Suggestions with $1,000 budget for bacterial identification

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KB1FRO
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Suggestions with $1,000 budget for bacterial identification

#1 Post by KB1FRO » Sun May 05, 2019 10:51 pm

99% of the work will be on bacterial identification via gram staining and a few fungi thrown in. I do have a Nikon 0.3A condenser but I suppose that's useless now.

Would very much like to be able to hook it up to a screen/monitor as will be observing numerous samples all day long and it can start to hurt the eyes.

I do like phase contrast for a nice picture but it's not that helpful in identification, at least anymore than staining in bright field.

Budget could go up to $1,500 but under $1,000 would be nice.

So I suppose, brightfield, with 100x oil immersion, and capability to easily utilize a camera as well as look into the scope by eyes.

Thanks!

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Re: Suggestions with $1,000 budget for bacterial identification

#2 Post by zzffnn » Mon May 06, 2019 2:01 am

Most work of bacterial ID is not done by microscope. Take this from a microbiology PhD.

Depending on how often you what to do the ID, you may be much better off sending samples to a commercial diagnostic lab and spend your $1k that way.

May I ask why you want to do bacterial ID? There are many more interesting microscopy subjects than bacteria for a hobbyist.

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Re: Suggestions with $1,000 budget for bacterial identification

#3 Post by KB1FRO » Mon May 06, 2019 3:35 pm

Gram staining is a very quick way to get an educated guess at what we're working with. We do 16s DNA barcoding but that is a few day turnaround at best. Not a hobbyist, just always had microscopes around colleges/incubators to use and now we're out on our own. I'm familiar with using them but when you have to purchase your own I realize how much deeper knowledge I know about the specific differences between types of scopes.

We culture and screen numerous soil isolates. Have done Actinomycetes work the past 5 years but are branching out into picking everything, so my morphological ID skills for Actino's are useless now. Actino's are for the most part quite unique.

We moved out into our own startup space which is empty, and we have lots of equipment, but embarrassingly not a microscope! Can't even take spore counts to normalize CFU's/mL

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Re: Suggestions with $1,000 budget for bacterial identification

#4 Post by zzffnn » Mon May 06, 2019 11:44 pm

^ You may want to specify what special features do you want out of a $1000 scope and changed your thread title accordingly.

Most of the name brand scopes can do what you asked for in your first post, with afocal imaging (camera lens equivalent to 50-60mm full frame, over 10x visual eyepiece, for example). $600 budget is likely enough, if you don't count camera and lens.

If you want phase contrast, go with AO Spencer series 10/20/110/120 equipped with phase optics. Again, $600 is likely enough for that, unless you want modern plan apo objectives.

Your camera should have electronic front shutter to avoid image degradation from mechanical vibration from camera shutter. Also need a HDMI output to connected to an external screen / TV. Olympus E-M10 mk2 with Sigma 30mm f2.8 lens will work, for example.

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Re: Suggestions with $1,000 budget for bacterial identification

#5 Post by KB1FRO » Sat May 11, 2019 11:51 am

I ended up getting the AmScope T490B-DKO and it feels like a piece of crap. $430 doesn't get you much these days.

The Halogen bulb even at max power is still incredibly dim, and gives a horrendous yellow light which skews colors.

Probably returning it and looking for an American or German made scope even if it's a bit more money.

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Re: Suggestions with $1,000 budget for bacterial identification

#6 Post by zzffnn » Sat May 11, 2019 2:24 pm

Adding a blue filter will correct color temperature, but it will dim light even more.

T490 is known to have a decent focus mechanism, but it may have quite some plastic parts (? not sure, but I personally don't like AmScope as they are not easy to upgrade and resale value is low).

You can spend about $155 for a good 30w LED customized for major brands: https://www.ebay.com/itm/LED-illuminato ... 7546!US!-1

Forum member Apochronaut is an expert of American Optical Spencer and may be able to sell you a good phase contrast scope with darkfield condenser (if you need it). memberlist.php?mode=viewprofile&u=284

There are many options on eBay, but I would only buy from reputable microscopists, instead of surplus dealers who do not know about microscopes. I like this microscopist and have bought scope parts from him (message him via eBay and ask him assemble a scope o'er your requirements and budget): https://www.ebay.com/usr/telaelyse?_trk ... 1543.l2754

Here is another Zeiss microscopist who I like: https://www.ebay.com/usr/paul158816?_tr ... 1543.l2754

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Re: Suggestions with $1,000 budget for bacterial identification

#7 Post by KB1FRO » Sat May 11, 2019 3:28 pm

Thanks for the reply. It did come with green/yellow/blue filters and that oil condenser. It is plastic feeling.

I tried putting the dark-field oil condenser on there but almost 0 light gets through. I suppose that's the point but I can't see anything at all.

Maybe I'm physically using it incorrectly in regards to the condenser.

I did a gram stain and the focus is nice, but the light is so weak even at max with the diaphragm open I can barely see. 2000x is a joke but I knew that ahead of time.

I have a Lumix G7, is there a recommendation of what adapater I need to be able to put the camera on top of the trinocular tube so I can actually take pictures?

Thanks.

