specimen parts are notoriously difficult to image because of the inverse relationship between magnification and depth of field. Visionary Digital is the only flashed-based imaging system that allows the user to capture high-quality single images with the click of a button, which significantly reduces operator time compared to other systems. Additionally, this system is able to take images ranging in size from insect body parts to entire trays of insects. 

System Components and Imaging Equipment

  • Visionary Digital FX2 Fiber Optic Flash Unit
  • P-51 CamLift precision linear actuator
  • Visionary Digital Tri-Light fiber optic illumination system
  • Canon EOS 5D Mark II camera (21.1 megapixel)
  • Canon EOS 7D camera (18 megapixel)
  • Canon 1.4X teleconverter
  • Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L macro lens
  • Canon 50mm f/2.5 compact macro lens
  • Canon 35mm f/1.4 L wide-angle autofocus lens
  • Infinity Optics K2 Long-Distance Microscope
  • Visionary Digital SolMate variable aperture trans-illuminator
  • GigaPan EPIC Pro robotic tripod head

Information Technology Resources

A server and hard drive array are dedicated to the imaging system. System components include a Dell PowerEdge R410 server, Dell MD1000 drive array with 13 terabytes of storage capacity, and Windows Server 2008 R2. This system is configured to serve php- and ASP.NET-based web pages, using MySQL 5 as the database engine. All collected catalog and image data can be stored and served. Depending on how often files are modified, data will be backed up to tape storage on variable schedule from 24-hours to months.