Chinese microscope manufacturers overview

What equipment do you use? Post pictures and descriptions of your microscope(s) here!
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billbillt
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Re: Chinese microscope manufacturers overview

#31 Post by billbillt » Tue May 07, 2019 2:10 pm

Thanks to the HONEST folks here for giving their opinion based on actual usage instead of prejudice..

The Best,
BillT

apochronaut
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Re: Chinese microscope manufacturers overview

#32 Post by apochronaut » Tue May 07, 2019 3:46 pm

It seems to me, that what you are saying Scarodactyl is , that the value per dollar spent isn't very high. To me , that is the key issue.

Lets say there is an un-ideal world, where only internet marketed stencil badged microscopes exist. I would of course make use of them and within the confines of the real budget I have for the equipment I use. I wouldn't know about other possibilities, so I would be either content with what I am offered and can afford, or I would be possibly always looking forward and wanting to improve my system.
With me, the latter would be the case because I always seem to find something I need or want to image that stretches the current limit of my technical capability.

So, lets look at 6 general options offered in this theoretical world.

1) a basic 4 magnification stereo microscope with an inclined head and excellent resolution.

2) a higher end stereo microscope capable of high resolution, very wide field, with transillumination, coaxial illumination, photo port and a zoom ratio of 5:1 or higher.

3) a basic lab microscope with 4 objectives and wide field.

4) a higher end lab microscope with more than 4 objectives, plan or plan fluorite objectives, wide field and a photo port.

5) a 4 objective phase contrast microscope with wide field and photo port

6) a 4 or more objective DF microscope with wide field , photo port and capability to image at 1000X or more with high resolution.

Here is what my unimaginary imaginary world has to offer.

1) I couldn't easily find a 4 objective stencil scope. There are 2 objective and 3 objective with the 2 objective option offered with both 5 and 10x eyepieces.There isn't any information about the f.o.v. with the 5X eyepieces but in fact the view is like looking down a toilet paper tube. There is a simple dovetail objective scope available and you can buy 3 other objectives to fit it, so it is in fact a 4 magnification scope. This one works by sliding each objective on and off a dovetail. I could find no microscope that has a multi-objective changer beyond 3, they all use the add on 5X eyepieces to add in extra magnification features or an auxiliary lens. Nevertheless, the prices are o.k. at from between 150 and 300 and the scopes are described as being sturdy.

2) To jump to a medium grade zoom is a little easier. For around 400.00 you can get a zoom with a 6.5X ratio and a 20mm f.o.v. That's pretty good, as long as the resolution is decent at the high end of the range. That's an unknown but since I am on a budget here, I'll go for it. There are zooms that claim higher zoom ratios but they all use aux. lenses to accomplish that and they are more expensive ...sometimes by a lot. One, apparently made by a company that has doctors,forensic scientists, medical researchers and the like using their equipment boasts a 45:1 zoom ratio. Talk about getting a lot for your money! Anyway, I don't need 45:1. I'm not looking at rocks on the moon in situ after all.....oh sorry; they must mean 4.5:1. Funny they didn't notice that typo, or do they realize there are just a few potential buyers out there that might be just a little bit more naive, than they should be.

3) For between 2 and 300.00 one can get a 4 objective binocular BF microscope. The objectives will be achromats and the fittings will be consistent with a microscope used in higher educational situations and small labs. Some have 3 dimensional stages, which is good because I wouldn't want to approach my microscope from stage level and have the stage disappear. Most of them have much higher magnification than one would expect for that price; 2000X and even 2500X and they have coarse and fine focus. Apparently they all offer a wide field of view but they don't say what that is.
Wow. 2500X, with achromats and wide field too. That's a lot of microscope for the money. 2500X. That's more than twice as much than the optical laws permit. This is one hell of a world we've got going. There must be more.

4) Now we are getting serious. These microscopes have plan achromats. We are over 500.00 for the bulk of them but you still get 2000X and even up to 3000X and a photo port. You can take pictures of blobs at 3000X. The other features; abbe condenser, mechanical stage are all quite similar to the above but the mechanical stages are often described as precise, which is nice to know, especially when they are 3-D mechanical stages. The stands seem bigger and beefier than the above and a 22mm f.o.v. is possible with some. Some are close to 1000.00 and have a very futuristic look to them but the future hasn't arrived yet. Oh. It just did. There are plan fl objectives available. They work on the infinity scopes but you will have to shell out around 1200.00 for the set. Well, if you are o.k. with $2200.00 for that rig( no condenser over a 1.25 abbe is offered though---kind of an oversight since the 100X is 1.3 N.A.), then I guess it is all good. You can still fire those 30X eyepieces in there and get 3000X with plan fl resolution! wow, those are super clean 3000X plan fl. blob photos. .

5) Phase. 1000.00 if you want plan. Phase with no definition of whether it is dark, bright, medium, low or high. Just phase. The cheaper ones, down around 7-800 have separate annuli that have to be installed. To get a carousel; it's more $$.

6) This world is crumbling. You can't get a cheap high resolution DF microscope nowhere. Dang. To get that is around 1000.00 +- but I finally got to find out what W.F. means. It's 18mm with a 10X eyepiece, unless they tell you explicitly that it is 20mm or more.
All the same, some of the 1000.00 microscopes apparently have lenses made from "high quality optical glass" so the views are sharp and clear. That's important, especially in order to take advantage of the 3-D stages, which run the gamut. Good thing they had the foresight to not make 2-D ones, otherwise you might not be able to find it sometime when you need it most. The better scopes have plan achromats.

