Microscope comparison SM-LUX-POL or American Optical (110?)

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jb89
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Microscope comparison SM-LUX-POL or American Optical (110?)

#1 Post by jb89 » Sat Jun 22, 2019 6:40 pm

Hey guys,

I'm still trying to figure out what microscope I should go for,
budget is around $1500 and it will be used for petrography/mineralogy at the hobbyist bordering on professional level.


This is a .pdf that had some information regarding some used microscopes that are generally regarded as being good for geology work. the AO 110 was in here but the leitz was not.
http://earth2geologists.net/Microscopes ... Scopes.pdf

I just wanted to know if there are good reasons to go for one or the other but I have tried to make a list of some Pros and Cons that I could observe from my very very limited knowledge of microscopes.


Leitz SM-LUX-POL
https://www.ebay.com/itm/Leitz-SM-LUX-P ... Swm41c-XSP
Pros:
Seems to be well equipped
Doesn't include compensator
Attachment available for reflected light
trinocular

Cons:
Expensive, slightly over budget
external light source power supply, bulky
harder to find accessories and they are costly

American Optical AO 110
https://www.ebay.com/itm/AO-American-Op ... 0752.m1982

Pros:
Seems to be equipped fairly minimally
includes compensator but it's 1lambda( not used commonly in my experience)
much better on the budget
cheaper accessories
light source power supply internal

Cons:
I don't think it can do reflected light in any capacity
The trinocular is known to introduce birefringence


These are absolutely not the only microscopes I would consider but I was hoping I could get a push in the right direction.

Thanks!

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75RR
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Re: Microscope comparison SM-LUX-POL or American Optical (110?)

#2 Post by 75RR » Sat Jun 22, 2019 7:51 pm

I really don't want to get involved in this discussion but you can't just go on what a seller on Ebay says.

To be clear. You either buy from an established seller (who knows what they are selling and wants to maintain a customer base) or you buy from a auction reseller, who has no idea what they are reselling, and doesn't care.

Forget bargains. Try to find a fair price for the microscope you want.
Zeiss Standard WL (somewhat fashion challenged) & Wild M8
Olympus E-P2 (Micro Four Thirds Camera)

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Re: Microscope comparison SM-LUX-POL or American Optical (110?)

#3 Post by Scarodactyl » Sat Jun 22, 2019 9:13 pm

eBay has some very reasonable buyer protections that work in your favor if you are buying a used scope. There are lots of lemons out there (ranging from 'not working but could be parted out I guess' to 'outright unfixable mess'), but as long as you don't buy one that's marked "for parts/not working" under condition, if it comes in and is not in working condition you can return it on their dime. I have bought a lot of bargain scopes (way too many I have a problem), and had to return a fair number for not being as described, but honestly it isn't that much of a hassle if you know what to look out for and don't mind wasting some time.

As 75RR said, there are a lot of sellers who just buy and sell surplus stuff without knowing or caring anything about it, just blindly copying what more knowledgable sellers put up if that. The leitz listing looks like one of these. Look at the description:

"Used - Includes item in pictures - 7 Day warranty - Please look at the pictures carefully - This is all we have for this item - If it is not in the pictures, it is not included - Everything seems to turn as it should - No extensive testing has been done on this item"

No information given, listed as untested, and they also list it with no returns. That being said they chose to list the item as 'used', which in spite of their other verbiage is a guarantee that it is in working, usable condition. If it isn't it can still be returned 'not as described' and eBay will almost certainly side with you. But that whole process can be a pain if the seller decides to try and fight (though I don't remember any seller actually fighting it--I think they know what they're doing). It's not risk-free and even if nothing unexpected happens your money could easily be tied up for quite some time. I will buy from these types of sellers, but only if the price is quite low. The plus side is they often got these things insanely cheap as part of a larger lot, and are not that attached to them--that 'make offer' option can sometimes yield good results if it's been sitting a while and they want to get rid of it. Then again, they absolutely should be priced a lot cheaper given the uncertainties involved in buying one. This one isn't priced cheap, so you'd need to get them to come way down on that price to make it worth your while imo.

Compare with the seller on the AO side of things--carefully photographed and labeled, lots of explicit information and a nice two week return window in case you don't like it. It will almost certainly be packed properly and arrive in working condition (this is super important, I've had inexperienced sellers send me scopes packed in newspapers or rags or even loose in the box and arrive quite broken). It's hard to say if the price is good for this specific model/line, but most AO scopes are priced fairly low (not for any lack of quality--AO is great, they just tend to be cheap). Most of his items look a bit expensive to me tbh, though there's less risk there.

So, I guess I'd say tread carefully with that Leitz--if you decide you're interested make a lowball offer, and if you get it and there's something wrong don't hesitate to return it. The AO is probably a safe option.

