Which Microscope?

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Dave S
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Which Microscope?

#1 Post by Dave S » Fri Jun 07, 2019 4:44 pm

I'm playing a 'long shot' here, in the hope that someone may actually have, or used one of these two microscopes.

I posed a related question in my earlier post (Chinese Microscopes), and am fully aware of the potential pitfalls of buying a budget Chinese microscope, albeit much of it based on 'hear say', as opposed to 'hands on experience'.

As an experienced amateur photographer, and astro-imager, I am not 'wet behind the ears' when it comes to optical, and build quality, and the quote "you get what you pay for".

However, again, as I previously explained, I want to buy new, and I don't want to spend 'big money', I just want to 'dip my toe in the water' with microscopy, and photomicrography, to see if it is something that I would like to pursue.

After spending many hours over the past week or so, looking at re-badged Chinese microscopes, reading countless 'end user' reviews, of which only a few came across as having been written by someone with at least some understanding, I currently have a short list of two, albeit I am still open to other options to consider in £300 - £350 price range.

https://www.bresseruk.com/bresser-trino ... scope.html

https://www.apexmicroscopes.co.uk/apexscholar.html
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Re: Which Microscope?

#2 Post by Hobbyst46 » Fri Jun 07, 2019 5:24 pm

This is not an opinion about any of the two microscopes, just a simplistic route to decision:

According to the provided links, the Bresser offers three advantages:
1. Cheaper
2. Upgradable
3. 5 years warranty
Seemingly, the Apex does not offer these features, or at least they are not mentioned.

One should note, though, that Bresser descriptions of the type of illuminators they supply with their microscopes can be misleading. So I would verify that I get the one I want - LED or halogen.
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Re: Which Microscope?

#3 Post by Dave S » Fri Jun 07, 2019 6:33 pm

Thanks for your input 'hobby'.

Apex are actually part of Brunel microscopes, marketed either from them direct, or via Amazon. They are cheaper than their Brunel badged porfolio. That said, some of the 'end user' reviews, if they are to be believed, are quite good.

You are right about the Bresser, some retailers state Halogen, and others LED, albeit its not listed as an option by Bresser. It would have to be LED for me.

End user reviews for the Bresser, are mainly positive, albeit one reviewer mentioned flaking paint, and a black spec in one of the oculars.

Two users quoted some unwanted lateral movement (wobble) of the 'stage', which was found to be two loose Allen screws, which when correctly tightened, cured the problem.

I guess its all down to 'quality control' or the lack of, following mass assembly. The optics and the mechanics will be the same throughout, but it depends on the individual who assembles it.

Alan (roldorf) has a Bresser, albeit more expensive than this one, and he is very happy with it.

Having seen one comment about the Apex, stating that the Iris Diaphragm was not correctly aligned with the condenser, and that there was no means of adjusting it, I have e-mailed Brunel (Apex) to ask if they could guarantee to supply one that was correctly aligned. I await a reply.

I also asked Bresser UK, which is actually Telescope House (a company I dealt with many times during my astro-imaging days) if the Iris Diaphragm alignment was adjustable. A very helpful young lady contacted Bresser in Germany to get a definitive answer. She e-mailed me back confirming that it was, with full instructions on how to do it.
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Re: Which Microscope?

#4 Post by MicroBob » Fri Jun 07, 2019 7:48 pm

Hi Dave,
it is nice to see that they both stick to sensible magnifications - this inspires a lot more trust in the usability of the microscope.
The Apex includes a nice compact travel case which would be very nice to take the instrument with you on trips or to meetings.

I wouldn't trust too much in the user reviews, in this class of instrument and on these market places there is often very little real value in them.
Bresser does optics import for decades (They used to import Lomo microscopes in the past) and Brunel seems to have a good name.
In an ideal world you would have the opportunity to test the instrument after being instructed - in most cases unlikely.

Do you already have a couple of slides to test the instrument when you get it in your hands? It is useful to have a slide with a sharply defined high contrast specimen (like an object micrometer, cheaply available from China, check whether there is a cover slip on top) and a low contrast specimen like a histology slide or plant section.

Bob

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Re: Which Microscope?

