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Biological laboratories usually acquire images by measuring photon flux in parallel (using a camera) or sequentially (using a point detector and equipment that scans the area of interest). Although capturing an image from a camera into the computer is straightforward, in most cases image acquisition needs to be tightly synchronized with other computer-controllable equipment such as shutters, filter wheels, XY stages, Z-axis focus drives, and autofocus mechanisms (implemented in software or hardware).
(Eliceiri et al., 2012) Biological imaging software tools. Nat Methods.