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Posted: Thu May 16, 2019 9:24 pm
by Farmazon
Hi there, back with you after a long while.
I recently acquired this piece of equipment for a bargain, and i thought i would share it with you. I searched the forum for this type of microscope and, while the company seems to have some (deservedly) good reputation, nothing more could be found. IOR is an acronym for "Intreprinderea Optica Romana" or Romanian Optical Company, a formerly state-owned Romanian company.
Disclaimer: I am a microscopy novice. If i say unexact things or ask silly questions, caveat emptor.

Right. So to start off, it has a Glarex-like projection screen / beam splitter combo. I actually think this came from a bigger microscope, seeing as it looks and feels a bit insecure perched on top of moving parts. The screen is a hefty item, large and heavy.

It came with no light source, so i used an LED flashlight jammed in the light source holder to test it. This is much too weak to see anything on the ground glass of the projection screen.
The projection screen has three slots which accept a standard bayonet mounting, in the Zeiss-Jena vein, i guess for extra binocular heads or cameras or whatnot. The light path is selectable towards either side, screen or binocular head, though never more than one at the same time. There is a 6-socket plug on the back, corresponding to a missing item inside. This missing item receives a light beam through a flip mirror. I guess it is for some sort of light probe or analyser of some kind? Any inputs appreciated. If needed, i will disassemble it again and post pictures, just ask.

The scope itself is (to my untrained eyes) solidly built, with no backlash or jiggle in any item. From the serial plate it is apparently made in 1985. Everything is firmly attached and does not wobble in any way. The condenser can be moved up and down to...zoom? The fine focus adjustment does not work. I am wary of opening it up, i do not have the desired tools ("snake eyes" bolts being the norm here) or expertise.
It came with 6 objectives: 5 IORs (10x - two pieces; 30x - one piece; 40x - two pieces [why the doubles?]) and a Zeiss Ph 10x which i gather is a phase contrast objective.
It also came with a IOR 1.4 condenser marked Sr.0154 and a CZJ 1.2 condenser. These are mostly a mystery to me.

Guess i'd better start learning about slide preparation.
Hope this is of interest to someone.

In the end, a few questions:
[*]Seeing that my only other scope is a metallographic microscope with epi-illumination and unadjustable condenser - can a kind soul point me in the right direction to a solid article on condenser typology and usage? Thank you in advance.
[*]What more items do i need to be able to use the 10x CZJ phase contrast objective? A phase contrast condenser? Another basic question, i know.
[*]Would a Zeiss pancratic condenser turret be compatible with this scope? Would it be of any use? I can buy it off of someone at a nice price and i'm not sure it's worth it.

Picture time, more in the next posts.


Posted: Thu May 16, 2019 9:26 pm
by Farmazon
More pictures.


Posted: Thu May 16, 2019 9:28 pm
by Farmazon
Even more pictures.


Posted: Thu May 16, 2019 9:45 pm
by wporter
The projection screen is possibly for this IOR microscope, the MC7, which has the broad top surface that matches the screen shape and size:


Posted: Fri May 17, 2019 6:36 am
by Hobbyst46
The condenser is used to optimize the illumination of the specimen and obtain the expected resolution. Its height should be adjusted according to the NA of the objective in use. Objectives of very low NAs (for example 2.5X0.08 objective) are used without condenser, but for the typically popular 10X-40X objectives (and above) a condenser is indispensable.
Here is a basic explanation: ... ondensers/
there are similar chapters onn the web sites of Nikon, Zeiss etc.

If the fine focus mechanism of your microscope is broken and cannot be fixed or replaced, its usefulness, even at brightfield, is limited to objectives of 10X-20X magnification.

That said, I wonder about the lamp collector optics within the base. perhaps the cogwheels are used to adjust the distance of the lamp filament, for Kohler illumination; but the what is the function of the flip-out lens ? is that a diffuser ?
If the intensity of the light, with a LED flash light inserted into the base, is poor, I would suspect the mirror, especially from the appearance of its back side.


Posted: Fri May 17, 2019 11:13 am
by apochronaut
There is an enthusiast from Romania, who is quite familiar with IOR. His name is Lucien and you can find him on ebay, if you search IOR. He may be able to help you with some info. , maybe even an illuminator?
Projection screens such as you have, usually need quite high wattage to get a good image. The Reichert Visopan for instance uses 100 watt halogen, so it isn't surprising that an led flashlight through optics that are designed to bring a filament image to a correct spread of focus , isn't bright. The illuminator would also have had a reflector in order to collect the backside of the filament too. Likely , all of the optics need cleaning after all these years as well.
Apparently those optics are Jena lenses. IOR is often described as being a Zeiss subcontrator.
I would measure your illuminator port and see what you can find on ebay to replace that. Quite a few systems used a rear entry halogen or tungsten illuminator, so you should be able to find one to fit and away you go.....or you could try one of the retrodiode systems but that is going to cost 150.00 or so.

