Considering upgrade of stereozoom 'scope

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mrsonchus
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Considering upgrade of stereozoom 'scope

#1 Post by mrsonchus » Sun Aug 23, 2020 4:42 pm

Hi all, I'm really quite fed-up with the tragic images coming through the trinocular photo-port of my generic (badged as Amscope) trinocular zoom stereo 'scope. It's of the type where the left eyepiece is given-over to the photo light-path with the pull of a pell/push bar. Also it's the usual Greenough type and I'm pondering a change to the parallel infinity type (AKA 'CMO' - common main objective) as I assume that this will remove the ghastly angle focus of the aforementioned when a camera is attached. Ideally I relly would like a system that allows both eyepieces to remain active and useable whilst simultaneously being able to video or image-snap my dissection work for record and example purposes. Working with the camera where I only have a then non-stereo single eyepiece through which to try this task is so horrid that I've more or less abandoned photomicrography through the stereozoom. This has led me to consider the above, although I'm very unsure of my fact here and assumptions implicit in my thinking may very-well be totally wrong.

In a nutshell - what is a good stereozoom that will give me those abilities as a base-line requirement? ANy advice greatly appreciated - anyone selling such a system that is able to find it's way to me here in the U.K. for a reasonable price please get in touch! Thanks all.
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Re: Considering upgrade of stereozoom 'scope

#2 Post by apochronaut » Sun Aug 23, 2020 7:20 pm

Unusual for me John, this is one of the instances where I would recommend that you investigate a new Chinese stereo. Landing a used stereo with simul-focal capability at a good price is going to be difficult.
The XSZ-6745 is available in various formats from a plain flat base to a selectable transmitted/incident base to a boom stand. It splits the image 50/50 between the 30mm eyepieces and the phototube. Continuous zoom from 6.7X to 45X. Aux. lens is available.
It is made by or at least distributed by Nanjing Amada.

It is of course badged with various brand names. The simul-focal trinocular version of the stand might go under the model # XSZ-6745 B1 . There of course will be some companies that put it together with the seeming ubiquitous and essentially useless 20X eyepice package and whatever other trinkets they can cheaply toss in but the basic stand with 10X Wide field and maybe a transillumination base, if you want that should be available for around 300.00 U.S.

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Re: Considering upgrade of stereozoom 'scope

#3 Post by mrsonchus » Sun Aug 23, 2020 7:56 pm

Sent a pm Apo'.
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Re: Considering upgrade of stereozoom 'scope

#4 Post by Scarodactyl » Mon Aug 24, 2020 1:09 am

What's your budget range? There are some good used CMO options but it depends on how much you want to shell out.

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Re: Considering upgrade of stereozoom 'scope

#5 Post by mrsonchus » Mon Aug 24, 2020 3:27 am

Scarodactyl wrote:
Mon Aug 24, 2020 1:09 am
What's your budget range? There are some good used CMO options but it depends on how much you want to shell out.
pm sent
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Re: Considering upgrade of stereozoom 'scope

#6 Post by jfiresto » Mon Aug 24, 2020 7:19 am

Scarodactyl wrote:
Mon Aug 24, 2020 1:09 am
What's your budget range? There are some good used CMO options but it depends on how much you want to shell out.
And perhaps how patient you are. The photo tube you might want for the Wild CMO microscopes is the 180570 with a 50:50 beam splitter. You can buy one today if you are willing to spend enough. It took me about a year to snag a clean example for close to my $250 target price. One recently sold for about that on ebay.

A common trick when photographing through a Greenough microscope is to tilt the microscope or the sample to square the sample to the optical path the camera is viewing. The downside is that doubles the angle the other path suffers.
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Re: Considering upgrade of stereozoom 'scope

#7 Post by Scarodactyl » Mon Aug 24, 2020 2:44 pm

Wild/Leica m series also have a surgical 50/50 beamsplitter which sometimes comea up for sale, though it can be a pain to get the right camera attachment for it. They also have a 50/50 trinocular head but that always seems to be significantly more expensive.
I think this approach is worthwhile though, since there are a lot of good and very upgradeable scopes in that lineup.

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Re: Considering upgrade of stereozoom 'scope

#8 Post by mrsonchus » Thu Sep 03, 2020 12:56 pm

Hi all, I bought a new (used) stereo simul-focal 'scope which seems to be O.K.

My original 'scope which is not simul-focal is now for sale on e-bay. See this link to listing...

More info in the buying/selling section of this forum.
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Re: Considering upgrade of stereozoom 'scope

#9 Post by Scarodactyl » Thu Sep 03, 2020 5:39 pm

What did you get?

