The micaToolbox and QCPA framework were developed by visual ecologists in order to perform research into camouflage and visual signals in nature. Our aim is to make our tools available to the widest audience possible, so all of the software and tools are free and open source.

Cameras are powerful tools for measuring a huge range of aspects of the world around us. Empirical Imaging is the home of the micaToolbox and the online resources for users, offering the software and know-how to empower anyone to take a photograph and measure it objectively.


Why use a camera over a spectrometer?

ColourHigh spectral resolution
Low spectral resolution, however this is sufficient for recreating most natural colours to most animal visual systems
Spatial Information
Poor, requiring spot measurementsPerfect for pattern and estimating dimensions
Accuracy of luminance measurements
Poor unless used very carefully (tiny differences in probe distance and angle from surface can create huge error)
Good, though dependent on lighting
Ease of useCan be fiddly, ideally requires a dark roomEasy to use in field or dark room
Distance from subjectVery short range (millimetres)Flexible range (non-invasive, from millimetres to light-years)
Measurement sizeInflexible (millimetre-sized spot, or MSP)Metres to ~10 micron patches easy to measure, and you can see what you’re measuring easily
CostHigh (or extremely high for MSP)Easily affordable, although UV photography is more expensive