Frustration!

Everything relating to microscopy hardware: Objectives, eyepieces, lamps and more.
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MicroBob
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Re: Frustration!

#31 Post by MicroBob » Wed Mar 04, 2020 2:42 pm

Hi Phil,
you are right, the term "Big 4" is not that usefull.
For me as a private buyer with limited money, good know how and technical capabilities older used instruments are the most attractive. In Germany used microscope equipment in my price range is best available for (in this order):
1. Zeiss West
1, Zeiss Jena
2. Leitz
3. Olympus

So these would be my personal "Big 4". This ranking varies a bit from component to component: There are very few DIC components availabe for other brands than Zeiss West. A cardioid condenser or 90:1 objective with iris is easiest found for Zeiss Jena. When a complete, freshly serviced microscope is bought and no upgrades are needed, any other brand will do as well.

BUT: This can be completely different in a different country. Here american microscopes are practically unknown except for a couple of stereos. In the USA the market will be arranged very different.

As always one can save a lot of money when buying from a brand that is not that visible today. Or the other way round: One can get something really nice for the money available.

Here in Europe there are a few dealers with whom it is possible make a fair deal. I'm quite sure that there will be someone in the US too. I would recommend to discuss whether expectations and offer really match in terms of service condition. Old quality microscopes that had done an fresh maintenance job are a joy to use, well worth the money!

Bob

Sabatini
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Re: Frustration!

#32 Post by Sabatini » Thu Mar 05, 2020 2:13 am

apochronaut wrote:
Wed Mar 04, 2020 1:38 am
it's Ebony, isn't it? ......................... Microscopes need to be stable. Up until W.W. II the microscope manufacturers produced their stands in series. Although these were sometimes tightly defined and sometimes loosely defined the process still held that there were educational, educational/small lab, medical/lab and research, in a kind of hierarchy.


The weight of the stand was very important, in order to confer stability on the entire system. When 1400X magnification is being used and also being documented with photography, the stability mattered. Research stands had a lot of brass, and as the quality of the stand lowered, more cast iron became relied on, then hollow cast. Both cast iron and brass were thicker in the upper echelon stands.

By the 50's, aluminum became de riguer but as the focusing mechanisms and nosepieces and built in illumination systems became more elaborate, they made up for the deficit of brass and cast iron. The microscopes got physically larger and the weight and stability stayed pretty pat.

Some of the older research scopes were quite diminutive , and still weighed 22, maybe up to 25 lbs. fully loaded. The base was solid brass, arm solid brass.
Your points of view are always of great interest, are made by a very well documented and also experienced in these topics and always their technical reviews are very entertaining and educational. We learn a lot from you sir!
Thank you.

Sabatini
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Re: Frustration!

#33 Post by Sabatini » Thu Mar 05, 2020 2:15 am

:shock:
apochronaut wrote:
Wed Mar 04, 2020 1:48 pm
It just gets distilled down to names. Consumers are highly influenced by brand names but only sometimes are brand names really associated with the qualities that a consumer is expecting. As often or more, the name is just a name . A rose by any other name would smell as sweet , said William Shakespeare. The idea is to get the qualities in a microscope that one is looking for at the best price possible.

There is nothing magical about Leica or Zeiss or Nikon or Olympus; the big four as they are called. For sure at the upper end of microscopy, simply because they are the only names that squeezed through the wormhole of the late 80's and came out the other end intact, they are the names that one has to rely on today but that's a lot of money right there. At the lower end of their in house production the cost is still high and the function basic, so you would be better to take a step backwards in time and have a look at some of the better microscopes from the 3 of those brands that existed , or the 7 or 8 other makers who went into a black hole, not through a wormhole. None of them ended up disappearing from the marketplace because they made lousy microscopes, they just got beaten up by the marketplace and many of those beatings occurred because of some pretty illegitimate business practices on the part of the ones that survived. Economic sleight of hand, theft of patents, deceptive marketing practices, political shenanigans; it's all in there. Having a really good look at the offerings of some of those other companies is a first line of defense at getting ripped off by someone selling a name.
On the other hand basic Chinese microscopes are still to be regarded with suspicion, if you are looking for something a little above the pale, and it seems that you are. It has been expected that the Chinese makers would fill the gap though , and they are beginning to if you are willing to pay the thousands of dollars required for a better Motic or other brand with advanced colour corrected optics . That might be an option in a new warrantied scope . Personally, I don't think you need to go that high, because t better superior optics are available second hand right now, from some of those former brands . I think you can find exactly what you are looking for in the 1000.00 to 1500.00 range with a warranty.