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Re: Microscope comparison SM-LUX-POL or American Optical (110?)

#4 Post by jb89 » Sat Jun 22, 2019 9:33 pm

Thanks for the responses!

I'm not super set on ebay but its definitely an option due to the buyer protection, i have experience refurbishing and repairing tools and some minor optics so as long as nothing is damaged im not too worried there.

I however don't know which scope is actually better or if there are better options I should keep an eye out for

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Re: Microscope comparison SM-LUX-POL or American Optical (110?)

#5 Post by Scarodactyl » Sat Jun 22, 2019 9:52 pm

Both Leitz and AO have good reputations in general. I would think between the two Leitz would tend to have better optics, though that will probably vary depending on which objective type you're looking at (another unknown on the leitz, though I spotted an 'Fl' on one of the objectives which is promising). I've tried both Leitzes and AOs and thought both had very nice optics, but haven't ever done anything like an apples to apples comparison. It's harder to make a specific judgment in this case anyway, since a lot of how good they are for your usage is going to come down to how well these particular geological accessories work.
Sorry, wish I could offer more specific help on that.

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Re: Microscope comparison SM-LUX-POL or American Optical (110?)

#6 Post by PeteM » Sun Jun 23, 2019 1:38 am

Some points about the 110:
- Be sure the trinocular head is packed very carefully. I've seen a few where the prisms detach.
- The internal power supply can be a problem on the 110's. Good news, though, is that all the polarizing components could be re-hosted on something like an AO/Reichert Microstar 410.
- Some of the AO polarizing bits have ended up delaminated. You can usually find replacements.
- AO did make an industrial microscope with decent reflected light capability, so that is a possibility

On the SM-LUX:
- Pretty sure that model has a very precise but also very limited range fine focus. A possible problem if you anticipate doing focus stacking over deep specimens?

Not sure what Olympus BH to BH2 era polarizing gear goes for, but you'd likely find somewhat more modern optics (wider field), more available options for things like reflected light, and a very reliable stand -- likely for a higher price.

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Re: Microscope comparison SM-LUX-POL or American Optical (110?)

#7 Post by jb89 » Sun Jun 23, 2019 1:59 am

Thanks much for the pointers!

I was originally looking for a BH/BH2 but they seem to pop up rately and cost nearly twice my budget.

I'm not sure what deep specimens means, all of my samples will be cut level to .03mm, a little different from biologic specimens I'm sure

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Re: Microscope comparison SM-LUX-POL or American Optical (110?)

#8 Post by wabutter » Tue Jun 25, 2019 1:20 am

you mentioned that your primary application was petrographic. The SM Lux- POL would be a better choice for that application as it is set up as PLM by design and would should offer the types of resources you would need to geological specimens. It addition the optical components should be strain-free.
The was a version of the Series 110 that was PLM specific. Actually a very good microscope with bertrand lens module, it was limited to a monocular viewing tube. However, I suspect the version you are looking at is a standard BF model with attachable Polarizer /analyzer components.

Regards,
Wayne

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Re: Microscope comparison SM-LUX-POL or American Optical (110?)

#9 Post by Scarodactyl » Tue Jun 25, 2019 2:55 am

The AO is equipped with strain-free objectives for sure. We don't know what's on the leitz, aside from an "Fl" being readable on one. Chances are the Leitz is set up right but you never know, weird mix'n'match configurations sometimes show up in these contexts.
What would the difference bet between an AO designed for petrography and one retrofitted with strain free objectives, rotating stage, polarizing components, compensator and a bertrand lens? Aside from the noted potential issues in the head I guess.

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Re: Microscope comparison SM-LUX-POL or American Optical (110?)

#10 Post by jb89 » Tue Jun 25, 2019 6:41 am

My primary focus is certainly petrographic but seeing all the amazing things you guys take pictures of makes me want to give that a shot someday!

The leitz was shipped with the following objectives

170/- 10/0.25 p
170/0.17 25/0.50 p
170/0.17 40/0.65 p
Fl 170/0.17 63/0.85 p
Mystery objective, I have attached a picture of, I have no idea what the purpose of this is.

According to this thread the p in the leitz objectives means they are for polarized scope work
viewtopic.php?t=5491

http://earth2geologists.net/Microscopes ... manual.pdf

And after cross referencing the manual here I decided to jump on it and send the seller an offer that I surely thought they wouldn't accept but they did!


I should have the scope here on Thursday and I will post tons of pictures and information!

If anyone knows what that 5th objective is, I'd love to know!
Attachments
mysterobjective.png
mysterobjective.png (341.1 KiB) Viewed 3027 times

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Re: Microscope comparison SM-LUX-POL or American Optical (110?)