Wait, wait! the sky is opening and it is raining used microscopes and parts! All kinds of them. I just have to run indoors until it ends, otherwise I'm going to get crushed by an Axiomat or something. I'll be back.

Roldorf
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Re: Chinese microscope manufacturers overview

#33 Post by Roldorf » Tue May 07, 2019 7:02 pm

??????? "apochronaut" what a strange post, are you feeling OK?

I spent 4 years using various manufacturers microscopes and another year visiting microscope re sellers to try their scopes. I eventually bought a microscope with 'plan infinity' objectives "made out of glass Ha!!!!!". I am very happy with it and it didn't cost me an arm and a leg. A 10 year guarantee made it even better.
Alan
Bresser Science Infinity 4x 10x 40x 60x 100x oil. Canon EOS 4000d
Optika SFX 90

Hobbyst46
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Re: Chinese microscope manufacturers overview

#34 Post by Hobbyst46 » Tue May 07, 2019 7:40 pm

Roldorf wrote:??????? "apochronaut" what a strange post, are you feeling OK?

I spent 4 years using various manufacturers microscopes and another year visiting microscope re sellers to try their scopes. I eventually bought a microscope with 'plan infinity' objectives "made out of glass Ha!!!!!". I am very happy with it and it didn't cost me an arm and a leg. A 10 year guarantee made it even better.
1. IMHO, apochronaut's post describes the situation very well. Right now I am looking at the specifications of a brand new microscope sold locally by a seasoned dealer. It is a German brand, not one of the "big 4", and is made in China. The specs are even more vague and bewildering than as mentioned above by apochronaut. What is more, they are misleading, like you cannot tell if the lamp is halogen or LED. The NA of the objectives is unknown. Etc, etc. And I know that it does not come from the local distributor - he just translated the brochure. From just reading the specs, A beginner would be in an Oriental bazzare in this case.

2. Cost example: a brightfield trinocular microscope from that brand, Seidentopf head, 4 achromat objectives (I do not know if they are infinity - they do not say!!), 1.25NA Abbe condenser, Kohler illumination, 2 years guarantee, would cost locally around 1500 USD. Not an arm and a leg, yet a substantial sum for hobby use. At eBay and even on the (meager) local used items market, I could get quality used scopes for about the same price - or cheaper.

3. It would be certainly benefical to try many scopes at the seller's place before buying one. Unforetunately, this is not always possible.

4. I am sure that, say within 10 years, if scopes that are designed and made in China (or other countries) prove long-term durability and high-level performance, their 2nd hand market values and opinions on user forums will reflect it.

5. One reason that several folks (myself included - and I am not a beginner) have been enjoying their 40-80 years old, recently purchased microscopes, is the accumulated knowledge and expertise and good will of participants on this forum, who in general respect each others opinions.
Zeiss Standard GFL+Canon EOS-M10, Olympus VMZ stereo

apochronaut
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Re: Chinese microscope manufacturers overview

#35 Post by apochronaut » Tue May 07, 2019 8:35 pm

Well the rain is over. Used microscopes and parts everywhere. Pouring down the drainpipes, down streets.....and to think at one time , I thought only new microscopes existed. What a fresh spring rain can do. Odd thing is , these parts and microscopes all have price tags attached! Lets just have a look at what has arrived from the sky!

Here's an apochromatic stereo microscope with a 5 magnification drum objective changer. tag says 149.00. Here's another the same with a set of 15X U.W.F. eyepieces in it. tag says 189.00. Maybe these would be good. Think they are a better buy than a 300.00 3 magnification stencil microscope?

More stereos. This one a 7X zoom with a coaxial illuminator and a camera port. Says it was serviced last year. 149.00 as well. It's kind of heavy though. Does that mean anything? Actually , there are dozens of those around. They're all pretty inexpensive .

Over here, a bunch of lab scopes have collected 100.00, 200.00. A lot of them have objectives marked plan or planachro. Some say planfluor. A little farther away there is a 100 watt 6 hole nosepiece phase contrast microscope , with 4 phase objectives, a trinocular 3 position head and 2 low power objectives. tag says 150.00. Incredible , it looks a lot sturdier and more serious than the 1000.00 one in my last post. here's another phase microscope and another and another. They are all under 300.00!

There's a DF scope over there, has 100 watt halogen and 5 planachro objectives . That one is 400.00. I better be careful here. They are all so tempting....

Scarodactyl
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Re: Chinese microscope manufacturers overview

#36 Post by Scarodactyl » Wed May 08, 2019 12:08 am

apochronaut wrote:It seems to me, that what you are saying Scarodactyl is , that the value per dollar spent isn't very high. To me , that is the key issue.
I absolutely agree that buying a new chinese microscope can't compete with buying a quality used item. Because of the semi-insane way that surplus property works with businesses and universities it is possible to buy high quality instruments sometimes for less than they cost to make. Of course, that applies to buying new from a major name brand as well--that's generally less of an issue though given how new name brand pricing compares to typical hobby budgets. That's not to say that buying used is all sunshine and rainbows, but there are a lot of sunshine and rainbows. If I'm disagreeing with you on this, it's more about some broad-strokes characterization of chinese microscopes. They aren't always poorly made, and often are nice pieces of equipment. Some of them are nice enough that I'd happily buy one used if the price were right, same as name-brand. And if someone bought one new, maybe it wasn't the most efficient use of their cash but they might well get a nice piece of equipment anyway. Certainly nothing I would shame someone for.
However...
apochronaut wrote: Here's an apochromatic stereo microscope with a 5 magnification drum objective changer. tag says 149.00. Here's another the same with a set of 15X U.W.F. eyepieces in it. tag says 189.00. Maybe these would be good. Think they are a better buy than a 300.00 3 magnification stencil microscope?