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Re: Considering upgrade of stereozoom 'scope

#10 Post by mrsonchus » Thu Sep 03, 2020 7:00 pm

Hi all, I ended-up buying a "simul-focal" version of the one I have. It's very similar indeed, although the body is slightly smaller (in width anyway).

Fitting is the same and I dropped it straight into my current stand - perfect fit. It came with a rather nice boom-stand onto which I set my old non-simul-focal (AmScope) version, which has the classic pull-bar to switch view from the LH eyepiece to the photoport. This arrangement doesn't enable simultaneous recording of work and stereo (i.e. through both eyepieces) viewing. The new version does, with a permanently-fixed 'three-way-split where all three view-ports are in use, all the time.

The view through the new 'scope is nice, in particular the photoport's view as seen on camera looks pretty orthogonal to the base, although it isn't of course. This results in quite pleasing video/photo views with nowhere-near the apparent 'tilt' as seen when the phototube is used on my old 'scope, i.e. when it's switched to the LH ocular's view.

No idea why this is the case but I like it. Now comes a rather significant, at this stage anyway, caveat that I must mention. The view through all three ports is very dim compared to the two ports (either configuration) of my old 'scope. So bad is this that I find, with incident-lighting, that I simply don't have enough light to satisfy my needs.
This manifests as a huge drop in frame-rate with my ToupView USB CMOS 5mp camera rendering live-view or recording impossible. Similarly the stereo view is nowhere-near bright enough with any non-flat specimen, such as a moss-cushion, not the most reflective specimen I know, but not a problem with the old 'scope and LED ring-light that I use. I fired-up my Schott 150W Halogen two-tube fiber-optic light box thinking that this was certain, in addition to the now inadequate ring-light, to solve the problem. It didn't!
Introduction (addition) of the FO lights did of course brighten the image, but not significantly, whilst rather rapidly drying/shrivelling the specimen. This was not a problem with my old 'scope that isn't simul-focal.

Sooo, right now I have a problem in the shape of a dimly-illuminated simul-focal stereo-zoom. Admittedly the 'scope is likely intended to be used with flat specimens or subjects such as PCBs?
I really don't want the extra hassle of arranging extra lights around the stage (those extra-bright torches that are focusable spring to mind) as opposed to the simplicity and brightness of my old 'scope.... Do I keep the old 'scope, which definitely has inferior views compared to the SF version for some reason, do I attempt to beef-up the lighting with something brighter than a very close-in pair of FO pipes AND the ring-light with the clutter and hassle this would entail, do I go for a CMO 'scope that has a switchable photoport able to be set to a simul-focal view for photography and a 'normal' stereo-view without light sharing, to maintain brightness for routine observation/dissections, a very expensive option I suspect, or do I run about screaming with a carrot in my nostril....

I seem to have opened a can of worms as it were, and may have to admit that I simply can't afford a system that will meet my requirement to record dissections during stereo viewing.... The cheapo low-res CMOS I think, USB/VGA output camera that came with the 'scope has no such problems, with superb brightness, very fast frame-rate and limited resolution and image quality - looks like a glorified web-cam in a 'professional-looking' aluminium housing. This is usable but the problem of the puny brightness through the stereo oculars remains!!

I think I may sulk for a while....
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Re: Considering upgrade of stereozoom 'scope

#11 Post by jfiresto » Thu Sep 03, 2020 7:56 pm

mrsonchus wrote:
Thu Sep 03, 2020 7:00 pm
... The view through all three ports is very dim compared to the two ports (either configuration) of my old 'scope. So bad is this that I find, with incident-lighting, that I simply don't have enough light to satisfy my needs.
This manifests as a huge drop in frame-rate with my ToupView USB CMOS 5mp camera rendering live-view or recording impossible....
How much is a "huge drop"?

Something is seriously wrong with the optics if the brightness is cut by much more than half.
-John

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Re: Considering upgrade of stereozoom 'scope

#12 Post by mrsonchus » Thu Sep 03, 2020 8:56 pm

Hmm, I have made quite a good improvement by removing the 4 layers of plastic 'frosted-glass effect' film that I had over the LED light-ring's LEDs. I tried this makeshift diffuser when experiencing bad reflections with specimens not quite covered with water (in a petri dish or similar). Later I realised as we all do with a little experience, that the water level was the problem - covered with water - no problem or meniscus where water clings to the sides of partly submerged specimens. Forgot to remove (there was no noticed need to prompt me though) the film and it's not been a problem ever since on the old 'scope.... This has dragged the new 'scope up to a useable level of light through the eyepieces with incident light, but still the brightness difference remains although quite mitigated.