#11 Post by MichaelG. » Tue Jun 25, 2019 7:21 am

jb89 wrote: ... And after cross referencing the manual here I decided to jump on it and send the seller an offer that I surely thought they wouldn't accept but they did!

I should have the scope here on Thursday and I will post tons of pictures and information!
Well played !!

Looking at the ebay listing; I note the film camera and the advisory note on the power supply
... These are very encouraging signs that it "came from a good home" and has probably spent some time in storage, prior to disposal.
If [as it appears] the seller has simply moved-it-on, you should end up with a very fine instrument.

MichaelG.
Too many 'projects'

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Re: Microscope comparison SM-LUX-POL or American Optical (110?)

#12 Post by apochronaut » Tue Jun 25, 2019 12:57 pm

You should take note of the memo I am sending a link to. Normally, if only because of the fluorite pol objectives in the Leitz, I would have encouraged you in that direction but since they are 160mm objectives in a 170mm pol microscope, I was a little unsure but I can't see why the pol functions would make anything different. It seems that they have done everything right; retained a 170mm 10:1 objective and used 160mm objectives otherwise. The eyepieces would have to be the earlier strain free versions. Any additional objectives, unless they were under 16X, could be 160mm as well.
This may have been a transition microscope set up in the factory this way but I don't know if the SM-LUX led a double life.
http://www.science-info.net/docs/leitz/ ... m-Memo.pdf

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Re: Microscope comparison SM-LUX-POL or American Optical (110?)

#13 Post by Hobbyst46 » Tue Jun 25, 2019 1:45 pm

apochronaut wrote:You should take note of the memo I am sending a link to. Normally, if only because of the fluorite pol objectives in the Leitz, I would have encouraged you in that direction but since they are 160mm objectives in a 170mm pol microscope, I was a little unsure but I can't see why the pol functions would make anything different. It seems that they have done everything right; retained a 170mm 10:1 objective and used 160mm objectives otherwise. The eyepieces would have to be the earlier strain free versions. Any additional objectives, unless they were under 16X, could be 160mm as well.
This may have been a transition microscope set up in the factory this way but I don't know if the SM-LUX led a double life.
http://www.science-info.net/docs/leitz/ ... m-Memo.pdf
A very interesting and important info to all new users of old Leitz microscopes in that memo.
I like the statement that the purpose was to allow exchangability of objectives from different manufacturers.
Zeiss Standard GFL+Canon EOS-M10, Olympus VMZ stereo

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Re: Microscope comparison SM-LUX-POL or American Optical (110?)

#14 Post by apochronaut » Tue Jun 25, 2019 3:52 pm

Notably I think : Wild, since by 1972, Wild had achieved 25% ownership of Leitz and for sure had to be pushing them to shift to 160mm, so Wild optics could be used. In 1986, Wild assumed complete ownership.

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Re: Microscope comparison SM-LUX-POL or American Optical (110?)

#15 Post by 75RR » Tue Jun 25, 2019 6:28 pm

There is a diagram which helps clarify this on page 14 of this rather interesting pdf titled: The Excellent Leitz Microscopes with Black Enamel Finish

http://www.microscopy-uk.org.uk/mag/img ... es7rev.pdf
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Re: Microscope comparison SM-LUX-POL or American Optical (110?)

#16 Post by Scarodactyl » Tue Jun 25, 2019 6:47 pm

Congrats on your purchase! It really looks like a nice scope, I am looking forward to your impressions when it comes in.

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Re: Microscope comparison SM-LUX-POL or American Optical (110?)

#17 Post by wabutter » Tue Jun 25, 2019 6:57 pm

Apochronaut;
Point of information. After Wild and Leitz completed there merger, it was decided that Wild would focus on the Stereo Microscope line and Leitz would focus on the Compound microscope line. I'm not sure of the exact timing, but by the time the SM Lux was in production this was a well entrenched corporate position. In 1989 Wild Leitz merged with Cambridge Instruments and became Leica. The merger was completed in 1990. The subsequent history is interesting as well. i.e how the three Leica companies were split and formed, but that is another discussion.

Regards,
Wayne

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Re: Microscope comparison SM-LUX-POL or American Optical (110?)

#18 Post by wabutter » Tue Jun 25, 2019 8:12 pm

I don't recall the system, nor the details, but there was a Leitz system that use an objective in a condenser mount that was used as a condenser. Perfect NA match was the goal nor was there an aperture. Come to think of it, it might have been to be used with a UV source and would allow the transmission of UV to the sample. Purely speculation though.
Wayne

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Re: Microscope comparison SM-LUX-POL or American Optical (110?)