More stereos. This one a 7X zoom with a coaxial illuminator and a camera port. Says it was serviced last year. 149.00 as well. It's kind of heavy though. Does that mean anything? Actually , there are dozens of those around. They're all pretty inexpensive .
I do disagree a bit with the finer details of this. I've never seen a cyloptic offered for sale with the uwf eyepieces included--not to say it doesn't happen, of course it can, but it's not common, and they don't tend to be super cheap in the first place. And I'd be concerned about having one shipped to me sight unseen, they seem to lose their prisms a bit easily with mild mistreatment. Overall not something I'd recommend to a total beginner unless they were buying it in person.
If you're talking about an SZ7 in that second bit, [though to be a bit pedantic you can't have a coax and a camera port on one at the same time] working SZ7s aren't typically that cheap anymore even without the trinoc port. Deals come up of course but they get snapped up pretty quick. When I was buying my first one a couple years ago I bought four in that price range, all listed as functional, and returned all four for having various deal-breaking issues (at least one of these is still for sale too), before I got sick of it and snapped up a brand-new one for 400 (still in the styrofoam! what a beauty that was!). Setting up the camera is also kind of a pain, though I figured out what I think is a reasonable solution that I keep forgetting to make a thread about. SZ7s are still a great value and one of my all-time favorites, but a beginner buying one that cheap is more likely than not to get a lemon, or a semi-lemon (lime?) with annoying issues.
Others are not exactly slam-dunks either. I've gotten 4 AO 580s, and only 2 arrived with no problems (and that was being relatively careful, finding ones that didn't have obvious issues). I'm maybe 50/50 on 570s. Etc. These are still great instruments if you get a good one, and for the price of an equivalent Chinese scope you could buy several and come out ahead.

apochronaut
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Re: Chinese microscope manufacturers overview

#37 Post by apochronaut » Wed May 08, 2019 1:20 am

Sorry, my mistake. It was 6X . The microscope in question was a new 580 with both accessories and the cost was 99.00. All of the examples, I have bought. Yes, the Cycloptic with the U.W.F. The fact that you got burned on a number of used scopes isn't that relevant. I have occasionally too but that doesn't mean that the value of any number of used high quality microscopes is diminished. The idea is to ask questions about used equipment just as much as it is to ask questions about new equipment. You know something about microscopes, so you know when you are not getting what was advertised. A considerable number of newbies will buy a new microscope and not have a clue that they have been burned by the false advertising surrounding it.
I suggest diligence and patience in selecting a microscope. Of course super prices and super accessories in a used unit are not going to emerge from the woodwork at a moment's notice. We live in an era , with a surprising number of people wanting instantaneous results. Waiting and watching is an important part of our existence. I'm not trying to shame anyone. I'm trying to educate.

Scarodactyl
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Re: Chinese microscope manufacturers overview

#38 Post by Scarodactyl » Wed May 08, 2019 1:47 am

I don't disbelieve these as occasional one-off deals. With used stuff you can get all sorts of crazy deals if you're looking all the time. But it isn't really typical, and has a chance of giving people unrealistic expectations. I just got an SZ7 for like 60 bucks (which looks to be in good shape, fingers crossed), but I wouldn't set that as an expectation for a newbie looking for one.

I think the worst case scenario is probably someone getting a used stereo scope with a slight misalignment that they don't recognize. There's a local jeweler who brings her gem scope to trade shows, equipped with a Leica SZ6 (or maybe their stereoZOOM rebrand of it?). It is functional but a bit out of alignment, so while it works it's also kind of unpleasant to look through. The first time I looked through it was early in my scope career so I didn't know the exact issue, I just noticed I didn't like it--this is something that you can be warned about but until you've seen it a few times it may not jump out at you. She rarely uses it and I think that that is most of why. She collects quartz with cool inclusions so she already has a natural stockpile of exceptional subjects to view and photograph, which makes it even more frustrating. One of these days I'm finally going to convince her to let me hook her up with a nice SZ7.

As to shaming vs educating, while I almost always agree with the substance of what you post you do occasionally come across a bit harsh. At times it feels a bit more like a crusade than trying to help people get the best value for their money.

MichaelG.
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Re: Chinese microscope manufacturers overview

#39 Post by MichaelG. » Wed May 08, 2019 8:17 am

This topic started as a straightforward listing of information, by someone with 'local knowledge'
... something that most of us lack.

Thank you, 'redflanker'

I am saddened to see the way in which it has degenerated.

MichaelG.
Too many 'projects'

Rorschach
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Re: Chinese microscope manufacturers overview

#40 Post by Rorschach » Wed May 08, 2019 8:52 am

Scarodactyl wrote:I don't disbelieve these as occasional one-off deals. With used stuff you can get all sorts of crazy deals if you're looking all the time. But it isn't really typical, and has a chance of giving people unrealistic expectations. I just got an SZ7 for like 60 bucks (which looks to be in good shape, fingers crossed), but I wouldn't set that as an expectation for a newbie looking for one.

I think the worst case scenario is probably someone getting a used stereo scope with a slight misalignment that they don't recognize. There's a local jeweler who brings her gem scope to trade shows, equipped with a Leica SZ6 (or maybe their stereoZOOM rebrand of it?). It is functional but a bit out of alignment, so while it works it's also kind of unpleasant to look through. The first time I looked through it was early in my scope career so I didn't know the exact issue, I just noticed I didn't like it--this is something that you can be warned about but until you've seen it a few times it may not jump out at you. She rarely uses it and I think that that is most of why. She collects quartz with cool inclusions so she already has a natural stockpile of exceptional subjects to view and photograph, which makes it even more frustrating. One of these days I'm finally going to convince her to let me hook her up with a nice SZ7.

