Also Needing Microscope Purchase Advice

Do you have any microscopy questions, which you are afraid to ask? This is your place.
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SSISailor
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Also Needing Microscope Purchase Advice

#1 Post by SSISailor » Sun Apr 19, 2020 1:08 pm

Hello all. I'm looking to purchase a microscope. My last microscope was an ancient and not too good scope purchased off of Ebay. It was lost in our last move three years ago. This go round I would like to purchase a higher quality scope. I would like to stay around $800, but could stretch to $1,000. At this point I'm mainly interested in viewing organisms in pond water. (I live at Saint Simons Island, GA, USA which has an abundance of fresh and brackish water marshes.) I'm leaning toward a trinocular to give me the option of getting into photomicrography in the future. I think I'd prefer to stick with used scopes by some of the big names, Nikon, Olympus, Zeiss, etc. primarily for ease of resale. For starters I'd like to stick to bright field since I know nothing about phase contrast, dark field, etc.

Who are some of the reputable sellers of used scopes? What are opinions of New York Microscope? I'll list some of the scopes that they have in my price range. Most are binocular, but I'm guessing that some could be modified to trinocular in the future.
https://www.microscopeinternational.com ... /?_paged=2
Olympus CHBS, $700
Olympus CH-2, $870
Nikon Alphaphot YS, $800
Nikon Alphaphot YS2, $900
Accu-scope 3001, $900 (trinocular)
Leitz HM Lux, $930

On the surface all of these microscopes appear to be quite similar to me, but that's why I'm posting here. Any help in differentiating would be appreciated.

I'm not totally ruling out eBay. I would definitely avoid sellers that don't offer returns.

Thank you in advance for your advice.

Hobbyst46
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Re: Also Needing Microscope Purchase Advice

#2 Post by Hobbyst46 » Sun Apr 19, 2020 1:45 pm

Hello and welcome!

I would start with a trinocular microscope right ahead and not build on getting a trino later.
I would also start with a microscope that has Kohler illumination and is expandable at least to phase contrast and darkfield. Especially, given the specimens you like to observe.
Of the scopes you mentioned, the Alphaphot YS-2 is compact, not heavy, nicely built and ergonomic, and the optics are very good. However, not all YS-2 come with Kohler illumination, and I am not sure they are expandable as mentioned.
Zeiss Standard GFL+Canon EOS-M10, Olympus VMZ stereo

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75RR
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Re: Also Needing Microscope Purchase Advice

#3 Post by 75RR » Sun Apr 19, 2020 6:37 pm

I'm not totally ruling out eBay. I would definitely avoid sellers that don't offer returns.
Give the prices of the shop you linked to I think you should have a look on Ebay, you should be able to pick up a trinocular with Phase for those prices.

Feel free to post links to the ones you are interested in to get an opinion on it.
Zeiss Standard WL (somewhat fashion challenged) & Wild M8
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charlie g
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Re: Also Needing Microscope Purchase Advice

#4 Post by charlie g » Sun Apr 19, 2020 7:22 pm

Hello and welcome 'sailor'. Are you intrested in a quality finite ( 160 mm TL) trinocular head scope circa 1960's...ready to go with it's illumination power supply? Or do you want infinity optics scope? All the best, charlie guevara, NY/ finger lakes.

SSISailor
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Re: Also Needing Microscope Purchase Advice

#5 Post by SSISailor » Sun Apr 19, 2020 7:33 pm

CharlieG, I would certainly consider infinity plan optics, though I'm uncertain of the benefits since I have never compared 160 plan to infinity. Do you think I can get a scope with 4 infinity plan objectives at less than $1k?

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Re: Also Needing Microscope Purchase Advice

#6 Post by micro » Sun Apr 19, 2020 7:37 pm

You just need something that has a filter holder for darkfield its not complicated. A set of plastic $20 filters is all you need.

SSISailor
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Re: Also Needing Microscope Purchase Advice

#7 Post by SSISailor » Sun Apr 19, 2020 8:16 pm

Micro, are you saying I don't need phase contrast? Instead do dark field with filters?

Charlie G. After looking on ebay, I could not find a scope sub-$1k that has infinity plan objectives, trinocular, and phase contrast.