What is the exact nature of the condenser failure? Is it seized or does it turn idly?


Posted: Fri May 17, 2019 12:13 pm
by Farmazon
Hey there, thanks for the replies.


- you are correct, apparently. I have seen the projection screen on the IOR MC7. It seems the seller just got rid of some extra stuff...meh. It fits on the ML4, but i'm not sure i will use it, it physically strains the chassis and the same purpose can be accomplished with a camera and screen. I am attaching a picture of a MC7 with the screen attached. The hardware seems much more substantial than mine.

@Hobbyst46 - Thank you for the article. It starts to make sense. I will keep researching, it's a new subject to me. Regarding the fine focus mechanism, i may try to find another chassis and replace the components. Another option would be to improvise a geared stepper-motor focuser like the one i tinkered for a telescope. Not rocket science.

In the base, the cogwheel actuates the field iris. From what i read i think that, usually, this is after the mirror, but here it is in front ("upstream") of the mirror.

I have really no idea what the flip-out lens is. Without it the ocular image appears sharper. There is no difference in illumination intensity with or without it.

The intensity of the light is poor on the projection screen, but without it, (with the binocular head) is normal. I will give the parts a clean-up though.

- Regarding the illuminator - i think i'll postpone using the projection screen for the reasons described above. I think i will look up Lucian, thanks a lot for the tip! And about the 150.00 LED's a little steep for me, seeing that the total cost for this setup was in the vicinity of 90 euros. I'll look into it. I may jury-rig something up with a 3W LED.
Also, the nature of the condenser failure is the inability of the user (ie. me) to use it competently due to lack of knowledge. Mechanically and optically they are flawless :)

Will keep you posted regarding the progress, if anything changes.

Thank you all for your replies!


Posted: Fri May 17, 2019 2:02 pm
by zzffnn
It is hard to say if Zeiss Pancratic condenser will fit on your scope. Pancratic condenser is quite tall and needs to be lowered enough to change its turret heads. So you need to measure the maximum under stage height available for a condenser. Better still, have right to return it if it does not fit. Also the condenser mount needs to be the right size, unless you adapt.

Your scope looks relatively small compared to other big LOMO or CZJ scopes. So its under stage height may not be enough for the Pancratic condenser. But measure to be sure.

Would you tell me the price range of that Pancratic condenser, or give me seller's email? I may want to try one too, if price is good. I am in US though.

Bottom flip-out condenser lens is usually used, with lens flipped in (please double check on this, as I cannot remember exactly and none of mine condenser has it), for low power objectives (10x NA 0.25 and less) to provide wider illumination coverage.

Is your 30x objective is a water immersion objective with aperture iris (30x NA 0.6-0.9), made by LOMO?


Posted: Fri May 17, 2019 7:17 pm
by MicroBob
Hi Farmazon,
thank you for posting info on this interesting microscope!
I have heard from IOR but very little. It seems to be related to PZO and Zeiss Jena, especially the NF and 1990s Lomo too.
In the base is probably the field aperture and a matte filter like in the NF base.

The screen attatchment is quite big and has many knobs. Are you sure there isn't more in it?



Posted: Fri May 17, 2019 10:54 pm
by Farmazon
A short update.

It seems that the illuminator from my Vickers Metalette fits (almost) perfectly the IOR illuminator port. I didn't try the screen to see if it's any better than the flashlight, though. Pic related.
IMG_20190517_220413.jpg (60.63 KiB) Viewed 6281 times
I made an adapter for the Fuji X mount. There's an M42-Fuji X adapter, a plastic part and some plumbing. Now the bathroom sink leaks badly.
IMG_20190518_004457.jpg (108.08 KiB) Viewed 6281 times
IMG_20190518_004406.jpg (88.16 KiB) Viewed 6281 times
Here's a shot of some crystallized paracetamol in cross-polarized light. Ghetto setup: there's a circular polarizer gravitationally attached in front of the condenser and a piece of cinema 3d glass film in the binocular head holder/adapter/thingy.
DSCF8398.jpg (80.01 KiB) Viewed 6281 times
I need to paint the adapter flat black. There are some bad light leaks from the translucent white part, which is 3d printed, killing all my contrast. I had to take the photo in full darkness, and there are some internal reflections messing things up (center hotspot).

