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Hello Microbe Hunters - New Here and Ready to Buy my Next Microscope

Posted: Sat Aug 31, 2019 12:30 am
by Beerbatter
Hello to all Microbe Hunters from a relative newbie here in sunny Florida in the US.

New to the forum as of today, but I've been playing with the vintage Graf Apsco shown in the picture for about 3 years now. I have learned a lot from this simple, basic microscope.
The company that I used to work for closed down and they were giving away 3 of these, and I ended up getting one of them.
It's been a great starter microscope; good enough that it got me hooked on the subject. And at this point, it has me wanting more in terms of a better, more modern scope.
The Graf Apsco I have does not have a light source. I've just been using an LED flashlight under it for illumination. I know...crude.
The optics aren't bad, but they are old, have a narrow field of view, and have a lot of specs that look like dust in the image, even after trying to clean all the optics very thoroughly.
It's a solid microscope though, and for free, I couldn't complain.
Microscope 01.jpg
Microscope 01.jpg (136.18 KiB) Viewed 4756 times
So with that said, and the fact that I'm hooked now on microscopy, it's time for a new, modern, more advanced scope. I've been doing a lot of research and watching Youtube. I understand pretty well at this point the pros and cons of buying used vs new vs the big 5 vs Chinese spin-offs like Amscope and Omax. I also have a pretty good idea of what I want in my next microscope.

The basic specs that I am looking for are:
40X - 1000X with the 1000X Oil Immersion
4 or 5 Objectives
Plan Infinity Optics
Mechanical Stage with slide holder (man it will be so nice not to have to move the slide around with my fingers anymore)
10X Binocular Wide field eyepiece (man it will be nice being able to see with both eyes. And not seeing my eyelashes more than the specimen as with my current very narrow field of view)
Photo tube (trinocular) so I can take pictures/video
LED or Halogen Koehler illumination
Adjustable interpupillary distance
Adjustable diopter eyepiece(s)

After much debate, I have settled on the Amscope T720Q-18M3.
Not exactly a budget microscope, and not one of the big 5, but for the money, I get everything I want (and more). For me, I feel it's a good value for a mid-range scope with many advanced features.
Here is a link: ... amera.html
T720Q-18M3.jpg (86.05 KiB) Viewed 4756 times
I have to place the order by Monday because Amscope is having a 15% off Labor Day Weekend Sale that ends Monday, so any reassurance that I'm making a good choice before I place the order is very welcome. This microscope will give me everything that I want moving up to my next scope, and at the same time, plenty of room to grow. Amscope has a good selection of add-ons for this scope. Future add-ons that I'd like is a DSLR camera adapter, and a Darkfield condenser.

Sorry for the long introduction. I am really looking forward to learning more from this forum.

Cheers to all my new fellow Microbe Hunters 8-)

Re: Hello Microbe Hunters - New Here and Ready to Buy my Next Microscope

Posted: Sat Aug 31, 2019 4:00 am
by PeteM
That's a pretty big jump, from a $30 microscope to one closer to $1300.

As a point of comparison, I bought a similar near-new (but used) AccuScope (list price over $3K) with Plan Fluorite objectives and a trinocular head for $600 a year so so back. It hadn't sold for months at an asking price of $750. So, better objectives on the AccuScope but no camera (maybe another $300?) = $900. Within hailing distance.

If jumping in right now is the goal, it's a fair deal for a new microscope and I think you'd be delighted with the improvement in image quality and the imaging.

If money is a concern, some patience and buying used is an alternative. You could save maybe half. This isn't a once in a lifetime deal.

If top optical performance, not to exceed $1300 or so is the objective, you might want to try to find a used Nikon or Olympus scope with Fluor or Apo objectives? And it would better hold its value if you decided to further upgrade.

What do you want to look at? That can determine if you want an affordable upgrade path for better objectives, darkfield, phase contrast, polarization, DIC, or Hoffman contrast etc. etc.