As to shaming vs educating, while I almost always agree with the substance of what you post you do occasionally come across a bit harsh. At times it feels a bit more like a crusade than trying to help people get the best value for their money.
True that. For a combined cost of 500 euros including shipping, I got a Wild 1.6x Plan and a Wild 1.0 PlanApo, both for the M3C/M3Z. The APO has a couple very small scratches on the front lens and the Plan has its thread bent by a tiny dent. Neither blemish affects use.

But yeah, not normal to get lucky like that. Normally, I'd expect to pay something north of 1000 euros for those two combined.

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Re: Chinese microscope manufacturers overview

#41 Post by apochronaut » Wed May 08, 2019 12:53 pm

Yes. Probably we should take the thread back to an overview of Chinese microscopes , something which I clearly don't understand. I need some education about this.

Here is the text from a brochure from the late 1980's. The microscope is a NINGGUANG XSZ-107, 107B and 107N. I found one that sold at auction for 10.00, with a missing fuse cap, which could signal something deeper but it went for 10 bucks. Someone got a pretty good deal, likely. This is what it looks like.https://www.bidspotter.com/en-us/auctio ... 630102d6be

This microscope is provided with achromatic objectives,planoscope eyepieces,abbe condenser,adjustable built-in light source and also coarse and fine adjustment with focus stop. This microscope with his wide field eyepieces gives a nice sharp image and is designed in a very modern way. It is specially designed for clinical examination and teaching demonstration in laboratories, colleges and medical field. It is also an ideal instrument for biological, bacteriological,pathological and pharmaceutical research.

Specifications

Eyepieces P10X(WF10X) P16X
Achromatic Objectives 4X 10X 40X(s) 100X(oil)(s)
Magnifications 40X-1600X
Stage Mechanical Stage 124X153mm
Transversal movement 70mm
Longitudinal movement 50mm
Condenser 1.2 Abbe condenser with iris diaphragm
Reflector Plano-Concave mirror
Illumination systems 6v20W built in brightness variable incandescent lamp
6v20W built in brightness variable halogen lamp
Gross weight 14Kg.
Outside Packing Measurements 39 x 35 x 55cm.
Optional Accessories Phase Contrast Attachment


nothing wrong with that, except they are pushing the peak magnification too far. The brochure is straightforward and informational. The mic seems like a sturdy good quality, well made scope. Look at the weight; 14 kg( 30 lbs.)
I don't think you could buy a NINGGUANG microscope new, in N.A. anymore. A very similar microscope out of the NOIF factory or another mandated to produce it, is still available as an OMAX, with lower grade optics and an overall lowered quality of construction. The shipping weight , including an aluminum carrying case is now down to 24 lbs. It no longer features an attempt at plan performance and some obvious components previously made from machined aluminum or brass, are now plastic.

Here is the text from the on-line brochure covering a very similar microscope to the NINGGUANG XSZ-107 in 2019. The shipping weight on this one is 20 lbs. There seems to have been a radical change in the marketing strategy.

This is an advanced compound microscope that is specially designed for professional applications in clinical offices and research laboratories.It comes with all the advanced features:large 3-D double layer mechanical stage,coaxial coarse & fine focusing system,and brightness-adjustable halogen illumination.It offers eight levels of magnification 40X-80X-100X-200X-400X-800X-1000X-2000X. It is a perfect instrument for clinics,vets,doctors and medical school students.

Features:
Fully Coated Optical System with High Resolution Showing Sharp Image
45-degree Inclined 360-degree Swiveling Sliding Binocular Head
Large 3-D Double Layer Mechanical Stage with Stain Resistant Finish
Low Position Coaxial Stage Movement Control
Coaxial Coarse Fine Focusing with CA Knob Tension Control
Fully Coated Optical System with High Resolution
High Quality Professional Grade Microscope with Crystal Clear Sharp Images
Perfect for Clinics,Vets,Doctors and Medical School Students
Eight Magnification Settings: 40X-80X-100X-200X-400X-800X-1000X-2000X
Upward Stage Stopper to Protect Slides and Objectives
Abbe Condenser with Iris Diaphragm Filters
Rack and Pinion Control for Condenser
Built in Halogen Illumination System with Variable Intensity
Dual Side Focusing Controls
Four DIN Achromatic Objectives
Two Sets of Eyepieces
Full Optical Glass Elements
Precise Ground Glass Lenses
All Metal Mechanical Components
Adjustable Interpupillary Distance
Adjustable Diopter on Ocular
Rugged Metal Frame and Stand with Stain Resistant Enamel Finish
Spare Bulb, Fuse and Immersion Oil Included
Manufactured Under ISO 9001 Quality Control Standards
Excellent Five(5) Year Factory Warranty

It goes on to list the specifications, in some cases for the 3rd time.

Can someone explain what is going on here? What is a 3-D stage double layer stage? What is High Resolution and how do you know you have it? It is mentioned twice. This microscope seems to have really high magnification. I saw another one that was made by a company called Nikon and it was only 1000X. Does that mean this one is better? What are iris diaphragm filters? What is the difference between full glass optical elements and precise ground glass lenses? They seem to be different things.

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Re: Chinese microscope manufacturers overview

#42 Post by Hobbyst46 » Wed May 08, 2019 1:40 pm

apochronaut wrote:...Specifications...
Eyepieces P10X(WF10X) P16X
Achromatic Objectives 4X 10X 40X(s) 100X(oil)(s)
offers eight levels of magnification 40X-80X-100X-200X-400X-800X-1000X-2000X. It is a perfect instrument for clinics,vets,doctors and medical school students.