#19 Post by apochronaut » Wed Jun 26, 2019 2:55 am

wabutter wrote:Apochronaut;
Point of information. After Wild and Leitz completed there merger, it was decided that Wild would focus on the Stereo Microscope line and Leitz would focus on the Compound microscope line. I'm not sure of the exact timing, but by the time the SM Lux was in production this was a well entrenched corporate position. In 1989 Wild Leitz merged with Cambridge Instruments and became Leica. The merger was completed in 1990. The subsequent history is interesting as well. i.e how the three Leica companies were split and formed, but that is another discussion.

Regards,
Wayne
8 companies made up Leica Microsystems.

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Re: Microscope comparison SM-LUX-POL or American Optical (110?)

#20 Post by jb89 » Fri Jun 28, 2019 12:58 am

The microscope got here and on the exterior it looked fantastic.

Unfortunately I will probably be returning it.

The coarse adjustment gear is cracked and shorn and I am worried about some of the parts including lenses/optics.

I have sent another offer to the seller at which point it would be worth my time to repair it but I feel like this scope is destined to be parted out.

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Re: Microscope comparison SM-LUX-POL or American Optical (110?)

#21 Post by apochronaut » Fri Jun 28, 2019 1:06 am

That is too bad. It increasingly surprises me that a broken microscope that is clearly non functional gets sold as a working system.
Ebay in today's world does offer coverage. It wasn't always that way.

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Re: Microscope comparison SM-LUX-POL or American Optical (110?)

#22 Post by jb89 » Fri Jun 28, 2019 2:36 am

It happens I suppose, I knew the risks involved.

Luckily the seller has been no issue and has already offered a refund.
It's a shame though, I'd much rather just get it working but at the price I paid I can't justify fixing it.

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Re: Microscope comparison SM-LUX-POL or American Optical (110?)

#23 Post by Scarodactyl » Fri Jun 28, 2019 2:39 am

Ouch, it's a shame when bad things happen to a good scope. Are you going to get to keep it, or sending it back?

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Re: Microscope comparison SM-LUX-POL or American Optical (110?)

#24 Post by jb89 » Fri Jun 28, 2019 3:12 am

I'm on the fence.

I'm sure I've already insulted the seller with my last offer but it just has to make good financial sense to me or there's no point.

It at a minimum requires $150 in parts, plus time and effort to clean and service it. I am unsure of the optics in it which could be a big mistake if they ended up being bad.

On the other hand it has parts that I want and wont be able to find cost effectively elsewhere(the leitz X/Y stage specifically), trinocular head isn't particularly cheap either unless I find another scope that already has one.


There's a binocular one for sale for a fairly reasonable price with better objectives and a better power supply from someone who seems to know what they are selling for not much more than I will have into this one.

Tons of options and a lot to consider, definitely open to advice from the experts!

edit: also, I have really shifted towards the leitz scopes due to their ability to do reflected light with a relatively simple attachment, are there other scopes that are able to do this?

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Re: Microscope comparison SM-LUX-POL or American Optical (110?)

#25 Post by Hobbyst46 » Fri Jun 28, 2019 7:40 am

jb89 wrote:I'm on the fence.

I'm sure I've already insulted the seller with my last offer but it just has to make good financial sense to me or there's no point.

It at a minimum requires $150 in parts, plus time and effort to clean and service it. I am unsure of the optics in it which could be a big mistake if they ended up being bad.

On the other hand it has parts that I want and wont be able to find cost effectively elsewhere(the leitz X/Y stage specifically), trinocular head isn't particularly cheap either unless I find another scope that already has one.

There's a binocular one for sale for a fairly reasonable price with better objectives and a better power supply from someone who seems to know what they are selling for not much more than I will have into this one...
If I had a very quick route to independently inspect the trinocular head and all other optical parts (say, on someone else's scope, or by means of a stereoscope {the objectives}) and verify their value, and if they are OK, I would consider keeping it against a substantial refund. And buy a second stand and combine it all to one good instrument.
Zeiss Standard GFL+Canon EOS-M10, Olympus VMZ stereo

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Re: Microscope comparison SM-LUX-POL or American Optical (110?)

#26 Post by jb89 » Fri Jun 28, 2019 5:53 pm

If I could test anything I could have offered something that would seem a lot more reasonable to the seller but unfortunately I had to make the assumption that everything was in equal condition ( pretty broken, very dirty).

It's alright though, I'm in no rush and I'm sure something else will pop up.

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Re: Microscope comparison SM-LUX-POL or American Optical (110?)

#27 Post by Scarodactyl » Fri Jun 28, 2019 8:15 pm

Nothing wrong with returning a lemon, though I hope he's paying for return shipping.

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