Rant: Why it is difficult to buy a microscope - by webiste moderator

What is your microscopy history? What are your interests? What equipment do you use?
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AntoniScott
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Rant: Why it is difficult to buy a microscope - by webiste moderator

#1 Post by AntoniScott » Sun Jan 26, 2020 2:24 pm

Hello fellow microbehunters:
I recently watched the Youtube video "Rant: Why it is difficult to buy a microscope", by the Microbehunter moderator. I was very impressed with his comments and have to agree that the marketing of microscopes today has reached a rather low level. I was looking to buy a realatively inexpensive microscope as a gift for a friend of mine who lives in Spain. I live in the United States. I quickly came to the same conclusion that there are very few "base" models. Usually the highest magnification objective is 100X oil immersion. With a 10x eyepiece we have 1000x with a 25x eyepiece we have 2500x. There is no image quality improvement with the 25x eyepiece, we all know that, but it looks impressive to the first come microscopists.
To me, on a more important note, is why I can't achieve a sharp image with my 24Megapixel Nikon camera through the proper phototube. I have tried everything. I even experimented with my camera and made a simple adapter to take pictures through the eyepiece thinking that the problem might be in the microscope photohead prism. It is not.
I purchased a videocamera/photo adapter (18megapixel) which was expensive, but it did not yield very good images, so i returned it. My 24megapixel Nikon did just as good a job.
The website moderator, Oliver, actually had a Youtube video about this topic (image quaity) and I think he came to the conclusion that he did not know either why the image quality was better with the Olympus phototube than with an aftermarket adapter. Since all of the phototube adapters are very expensive most settle for the adapters.
I was thinking that a higher megapixel camera sensor, like 40-50 megapixels would improve the image but that, too, is a very expensive option.
Generally, I am very disappointed in my attempt to get good images. I am not that interested in just taking pictures since I can't figure out or afford a good solution, but it is always nice to be able to take images.
Conclusion: My home made adapter, that cost me about $12.00 resulted in the same quality images as the $120 adapters that fit into the microscope phototube.
Antoni

apochronaut
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Re: Rant: Why it is difficult to buy a microscope - by webiste moderator

#2 Post by apochronaut » Sun Jan 26, 2020 6:54 pm

I think it is stricly a question of $. Microscopes are very precisely made devices, even a basic grade student one, and they simply should not be as cheap as they are being sold on line. Made in a factory outside of China or India ., the cost to produce even a base model student/small lab microscope is many times that of the mass market, on line models. Even India , cannot compete with China and low cost Indian models often sport Chinese optics.
How do they do it? They do it by cutting corners at every stage of production ; from initial design, to reliance on an internet marketing scheme, with almost zero dealer representation or after market care. Outside of a few higher end models close to or over 1000.00, the optical designs have been the same for 4 decades, with hundreds of thousands of identical lenses and barrels being spit out. Q.C. is minimal. Material specification is slack. Working conditions poor. Health and safety standards low. Wages low.
Something has to give. The photo systems are not designed on the less expensive systems to be tools for fine art. They are for crude documentation only.

One objective lens in 1985, made by one of the major microscope manufacturers, cost as much as an entire average Chinese microscope today. If you want a good microscope, you either have to fork out a lot of money, or find a fine used one from any of about 7 companies active prior to about 2000. That should cost about as much as a medium grade Chinese scope and be twice as good or better. Simple economics.

Scarodactyl
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Re: Rant: Why it is difficult to buy a microscope - by webiste moderator

#3 Post by Scarodactyl » Mon Jan 27, 2020 6:38 am

Apo is absolutely correct. That said, it might help if you took pictures/posted some links to the products you are working with.

Sabatini
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Re: Rant: Why it is difficult to buy a microscope - by webiste moderator

#4 Post by Sabatini » Mon Jan 27, 2020 5:39 pm

Apochronaut.
Thanks You.