Regarding the Microstar IV you linked to above from microscope international. Way over priced. That's a basic 3 objective microscope and while it may have a warranty, the price should be 1/2 or less. I have bought similar scopes for 150.00.

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75RR
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Re: Frustration!

#34 Post by 75RR » Thu Mar 05, 2020 6:37 am

There is nothing magical about Leica or Zeiss or Nikon or Olympus
Don't think anyone claimed there was, they are (as are a few other established brands) very well made microscopes. They are also eminently upgradable.

The problem, if there is one, is that auction resellers* ask for a premium based on the name recognition.

To this the best answer is firstly to avoid auction resellers* like the plague - they commonly up their prices by 4x so even when they come down to half their asking price they are still stiffing you.

Secondly, always check out the average selling price for an item to get an idea of what it is going for.

To do this go to Advanced search (small grey text next to the big blue search button), press it, enter item name/description, and tick Sold listings box. Then press blue search button.

The price items sold for during the last 3 months appear in green.

*Auction resellers are easily identified by the large amount of used equipment in their listings, the lack of photos and description of each and their overuse of the phrases "Unable to test", "As is", "Removed from a working environment" and other assorted weasel wording.
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jfiresto
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Re: Frustration!

#35 Post by jfiresto » Thu Mar 05, 2020 7:46 am

75RR wrote:
Thu Mar 05, 2020 6:37 am
... The problem, if there is one, is that auction resellers* ask for a premium based on the name recognition.

To this the best answer is firstly to avoid auction resellers* like the plague - they commonly up their prices by 4x so even when they come down to half their asking price they are still stiffing you....
By "auction resellers", you mean folks who buy lots of equipment at government and university surplus auctions and then resell them?

I agree that one needs to be very cautious with that bunch, but I am not sure I would go quite that far. I have gotten useful and, in the end, fairly priced equipment from some of those resellers, a few of which were in the U.S., where the consumer brand fetish is most advanced. None of what I bought was astronomically priced; most if not all of it was from sellers I am not sure knew what they were selling. But I have also received a fair amount of broken or worn out junk. Whatever you receive, you should be willing and able to return it, at negligible cost, or argue for a fair price.

Some play the odd game of online poker; others buy used microscope equipment off ebay.
-John

MicroBob
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Re: Frustration!

#36 Post by MicroBob » Thu Mar 05, 2020 7:59 am

Some auction resellers seem to have much too much storage space. This allows them to offer the items overpriced and they let the items sit for years in their mouldy warehouses.
Onthe other hand the life of these resellers is probably not easy too: They have to bid for their wares against competition, give guaranteens and return option and pay workforce, transport, storage and taxes. This doens't leave much room for honesty and generosity.
The best option is usually to buy from someone who has bought and used the item himself, knows the condition and has had his use out of the item.

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75RR
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Re: Frustration!

#37 Post by 75RR » Thu Mar 05, 2020 8:04 am

By "auction resellers", you mean folks who buy lots of equipment at government and university surplus auctions and then resell them?
Yes indeed.

Also my advice was for beginners. I don't doubt that an experienced microscopist with a penchant for tinkering can find some useful stuff in these places - but you need to know what you are doing.

Recommending these resellers to a newbie, as has happened, is irresponsible.
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jfiresto
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Re: Frustration!

#38 Post by jfiresto » Thu Mar 05, 2020 9:07 am

Well, I was a newbie, who has since gained some experience – but I agree with that. If you do buy from them, and some enjoy the adventure, remember you are a newbie, swimming among a fair number of sharks. (Not all of them are!) I would have been mighty annoyed with the resellers, had I not played for fairly small stakes, spread over years, to improve my luck and bear the setbacks.
-John

Leitzcycler
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Re: Frustration!

#39 Post by Leitzcycler » Thu Mar 05, 2020 8:31 pm

”From working environment” means it is from the local university’s junk room. The dealer just picked it up before it was thrown away.