Eight Magnification Settings: 40X-80X-100X-200X-400X-800X-1000X-2000X
.
Magnifications of 80X, 200X, 800X, 2000X from 4X, 10X, 40X, 100X objectives and 10X, 16X oculars ??
Zeiss Standard GFL+Canon EOS-M10, Olympus VMZ stereo

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Re: Chinese microscope manufacturers overview

#43 Post by apochronaut » Wed May 08, 2019 3:39 pm

Hobbyst46 wrote:
apochronaut wrote:...Specifications...
Eyepieces P10X(WF10X) P16X
Achromatic Objectives 4X 10X 40X(s) 100X(oil)(s)
offers eight levels of magnification 40X-80X-100X-200X-400X-800X-1000X-2000X. It is a perfect instrument for clinics,vets,doctors and medical school students.

Eight Magnification Settings: 40X-80X-100X-200X-400X-800X-1000X-2000X
.
Magnifications of 80X, 200X, 800X, 2000X from 4X, 10X, 40X, 100X objectives and 10X, 16X oculars ??
Good to note that.

Later in the specifications of that particular microscope, they note that it has 10X and 20X W.F. eyepieces, so in that one way it is distinct. Oddly, they don't note that in the Features section and most of the specification section is repetition, so I neglected to tap that entire section out and make that clear. In almost all other ways, the microscope is identical to the 1980s XSZ-107 kit, just a lighter duty version.

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Re: Chinese microscope manufacturers overview

#44 Post by billbillt » Wed May 08, 2019 4:50 pm

THERE ARE A LOT OF PROMULGATED VIEWS ABOUT MICROSCOPES PRESENTED HERE THAT ARE MADE UP WITH FANCIFUL IMAGINATION THAT LACKS IN FACTS AND RESPONSIBILITY..

Rorschach
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Re: Chinese microscope manufacturers overview

#45 Post by Rorschach » Wed May 08, 2019 5:14 pm

My opinions of the quality of the Chinese scopes is based on actual usage: those scopes were totally crappy. That includes a brand new gemological scope that was bought at my work as a test a few years ago. They wanted to give it a fair shot. It has been sitting in the closet ever since. Nobody wants to use it. At work we are never buying another Chinese scope again.

My opinion on intellectual theft and reverse engineering probably also vexes some people. Well, tough luck cause that opinion is not going to change. I also happen to be in the sort of work where intellectual theft is really, really frowned upon.

Shouting (caps on) on a internet message board generally does not help getting acceptance of ones views. Not to mention personal attacks...

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wporter
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Re: Chinese microscope manufacturers overview

#46 Post by wporter » Wed May 08, 2019 5:42 pm

This thread has gone way off course; but to get it back on track, and to satisfy both antagonistic parties (older used big-four vs new Chinese), here's my suggestion: satisfied users of a good-to-excellent Chinese microscope should write a review, or at least a short note, about how great it is.

We all know the Chinese can, and do, produce some very good scopes; the problem is separating the wheat from the chaff. Because the "stencil" microscope economy in China is primarily producing for the sheer large numbers of less-informed or non-discriminating users in the US and around the world. It's all about volume, competition with India, etc., which results in a race-for-the-bottom in salable microscopes of quality that might 'just' do the job affordably, for third-world labs, and younger users anywhere.

Not everyone has the time or temperment to scavenge on ebay, particularly build-up-from-parts, which can be a complete hobby in itself. Some people just want to know if the Chinese scope from Amscope or other marketer is any damn good at all, because they want to buy their kid a $300 scope and don't want a piece of abyssmal junk. And while I agree wholeheartedly with Apo about the desirability of old scopes, massive precision things that could last for hundreds of years if cared for, it is possible to make a nice scope out of plastic, if it's done right. Not many scopes of either type could pass the 5-foot-drop-onto-concrete test, anyway.

What we need here is a maintained list of models of Chinese scopes that have 'passed the test': models that someone who knows microscopes can vouch for. I realize this may be a moving target, since the suppliers may change, for an Amscope, e.g., while still retaining the model designation, but it's better than nothing. If updated and annotated, it might be a resource for some people wanting to get themselves or their kids into microscopy relatively sooner than later.

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Re: Chinese microscope manufacturers overview

#47 Post by billbillt » Wed May 08, 2019 6:08 pm

.
Last edited by billbillt on Sun Jun 09, 2019 3:45 pm, edited 1 time in total.

apochronaut
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Re: Chinese microscope manufacturers overview

#48 Post by apochronaut » Wed May 08, 2019 7:59 pm

The caps make it seem like you are angry, Bill.

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Re: Chinese microscope manufacturers overview

#49 Post by PeteM » Wed May 08, 2019 8:59 pm

wporter wrote:This thread has gone way off course; but to get it back on track, and to satisfy both antagonistic parties (older used big-four vs new Chinese), here's my suggestion: satisfied users of a good-to-excellent Chinese microscope should write a review, or at least a short note, about how great it is. . .
I can respond, in part, to this. As part of a project to get a bunch of microscopes into the hands of kids and their parents & grandparents, I've recently acquired and, as needed, fixed up around 150 microscopes. I've also gathered suggestions on newer microscopes (AmScope etc.) and observed and gathered feedback from parents who've bought them.

Space doesn't permit a full discussion of this experience with dozens of models, but a few points. First, I share the opinion of many here that the best bargain in a compound microscope is likely to be a used scope from one the better makers from the late 1960's through the early 1990's. This assumes, however, some ability to diagnose problems before buying, perform some maintenance, etc.