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75RR
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Re: Rant: Why it is difficult to buy a microscope - by webiste moderator

#5 Post by 75RR » Mon Jan 27, 2020 6:10 pm

.
I see from a previous post that you have a Bristoline and an Olympus CH viewtopic.php?f=24&t=8483&p=73518#p73518


It is quite usual for the photographic image not to be as good as what one sees through the eyepiece.

Having said that, the difference should not be very large. If it is, then there is most likely a problem with how the camera is setup.

If the photographic image is close to what you see through the eyepiece and yet you are not happy with it, then the problem may well be how the microscope is setup.


If your microscope is Köhler capable make sure you have followed correct procedure.

You may also want to look into Oblique illumination - it is superior to Brightfield and easy to implement.
Zeiss Standard WL (somewhat fashion challenged) & Wild M8
Olympus E-P2 (Micro Four Thirds Camera)

Chris Dee
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Re: Rant: Why it is difficult to buy a microscope - by webiste moderator

#6 Post by Chris Dee » Mon Jan 27, 2020 7:25 pm

I also agree with apochronaut on this. The Apex China-scope below I bought used for £100, and can still be bought new under various brands in the £350-£450 bracket. All I can say is if I'd bought this new I'd have returned it. The plan achromatic objectives it came with were respectable, but the lighting and overall construction was poor. I've done a lot of work on this scope to get acceptable video/photo results. It came with no photo tube so I had to 3D print my own to work with projection eyepieces as no parts were available. The 20w halogen illumination it came with was inadequate and flimsy, the glass diffusion filter in the collector was so coarsely ground it produced speckled illumination with low power objectives, and the main prism and intermediate lenses were out of alignment. All this has been rectified with many hours of work, and here on the workbench after polishing the rough machining of the condenser holder which prevented the centering adjustment from operating smoothly.
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When the scope arrived I did an earth continuity test before plugging it in, there was none. Opening it up showed that the earth lug was just sandwiched between plastic base and the painted frame casting at one of the small screw locations that attach the plastic base. This scope might have a CE mark on the label, but its never seen any complacency testing!
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In fairness I bough this expecting some work would be needed, and don't resent paying £100 for it. What I do feel however is that these 'cheap' generic trinocular scopes are actually overpriced if bough new due to their poor construction (assuming mine is representative), and have little resale value. Just my 2p.

zelcrow
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Re: Rant: Why it is difficult to buy a microscope - by webiste moderator

#7 Post by zelcrow » Tue Jan 28, 2020 12:26 am

I saw the video posted too and thought it was good. Hopefully these issues can be realized and addressed in time by companies.

YouTube and a forum like this are such great resources. I think if more people posted videos and/or pictures comparing the optics and features of cheaper models to each other, comparing cheaper to mid-tier microscopes, and cheaper to expensive ones that people would have an easier time knowing what they want since they would know more of what to expect and could see what they are getting into.

As a beginner, I've found the search for the right microscope daunting. As pointed out in the video, even on a single website there are hundreds of similar options to sort through. It can be paralyzing and discouraging.

apochronaut
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Re: Rant: Why it is difficult to buy a microscope - by webiste moderator

#8 Post by apochronaut » Tue Jan 28, 2020 4:56 pm

Sabatini wrote:
Mon Jan 27, 2020 5:39 pm
Apochronaut.
Thanks You.
Hope it helps. I'm up for any value priced microscope that meets or exceeds expectations ; there are some lulus out there but many are to be dreaded.

BramHuntingNematodes
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Re: Rant: Why it is difficult to buy a microscope - by webiste moderator

#9 Post by BramHuntingNematodes » Tue Jan 28, 2020 6:26 pm

I looked at the Bausch and Lomb catalog from 1959 for an equivalent scope to the one I bought for $50. It is listed as costing $710, or adjusted for inflation, about $6,300. It might well be again as much for the additional eyepieces and fancy objectives, paraboloid condenser I found here and there for pittances. So, maybe about $10,000 retail when new adjusted for inflation. That it's possible to get a machine that looks and sort-of works like a microscope at all for $300 these days is the bigger mystery.
1942 Bausch and Lomb Series T Dynoptic, Custom Illumination

jfiresto
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Re: Rant: Why it is difficult to buy a microscope - by webiste moderator