I've been thinking used Nikon, Olympus, Leitz/Leica, or Zeiss, but would I be better off with new Amscope?

https://www.amscope.com/compound-micros ... scope.html

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Re: Also Needing Microscope Purchase Advice

#8 Post by micro » Sun Apr 19, 2020 8:43 pm

Yes dark field filters instead of phase contrast will be $20 vs a few hundred dollars. The amscopes, omax etc do not have consistent quality and are not honestly advertised with their capabilities. Used professional brands like olympus will cost $3000 minimum unless you can find a really good deal. The one you linked is probably decent enough for $800 though. It has a filter holder so its good in that department. If you don't want to go over 1k thats probably a good choice.
A used olympus/zeiss that costs 1k will not have high tier objectives.

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Re: Also Needing Microscope Purchase Advice

#9 Post by Scarodactyl » Sun Apr 19, 2020 8:49 pm

800 should buy something nice in nikon or olympus 160 finite era if you spend some time trawling eBay.
Just as a random example this one might be a good starting point https://www.ebay.com/itm/233373357867

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Re: Also Needing Microscope Purchase Advice

#10 Post by micro » Sun Apr 19, 2020 9:12 pm

Wouldn't that not even really be an upgrade though? How much better would that things images be?

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Re: Also Needing Microscope Purchase Advice

#11 Post by 75RR » Sun Apr 19, 2020 9:13 pm

... 160 finite era if you spend some time trawling eBay.
Agree, patience is the key. Mind you, just a quick look shows that there are some interesting microscopes out there.

https://www.ebay.com/itm/Carl-Zeiss-Mic ... 3630630019
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Re: Also Needing Microscope Purchase Advice

#12 Post by micro » Sun Apr 19, 2020 9:19 pm

Aren't the plan infinity objectives on the amscope still better than the regular objectives on the zeiss? Or wait what are the objectives on that zeiss?
Plan-Neofluar? So it does have good plan objectives? I don't understand why these are so cheap aren't good brand plan objectives quite expensive even used?

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Re: Also Needing Microscope Purchase Advice

#13 Post by Scarodactyl » Sun Apr 19, 2020 9:35 pm

micro wrote:
Sun Apr 19, 2020 9:12 pm
Wouldn't that not even really be an upgrade though? How much better would that things images be?
As opposed to an amscope? Yes, it will likely be significantly better than an amscope, cheaper and more expandable.

He linked a few alphaphots in his first post, which are the student tier member of that family. The alphaphot is great for a student scope but the labophot is more upgradeable.

By the labophot era nikon's objectives are fully modern, and even their lowest tier e non-plan objectives are quite good. Infinity objectives allow a few extra techniques but for the most part you won't see an increase going from a nikon 160 to a nikon infinity of the same tier. If you're looking for the very best in cutting edge objectives then you'll need the newer infinity ones but if you're at that point then your budget should allow getting a new scope too.

Edit
micro wrote:
Sun Apr 19, 2020 9:19 pm
Aren't the plan infinity objectives on the amscope still better than the regular objectives on the zeiss?
What makes you think that? Being infinity corrected doesn't make the optics inherently better, and 'plan' is relative. I haven't seen a head to head with them but while cheap Chinese objectives occasionally overperform it isn't the typical result.

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Re: Also Needing Microscope Purchase Advice

#14 Post by 75RR » Sun Apr 19, 2020 9:40 pm

Has no one noticed the goodies on the microscope I linked to?
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Re: Also Needing Microscope Purchase Advice

#15 Post by micro » Sun Apr 19, 2020 9:45 pm

Scarodactyl wrote:
Sun Apr 19, 2020 9:35 pm
micro wrote:
Sun Apr 19, 2020 9:12 pm
Wouldn't that not even really be an upgrade though? How much better would that things images be?
As opposed to an amscope? Yes, it will likely be significantly better than an amscope, cheaper and more expandable.

He linked a few alphaphots in his first post, which are the student tier member of that family. The alphaphot is great for a student scope but the labophot is more upgradeable.

By the labophot era nikon's objectives are fully modern, and even their lowest tier e non-plan objectives are quite good. Infinity objectives allow a few extra techniques but for the most part you won't see an increase going from a nikon 160 to a nikon infinity of the same tier. If you're looking for the very best in cutting edge objectives then you'll need the newer infinity ones but if you're at that point then your budget should allow getting a new scope too.

