1917 Spencer, Monocular Olympus KHC, Siebert EmoSkop, and Swift M950

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TieDyeAstronomer
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1917 Spencer, Monocular Olympus KHC, Siebert EmoSkop, and Swift M950

#1 Post by TieDyeAstronomer » Mon Aug 26, 2019 1:19 am

Hi everyone!

I'm a microscopy newbie, though I've been using these microscopes on and off for several years. The first microscope I ever used was one which belonged to my grandma, and that my mom used when she was a kid:

Image

It's a Spencer, serial number 35893, which puts it at having been shipped around the beginning of 1917, according to this serial number guide I found: (https://user.xmission.com/~psneeley/Per ... Window.pdf). It has three objectives:

10x/N.A.0.25/16mm
44x/"N.AP.0.83"/4mm
95x/N.A.1.30/1.8mm "HOMOG. IMMER" (oil immersion)!

It's a high powered little thing, a fact I didn't realize until I was checking it out to describe in this post! In fact, it has the highest magnification of any microscope I own, and the only oil immersion objective.

Everything seems to be in working order. From looking at pictures online of similar models, I can tell that the stage clips were removed at some point in the past, and replaced with a mechanical stage. (I had always wondered what those holes in the stage were for!) The light source is a mirror, of course, and I never got the sharpest or brightest views using it back in 2015 with reflected skylight. Well, I popped a little bright LED disk under the condenser a month back and was delighted at how crisp everything suddenly looked! Another thing I find nifty is that the eyepiece slides in and out, to vary from 16x to a tad over 20x, according to the scale engraved on the side.

Example image (unstained blueberry thin section, 44x objective): https://i.imgur.com/u4KJvOz.jpg



After my brother and I had been having tons of fun looking at stuff with the antique Spencer for a little bit, my grandma asked me to research a good, up-to-date, modern microscope to buy. Well, before I ever got close to learning enough to make a decision, my grandma's brother gave me two microscopes. He had acquired a whole bunch of microscopes from his university a while back when they were replaced, and had been giving them out to interested youths since. I got the last ones. (Two, because he wasn't sure they had all the parts they needed and he figured between the two I should have a whole microscope.)

The first one seems to be the considerably better of the two-- though my great-uncle was right, it is missing parts! It's an Olympus KHC, serial number 201075 (unlike the other two, I was unable to use the serial number to find out its age):

Image

It seems to be somewhat unique in that it has a monocular head, and not a binocular. The base of the monocular head is dented, but it still rotates perfectly. It's missing a condenser (and field diaphragm-- is that standard?) The optics seem to be good quality, though there is some softening towards the edge of field; luckily that's offset when viewing visually by the fact that the included 15x eyepiece has a really wide field of view. The objectives have no markings besides the basics (no "apo" or "plan"), so I'm hoping that means there's room for improvement without breaking the bank.

The 40x objective gives a cloudy, low-contrast view, and at first I thought it must be dirty, but after a careful cleaning and some more learning on my part, I think the lack of condenser means that the objective isn't getting a wide enough numerical aperture light cone to function properly.

Example image (unstained blueberry thin section, 40x objective): https://i.imgur.com/Zd4gtzo.jpg



The second one from my great-uncle is a Swift M950, serial No.710272 (which I believe means it was manufactured in 1971):

Image

The objectives it has are standard, from what I gather:

4x/N.A.0.15
10x/N.A.0.25
40x/N.A.0.65

The eyepiece is labeled "W10X - 15.5MM" and attached with a tiny set screw in a groove so it can still rotate, since it has a pointer. The condenser is a small lens in the stage itself, not an assembly below it, which is interesting to me. It seems to be a good starter microscope. The 40x objective gives a cloudy, low-contrast view, and at first I thought it was dirty, but now I wonder if the problem is similar to the 40x on the Olympus (does that little lens in the stage provide a high enough N.A. light cone?).

Example image (expired strawberry yogurt, 80% sure this was the 40x objective): https://i.imgur.com/zOTZi8p.jpg



Last and least, we have this little gem of a pocket device-- a Seibert EmoSkop!