Re: Hello Microbe Hunters - New Here and Ready to Buy my Next Microscope

Posted: Sat Aug 31, 2019 4:49 am
by MicroBob
welcome to the forum!
Whatever new microscope you buy, I would suggest to keep the old one for use on trips and outside. With a more modern eyepiece it would offer more eye relief and wider field and LED lights for this type of microscope are available for little money.


Re: Hello Microbe Hunters - New Here and Ready to Buy my Next Microscope

Posted: Sat Aug 31, 2019 10:41 am
by Dave S
Hi, and welcome aboard.

Whatever microscope you buy, as long as you enjoy using it, is what really matters.

BTW, I'm a relatively new to this group, and have to say I much prefer it to the Amateur Microscopy Facebook group, which comes across as being a bit elitist.

Re: Hello Microbe Hunters - New Here and Ready to Buy my Next Microscope

Posted: Sat Aug 31, 2019 11:19 am
by farnsy
I don't think you should feel time-pressure. I don't think the scope you linked to is that great a deal. I just recently was looking at the T530B for $358. All the same specs except it has 160mm achromat optics (which could be upgraded to plan pretty cheaply). Is infinity worth $900 to you, considering it's from the same company? I haven't seen any indication that you are planning on adding intermediate items into the light path. In fact, by mentioning that this scope has everything you would want and more, it kind of sounds like you definitely will not use the feature that infinity optics provides.

I'm not saying better optics is not worth a lot of money, but how much better are AmScope's infinty optics than their 160mm? Big sales on microscopes are always popping up, especially AmScope--the sales just rotate. If I was going to spend $1,300 on a scope, I'd be looking beyond AmScope. You can buy a Motic BA310 for that price all year long. There are other mid-level manufacturers to consider as well. AmScope puts out a good value product, but I would hesitate to spend more than a grand on them, personally. Certainly I wouldn't feel rushed to get in on a labor day sale unless I really felt like I had evaluated all the options. Microscopes aren't going to disappear nor decrease in quality as you wait.

Not saying the scope you pointed out isn't a good scope for you, just that I don't think it's a steal, so I don't want you to feel pressured.

Re: Hello Microbe Hunters - New Here and Ready to Buy my Next Microscope

Posted: Sat Aug 31, 2019 11:53 am
by Roldorf
Hi Beerbatter.

I have exactly the same scope as the one you are considering with 2 differences. The object turret only has places for four objectives and instead of 'Amscope' it is marketed as 'Bresser'. I removed the 100x and replaced it with a 60x.

I bought it at the suppliers 'Open Day' so I had the advantage of trying the scopes out before I bought them and making an informed choice.

If you have a dslr camera you may want to consider buying it without the USB camera.

SKU: T720Q $842.99 ($1685.99 half Price) ... ope-3.html

Re: Hello Microbe Hunters - New Here and Ready to Buy my Next Microscope

Posted: Sat Aug 31, 2019 3:04 pm
by Beerbatter
Hello again all,

Thank you very much for all the great feedback. This is all very helpful for me.
I want to clarify the price point on my chosen scope in case it makes any difference on the advice you all have provided.
Amscope's "Red" reduced price relative to the "Strike Through" black price is their regular price, shown on all products. The typical sales gimmick.
The regular price on my chosen scope is $1269.99. With the 15% discount ($1269.99-$190.50) the TD720Q-18M3 is $1079.49
So, not bad in my opinion with quintuple Infinity optics and 18MP camera.

As far as buying used, I am of the type that doesn't typically buy used equipment. Particularly higher end stuff like this. I realize there as some great deals out there, but buying used is just not typically my style. I am willing to pay more for new in the box.