Edit
micro wrote:
Sun Apr 19, 2020 9:19 pm
Aren't the plan infinity objectives on the amscope still better than the regular objectives on the zeiss?
What makes you think that? Being infinity corrected doesn't make the optics inherently better, and 'plan' is relative. I haven't seen a head to head with them but while cheap Chinese objectives occasionally overperform it isn't the typical result.
I should have edited my post better. I thought the objectives were different ones at first.
Last edited by micro on Sun Apr 19, 2020 9:46 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Hobbyst46
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Re: Also Needing Microscope Purchase Advice

#16 Post by Hobbyst46 » Sun Apr 19, 2020 9:46 pm

micro wrote:
Sun Apr 19, 2020 9:19 pm
Aren't the plan infinity objectives on the amscope still better than the regular objectives on the zeiss? Or wait what are the objectives on that zeiss?
Plan-Neofluar? So it does have good plan objectives? I don't understand why these are so cheap aren't good brand plan objectives quite expensive even used?
AFAIK, very few complete and objective (pun!) comparison of the plan infinity optics of a Chinese scope with a 160mm major-brand scope optics has been published, at least on this forum. The exceptions are perhaps an evaluation of a Bestscope 2-3 years ago (I think it included infinity but not sure), and tests of Chinese planachro objectives against American Optical and other objectives, posted by apochronaut.

Old Zeiss objectives are not that cheap when sold separately. A complete scope is the best bargain, rather than buying it part by part.
Zeiss Standard GFL+Canon EOS-M10, Olympus VMZ stereo

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Re: Also Needing Microscope Purchase Advice

#17 Post by Hobbyst46 » Sun Apr 19, 2020 9:47 pm

75RR wrote:
Sun Apr 19, 2020 9:40 pm
Has no one noticed the goodies on the microscope I linked to?
I certainly did, but they do not ship to my country, and I cannot afford that sum...
Zeiss Standard GFL+Canon EOS-M10, Olympus VMZ stereo

SSISailor
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Re: Also Needing Microscope Purchase Advice

#18 Post by SSISailor » Sun Apr 19, 2020 10:48 pm

Thank you for all the interesting discussion and advice. I'm leaning to the 160 plan for Nikon, Oly, Zeiss. Not only will I probably get a good scope, but I would guess resale would be better as well.

75rr, the Zeiss you linked look very good, and the seller allows returns.
Scarodactyl, the Nikon looks good, but seller does not allow returns. So I'll definitely pass on that one. I've been looking hard at the Labophots.

What are your thoughts on this one:
https://www.ebay.com/itm/Nikon-Labophot ... l&LH_RPA=1
Is it a phase contrast scope?
Last edited by SSISailor on Sun Apr 19, 2020 11:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Also Needing Microscope Purchase Advice

#19 Post by Scarodactyl » Sun Apr 19, 2020 10:54 pm

If something on eBay is listed as used (ie, not 'for parts') it has to arrive in working condition. If not the seller can be forced by eBay to accept a return on their own dime if they are unwilling to do so on their own. It might be more of a pain if they try to cause a fuss but I have never had a problem with it.

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Re: Also Needing Microscope Purchase Advice

#20 Post by micro » Sun Apr 19, 2020 11:08 pm

SSISailor wrote:
Sun Apr 19, 2020 10:48 pm
Thank you for all the interesting discussion and advice. I'm leaning to the 160 plan for Nikon, Oly, Zeiss. Not only will I probably get a good scope, but I would guess resale would be better as well.

75rr, the Zeiss you linked look very good, and the seller allows returns.
Scarodactyl, the Nikon looks good, but seller does not allow returns. So I'll definitely pass on that one. I've been looking hard at the Labophots.

What are your thoughts on this one:
https://www.ebay.com/itm/Nikon-Labophot ... l&LH_RPA=1
Is it a phase contrast scope?
It doesn't say it comes with a phase condenser but it might have the option to add a phase condenser but then you would also need phase objectives to go with it I think. I guess the difference with these $800 scopes and the 3k ish scopes is things like size of eyepieces and ability to upgrade to DIC and such. I didn't realize there were such cheap brand name options.

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Re: Also Needing Microscope Purchase Advice

#21 Post by Scarodactyl » Sun Apr 19, 2020 11:11 pm

That is a phase condenser. It also has a darkfield stop on the roulette. Not sure about thr objectives. It also has an unrelated trinoc head and some adapters, one of which looks like a diagnostic instruments slr adapter which would be handy. If not thr afx adapter can be retrofitted for a dslr easily.
The eyepieces are smaller for sure, only 20mm coverage, but you can upgrade to an ultrawide head which has 30mm/26.5 eyepieces, which is nice.
Edit
micro wrote:
Sun Apr 19, 2020 11:08 pm
I didn't realize there were such cheap brand name options.
Yeah it's nuts out there sometimes. Even infinity systems sometimes!
Last edited by Scarodactyl on Mon Apr 20, 2020 12:56 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Also Needing Microscope Purchase Advice