I'll try to quantify this tomorrow if I get a chance, perhaps with a few images.
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Re: Considering upgrade of stereozoom 'scope

#13 Post by Scarodactyl » Fri Sep 04, 2020 5:08 am

On my wild m400, when switching from 100/0 to 50/50 the difference in illumination is often completely invisible to the eye, even though the switch is almost instantaneous. The camera notices of course going from 50/50 to 0/100, but if you are seeing it visibly something might be off.

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Re: Considering upgrade of stereozoom 'scope

#14 Post by jfiresto » Fri Sep 04, 2020 8:15 am

Scarodactyl wrote:
Fri Sep 04, 2020 5:08 am
On my wild m400, when switching from 100/0 to 50/50 the difference in illumination is often completely invisible to the eye, even though the switch is almost instantaneous....
IIRC, the Just Noticeable Difference (Weber fraction) for brightness is ca. 8% so you should notice something, but sometimes I also overlook the reduction – and forget to switch from 50/50 back to 100/0.

Perhaps Amscope's supplier got some bad or substandard beam splitters? I know nothing about their business, but I would grumble if they absorbed more than 10% of the incoming light.
-John

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Re: Considering upgrade of stereozoom 'scope

#15 Post by mrsonchus » Sat Sep 05, 2020 1:15 pm

UPDATE,

All's now well and operating as expected considering extra light-split of the simul-focal system.

What happened? - considering the last poster's reference to the glassware itself I inspected and cleaned the slightly grubby lenses of both light paths, i.e. their bottom lenses, nearest to specimen and the 'only ones available' as it were. This made a World of difference, way beyong that suggested by appearance, which was to me anyway only 'slightly grubby'...
Perhaps the 'scope was formerly used for a fuming process such as soldering, maybe the former owner just didn't notice, not important though.

In a nutshell, the 'scope's brightness is now only slightly (not the most impressive quantification - apologies) lower than the eyepiece-swapping version of this 'scope. The image quality is very good, considering it's cheapness (relative) and surprisingly the photo-port image when taken with a camera is quite a lot flatter, suffering it seems from less of the 'Greenough effect' of the necessarily tilted lightpaths...
Very good VFM in my book, although it of course has it's limitations, the main one for me being the need to refocus after changing zoom aither way - as is also the case with the other model. A consequence of price-range I'm sure but certainly not a deal-breaker for my basic Botanical studies/dissections.

Incidentally the other 'scope and stand is now sold.
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Re: Considering upgrade of stereozoom 'scope

#16 Post by Hobbyst46 » Sat Sep 05, 2020 1:43 pm

mrsonchus wrote:
Sat Sep 05, 2020 1:15 pm
...Very good VFM in my book, although it of course has it's limitations, the main one for me being the need to refocus after changing zoom aither way - as is also the case with the other model.
The same limitation as on Olympus VMZ zoom. Focus needs tweaking when zoom is changed. I bought it used. Wonder if other, more expensive and new scopes suffer from this (slight for me) limitation.
Zeiss Standard GFL+Canon EOS-M10, Olympus VMZ stereo

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Re: Considering upgrade of stereozoom 'scope

#17 Post by jfiresto » Sat Sep 05, 2020 3:07 pm

The old Wild stereo microscopes were made by fastidious Swiss gnomes who built them to match their designs to within a fraction of a wavelength of light and then fastened everything in place for eternity. Or so it seems to me.

I have a mongrel example using parts from four different microscopes, or five if you include the stand. I mounted a camera with a thread adapter, since micro four thirds cameras, or even high resolution digital cameras, did not exist when the microscope was made. It was immediately parfocal, parcentric, and aligned and well mapped to the oculars.
-John

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Re: Considering upgrade of stereozoom 'scope

#18 Post by mrsonchus » Sat Sep 05, 2020 3:18 pm

Yes, they do seem to have a consistently excellent reputation. I must however have the ability to use both eyepieces AND the camera simultaneously, preferably switchable too. Does yours have this capability?
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Re: Considering upgrade of stereozoom 'scope

#19 Post by jfiresto » Sat Sep 05, 2020 3:25 pm

mrsonchus wrote:
Sat Sep 05, 2020 3:18 pm
Yes, they do seem to have a consistently excellent reputation. I must however have the ability to use both eyepieces AND the camera simultaneously, preferably switchable too. Does yours have this capability?
I had to hunt for the right photo tube, but it does now: either split 50:50 between the eyepieces and camera, with the camera viewing the left optical path, or all the light to the eyepieces.
-John