As for the Infinity optics, what I read is that it is a more modern and flexible optical system, and that most major mid to high end scope manufacturers have moved to infinity optics.
From MicroscopyU: "Over the past 10 years, the major microscope manufacturers have largely all migrated to the utilization of infinity-corrected optical systems in both research-grade biomedical and industrial microscopes."
I did not mention my future plans for taking advantage of infinity optics because I simply don't know at this point what I might add to my system. My rational is that by having the flexibility that it provides, I have the option to add capability to the optical system as I discover other microscopy methods. So the primary incentive is future flexibility/modularity, whatever that end ups being.

The advice to not buy the scope with the 18MP USB 3.0 Color CMOS camera is good considering that I already have a Nikon D80 DSLR. However, being able to see the image on my PC's large screen in real time would be a nice thing. The Amscope 18MP camera bought separately is $416. So one gets a great deal on the camera if bundled in as a package. Especially if you consider that it comes with Windows software that allows one to perform a number of analytical and image processing tasks. I'll have to think about this one some more, but seems like a great deal to me if bundled.

On the advice that there are better scope deals out there for the same price, I do have to admit that although I have done quite a bit of research, I can't say that I have exhausted all possible buying options. I looked at the Motic B310E Trinocular as suggested at ... scope.html. It features similar specs as the T720 for $1550, but with 4 instead of 5 objectives, and without camera or software. The Accuscope EXC-350 with C-Mount camera adapter is $1620 at New York Microscope Co. Four objectives, no camera, no software. Would the potential better optics in the Motic produce noticeable image quality improvements to warrant the price difference? From the videos I have watched, with today's optical manufacturing capabilities, even budget scopes produce exceptional images. I'm not convinced yet that I would notice enough of difference between Amscope's optics and higher end optics to justify the cost difference. For example, a new Nikon or Olympus scope with similar features as the T720 is way out of my price range.

Regarding what I want to look at, to date using my old vintage Graf Apsco I have examined aquatic organisms found in pond water and anywhere else I have sampled dirty water (Arthropods, Protozoa, Hydras, Algae, etc). I also enjoy examining cells from anything, and enjoy examining non-aquatic creatures, or the parts thereof, for example mosquito wings, proboscis, clawed feet, etc. And just about anything I come across that seems interesting (dust, pollen, sand, etc.) Something that has very recently captured my interest is the beautiful color images of plant stem cross-sections that I am seeing on the Internet. I have to investigate more to understand what equipment and procedures are involved for this. The language is foriegn to me, but the images are breathtaking: ... index.html

I don't know. I totally appreciate the advice to not feel hurried to snag the 15% off sale at Amscope, giving me more time to evaluate other deals. But so far, I have not found anything that jumps out at me when you take into account the features for the sale price of what I have chosen so far. I also don't want to get into my usual process of over-thinking this. I'd rather be examining specimens right now. However, I'm totally open to additional suggestions to consider.

Thank you so much again guys for all the advice thus far.

Re: Hello Microbe Hunters - New Here and Ready to Buy my Next Microscope

Posted: Sat Aug 31, 2019 3:37 pm
by MicroBob
The advantage of infinity systems of being able to include additional optics in the light path is only of importance if additional optics are available from the manufacturer of this specific microscope. Something that is put between objective and eyepiece and increases the tube lenght. This would be an incident lighting system in the first place. If it isn't vailable from amscope now it will probably never be available.

In case of microscopes not built for the professional market it doesn't make a difference whether it is 160mm or infinity optics in my view. In both cases they won't include the progress that has been made since the major brands started with infinity optics. But you probably can live very well without these improvments anyway.
In case you would like to upgrade the optics you would move to one of the top brands and here older 160mm objectives and eyepieces would be more in the amateurs price range.

The advantage of used major brand microscopes is not only that you can get them cheaper than a better Amscope microscope. The advantage is that you can get a really nice microscope for less money and it hold s it's value very well.
But for many people this in not a price range where the world ends when they are not perfecly happy with their purchase. As long as your decision doesn't keep you off microscopy for too long it will be quite ok and you will see a vast improvement.