Image

Using various combinations of the 3 lens assemblies, it can be used as a 2.5x telescope, a 3x "long range loupe", a 5x, 10x, or 15x loupe, and a 25-30x microscope. Mine doesn't have a stand, and it's a little shaky handheld, but not impossible! The AFOV is quite tiny.

I picked my EmoSkop up at a favorite junk shop without knowing anything about it, or even how to use it (turned out I needed to remove the front lens to use it as a telescope). I was interested mainly for its use as a tiny pocket telescope, since I'm an astronomer first and foremost. Now that I've gotten back into microscopy, I find the fact that I can have a pocket microscope and a pocket telescope with me at all times to be nifty indeed! (Though I will be honest that it's not often that I find myself needing to use it when I'm out and about.) I'm not an expert, so I won't claim to know the history of the EmoSkop-- just that according to what I've found online, this appear to be the original design, and it was made sometime after 1951.

Example image (outdoor wood plank, microscope mode): https://i.imgur.com/iJzOVhr.jpg



That's my microscopic family!
Lauren Herrington

Olympus KHC --- 4x, 10x, 40x objectives --- 15x eyepiece
Swift M950 --- 4x, 10x, 40x objectives --- 10x eyepiece
1917 Spencer --- 10x, 44x, 95x homog. immer. objectives --- 16-20x zoom eyepiece

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Re: 1917 Spencer, Monocular Olympus KHC, Siebert EmoSkop, and Swift M950

#2 Post by Hobbyst46 » Mon Aug 26, 2019 8:48 am

Welcome Tie!
What charming family contributions!

The expertise in photography and astronomy that I see in your website is impressive.
The biggest difference between microscopy and astronomy, in my humble opinion, is that in the former, specimen collection & preparation is the major task, once one is acquainted with the equipment. An advantage (at least for some of us) is that one's routine activity involves step-wise missions. So, there is always a list of "to do", each step brings us nearer the target, and fuels the motivation for further experimentation.

Microscopy has another advantage (IMHO), that it connects us with daily (pun; although Sirius is visible in daylight... ;) ) reality. The stars and galaxies are remote and untouchable. A small snail in the mud, however, is quite close to us, genetically, and can be studied in great detail.
Most important, sharing your findings with colleagues in the field (in a club, if possible) produces positive feedback.

To the technical point:
Proper illumination is a must for proper contrast and resolution, hence a condenser is essential, especially for objectives of magnification>10X.
The Olympus KHC model was available in binocular version.
An instruction manual for the KHC is available by googling "Alan Wood Olympus KHC".
Zeiss Standard GFL+Canon EOS-M10, Olympus VMZ stereo

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Re: 1917 Spencer, Monocular Olympus KHC, Siebert EmoSkop, and Swift M950

#3 Post by MicroBob » Mon Aug 26, 2019 2:19 pm

Hi,
welcome to the forum! You have already a nice selection of instruments there.
The condenser of the Olympus is probably held in a sleeve of a certain diameter. When you measure the diameter with a caliper somebody in your area may be able to offer you a suitable condenser.
The condenser forms a light cone that allows the stronger objectives to acheive the resolution they are able to deliver.
The condenser (your fine old Spencer seems to have one) is usually racked all the way up so it nearly touches the slide from underneath. The condenser aperture is not meant to dim the light, but to optimize resolution and contrast, start wide open, close until contrast appears.
Generally the image of the 40:1 objective has less "pop" than that of the 10:1, sometimes irritating for the newbie.

The Swift is a simple microscope, but equipped with a battery powered LED light it would be useful as a field microscope.
It's single condenser lens won't offer perfect lighting, but should be acceptable for field use. When the n.a. is too low the image has lots of contrast and too little resolution.

Do you use cover slips, ca. 0,17mm? The 40:1 objectives will depend on this and on a flat specimen too.

With which name can we address you?


Bob

MichaelG.
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Re: 1917 Spencer, Monocular Olympus KHC, Siebert EmoSkop, and Swift M950

#4 Post by MichaelG. » Mon Aug 26, 2019 2:40 pm

Welcome from me, too

I was intrigued by the little EmoSkop, and delighted to see that it features in 'A History of the World'
http://www.bbc.co.uk/ahistoryoftheworld ... 1pB3PbeTCA

MichaelG.
.