New Chinese microscopes in the $400-$600 range (such as an AmScope 490 trinocular model with plan achromat objectives) are pretty decent and I recommend them to those hesitant to buy used. However, that same $500 might find a lucky owner with something like a used Reichert Diastar, an Olympus BHS or a Nikon Optiphot with several advantages for a serious hobbyist, including: a brighter lamp, somewhat better mechanical quality, adjustable stage height, interchangeable nosepieces, and a far wider selection of objectives. The risk for a new hobbyist is getting a clunker - something this forum has helped at least a few avoid or at least mitigate.

I have one AccuScope microscope which was in the $2500-3000 range when new (bought in new condition for much less). This compares in specs to an older Olympus BX40 or Nikon E400 microscope - same 30 watt illumination, same infinite tube setup, etc.. I'd rate the build quality slightly lower, but still very good. The trinocular head had a few more internal reflections when making use of its infinite tube length compared to a BX40. The AccuScope Plan Fluor objectives (which would push the new price over $3000) were very good. However, I'd rate the Chinese Fluors as not as good as the Olympus or Nikon Fluors and a bit better to the same as the Plan Achromats. They also weren't as well parfocaled or parfocused as their Olympus and Nikon equivalents.

I've also had a Motic 400 series which was in roughly the same class as the AccuScope 3025. I felt the AccuScope was ever so slightly better, but this was still a very nice microscope.

If one is not interested in an upgradeable (phase, darkfield, DIC, apos, multiple nosepieces, etc.) system, I think they'd be very happy with a used AccuScope or Motic microscope, preferably with at least plan objectives and a trinocular head, and under $700 used in excellent condition. I can't see paying the new price, when the same money might get something like an Olympus BX40 with Plan Fluorite objectives.

On the low end, we've had a number of "digital" microscopes with built in cameras. As discussed in another thread, I don't recommend these.

To me, it's the marriage of microscopy and digital imaging that makes microscopy so compelling today - and also a great thing for kids to learn. The explanations of how things really work in the world as such that I think "the next big thing will be too small to see." When someone combines digital and computer-aided imaging (such as focus stacking), it's all pretty cool. Rob Berdan's photos one recent example.

To me, even a new hobbyist scope should allow for easily hooking up a digital camera and performing focus stacking -- and it requires a fairly firm stand, is best with a trinocular head, and wants a fine focus system with accurate and small steps. That rules out most of the sub-$200-300 new microscopes in my opinion. And once you get below $150 or so new too many of the scopes have things like alignment problems (especially with stereo microscopes), poor ergonomics, and poorer build quality to be the best choice of a new hobbyist.

My opinion, but based on actual experience - often including diagnosing problems and closely observing internal construction in the process of repair.

Scarodactyl
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Re: Chinese microscope manufacturers overview

#50 Post by Scarodactyl » Wed May 08, 2019 10:26 pm

Rorschach wrote:My opinions of the quality of the Chinese scopes is based on actual usage: those scopes were totally crappy. That includes a brand new gemological scope that was bought at my work as a test a few years ago. They wanted to give it a fair shot. It has been sitting in the closet ever since. Nobody wants to use it. At work we are never buying another Chinese scope again.
Which one, and which style? I believe the later Gemolite bases (VII-X) were built in China, possibly by Chlight--if not, they make or perhaps made a very passable base that is very similar and built to the same standard. Similarly, the newer Motic gem scopes have a reputation for being quite decent and I see them in use a lot (notably by Lotus/Richard Hughes, no slouches gemologically). On the other hand there are the cheaper plasticy bases with poorer heads, and worse the non-tilting ones with an add-on nonswitchable darkfield condenser. That all being said, the Chinese gem scopes have intrigued me but I've never seen one used for cheaper than a used gemolite, which is such an excellent value I've never had an excuse to pick one up, and I'm quite curious about them.
Rorschach wrote:My opinion on intellectual theft and reverse engineering probably also vexes some people.
While I agree that patent violations, industrial espionage and trademark infringement are all serious issues and noted problems with Chinese business in general. On the other hand, reverse engineering is (in and of itself) none of those, and is generally legal. There is nothing new or unusual about companies learning from other companies' designs, and it's definitely not limited to Chinese makers. And this is a good thing--the entire point of IP law is supposed to be to balance the good of rewarding innovation with the good of innovations ending up in the public domain. Patents give a limited term of protection but after that it's fair game. There are lots of great designs from the 80s and 90s which ought to be free and clear of patent protection.

Rorschach
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Re: Chinese microscope manufacturers overview

#51 Post by Rorschach » Thu May 09, 2019 5:37 am

Scarodactyl wrote:
Rorschach wrote:My opinions of the quality of the Chinese scopes is based on actual usage: those scopes were totally crappy. That includes a brand new gemological scope that was bought at my work as a test a few years ago. They wanted to give it a fair shot. It has been sitting in the closet ever since. Nobody wants to use it. At work we are never buying another Chinese scope again.
Which one, and which style? I believe the later Gemolite bases (VII-X) were built in China, possibly by Chlight--if not, they make or perhaps made a very passable base that is very similar and built to the same standard. Similarly, the newer Motic gem scopes have a reputation for being quite decent and I see them in use a lot (notably by Lotus/Richard Hughes, no slouches gemologically). On the other hand there are the cheaper plasticy bases with poorer heads, and worse the non-tilting ones with an add-on nonswitchable darkfield condenser. That all being said, the Chinese gem scopes have intrigued me but I've never seen one used for cheaper than a used gemolite, which is such an excellent value I've never had an excuse to pick one up, and I'm quite curious about them.
Rorschach wrote:My opinion on intellectual theft and reverse engineering probably also vexes some people.
While I agree that patent violations, industrial espionage and trademark infringement are all serious issues and noted problems with Chinese business in general. On the other hand, reverse engineering is (in and of itself) none of those, and is generally legal. There is nothing new or unusual about companies learning from other companies' designs, and it's definitely not limited to Chinese makers. And this is a good thing--the entire point of IP law is supposed to be to balance the good of rewarding innovation with the good of innovations ending up in the public domain. Patents give a limited term of protection but after that it's fair game. There are lots of great designs from the 80s and 90s which ought to be free and clear of patent protection.
When I go to that office next time (it's 250km away), I'll check if it's still in the closet and see the make/model.