A couple of years ago I bought Leitz Orthoplan, which I think is a superb and very well made microscope. I was also lucky to buy it from a professional microscopist from Ebay. As far as I have understood, problems related to delamination are quite rare with Leitz. There are plenty of optics and accessories for sale as well. According to my experience the main issue with Orthoplan is that the mirror and prisms are glued to their supports. The glue tend to deteriorate over time. This is a problem if the instrument is send by post as these parts will easily get loose it the package is not handled with care. Perhaps it would be not a bad idea to add some fresh glue before that happens.

I have also some Lomo microscopes. I have owned many of them, refurbished and given away. Every one of them were completely stuck because of low quality grease.

However, I have always loved to repair instruments and find it to be a rewarding part of the hobby. I would never buy a brand new microscope or a car. My Toyota Corolla has a readout of over 500 000 km and it still works like new (with a little repair every now and then :) ). Perhaps this is a question of life strategy.

Scarodactyl
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Re: Frustration!

#40 Post by Scarodactyl » Thu Mar 05, 2020 8:36 pm

Leitzcycler wrote:
Thu Mar 05, 2020 8:31 pm
”From working environment” means it is from the local university’s junk room. The dealer just picked it up before it was thrown away.
To be fair, I've bought direct university surplus a number of times and often they're getting rid of perfectly good scopes or ones just missing one or two things, occasionally with really nice accessories. Then again plenty are properly broken too.

Leitzcycler
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Re: Frustration!

#41 Post by Leitzcycler » Thu Mar 05, 2020 8:47 pm

Yes, this is true. I have built a complete professional lab from the junk room stuff. I just criticize the expression in Ebay.

apochronaut
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Re: Frustration!

#42 Post by apochronaut » Thu Mar 05, 2020 9:33 pm

At the N.R.C., the only working environment is the payroll department.

JGardner
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Re: Frustration!

#43 Post by JGardner » Wed Mar 11, 2020 5:31 am

Anyone have an opinion on this scope? Good? Bad? Indifferent?

https://rover.ebay.com/rover/0/0/0?mpre ... 3813236956

Hobbyst46
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Re: Frustration!

#44 Post by Hobbyst46 » Wed Mar 11, 2020 12:32 pm

JGardner wrote:
Wed Mar 11, 2020 5:31 am
Anyone have an opinion on this scope? Good? Bad? Indifferent?

https://rover.ebay.com/rover/0/0/0?mpre ... 3813236956
Zeiss Axios are quite modern scopes, equipped with infinity corrected optics. New, they are 1st-grade research microscopes.
The link shows a 4800 USD price tag on a used brightfield microscope. Any future upgrade will very likely be based on Zeiss-only parts (objectives, condensers etc) at considerable cost.
However, the Zeiss Universal and Leitz Orthoplan were 1st-grade research scopes as well, when new.
Anyone have an opinion on this scope? Good? Bad? Indifferent?
If any microscope is in top-notch mechanical condition, like new, and comes with a 1-3 yrs warranty, it is definitely good.
In view of the reasons for your frustration, as detailed in the post, maybe the appropriate strategy is to buy new.
An alternative strategy would be to verify with the seller that the Axio is in perfect shape, then negotiate the price. This price tag falls high above the typical amateur market; whereas
institutes and professionals probably prefer to buy new anyway, and benefit from the first years of warranty. So a 4800 USD-priced microscope might be negotiable.
Zeiss Standard GFL+Canon EOS-M10, Olympus VMZ stereo

apochronaut
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Re: Frustration!

#45 Post by apochronaut » Wed Mar 11, 2020 12:42 pm

That microscope would work very well. It has a lot of features that are desirable in a lab microscope. I don't know what your plans are for it but it has been used for video. If you intend on using a still camera on it, the camera optics will need to be adjusted appropriately.

The real problem is that, it is a big capable microscope with only average optics and not all of them. For that amount of money, you could have plan fluorite or at least some planapo objectives , or phase and high resolution DF , possibly even D.I.C as well.
The system is a basic high quality achromat system with a wider than usual field of view. It's a lot of money for what you are getting. For 1/3 that amount , you could get many more features. The only thing you might not get would be a 23mm f.o.v. but quite honestly, I doubt you will need it.

I sent you a p.m. profiling some options. Optically, many of those options are a better choice and much cheaper.

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75RR
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Re: Frustration!