#22 Post by SSISailor » Sun Apr 19, 2020 11:51 pm

Scarodactyl wrote:
Sun Apr 19, 2020 11:11 pm
That is a phase condenser. It also has a darkfield stop on the roulette. Not sure about thr objectives. It also has an unrelated trinoc head and some adapters, one of which looks like a diagnostic instruments slr adapter which would be handy. If not thr afx adapter can be retrofitted for a dslr easily.
The eyepieces are smaller for sure, only 20mm coverage, but you can upgrade to an ultrawide head which has 30mm/26.5 eyepieces, which is nice.
Thank you for the advice Scarodactyl!

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Re: Also Needing Microscope Purchase Advice

#23 Post by PeteM » Mon Apr 20, 2020 1:06 am

A few responses.

1) You might want to start with phase contrast or at least simple polarizaiton. Pond critters are mostly a tiny bag of water scurrying about in water. The point being that they don't provide much contrast.

2) The first Nikon linked above should be a good start; though it has a bit of a mish-mash of objectives on it. It does have a phase condenser and at least a couple Nikon phase objectives; though of different eras. The second Nikon listed doesn't look to have phase objectives - and those will be costly to buy one at a time.

In any case, $800 should get a decent used Olympus, Nikon, Zeiss, or Leitz finite phase contrast microscope with a trinocular head.

3) NY Microscope is a long time supplier; with used prices about 2x you'd find on Ebay and a better chance you wouldn't have to return an improperly described microscope.

4) To the question of cost and the pros and cons of finite versus infinite objectives. Today's lens grinders are computer controlled. It costs basically nothing more to grind an "infinite" rather than a "finite" design. There are quality differences in both types - with higher end infinite designs being better corrected and more precisely manufactured and assembled than either the cheaper Chinese finite or infinite designs. Within a brand the better ones (name brands and higher end Chinese) will be closely parfocal, parcentered, with wide flat fields, and good to excellent color correction.

My own experience is that the latest Chinese plan achros are about as good as the routine name brand achros, though not as well parfocal or parcentered. The Chinese plan fluorites are better than their plan achros, but not quite as good as their (very pricey) equivalent fluorite objectives like the Olympus UPlanFl or Nikon CFI Plan Fluor. I've never seen or tried a Chinese Plan Apo.

My other experience is that a somewhat older finite era system microscope (Olympus BH2/BHS, Nikon Labophot/Optiphot, etc.) with at least their plan achro objectives will be optically as good as a new Chinese infinity scope, better built mechanically, and also more easily and affordably upgraded. It should also be about half the price, within your price range; but likely require some maintenance to get it back to good shape.

5) To the OP - once you have enough posts to send PM's feel free to message me - I can send a fairly exhaustive write up on new and used microscope brands and models. We use it to help mentors and parents buy the best scope they can get at various price ranges. It also lists things to double check -- for example for the Nikon Labophots linked above, the plastic fine focus and condenser pinion gears.

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Re: Also Needing Microscope Purchase Advice

#24 Post by SSISailor » Mon Apr 20, 2020 2:12 pm

PeteM, thank you for that detailed reply. I have pm'ed you.

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Re: Also Needing Microscope Purchase Advice

#25 Post by SSISailor » Mon Apr 20, 2020 11:38 pm

I appreciate all the assistance with my microscope purchase. I ended up buying the Nikon Labophot phase contrast scope mentioned earlier in this thread. Can't wait to start looking at some pond creatures.

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Re: Also Needing Microscope Purchase Advice

#26 Post by 75RR » Tue Apr 21, 2020 7:41 am

I ended up buying the Nikon Labophot phase contrast scope mentioned earlier in this thread.
Congratulations. Do post some photos when it arrives!
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Re: Also Needing Microscope Purchase Advice

#27 Post by charlie g » Tue Apr 21, 2020 3:47 pm

Congradulations 'sailor', my current workhorse stand is a Nikon Labophot-pol with the trinocular head: "F" ( tell us what trinoc head your new prize has on it.

My turrent substage condenser is labelled : 1.25 NA, has six turrent stops: 0 with a controllable iris, df, ph1, ph2, ph3, ph4., What phase contrast condenser...wellr does your new stand have?


Do you have a: 'phase centering telescope eyepiece' with your Labophot? You need a phase-centering eyepiece to verify your collection of phase contrast objectives have the substage turrent 'phase discs centered with the objective lens phase discs.