Agreed about the patent violations, industrial espionage and trademark infringement. On reverse engineering, even if there are legal ways of doing it is some countries, my opinion remains the same. That's what opinions are, they're personal views :-)

billbillt
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Re: Chinese microscope manufacturers overview

#52 Post by billbillt » Thu May 09, 2019 9:54 am

,
Last edited by billbillt on Sun Jun 09, 2019 3:46 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Rorschach
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Re: Chinese microscope manufacturers overview

#53 Post by Rorschach » Thu May 09, 2019 9:59 am

I do not see anyone attacking redflanker. Instead I see people voicing out their experiences on Chinese scopes. Some are good, some are bad.

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Re: Chinese microscope manufacturers overview

#54 Post by Dave S » Fri May 24, 2019 7:45 pm

wporter wrote: What we need here is a maintained list of models of Chinese scopes that have 'passed the test': models that someone who knows microscopes can vouch for. I realize this may be a moving target, since the suppliers may change, for an Amscope, e.g., while still retaining the model designation, but it's better than nothing. If updated and annotated, it might be a resource for some people wanting to get themselves or their kids into microscopy relatively sooner than later.
Now that would be a very useful 'list', based on personal experience, and not "hear say".

I say this as an experienced amateur photographer, and astro-imager (https://davesimaging.wixsite.com/mysite), who wants to venture into the world of microscopy, and photo-microscopy, to see if it is something that I would like to pursue.

I want to buy new, as I always do, but at this stage, don't want to be spending "big bucks", in case I find that as a hobby its not for me.

So I am faced with a large number of Chinese microscopes, all offering pretty much the same spec, and all carrying a different importers brand, despite many of them coming from the same factory.

What would be useful to any newcomer, would be input from folk that have actually used a particular "brand", saying for example "it was reasonable for the price", or "don't buy it, its crap"

I can't pass judgement on current budget DSLRs for example, as I am using high end pro spec equipment, and I don't do "hear say".

The "bottom line" is if you haven't had "hands on experience" of a hobby/student grade Chinese microscope, then you can't say its good, bad or otherwise. Nobody is expecting these microscopes to be of Olympus, Nikon, or Leica quality, but they could well be perfectly adequate for getting someone started in microscopy, and then moving onto to better equipment in due course.

The newcomer would have little idea of what he was looking for on the second-hand market, and could end up buying "a lemon".

I started out in photography 60+ years ago, with very budget equipment, but it set me on course for lifelong love of photography. I learnt much as I went along, and over the ensuing years as disposable income grew, I upgraded to better equipment, until I got to where I am now.

Early on, as a young lad, I joined a local photography club, but was put off by the equipment snobbery that prevailed. An unwanted attribute that can put the newcomer off, and I hope that won't be the case here.

So come on you guys, there must be some folk who didn't jump straight in with premium brand microscope, or some newcomer that has a Chinese microscope, but perhaps feels too inferior to 'stick his, or her head above the parapet.

There has already been one member that has not been ashamed to admit he has a Chinese made Bresser microscope.

P.S. reading back through this "thread", I note that PeteM made a step in the right direction. Well done Pete. :)
Brunel SP100 (with 4x, 10x, 40x,60x, and 100x (oil) plan objectives), and Canon EOS 4000d Camera (microscopy use only)

Roldorf
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Re: Chinese microscope manufacturers overview

#55 Post by Roldorf » Fri May 24, 2019 11:16 pm

Ashamed and admit is a bit strong.

I spent a long time looking at microscope offerings on the internet and decided that I would not buy any microscope unless I could try it out first. I had the opportunity to try many different microscopes on the courses I have attended over the years since I retired and decided I wanted no aberrations in my field of view. Early last year on our return trip from France I visited Kern & Sohn GmbH in Balingen southern Germany. They supply over the internet but kindly allowed us to view their offerings in the training room. It was a very interesting visit however we were not particularly impressed with the view through the eyepiece's of the various microscopes we looked at.

The next supplier visit was some 3 months later when we visited Bresser on their Offenen Dienstag (open Tuesday). Their microscope lab was equipped with the full range of microscopes that they offer with a young biologist who works there as a guide an researcher (she was in her late 30's but young to me). Again we looked at most of their scopes, but were really impressed with the image quality of the trinocular science infinity (plan infinity objectives), no chromatic aberrations and in focus over the full field of view. They were in stock so we bought one then and there along with an eyepiece with reticule for measuring spore sizes and a digital camera (Toupcam) to link up to our laptop.
Since than I have made darkfield stops for the 4 10 and 40 objectives, easy to do with black tape clear perspex and various size hole punches, useful for those pesky spores which are mostly transparent (saves lots of messing about with Melzer's reagent and other dyes).

We are very pleased with our Bresser and it was under 1,000 Euro (but only just) and just as good if not better than the 3,500 Euro Leica with achromatic objectives that we use on the 3 day courses at the LWL-Museum für Naturkunde in Recke.