#5 Post by Dave S » Fri Jun 07, 2019 8:19 pm

Hi Bob

It is a bit of a lottery, but in either case, at least there is a back up, in the form of a warranty, and we are not talking spending 'big bucks', at least I'll have an idea as to whether microscopy is for me or not.

Bresser of course have been selling telescopes for years, albeit I never used one. Always stuck to Meade, and William Optics Apo's. That said I never heard anyone 'slagging off' Bresser's budget telescopes.

Brunel do have a good reputation for customer service in the UK, but I get the feeling that their Apex range might be a budget on budget range, that they don't want to put the Brunel name to.

As you say end user reviews, can't always be believed, and its not easy to sort the 'wheat from the chaff'.

I'm in no burning hurry Bob, and I have lots of other things to enjoy. Just come back from Cruise to the Norwegian Fjords, great for my photography :) , and we are off on holiday again soon. :)

P.S. Duly noted re the test slides.
Last edited by Dave S on Sat Jun 08, 2019 5:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Which Microscope?

#6 Post by MicroBob » Sat Jun 08, 2019 5:22 am

Hi Dave,
I have a pair of binoculars from Bresser, 8x20, model "Corvette",new price 90€, was tested by "Stiftung Warentest" with result "good". The lenses are made in Japan. It is actually quite good and has costs me just 8€ including shipping used on ebay. So there are good products in their lineup.

Bob

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Re: Which Microscope?

#7 Post by Dave S » Sat Jun 08, 2019 10:28 am

That does inspire a degree of confidence Bob, thank you for that. Added to Alan's (rolfdorf) personal experience with a Bresser microscope, it does seem that it might be the way to go.

I am going to e-mail Bresser in Germany to clarify the situation with regard the illumination. Some retailers, including Bresser UK,(Actually Broadhurst,Clarkson and Fuller, who have been in the telescope business since the late 1700's), quote this microscope as having a Halogen lamp. Whereas three other retail outlets state it as having an LED.

It appears that there may be two versions of this scope, the Mk 1, and the Mk 2, so I need to clarify this with Bresser.

Not a lot of point in talking to Bresser UK, as although the young lady was very helpful when I asked a question about condenser to diaphragm alignment, she had to contact Bresser in Germany to get the information.

There is also a variation in price in the UK, Bresser UK (the importer) sells it at £390 + delivery, Amazon UK sell it at £349 with free delivery, as does another UK retailer.
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Re: Which Microscope?

#8 Post by Dave S » Wed Jun 12, 2019 10:25 am

Ok, decision made, microscope ordered, and arriving tomorrow.

Bresser Researcher Trino ll 40-1000x.

Apologies to the purist. but I did explain previously my reasoning for starting out with a budget to mid-range Chinese microscope, which is to ''test the water" to see if microscopy is for me or not.

I have also started digging out a wildlife pond (no fish), to provide some live subject matter. Whether I take to microscopy or not, this will serve my photography (macro) interest, once it is established.
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Re: Which Microscope?

#9 Post by Hobbyst46 » Wed Jun 12, 2019 10:43 am

Congratulations! Hoefully you will enjoy it a lot!

Also hope that, after becoming acquainted with the features, you might post results obtained with it. At least in recent years, there were rarely - if at all - reports of the performance of starter-level new microscopes. Thanks in advance.

BTW - is it with Achro or Planachro objectives ?
Last edited by Hobbyst46 on Wed Jun 12, 2019 10:49 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Which Microscope?

#10 Post by Dave S » Wed Jun 12, 2019 10:48 am

Indeed 'Hobby', I will do that in due course.
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Re: Which Microscope?

#11 Post by MicroBob » Wed Jun 12, 2019 11:54 am

Hi Dave,

nice to hear that you was able to make a decision after getting so much differing advice!
Since your needs are similar to that of many other newbies your review will be helpful for many others.

The pond is a good idea! Do you already have a plan how to get the critters out of it?
For a start filling I would recommend rain water and to add a couple of different, concentrated plancton samples and mud an water plants from different ponds.
Do you have a plancton net or -sieve?

There is a nice old book on pond sampling: Henry Scherren, Ponds and Rock Pools, available for free.

Bob

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Re: Which Microscope?