P.S. ... You have probably seen this already, but, for anyone else interested:
https://www.photo.net/discuss/threads/w ... ert.36113/
Too many 'projects'

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Re: 1917 Spencer, Monocular Olympus KHC, Siebert EmoSkop, and Swift M950

#5 Post by MichaelG. » Mon Aug 26, 2019 3:28 pm

I hope I will be permitted a digression into microphotography:
Siebert was recruited to work at Minox, and was responsible for the [notoriously unsuccessful] lens which made physical contact with a curved film plane.

See Page 17 of this very interesting release by the CIA
https://www.cia.gov/library/readingroom ... 0041-0.pdf

... Now we can get back to photomicrography, and dust on tiny sensors :D

MichaelG.
Too many 'projects'

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Re: 1917 Spencer, Monocular Olympus KHC, Siebert EmoSkop, and Swift M950

#6 Post by TieDyeAstronomer » Wed Aug 28, 2019 2:07 am

Hobbyst46 wrote:Welcome Tie!
What charming family contributions!

The expertise in photography and astronomy that I see in your website is impressive.
The biggest difference between microscopy and astronomy, in my humble opinion, is that in the former, specimen collection & preparation is the major task, once one is acquainted with the equipment. An advantage (at least for some of us) is that one's routine activity involves step-wise missions. So, there is always a list of "to do", each step brings us nearer the target, and fuels the motivation for further experimentation.

Microscopy has another advantage (IMHO), that it connects us with daily (pun; although Sirius is visible in daylight... ;) ) reality. The stars and galaxies are remote and untouchable. A small snail in the mud, however, is quite close to us, genetically, and can be studied in great detail.
Most important, sharing your findings with colleagues in the field (in a club, if possible) produces positive feedback.

To the technical point:
Proper illumination is a must for proper contrast and resolution, hence a condenser is essential, especially for objectives of magnification>10X.
The Olympus KHC model was available in binocular version.
An instruction manual for the KHC is available by googling "Alan Wood Olympus KHC".
Hobbyst46,

Thank you very much for your reply! You articulated well what I've started to discover; that specimen collection and preparation are such huge factors in microscopy. In astronomy, I don't have to worry about that-- I set my telescope on the ground, I point it at the sky, the object is there, and then again the next night, and again a year from now, almost always the same as it has ever looked! Not so with the microscope. :) Things move so quickly and change quickly as well-- I don't have to worry about the sky drying out on me (on the contrary, I hope it will!)!!

You mentioned sharing findings in a club; are microscopy clubs common? From my (not super thorough) searching on the internet, it seems they're quite fewer and farther between than astronomy clubs (the Houston area has 5 astronomy clubs that I know of, but I can't find a microscopy one). I would love to be a part of one if I could find one!
Lauren Herrington

Olympus KHC --- 4x, 10x, 40x objectives --- 15x eyepiece
Swift M950 --- 4x, 10x, 40x objectives --- 10x eyepiece
1917 Spencer --- 10x, 44x, 95x homog. immer. objectives --- 16-20x zoom eyepiece

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Re: 1917 Spencer, Monocular Olympus KHC, Siebert EmoSkop, and Swift M950

#7 Post by TieDyeAstronomer » Wed Aug 28, 2019 3:37 am

MicroBob wrote:Hi,
welcome to the forum! You have already a nice selection of instruments there.
The condenser of the Olympus is probably held in a sleeve of a certain diameter. When you measure the diameter with a caliper somebody in your area may be able to offer you a suitable condenser.
The condenser forms a light cone that allows the stronger objectives to acheive the resolution they are able to deliver.
The condenser (your fine old Spencer seems to have one) is usually racked all the way up so it nearly touches the slide from underneath. The condenser aperture is not meant to dim the light, but to optimize resolution and contrast, start wide open, close until contrast appears.
Generally the image of the 40:1 objective has less "pop" than that of the 10:1, sometimes irritating for the newbie.