So all in all, I think the try before you buy is a sound way to make your decision and of course having some knowledge of what you want out of your purchase before you take the plunge, which should be what this forum is all about.

Oh one last thing. Led lighting and whether or not it is true to natural daylight or not, is a bit of a red herring certainly for our application as mostly the samples we look at have to be stained to be able to see them as with most things that are microscopic, so who cares what colour the light is as long as the heat from the lamp doesn't kill the specimen. Cool ha.

Alan (just for you Dave)
Alan
Bresser Science Infinity 4x 10x 40x 60x 100x oil. Canon EOS 4000d
Optika SFX 90

Scarodactyl
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Re: Chinese microscope manufacturers overview

#56 Post by Scarodactyl » Sat May 25, 2019 2:04 am

It is hard to be comprehensive in part because some importers have tons and tons of offerings which they may switch out fairly often. Judging equivalency is difficult. Some, like the top end Chinese stereo CMOs I have mentioned are easier to spot and maybe(?) all from the same source, or if not they are making identical scopes in multiple places. Even Meiji(!!!!!) is reselling them now. But these are very expensive new, not a reasonable option for a beginner. The lower end ones might be difficult to keep track of.
I do wish I had a clearer picture of how many actual separate manufacturers there are in China, and how often they are making identically styled scopes in different facilities. The intro to this thread was a great start but I still have many questions.
If someone makes a thread for this I will post my limited experiences from the stereo side of things, anyway.

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Re: Chinese microscope manufacturers overview

#57 Post by MichaelG. » Sat May 25, 2019 4:34 am

One isolated example is not statistically useful; but here is a link to my very first post on this forum:
viewtopic.php?f=5&t=4797

Being unable to justify the price of the photo adapter that I wanted: I sold that 'stereo' to a clockmaking friend, and it is in regular use at his bench. ... He also has a branded Olympus SZ and has found no practical difference between the two: The image quality and 'handling' are indistinguishable in his usage.

MichaelG.
Too many 'projects'

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Re: Chinese microscope manufacturers overview

#58 Post by Hobbyst46 » Sat May 25, 2019 7:54 am

Roldorf wrote:...Early last year on our return trip from France I visited Kern & Sohn GmbH in Balingen southern Germany. They supply over the internet but kindly allowed us to view their offerings in the training room. It was a very interesting visit however we were not particularly impressed with the view through the eyepiece's of the various microscopes we looked at.

The next supplier visit was some 3 months later when we visited Bresser on their Offenen Dienstag (open Tuesday)... were really impressed with the image quality of the trinocular science infinity (plan infinity objectives), no chromatic aberrations and in focus over the full field of view. They were in stock so we bought one then and there ...We are very pleased with our Bresser and it was under 1,000 Euro (but only just)...

So all in all, I think the try before you buy is a sound way to make your decision and of course having some knowledge of what you want out of your purchase before you take the plunge, which should be what this forum is all about.
This is an excellent case sample within the context of this thread, statistically. The Kern & Sohn microscopes as shown on their sites are seemingly within the same class as the Bresser, roughly about the same price (~1000 Eu), aiming for similar clients. Of these two possibilities, only one was found to be acceptable. If a microscopist was to going to choose on the basis of the published description and price alone, without first testing the microscope, there is a 50% chance of disappointment (at least, need to return it).
Zeiss Standard GFL+Canon EOS-M10, Olympus VMZ stereo

MicroBob
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Re: Chinese microscope manufacturers overview

#59 Post by MicroBob » Sat May 25, 2019 8:41 am

For somebody who wants to buy a new microscope in the lower price ranges it is very difficult to identify a good buy. If the importers of chinese microscopes would start to stay away from overly enthusiatic advertising claims and would start ordering some kind of basic standardized "Volksmikroskop", the market could change a lot. Most no-name microscopes offer too many features and accessories and this leaves less money for quality components and quality control. Once they would limit the specification to a sound 400x magnification, portable LED light with 18650 lithium battery and USB charger, just one set of eyepieces in the bino/trino tube and a proven camera adaptation they could assemble a good affordable beginners (school/travel/second) microscope that would sell very well. I can very well imagine that they will recognize this opportunity and that we will see the arrival of such an instrument on the market some time in the future.

Bob

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Re: Chinese microscope manufacturers overview

#60 Post by Dave S » Sat May 25, 2019 12:12 pm

Roldorf wrote:Ashamed and admit is a bit strong.
You are right Alan, 'ashamed' is a bit strong, but inferior is often a good description.

I run an amateur photography forum/group, and it not unusual for a newcomer to say "I have only got an 'xyz' camera". And we make of point of telling them that we all started at the bottom, with equipment, and knowledge. Its not a matter of what camera you have, its what you do with it that counts, and that you enjoy using it.

I have seen many good pictures taken by with budget equipment, and conversely, I have also seen inferior pictures taken by people with 'high end' gear.

We actively encourage our members to enjoy their photography with whatever equipment their budget permits.

Btw, I wouldn't consider a £1000 Euro microscope a budget instrument, Chinese or otherwise.

Unfortunately there is very limited opportunity in my area of the UK, to "try before I buy", so it is a bit of a lottery. When I buy a Canon 'L series lens for my camera, I know exactly what I am getting in terms of build quality, and optical performance. Unfortunately, this is not the case with my buying a Chinese microscope.

The only advantage I have buy buying from Amazon, is that if it is 'crap', then it goes back.
Last edited by Dave S on Sat May 25, 2019 12:39 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Brunel SP100 (with 4x, 10x, 40x,60x, and 100x (oil) plan objectives), and Canon EOS 4000d Camera (microscopy use only)

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