#12 Post by Dave S » Wed Jun 12, 2019 1:13 pm

Hi Bob

I have looked at so many Chinese microscopes, and read so many reviews (some informative, and others by the less informed), that my poor old brain had reached saturation point :lol:

It did in the end come down a choice between the two microscopes referenced earlier, and based on my research, the Bresser won.

It will be a bit of a strange combination if I do put my £3k DSLR body on a £300+ microscope, but I wouldn't be able to blame the camera for any shortcomings ;)

It is more likely that I will invest in a 5Mp CMOS eyepiece camera, for simplicity. Plus the fact the EOS 5D MklV is quite a heavy 'beast.

Making a suitable capture device for 'pond dipping', would easily be fabricated.

The pond will initially be filled with tap water, as it would take quite a lot of rainwater to fill it. I plan to let it stand for at least a couple of weeks, to hopefully let any chlorination etc, evaporate off.

Once I have had a chance to evaluate the scope, I will post my opinion, which will either be negative, warts and all, or dispel some of the negativity promoted by those who have not used this grade of microscope, but see fit to decry it. Hopefully, it will be positive, while taking into account its budget status.
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Re: Which Microscope?

#13 Post by Scarodactyl » Wed Jun 12, 2019 5:36 pm

I am looking forward to reading your thoughts on it. It would be especially great if at some point you get a chance to try it side by side with a classic used starter scope like an olympus ch2, nikon labophot series or something from AO or whatever. That might be a logistical challenge though.

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Re: Which Microscope?

#14 Post by photomicro » Wed Jun 12, 2019 6:04 pm

Scarodactyl wrote:I am looking forward to reading your thoughts on it. It would be especially great if at some point you get a chance to try it side by side with a classic used starter scope like an olympus ch2, nikon labophot series or something from AO or whatever. That might be a logistical challenge though.
Are you suggesting some sort of comparison in terms of how it functions in use, or just a comparison of images of the same subject through each?

I ask because I use a Labophot as my main microscope, but also have an AO10/20 and have at the moment one of these (almost generic) Chinese microscopes at the moment, for sale on behalf of someone. So I could try this out.

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Re: Which Microscope?

#15 Post by Scarodactyl » Wed Jun 12, 2019 7:25 pm

Any of the above, since it is all relevant for choosing a microscope. Of course it isn't usually possible to quickly test how long the mechanics will hold up but any side by side comparison should likely prove useful.

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Re: Which Microscope?

#16 Post by lorez » Thu Jun 13, 2019 1:29 am

For the budget you are allowing you don't have much latitude with your choices, but in this price range either of the microscopes will probably show you enough to decide whether you want to continue. Neither of the scopes offer any more than the minimum, in spite of the advertising 'hyperbole', and there is nothing that is really new. Having said all this I can also say that the microscopes have the potential to last many years.

lore

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Re: Which Microscope?

#17 Post by Dave S » Thu Jun 13, 2019 9:43 am

Well there was plenty of choice in terms of 'Badge' (probably too much :D ), Swift, Brunel, Apex, Bresser, AMscope, GTX, OMAX, etc, etc.

However, all of Chinese origin, and from any one of up to 15 factories, maybe many from the same factory, or sharing the same optics.

If I were to buy a cheap 3rd party lens for my camera, I would not be expecting the optical, and build quality I get with my Canon L series lenses. The same goes for this microscope.

But it will, as you say, allow me to decide if I want to pursue microscopy, without having invested a lot of money.

I see microscopy as an extension to my photography, which is my primary interest.
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Re: Which Microscope?

#18 Post by mrsonchus » Thu Jun 13, 2019 10:43 am

Hi Dave, and congrats on your new 'scope. I think, just to add my tuppence-worth, that you've made a good choice considering your stated intentions and motivations. Have you considered the connection of a microscope objective directly to your camera, as I believe is another option? This would I suppose give you an 'extreme macro' rather than a microscopic option, but may be worth consideration?
John B

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Re: Which Microscope?

#19 Post by Dave S » Thu Jun 13, 2019 11:27 am

Hi John

No, I hadn't considered that, but all options are open.

That said, with the 105mm macro lens on the camera, I can get in quite close, and the pixel count, resolution, and superb high ISO low noise performance of 5D MklV, is that good, its allows for some really heavy cropping.