#10 Post by jfiresto » Tue Jan 28, 2020 9:24 pm

BramHuntingNematodes wrote:
Tue Jan 28, 2020 6:26 pm
That it's possible to get a machine that looks and sort-of works like a microscope at all for $300 these days is the bigger mystery.
I would say for a start, you can save lots of money by building microscopes that reuse and simplify old designs, with looser tolerances and much less durability, using inexpensive, less skilled labor, made possibly by cheap machine tools, exploiting by historical standards, dirt cheap computing power.
-John

david_b
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Re: Rant: Why it is difficult to buy a microscope - by webiste moderator

#11 Post by david_b » Wed Jan 29, 2020 4:36 am

AntoniScott wrote:
Sun Jan 26, 2020 2:24 pm

To me, on a more important note, is why I can't achieve a sharp image with my 24Megapixel Nikon camera through the proper phototube. I have tried everything. I even experimented with my camera and made a simple adapter to take pictures through the eyepiece thinking that the problem might be in the microscope photohead prism. It is not.
I purchased a videocamera/photo adapter (18megapixel) which was expensive, but it did not yield very good images, so i returned it. My 24megapixel Nikon did just as good a job.
The website moderator, Oliver, actually had a Youtube video about this topic (image quaity) and I think he came to the conclusion that he did not know either why the image quality was better with the Olympus phototube than with an aftermarket adapter. Since all of the phototube adapters are very expensive most settle for the adapters.
I was thinking that a higher megapixel camera sensor, like 40-50 megapixels would improve the image but that, too, is a very expensive option.
Generally, I am very disappointed in my attempt to get good images. I am not that interested in just taking pictures since I can't figure out or afford a good solution, but it is always nice to be able to take images.
Conclusion: My home made adapter, that cost me about $12.00 resulted in the same quality images as the $120 adapters that fit into the microscope phototube.
Antoni
Before spending money on a high mp camera, take a look at the quality achieved with a relatively inexpensive 12mp fixed lens compact camera, photographed through the eyepiece. Note though that the Chinese and Polish microscopes are fitted with the highest quality (and expensive) Nikon Apo objectives:

https://www.canadiannaturephotographer. ... owski.html

Zuul
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Location: California

Re: Rant: Why it is difficult to buy a microscope - by webiste moderator

#12 Post by Zuul » Sat May 02, 2020 5:15 pm

AntoniScott wrote:
Sun Jan 26, 2020 2:24 pm
To me, on a more important note, is why I can't achieve a sharp image with my 24Megapixel Nikon camera through the proper phototube.....
I was thinking that a higher megapixel camera sensor, like 40-50 megapixels would improve the image but that, too, is a very expensive option.
I’m a ‘scope newb, but a pretty serious photographer. I just wanted to dispel this myth for anybody that runs a across this thread.

If you can’t get a good picture with 24Mp, all you will achieve with 50Mp is twice as many bad pixels. Additional resolution doesn’t sharpen an image. Quite the opposite is true. It makes imperfections more obvious. In fact, the image you would get with a 6Mp camera using that same setup would probably look better to you. This is a digital-age problem. If you printed the photos 8x10 and viewed them from a reasonable distance, they would all look pretty much the same. But, on screen we can look at every photo 100%. Sharpness is inversely related to resolution. A rainbow only 6 pixels across would be extremely sharp. Each color would have a perfectly distinct edge (the definition of sharpness) but 1000 pixels across would be a nice smooth blend ... pretty much the definition of blurry!

Anyway, I’ve blathered a bit. The short story is this. If your image is lacking sharpness (which ultimately results in poor detail) then you need to address the optics, not the sensor. Good sensors have other advantages, of course, but if you can GET an image, quality is primarily driven by the rest if the system. On a microscope that includes every component from the objective all the way to the lens.

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