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Re: Considering upgrade of stereozoom 'scope

#20 Post by mrsonchus » Sat Sep 05, 2020 3:31 pm

Argghhh.... sounds perfect, the shared path is good presumably for stills where vieo-logging isn't needed!
Which phototube would be needed?
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Re: Considering upgrade of stereozoom 'scope

#21 Post by jfiresto » Sat Sep 05, 2020 3:45 pm

mrsonchus wrote:
Sat Sep 05, 2020 3:31 pm
Argghhh.... sounds perfect, the shared path is good presumably for stills where video-logging isn't needed!
If you like you could shoot video while viewing through the eyepieces. I mounted the digital camera in place of what, years ago, would have been a video camera with a one-inch vidicon tube.
Which phototube would be needed?
The 180570 I mentioned above will work.
-John

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Re: Considering upgrade of stereozoom 'scope

#22 Post by Scarodactyl » Sat Sep 05, 2020 10:42 pm

Maybe this is a dumb question, but did you do the initial setup of eyepieces for parfocality? It might help anyway.
Wilds are definitely excellent.

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Re: Considering upgrade of stereozoom 'scope

#23 Post by jfiresto » Sun Sep 06, 2020 7:14 am

Just be wary of the oldest, tan models and make sure everything moves easily and smoothly. (I had one for a few days but it was not worth fixing.) The early lubricants that Wild used, dry up and imitate cement.
-John

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Re: Considering upgrade of stereozoom 'scope

#24 Post by mrsonchus » Sun Sep 06, 2020 8:03 am

Scarodactyl wrote:
Sat Sep 05, 2020 10:42 pm
Maybe this is a dumb question, but did you do the initial setup of eyepieces for parfocality? It might help anyway.
Wilds are definitely excellent.
Definitely not a dumb question, I've lost count of how many times I've overlooked the basic or even the downright obvious during microscopy, from day one to present!

Oh yes, always make sure eyepieces (both) and camera if attached are parfocal. I notice that the eyepieces often need tweaking to remain so with each other as the zoom is used, on both the simul-focal and the shared light-path 'scopes. With the compound BX51 this never happens, but then I suspect that's comparing chalk & cheese in respect of both quality and 'scope type.
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Re: Considering upgrade of stereozoom 'scope

#25 Post by 75RR » Sun Sep 06, 2020 8:15 am

Following on from the last two posts i.e. things forgotten
.
Attachments
Focusing-Zoom-Stereoscope.jpg
Focusing-Zoom-Stereoscope.jpg (138.74 KiB) Viewed 2014 times
Zeiss Standard WL (somewhat fashion challenged) & Wild M8
Olympus E-P2 (Micro Four Thirds Camera)

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Re: Considering upgrade of stereozoom 'scope

#26 Post by mrsonchus » Sun Sep 06, 2020 9:35 am

Hi 75' - and thanks!
That's a very useful post indeed which, even if it isn't entirely successful with my relatively limited AmScope will certainly be handy as and when I 'go up a notch' in the stereozoom stakes.

Nice to see something concisely and precisely written too; makes a change from the ubiquitous poorly-translated English of most equipment the days.
(poor Englich maybe, but very attractive pricing often!)
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Re: Considering upgrade of stereozoom 'scope

#27 Post by mrsonchus » Sun Sep 06, 2020 1:31 pm

Well, I just tried this with my new simul-focal 'scope as in above post.

It worked, and it worked PERFECTLY!

I now have fully-parfocal and in-focus oculars AND camera through the entire 0.65x-4.5x zoom of my 'scope.

It's great!

Then I remembered I read an article, I think at least from one of the 'big 4' - possibly Nikon, recently. This was mentioned in connection with the difference between 'depth of field' and 'depth of focus' I think.... One being the depth over which the Human brain perceives focus, the other being that as 'seen' by optics..... Perhaps the gamut for Human perception of focus is larger than and contains the optically/physically-defined?
There was a parting-shot after outlining this procedure to the effect of "you don't believe - try it and see!"

A search of the above should find it - I may have it saved also - I'll look.

All those with a stereo-zoom with inconsistent zoom-focus - go and do this!

Many thanks 75' - very happy bunny am I! :D
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Re: Considering upgrade of stereozoom 'scope

#28 Post by jfiresto » Sun Sep 06, 2020 3:22 pm

Good job. A small part of your world has become bright and sharp.
-John

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Re: Considering upgrade of stereozoom 'scope

#29 Post by Scarodactyl » Sun Sep 06, 2020 4:05 pm

Yeah, this is one of those procedures which is not obvious and not always communicated to microscope owners which makes a big difference.

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