The Swift is a simple microscope, but equipped with a battery powered LED light it would be useful as a field microscope.
It's single condenser lens won't offer perfect lighting, but should be acceptable for field use. When the n.a. is too low the image has lots of contrast and too little resolution.

Do you use cover slips, ca. 0,17mm? The 40:1 objectives will depend on this and on a flat specimen too.

With which name can we address you?


Bob
Hi Bob,

Thanks for your reply! My name is Lauren Herrington-- apologies, I forgot to sign before. It's in the signature box where it belongs now. :)

The internal diameter of the condenser sleeve is just about exactly 1.5". I'm planning on making a post in the Microscopy Acessories forum soon asking the pros here for their advice on which condenser I should buy. I started to research it myself, and that's actually what pushed me over the edge to register for this site-- all the information out there right now is enough to make a newbie's head spin! If this forum is anything like the big one for astronomers, then I know there will be a bunch of experts willing to share their knowledge and help a newbie tell which way's up. Looks like I'm right so far. :)

So, low n.a. results in an image which has too much contrast, not too little? That makes me worry a little that n.a. of the incoming light cone isn't my problem, then. I find that the contrast with the 40x objective on the KHC is lower, as well as the resolution seeming to be the same as the 10x objective (no new details becoming visible). Well, it can't hurt to fix my illumination before I try anything else!

I do use coverslips when I try the 40x objective, but the box says they're 0.12-0.16mm, not 0.17mm. Will that make a big difference? I'm also not the best at preparing a slide yet (I'm having to overcome my astronomer's mindset which says "just stick it under there and the 'scope'll do the rest"). So I haven't viewed many super flat specimens yet; all of the sections I've viewed have been hand-sectioned with a tiny knife (haven't even put together a hand microtome yet). I did try a cheek smear, so that should have been flat, but I didn't really pay attention to the 40x's performance then.
Lauren Herrington

Olympus KHC --- 4x, 10x, 40x objectives --- 15x eyepiece
Swift M950 --- 4x, 10x, 40x objectives --- 10x eyepiece
1917 Spencer --- 10x, 44x, 95x homog. immer. objectives --- 16-20x zoom eyepiece

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Re: 1917 Spencer, Monocular Olympus KHC, Siebert EmoSkop, and Swift M950

#8 Post by TieDyeAstronomer » Wed Aug 28, 2019 4:05 am

MichaelG. wrote:I hope I will be permitted a digression into microphotography:
Siebert was recruited to work at Minox, and was responsible for the [notoriously unsuccessful] lens which made physical contact with a curved film plane.

See Page 17 of this very interesting release by the CIA
https://www.cia.gov/library/readingroom ... 0041-0.pdf

... Now we can get back to photomicrography, and dust on tiny sensors :D

MichaelG.
Hi Michael,

Thanks for the welcome, and the link! That's an interesting concept for a lens design! I'm very impressed by the concept, actually. Adds a bit more to the vague legend of the "Wizard of Wetzlar" for me. It reminds me of some very interesting telescopes called Schmidt Cameras and Schmidt Newtonians which give very strongly curved focal planes... but with a solution much less mechanically elegant than mashing the film against the back of a lens! I have to say that simplicity appeals to the DIY designer in me!! :) A shame about the issues with scratches.
Lauren Herrington

Olympus KHC --- 4x, 10x, 40x objectives --- 15x eyepiece
Swift M950 --- 4x, 10x, 40x objectives --- 10x eyepiece
1917 Spencer --- 10x, 44x, 95x homog. immer. objectives --- 16-20x zoom eyepiece

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Re: 1917 Spencer, Monocular Olympus KHC, Siebert EmoSkop, and Swift M950

#9 Post by MicroBob » Wed Aug 28, 2019 8:45 am

Hi Lauren,
it is a good idea to start a thread to look for a suitable condenser. I live in Germany, near Hamburg, and biological Olympus microscopes are not very common here on the used market, so I could give you the precise diamter. It will probably measured in mm, perhaps 37mm??? I'm sure somebody knows.