Now for the replies:
@zzffnn - Regarding the pancratic condenser. I haven't managed to measure the height yet. Thanks for the heads-up. The return will be a non-issue (read: impossible) due to the fact that the seller is an old coot in a flea market. I am fairly sure he doesn't know what an e-mail is. Actually, he doesn't know what a pancratic condenser is, he just said something along the lines of "dunno, some projector parts or something" when i asked him about it. The price is good. I will perhaps get it next week. If it doesn't fit i will keep you posted.

The bottom flip-out lens is a matte / translucent filter. I checked today.

All the objectives are made by IOR. None of them have any additional markings apart from the standard. My mistake: it is actually a 20x objective, not a 30x. Slip of the finger. Is there a standard notation for immersion use?

@Microbob - The general consensus about IOR seems to be that it is a Zeiss subcontractor. I kind of doubt that, i can find no information about this anywhere.

You are completely right about the base.

I am quite sure there is nothing the lower part of the screen. I have looked inside and all knobs are accounted for. Pic related: the left output control selects between sending the beam to the first output or inside the device. The other output control selects between the left port/right port/screen. The other knob is the weird flip-mirror-to-missing item.
The rear contains a circular cover protecting a 3-screw adjustment of some sort, probably for a mirror reflecting the beam to the ground glass. It looks a lot like the adjustment for a newtonian telescope primary. So...i doubt there are hidden features, but i may take it apart just the same.
3.jpg (111.8 KiB) Viewed 6281 times
If there are any updates, i'll keep you guys posted.
Thank you for the interest!


Posted: Sat May 18, 2019 12:45 am
by zzffnn
I don't know about IOR 20x. Most likely it is a dry objective. I have a LOMO water immersion 30x objective and saw your typographic error of "30x"; that was why I asked.


Posted: Sat May 18, 2019 5:13 am
by 75RR
I made an adapter for the Fuji X mount. There's an M42-Fuji X adapter, a plastic part and some plumbing. Now the bathroom sink leaks badly.
:) PVC might be a better material (non shiny one), + always best to have the camera parfocal with the eyepiece, that makes for correct microscope setup.
Best phototubes have a thread that when rotated allows for some fine tuning by varying the distance. 10mm will be enough.
I have never tried to achieve parfocality with a monocular, suspect a little trial and error will be involved.


Posted: Mon May 20, 2019 11:42 am
by apochronaut
@Microbob - The general consensus about IOR seems to be that it is a Zeiss subcontractor. I kind of doubt that, i can find no information about this anywhere. [quote]

I think it is likely that IOR used Jena designs for the optics and actually designed and made the mechanical parts them selves, so there may be little compatibility with other designs. I glean that from Romanian sources but you are correct, there is little information. I once asked a Romanian enthusiast if an IOR, Lomo or Jena( 1.4 from a pancratic) condenser would fit a PZO slit condenser housing, thinking that those 3 former Eastern bloc makers instruments would be familiar in Romania and it seems there are few of them around to determine that, even IOR items. Apparently, Russian microscopes are not there at all. In 1991, just after Romania democratized, I ended up with a Romanian Msc. viticulturist working for me for 6 months. It seems Romania had been very self directed and very much a planned economy and the intent was to be self sufficient in all things, so there was much internal development. Some good and some not so good. When democracy came along, there was widespread distaste for anything that represented the former dictatorship and a great deal went in the scrap heap and like in other former Soviet satellite countries, there is little information and a growing sense of loss relating to the achievements of those times. PZO retains a museum. Bulgaria had microscope manufacturing too.


Posted: Mon May 20, 2019 1:39 pm
by MicroBob
I have read somewhere that much of the Zeiss Jena microscope production was actually built in the ROW plant, Rathenow, formerly Emil Busch. I don't know whether this is true and to what extent. Zeiss Jena was by far the most appreciated company in the DDR and a Zeiss name tag raised the value as a export article for hard currency. So they will have kept very silent when they would have outsourced parts of the production.
Zeiss was the model company other VEB were measured against. In the 1980s the DDR got into trouble with the sales of their important production machinery industry because they kept away from microelectonics for too long. The difficult task to build up micro electronics development and production was then given to Zeiss Jena. This may well have led to the outsourcing of other products.

BTW: Emil Buschs company played a major role in the world wide optics development: The invented machines to mass produce lenses. Without this all other development would have been slowed down considerably.



Posted: Mon May 20, 2019 10:07 pm
by Scarodactyl
(Not meaning to drive things too far afield, but I really think it's neat that Askania is still chugging along, still making Jena-looking microscopes. I wonder if they're any good--nobody seems to discuss them online, at least not that I can find.)