What is the condition of the: 'halogen bulb lamp platform' on the back of your Labophot stand? A kind and experienced member of this forum ( hello, Gekko!) ...well Gekko for many years used Nikon labophots in his proffesional life...Gekko noted you will see on E-bay many stands for sale...with that lamphouse missing from the scope...as in hectic clinical work life of said microscopes (now for sale) ...the Labophot was by mistake left with illumination: "on"...and thus the lamphouse grill melted down!

The Labophot is speced/ supplied with a 6v/20 watt halogen bulb...I put in a 6v/30 watt halogen bulb ( the Nikon Optiphot uses the 6v/30 watt bulb). Gekko strongly begged me not to put in that 6v/30 watt bulb..he cautioned over heating, etc.,...I installed the 6v/ 30 watt halogen bulb on 8/7/13...it is still working well. Only once I left the stand with light on..reduced to lowest illumination-dial setting...over night!!! All is still well with my Labophot, and that 6 v/ 30 watt bulb ( whew).

Did your Labophot come with the three standard glass filters Labophots were sold with? A 'green glass filter', a silvered heat filter, and a blue filter...I do not use any of these three filters...I think with our current 'smart' digital cameras...you can control for background illumination qualities..I'm just curious if you are recieving a cared for Labophot stand. I guess that goes to the sensible but often hard to discern context of your new prize stand...do you know from seller that stands working life?

I hope you agree, 'sailor' to keep this thread alive and active? Once your scope comes..we all cheer your 'first light' with it! With your permission..once you share exactly wht objectives you have on your Labophot quintuple nose piece...I can plop into your thread images of objectives, CF occulars you might consider for your new family member. Being a longtime user of Nikon Labophot stand...I have occulars and objectives your might wish to aquire..extremely low cost.

Once your new family member arrives...in this thread...please share what arrived. I have the manual for the Labophot, I have the manual for the variety of Nikon Labophot phase contrast objectives..I can 'snail-mail you copies of this material'.

Try and online vist: "Nikon Microscopy U"...excellent thumbnail history about the clinical Nikon Labophot...and tutorials on phase contrast optics in the Nikon home.

We cheer your soon to arrive stand. 'sailor'! BTW , tommorow I get live native fish delivered for my mesocosm pond/stream system...wonderful waiting on the mail! charlie guevara, finger lakes/NY

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Re: Also Needing Microscope Purchase Advice

#28 Post by SSISailor » Wed Apr 22, 2020 8:48 pm

Charlie G. Scope is expected to arrive Friday or Sat. I will try to answer your questions next week.

I will not have a phase centering telescope eyepiece. I think I saw somewhere on youtube how to center without a phase centering telescope eyepiece. Unfortunately, I can't find that link at the moment. I'll keep looking. Maybe this was it:
Oliver's video on phase contrast...https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HBP6SWZrilw&t=283s

But I found a reference to a "paper method" of setting up phase contrast without a centering telescope, but I have not found a description of the "paper method".

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Re: Also Needing Microscope Purchase Advice

#29 Post by charlie g » Thu Apr 23, 2020 6:15 am

Again, congrats on your trinocular head Nikon Labophot, Don. charlie guevara, finger lakes, NY, my native fish arrived by UPS/next day service!
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SSISailor
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Re: Also Needing Microscope Purchase Advice

#30 Post by SSISailor » Thu Apr 23, 2020 11:31 pm

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Charlie G. Well I'm sure the fish are an interesting story. You'll have to fill me in.

The microscope arrived this evening. There will be no first light at least not tonight. The microscope arrived with the lamp assembly sort of loose on the back of the scope. I quickly realized that the plastic receiver for the lamp housing was broken. Probably broke in shipping. When I turn on the switch I'm getting 9.55v DC out of the contacts. Not sure what it's supposed to be. When I manually hold the lamp assembly in the carrier there is no light. Visual examination of lamp indicates the filament is intact, but strangely the bulb appears to be marked 6v. I've already contacted the seller about this, but have not yet received a response.

Because this scope is phase contrast and has two phase objectives I'm wondering what it might take to replace the lamp assembly receiver, if that part can even be had.

I'm also a bit concerned about the focusing mechanism. Coarse focusing is very stiff, but moves. Fine focusing knob turns too easily, maybe indicating the plastic gear is broken. Without light at this point, I can't tell if fine focusing is working or not.

Any advice will be greatly appreciated.

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