Re: Hello Microbe Hunters - New Here and Ready to Buy my Next Microscope

Posted: Sat Aug 31, 2019 4:31 pm
by Dave S
I looked at these low pixel population Micro Cams, and as a seasoned photographer, decided to go down the DSLR route.

Not wanting to put my Full Frame EOS 5d MklV on a microscope, as it is both an expensive, and heavy 'beast', I bought a budget end EOS 4000d. Lightweight plastic body, and an 18mp APS-C size sensor.

Alan (Roldorf) has the same camera for his microscope.

Re: Hello Microbe Hunters - New Here and Ready to Buy my Next Microscope

Posted: Sat Aug 31, 2019 5:58 pm
by 75RR
A 18MP USB 3.0 Color CMOS camera sounds quite good but you do have to be clear on what it means in terms of image and video size and quality vs a DSLR

You also have to make sure your computer can handle it, I have heard that one needs USB3 to get worthwhile video.

Re: Hello Microbe Hunters - New Here and Ready to Buy my Next Microscope

Posted: Sun Sep 01, 2019 12:25 am
by billbillt

I have the exact same Apsco stand that you picture.. It is a fine little scope.. It is made in Germany and performs very well..


Re: Hello Microbe Hunters - New Here and Ready to Buy my Next Microscope

Posted: Mon Sep 02, 2019 1:51 pm
by Beerbatter
Just touching base again to say thanks for all the advice. Really appreciated.
Haven't been working the microscope decision thing for a couple days due to working hard to batten down the hatches for Hurricane Dorian.
I live right on the east coast of Florida, right in the danger zone. Luckily as of this post, it looks likely that it will turn north and hopefully stay just off-shore, but I'm still going to get a good pounding.
I'll likely loose power and Internet soon. Talk to you guys (hopefully) soon.
Dorian.JPG (86.52 KiB) Viewed 4553 times

Re: Hello Microbe Hunters - New Here and Ready to Buy my Next Microscope

Posted: Mon Sep 02, 2019 3:47 pm
by mrsonchus
Good-grief, my Wife and I have been bemoaning the fine drizzle that today has given us, here in the U.K.

Your image says it all!

Re: Hello Microbe Hunters - New Here and Ready to Buy my Next Microscope

Posted: Mon Sep 02, 2019 4:21 pm
by Sauerkraut
Hi Beerbatter,

Welcome and I hope all goes well with Dorian. Amscope has 20% off sales at least a few times a year as well, so with a little patience, you may be able to get that scope at an even better price. They recently had a 10% off sale, now it's 15%. Maybe next one is 20% ?


Re: Hello Microbe Hunters - New Here and Ready to Buy my Next Microscope

Posted: Mon Sep 02, 2019 4:41 pm
by Dave S
Stay safe out there!!!

Re: Hello Microbe Hunters - New Here and Ready to Buy my Next Microscope

Posted: Mon Sep 02, 2019 7:11 pm
by Roldorf
Hi Beerbatter, we are keeping our thumbs pressed for you (as they say in Germany) the English equivalent is crossing our fingers.

Re: Hello Microbe Hunters - New Here and Ready to Buy my Next Microscope

Posted: Wed Sep 04, 2019 6:56 pm
by Beerbatter
Hey All,

Thank you very much for the good wishes as Hurricane Dorian came by and threatened Florida. Thankfully, it stayed just off shore, coming within about 80 miles of my coast. We got some 60 mph bands, but no damage or flooding thankfully. We were lucky this time.

I wish I could say the same about the folks in the Bahamas. Total devastation over there. So sad.


Re: Hello Microbe Hunters - New Here and Ready to Buy my Next Microscope

Posted: Fri Sep 06, 2019 1:21 am
by Beerbatter
Update: I decided to go with the Amscope T720. It's on order. I will start a new topic in the "My Microscope" section once it comes in. I may do an unboxing video since it doesn't look like there is a whole lot of info on this scope out there.