With macro, I'm mainly 'shooting' live subjects, and you have to be quick, as they are not good models, they don't sit still for long ;)

One of the problems with macro is the extremely shallow depth of field (DoF). I offset this by using a macro ring-flash, so that I can shoot a f/16 or f/22 whatever the light. It still has its DoF limits, then beyond that you are into image stacking.

Early days yet with the microscope, so lots of experimentation, and assessment to do.
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Re: Which Microscope?

#20 Post by Dave S » Thu Jun 13, 2019 6:38 pm

Ok, the microscope arrived today, extremely well packed, and in pristine condition.

First impressions, are that it seems sturdy and well built, with no sign of flaking paint, as reported by one reviewer.

On closer inspection, it showed the coarse and fine focus to be smooth, and firm in operation (is adjustable), with no backlash.

The mechanical stage is firm with zero wobble, and the lateral, and transverse controls, are firm and smooth, with no backlash.

Although Achromatic, the optics show no visible Chromatic Aberration, and provides a nice sharp image, at least up to 400x. I haven't yet tried the oil immersion lens, for 1000x. As I am unlikely to make much use of this objective, I will probably replace it with 60 to give a more useful 600x.

The LED illumination is super bright (much more so than the old Halogen bulb), and of course runs cool. The dimmer control allows for optimum lighting.

I don't have 'test slide' to assess the resolution, but a quick look see with a sample of water from the bird bath, looked pretty good.

Early days yet, and once I have have explored its capabilities further, and set up to take some images, I will post them.

So, to summarise, no Chinese microscope horror stories, and all in all, an encouraging start with what I perceive as a functional microscope, at realistic price. Not a Nikon, Olympus, or Leica etc, but neither did it cost as much. I wouldn't expect it to withstand the rigours, daily professional, or college use, but its not intended for that life.

As it is, it's new, with a 5 year warranty, and not a chancy 'high mileage' secondhand premium brand bought on e-bay.
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Re: Which Microscope?

#21 Post by geo_man » Thu Jun 13, 2019 8:29 pm

Congrats on arrival of your new scope! I'm glad you like it so far; please keep us posted with your experience and post some pics when convenient.

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Re: Which Microscope?

#22 Post by Hobbyst46 » Thu Jun 13, 2019 9:03 pm

geo_man wrote:Congrats on arrival of your new scope! I'm glad you like it so far; please keep us posted with your experience and post some pics when convenient.
Likewise !!
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Re: Which Microscope?

#23 Post by MichaelG. » Thu Jun 13, 2019 9:23 pm

Sounds like an excellent start, Dave

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Re: Which Microscope?

#24 Post by Crater Eddie » Fri Jun 14, 2019 3:27 pm

Congrats! Hopefully soon you will post a photo of your new scope. :mrgreen:
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Re: Which Microscope?

#25 Post by Dave S » Fri Jun 14, 2019 3:58 pm

There you go Eddie, one Bresser Researcher Trino 40-1000x.

Genuine Chinese ;) , and you have probably see many like it, all with different badges on them :)
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Re: Which Microscope?

#26 Post by Roldorf » Fri Jun 14, 2019 6:07 pm

Hi Dave,
glad you are pleased with your new microscope. I wish you many happy hours exploring the new world opened up by your purchase. Don't forget about plants "they don't move about so much" and with a sharp razor you can get some really good photos of their structures.


Alan
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Re: Which Microscope?

#27 Post by Dave S » Fri Jun 14, 2019 6:26 pm

No shortage of plant material Alan, as my wife is an avid gardener, I'll just grab them, when she's not looking ;)
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Re: Which Microscope?

#28 Post by Crater Eddie » Sat Jun 15, 2019 12:26 am

Dave S wrote:There you go Eddie...
Well, I meant yours in your work area, but that's ok.
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Re: Which Microscope?

#29 Post by Dave S » Sat Jun 15, 2019 11:40 am

Hi Eddie

I don't have a dedicated work area planned for microscopy, and the microscope will share a space on my desk in the study, and be put away when not in use.

When I was into astro-imaging, I built an observatory, with attached-warm room, in the garden. However, this was a serious interest, whereas I see microscopy as more of a fascinating pass time.

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