I wouldn't worry about the 40:1 objective before you have a condenser available since you won't be able to really check it's performance.
A usual 40:1 achromat has an n.a. of 0,65 and the condenser is set in most cases to a value of e.g. 0,5. As soon as you set it below 0,4 the contrast will start to become overly strong and the resolution will drop. Your setup with no condenser might have an n.a. of 0,1 so you are far away from what you need. What you should check is the front lens of the 40:1. These often get dipped in immersion oil or fluid samples and have a coat of dirt that ins't removed by superficial cleaning. Both condenser and simple old achromats are not very expensive to buy.

Your cover slips are just fine, the layer of water or mountant adds to the 0,12-0,16mm and you end up with about 0,17mm. The depth of field of microscope objectives is very shallow and even photos of planparallel sections are improved by image stacking. For this reason a cover slip that keeps the specimen flat is useful, even if it isn't absolutely necessary for 10:1 and below.

Bob

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Re: 1917 Spencer, Monocular Olympus KHC, Siebert EmoSkop, and Swift M950

#10 Post by apochronaut » Wed Aug 28, 2019 11:46 am

I am just catching up on some posts, so a belated welcome to the forum.
Murky images can be caused by a simple thing, such as dirt on the back lens of the objective.
If you haven't already done so, you may find that the objective back lens surfaces on all of your microscopes need cleaning. Often the front lens gets attention, and an assumption made that the back lens is in a sealed or dust free location. This is generally true but over many years airborne particles will leave a film, which robs the view of contrast and brightness. Sometimes, a real revelation takes place with that simple cleaning and microscopes as old as yours, can be victims of the years.
A quick method is to very lightly moisten one end of a quality cotton swab with isopropyl and give the lens a few rotary wipes, following up by drying it with the other end. Make sure not to touch the ends of the swabs with your fingers and sometimes a third one is necessary. The swabs can leave tiny fibers behind. I usually follow with a few blows , in order to get rid of those. Seldom do any particles left behind cause a problem, certainly not when compared to the effect of an airborne film or dust.
With certain objectives, removing the threaded in rear diaphragm gives better access to the back lens. On the Spencer, the rear diaphragm is sealed in. The back lens is way down at the end of the tip section,except for the 10X. While you can reach the back lens with a swab by going through the diaphragm, the lower section carrying the entire lens pack can be unscrewed for easier access. Sometimes they come free easily but if not, I usually go through the diaphragm.
Just a note on the drawtube of your Spencer scope. At the time it was made, there were numerous manufacturers of microscopes, hundreds in fact, and some of them used different optical tube lengths. Some manufacturers used more than one optical tube length and made allowance for the use of objective lenses engineered to non standard lengths. The standard and the most common tube length in 1917 was 160mm. That's the 16 marked on your tube....16 cm. The objectives you have should be used with the tube set at 16, or the lowest setting. At that setting , with your 10X eyepiece( I am assuming that. it should be marked on the top), your magnifications are 100X, 440X and 950X. By extending the tube, you are lengthening the optical tube and yes, you are increasing the magnification somewhat; by about 25% at the maximum length but you are also changing some optical corrections, which will cause a loss of image quality. The other marked settings are used for objectives that require another specific optical tube length in order to achieve their specifications.

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Re: 1917 Spencer, Monocular Olympus KHC, Siebert EmoSkop, and Swift M950

#11 Post by zzffnn » Thu Aug 29, 2019 3:51 am

Lauren,

Apparent visual quality is determined by resolution (NA) devided by magnification. So 10x NA 0.25 objectives usually look brighter and more contrasty than 40x NA 0.65 objectives.

Absolute resolution is determined by aperture (NA). But contrast is no less important in microscopy; sometimes we close down aperture to increase contrast to reveal finer details.

You can look into DIY oblique and DIY darkfield to enhance contrast and preserve resolution.

That little "lens in stage" condenser in your Swift likely provides enough NA for your 40x NA 0.65 objective.

I am very impressed by your understanding of optics and astronomy, by the way.

You know what, I may have some time tomorrow to meet you in person, if you want and have time between 9:30AM-4:30PM. Text me at 7one3eight05zero1seven5. I am in Friendswood 77546. I may be leaving for Boston this Saturday, so I likely won't have time this Friday or afterwards.

You can try to contact Kurt, but he is not easy to get hold of.

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