Posted: Tue May 21, 2019 11:59 am
by MicroBob
I have not dealt with Askania but have heard only good things of them. They are said to be competent microscope service people. With it's tradition Rathonow probably has quite few well trained and experienced optics and mechanics potential employees. As far as I know there is also a company that services binoculars in Rathenow.
Since it is a smaller company they are probably more open to deal with individuals or small companies with special needs.



Posted: Tue May 21, 2019 1:15 pm
by apochronaut
Branding rules the economy. East Germany had something with the name Zeiss and they clung to it for sure. They weren't so lucky with Sonor drums. The Link family, jumped enough fences ahead of the police, to get to Westphalia and start Sonor anew. The East German gov't had the existing Sonor factory, it's machinery, designs and workers but no name. It became VEB Trowa( TROmmelfabrik Weissenfels) and hardly anyone knows the name in the percussion world, despite whether the drums were good or not but everyone knows Sonor. I have a few Trowa and the subsequent amalgamated brand Tacton kits and they are surprisingly good but there was no brand to follow, so they went extinct even before East Gemany did. Sonor thrived.
No doubt any connection IOR could establish with a known quality brand served to enhance the reputation of their fledgling product. Perhaps they had export fantasies but Romania was probably a big enough country that if the gov't limited imports and it seems they did, the company could survive domestically. The viticulturist that worked for me , said that in Romania, there was little choice in consumer goods. Two types of washing machines, a couple of refrigerators. Most everything was domestically made but by the end , Chinese product had crept in, largely to satisfy the gap in consumer goods and perhaps still the unrest brewing under a restricted economy. He spoke highly of their microscopes though, and he had a lot of experience with them, having a masters in diseases of the vine under his belt. They had microscopes but they had no heat in the trains during a winter when the temp. dipped to -27 C. During time he spent in Canada( oddly, for logic there, just gov't b.s.….he should have been doing the training) he went crazy for consumer goods. He arrived wearing hand stitched, leather, converse all star knockoffs and a hand stitched leather jacket of the finest quality but bought commercial name brand jogging shoes at Walmart prior to leaving. I wanted him to send me a pair of Romanian shoes!


Posted: Fri May 31, 2019 11:35 pm
by Farmazon
Hello guys, a quick update.
- Fixed the fine focus mechanism. It was surprisingly easy, a geared floating rack and pinion mechanism - the rack ha8d skipped off the pinion. Just a matter of repositioning it.
- Acquired an IOR analyzer with a 1x binocular head - shown in pic.
47975383446_d1566b446b_b.jpg (90.4 KiB) Viewed 5631 times
- Acquired a very interesting assemblage of items from an old (1950s) IOR research microscope. Most of them fit this 1985 scope. If more details are desired, i will happily provide pictures and descriptions about anything there. Pic related:
_DSF9462.jpg (198.86 KiB) Viewed 5631 times
point - by - point:

@75rr - The parfocal business is driving me up the walls. I have (now) a manufacturer's photo tube with projection eyepieces, but i can't achieve parfocality whatever i do. Varying the distance between the camera and the mount - the tube length does nothing with respect to focus. The image is still defocused and of unsatisfactory quality regardless of what i do. I'm stumped.

@apochronaut - So very true about the distaste for anything related to the former regime. As a born-and-raised Romanian i have tons of sad examples...abandoned, almost-completed hydrological and hydroelectrical projects; airplanes with only a few hours flown thrown in the junkyard; research and manufacturing equipment thrown away...the list goes on, but these are the top of the iceberg, only a consequence of the real damage. The real damage was done by people taking advantage of the anarchy and power vacuum left in the wake of the fall of the regime. "Smart" investors shutting down industries and selling all tooling, equipment, buildings and land for scrap value.
Again, very true about the lack of consumer goods. The guy in your story didn't lie. An example - blue jeans from Serbia were smuggled across the danube by enterprising characters and became highly sought after contraband. ...i'm stopping here. It's late and i have a tendency of going off on tangents.

Would it be acceptable to ask for help identifying the purpose of some items in this forum thread?
Is there any interest for extra images and descriptions of the equipment pictured in the drawers?
Is there a "trick" i am missing to achieve parfocality with the adapter tube? The difference in focus when mounting the tubes is significant, and the degraded image quality i'm seeing in my pictures is maybe related.

Thanks in advance.


