Old brand microscope vs new less famous brand microscope

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Reza
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Old brand microscope vs new less famous brand microscope

#1 Post by Reza » Fri Sep 28, 2018 11:11 am

I would like to know your opinion about which is a better option? Should someone buy an old (~30-40 years old) brand microscope (Olympus, Leica, Carl Zeiss, Nikon) or a relative new microscope from less famous manufacturer such as Bresser or alike?

I was thinking that as technology improves making good optics becomes easier the same way that computer components become faster and cheaper. So a less famous manufacture with today's technology can produce a good optics which is as good as what a famous manufacture could produce 30 years ago.

Another point is that, an old 30 years old microscope might not be able to use the newer produced objectives and accessories. For example, in DSLR cameras some of the old lenses may not be used in the newly produced camera.

What do you think?

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wporter
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Re: Old brand microscope vs new less famous brand microscope

#2 Post by wporter » Fri Sep 28, 2018 11:44 am

Although it depends on your use of the microscope (cutting edge research? personal hobby use?), and how much money you want to spend, many on this forum would recommend the older microscopes as being superior in the benefit per cost sense.

The computer analogy is specious. Computer technology has progressed from an intense performance-driven evolution, whereas looking through a microscope has not changed much in 150 years (assuming you're a hobbyist). And as many here might point out, you could hook up a digital camera to an excellent microscope from the late 1800's and get just as good or better image as you would from a modern $6000 Chinese-made microscope with a built-in display screen. While modern optical design, glasses, and coatings have improved in the last 40 years, at the hobbyist level the newer scopes many times suffer from poor manufacturing execution of older designs, poor quality control, and can be way overpriced from too many middlemen.

Of course, this is just the opinion of someone who likes rejuvenating the old microscopes.

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coominya
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Re: Old brand microscope vs new less famous brand microscope

#3 Post by coominya » Fri Sep 28, 2018 12:09 pm

I would personally recommend the older scopes, but not too old, 1985-2000 as a ballpark reference say. The very modern scopes, even brand name ones like an Olympus I bought and sent back can suffer from cheap materials and design. Things like wobbly stage controls and tinny metal or cheap cast components. This is my personal experience. As for modern optics, sure they have made leaps and bounds but will you really get state of the art glass in a cheap microscope? I would think not. Quality still costs when it comes to new purchases, that is a simple fact of life.

apochronaut
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Re: Old brand microscope vs new less famous brand microscope

#4 Post by apochronaut » Fri Sep 28, 2018 12:42 pm

Well stated by both. One still has to watch out for defective or missing components in an older microscope. Usually, they are cheap and easy to repair or replace but getting a sellers guarantee of condition is a worthwhile endeavour. Some sites hosting the sale will hold the seller to his/her word under threat of having their paypal account invaded.

There are many ridiculously good buys in used microscopes.

Hobbyst46
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Re: Old brand microscope vs new less famous brand microscope

#5 Post by Hobbyst46 » Fri Sep 28, 2018 3:57 pm

A brand-new average starter microscope is not so cheap. For example, I just surfed the Amscope site to see prices like ~484 USD for the T580 model. It has a trinocular head, Abbe condenser, presumably achromat objectives {infinity/finite optics, I did not check}. Bresser microscopes are'nt cheap either. Not much cheaper than the 40+ years old Olympus BHC that is quality, and includes phase contrast optics, just for example. So, had I been in your shoes, I would either buy an old, expandable 2nd-hand good quality microscope, or alternatively, buy the cheapest brand-new binocular scope (but not a "student"/"home"/"school"/"children" model!) pay 100-200 USD (say), and use it for training and first practice. Later on you can upgrade to a better scope.
Such suggestion is not original, I know, it has been posted by others as well.
Zeiss Standard GFL+Canon EOS-M10, Olympus VMZ stereo

MicroBob
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Re: Old brand microscope vs new less famous brand microscope

#6 Post by MicroBob » Fri Sep 28, 2018 6:47 pm

This also depends on how well you are able to do checking, maintenance, repairs and hunting down missing parts on the used market. Most ebay microscopes have some kind of minor or major trouble that has to be set right.

When you are not about to spend really big money, you find the biggest and most affordable supply of additional components for used premium make microscopes from the period 1950 to 2000. There are many parts available for the older microscopes from premium manucafturers that you can only dream of with a Bresser microscope. On the other hand side a better Bresser will allow you to start microscopy without too much knowledge of microscopy technology. But the resale value is very low if you choose to move on to something better.

An interesting alternative: Buy a used quality microscope from a reputable dealer or a trustworthy amateur who knows what he sells. Do you have a microscopy club in your area?

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Aenima
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Re: Old brand microscope vs new less famous brand microscope

#7 Post by Aenima » Fri Sep 28, 2018 8:05 pm

a plus 1 for the 'used' side - i saw a leitz Plan Apo 25x objective for £60 on ebay today :P this kind of bargain optic sways it in my opinion - i did have the same question as you when i first started recently, and am glad i listened to the folks on here and bought an older scope.

For photography in particular there are some good options available for something like the BH2 olympus, and i now have two plan apo objectives neither costing over £50 - i'm finding good value does exist, if I travel back in time :P

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coominya
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Re: Old brand microscope vs new less famous brand microscope

#8 Post by coominya » Fri Sep 28, 2018 10:51 pm

MicroBob wrote:This also depends on how well you are able to do checking, maintenance, repairs and hunting down missing parts on the used market.
Yes, this is am important caveat, the buyer of an older second hand scope should be very sure it needs no maintenance or repairs or they had better have some hands on skill with precision tools, and have a basic tool kit! I have bought 4 scopes second hand and all but one required some form of adjustment; cleaning, replacement of parts, or acquisition of extra objectives. But on the other hand, if you want to make microscopy your hobby, you will probably need to acquire these skills at some point anyway.

PeteM
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Re: Old brand microscope vs new less famous brand microscope

#9 Post by PeteM » Sat Sep 29, 2018 3:33 am

Reza, I'm putting two guides together for our local parents/kids program. One is about what to look for in a microscope (both stereo and compound). The other covers dozens of brands and scores of models from A to Z. These are drafts, rough and preliminary. I can send you copies by email if you'd like. In return, I'd appreciate your comments about what isn't clear.

Same offer to others if you're interested in helping make these more complete and useful.

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