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Re: Suggestions with $1,000 budget for bacterial identification

#8 Post by zzffnn » Sat May 11, 2019 3:54 pm

2000x is always a joke. 1500x is about the max for a great NA 1.3 or 1.4 100x oil objective.

Darkfield oil condenser needs immersion oil between its top lens and slide bottom. It needs almost perfect centration and should rise high enough to almost touching slide bottom.

M4/3 camera - Sigma 30mm m4/3 lens - front filter adapter rings (for example 46-22 step down ring) - 10x microscope visual eyepiece

is how I usually do it on my Nikon teaching head scope. But I don't know about your trinocular tube from Amscope.

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Re: Suggestions with $1,000 budget for bacterial identification

#9 Post by 75RR » Sat May 11, 2019 5:28 pm

KB1FRO wrote:I ended up getting the AmScope T490B-DKO and it feels like a piece of crap. $430 doesn't get you much these days.

The Halogen bulb even at max power is still incredibly dim, and gives a horrendous yellow light which skews colors.

Probably returning it and looking for an American or German made scope even if it's a bit more money.
$430 never did get anyone much, unless one were buying a good microscope second hand. Even then you would be pushing it.

I am curious as to what microscope you had before and how much experience you had with it.
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Re: Suggestions with $1,000 budget for bacterial identification

#10 Post by apochronaut » Sun May 12, 2019 3:22 pm

If you want to P.M. me I might have something that will work for you, with both phase and D.F., I image quality and construction features would be far superior to a budget scope.

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Re: Suggestions with $1,000 budget for bacterial identification

#11 Post by KB1FRO » Sun May 12, 2019 3:42 pm

75RR wrote:
KB1FRO wrote:I ended up getting the AmScope T490B-DKO and it feels like a piece of crap. $430 doesn't get you much these days.

The Halogen bulb even at max power is still incredibly dim, and gives a horrendous yellow light which skews colors.

Probably returning it and looking for an American or German made scope even if it's a bit more money.
$430 never did get anyone much, unless one were buying a good microscope second hand. Even then you would be pushing it.

I am curious as to what microscope you had before and how much experience you had with it.
I'm a natural products discovery chemist/microbiologist by training, not a microscope expert. The university we were renting space from had like 5 Olympus IX-81's and other models of inverted scopes with more bells and whistles than I knew how to use. I'd put my samples on, mess with the filters or apertures until I could see what I wanted to see and that was good enough. Never used the fluorescent filters just used it as a brightfield or phased contrast.

If it works it works. Sure I'd love to have learned about all the features from someone that knew how to use them but, no one did. It's a rich school that doesn't offer PhD's so no professors do "real" science. It's just a place rich people send their kids so it has extremely nice equipment and almost no one uses it. I think I was the only one to touch the microscopes in the 3 years we were there.

It's a sad story of great equipment being under-utilized but I've seen that story so many times now I'm indifferent. It's less competition on equipment time.

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Re: Suggestions with $1,000 budget for bacterial identification

#12 Post by Hobbyst46 » Sun May 12, 2019 4:18 pm

KB1FRO wrote:
75RR wrote:
KB1FRO wrote:I ended up getting the AmScope T490B-DKO and it feels like a piece of crap. $430 doesn't get you much these days.
The Halogen bulb even at max power is still incredibly dim, and gives a horrendous yellow light which skews colors.
Probably returning it and looking for an American or German made scope even if it's a bit more money.
$430 never did get anyone much, unless one were buying a good microscope second hand. Even then you would be pushing it.
I am curious as to what microscope you had before and how much experience you had with it.
I'm a natural products discovery chemist/microbiologist by training, not a microscope expert. The university we were renting space from had like 5 Olympus IX-81's and other models of inverted scopes with more bells and whistles than I knew how to use. I'd put my samples on, mess with the filters or apertures until I could see what I wanted to see and that was good enough. Never used the fluorescent filters just used it as a brightfield or phased contrast.
If it works it works. Sure I'd love to have learned about all the features from someone that knew how to use them but, no one did. It's a rich school that doesn't offer PhD's so no professors do "real" science. It's just a place rich people send their kids so it has extremely nice equipment and almost no one uses it. I think I was the only one to touch the microscopes in the 3 years we were there.
It's a sad story of great equipment being under-utilized but I've seen that story so many times now I'm indifferent. It's less competition on equipment time.
Like many of us know, achievements originate from the mind, curiosity and will power of the researcher, not so much the equipment.

I believe, that it might serve you on the long run to know how to set up any microscope to optimal performance, at least BF, PC and DF, rather than "mess with the filters or aperture" as you phrase it. Also, the basics of fluorescence microscopy are not that difficult, they are well explained on the Nikon or Olympus web sites. Fluorescence microscopy has become the leading microscopy modality in cutting-edge research. If you ever plan on taking that direction, I suggest you buy a microscope that enables it, at least as option.

As for your model 490 Amscope: IMO, It may help the community if you could explain what exactly went wrong with it ? is it a brand new or used ? could it be fixed ? could it be that the halogen bulb has been dislocated or just at the end of its life ?
Zeiss Standard GFL+Canon EOS-M10, Olympus VMZ stereo

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