Posted: Sat Jun 01, 2019 6:58 am
by MicroBob
Farmazon wrote:The parfocal business is driving me up the walls. I have (now) a manufacturer's photo tube with projection eyepieces, but i can't achieve parfocality whatever i do. Varying the distance between the camera and the mount - the tube length does nothing with respect to focus. The image is still defocused and of unsatisfactory quality regardless of what i do. I'm stumped.
Hi Farmazon,
in the meantime you might have assembled the biggest collection of IOR microscopey stuff all around! It is interesting to see that IOR hass not just produced basic course and lab microscope but also research stuff. And all this without anybody outside of Romania knowing it!

Your parfocality issue: I would first check whether you objectives themselves are parfocal. Then check your camera adaptation. You showed a direct projection on the camera sensor setup - is this still the case? Normaly you would get into focus by using a normal eyepiece and lift it something like 10mm. Your projective might be calculated differently.

Somebody just posted a link collection to Charles Krebs's camera adatation tips.



Posted: Sat Jun 01, 2019 8:03 am
by Hobbyst46
He Farmazon,

Congratulations on your solving the fine focus problem, bringing the scope back to life.
On the black binoculars that are now installed, I see that the eyepieces are of a low eye point type. To enjoy the view much better, I would acquire a pair of high eyepoint, "WF" 10X eyepieces, for glass wearers. Maybe there is one or two such items in the shown treasure box.

The box contains, I think, polarization optics and one or more condensers, a magnification changer, among filters and other things. Resting on the rough similarity between IOR and Zeiss equipment, I suggest you take a look at the document "Zeiss Optical System" available on the web, and I think that several items have the same function. Admittedly, that document is a Zeiss West stuff, not Zeiss Jena.

About the parfocality issue: why not fit the camera directly on one of the eyepiece tubes in the new bino head , rather than switch between the bino and the home-made tube adapter? it will then be possible to adjust the focus visually and simultaneously. Once you get the correct distance it will stay fixed.

Moreover you could then choose between focal and afocal mounting of the camera on the microscope. Here is one link - out of many: ... 6333#56333
And there are posts that show that the camera can be fine even on an inclined eyepiece tube, not just on vertical tubes.


Posted: Sun Jun 02, 2019 10:55 am
by Farmazon
Right, time for an update: a story of equal parts embarassment and success.
Ready? I'm not, but here goes anyway.

I wrote a lengthy post complaining and moaning about my parfocality issues and lack of image clarity with the current photography tube setup.
Turns out, it was my lack of experience and knowledge doing all the damage.
Just a little background. My current photography tube setup is this: an OEM IOR tube from the "treasure chest" coupled to an Exakta mount, converted to Fuji X. The tube is designed to hold a projection eyepiece. Here:
47980004828_6f8d4247f3_b.jpg (111.81 KiB) Viewed 5552 times
My current visual setup is this. Note the analyzer below the bino head prism.
47984414028_f3f697e398_b.jpg (65.7 KiB) Viewed 5552 times
My plan was to photograph some cross-polarized crystals. So, i needed the analyzer. So, i mounted the camera and tube assembly in place of the bino head, on the prism. Made plenty of sense in my head.
47984460306_f802eefc16_b.jpg (68.25 KiB) Viewed 5552 times
Turns out, the correct setup is this:
47984461931_f296812508_b.jpg (60.09 KiB) Viewed 5552 times
I couldn't get it parfocal because the optical path was too long. It is finally (almost) parfocal, and sharp enough, if i can get the focus right. Buuut, i can't use the OEM analyzer, so i had to improvise placing a polarizer in the holder. Meh. Not nice, IOR, not nice...

A test shot, taken through a CZJ 16x APO and a CPL 10x ocular used for projection, in the tube.
DSCF8595.jpg (264.73 KiB) Viewed 5552 times
As usual, point-by-point:
@Hobbyst46 - there are two wide field 5x eyepieces in the "treasure chest", but - more in the next post, not enough pictures for now. On the camera-on-bino-head, the camera i am using, a Fujifilm x-e2s mirrorless, is not so light as you would expect, and i am wary about stability issues. It would be a lot more confortable for me to avoid switching back-and-forth, that is very true.
Thanks for the link, a lot of useful info!

@Microbob - thank you for the kind words. I will write another post detailing a bit about the treasure chest and the microscope it came from, it is quite interesting.

Will follow up with some details and info on the IOR research microscope, what i managed to piece together anyway. If this is not the correct forum for this info, i'll gladly accept being pointed in the right direction.


Posted: Sun Jun 02, 2019 1:19 pm
by MicroBob
Hi Farmazon,
I would suggest a different adaptation over a pancake camera lens like the old Pentax M 40mm 1:2,8 for APS C.
The picture shows a Nikon 1J5 with 18.5mm lens directly adapted to an eyepiece for glasses wearer. This is much shorter and I can just pull out an eyepiece of the bino tube and replace it with the camera.