#46 Post by 75RR » Wed Mar 11, 2020 3:00 pm

JGardner wrote:
Wed Mar 11, 2020 5:31 am
Anyone have an opinion on this scope? Good? Bad? Indifferent?

https://rover.ebay.com/rover/0/0/0?mpre ... 3813236956
Forum member RobBerdan has one. I suggest you PM him

viewtopic.php?f=4&t=6683&p=59657#p59657
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Rorschach
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Re: Frustration!

#47 Post by Rorschach » Sun Mar 22, 2020 7:38 am

Leitzcycler wrote:
Thu Mar 05, 2020 8:47 pm
Yes, this is true. I have built a complete professional lab from the junk room stuff. I just criticize the expression in Ebay.
I'm in the same boat as you, Scaro and a few others. Nine times out of ten, I have gotten gemstones for peanuts. The occasional lemon is there too, but it's part of the game. It's like fishing :-)

Some things I do buy from experienced, trusted experts / advanced long-time hobbyists. Most recently a superb, recently rebuilt, cosmetically superb Leitz Orthoplan stand/frame that is the last iteration they made. From another advanced seller I purchased an extra focus drive for it (completely refurbished recently). These two did not set me back more than roughly 350 euros in total. So those were the play-it-safe / build-to-last moves. The "fishing" move was another Leitz Orthoplan which is a complete setup being sold 'as is'. I will be able to use many of the parts for sure.

So, I will have an Orthoplan with all important mechanical parts and systems set for life (or several). Plus spares. This system is one that I am building not just for myself but for my children and perhaps their children, too :-)

Edit: to add some context, here are links to actual items:

Firstly the rebuilt Orthoplan "One for the ages": https://www.ebay.de/itm/Leitz-Orthoplan ... Sw-Q5edf55

Secondly the recently relubed focus block "Replacement for ages": https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Leitz-Wetzla ... SwsdteOZGx

Thirdly the "Fishermans Friend", more or less complete Orthoplan which probably holds both positive and negative surprises: https://www.ebay.de/itm/Mikroskop-Leitz ... 7675.l2557

Fourthly, a special bonus item that I just could not resist, given the condition, price and potential use in future dabbling with UV: https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/LEITZ-PLAN-H ... SwQpNeUsa9


Summary: counting some other purchases that I already have committed to by verbal agreement, yes, the card is maxed out and I'll be eating very simple food for quite some time :-D

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Re: Frustration!

#48 Post by JGardner » Mon Mar 23, 2020 8:23 pm

Rorschach wrote:
Sun Mar 22, 2020 7:38 am
So, I will have an Orthoplan with all important mechanical parts and systems set for life (or several). Plus spares. This system is one that I am building not just for myself but for my children and perhaps their children, too :-)
I found what looks like a late-model Orthoplan stand in very good condition, both cosmetically and functionally. Perhaps not quite as nice as the one you found, but I'm hoping it's better than the one I have (which has a nearly frozen field iris, a loose mirror, and stiff focusing). The other parts on my current Orthoplan are in good shape, so when I transfer them to the new stand I should have something that is usable without much fiddling.

https://www.ebay.com/itm/Leitz-Wetzlar- ... 7675.l2557

I've decided to give older microscopes one last shot--if this doesn't work out, I'll probably spring for a brand new Olympus. I'm hoping that the Orthoplan works out because the upgrade path to better objectives and phase contrast is not as expensive as it would be with a new Olympus.

I decided to go the Leitz route rather than Zeiss because of the two scopes I have, the Orthoplan and a Universal, the Orthoplan has always seemed more elegant to me vs. the brutalist Universal. And as far as I know, Leitz optics don't suffer from the delamination problems that seem to plague older Zeiss optics. Also, I've always been a big fan of Leitz/Leica rangefinder cameras.

Rorschach
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Re: Frustration!

#49 Post by Rorschach » Mon Mar 23, 2020 8:55 pm

JGardner wrote:
Mon Mar 23, 2020 8:23 pm
Rorschach wrote:
Sun Mar 22, 2020 7:38 am
So, I will have an Orthoplan with all important mechanical parts and systems set for life (or several). Plus spares. This system is one that I am building not just for myself but for my children and perhaps their children, too :-)
I found what looks like a late-model Orthoplan stand in very good condition, both cosmetically and functionally. Perhaps not quite as nice as the one you found, but I'm hoping it's better than the one I have (which has a nearly frozen field iris, a loose mirror, and stiff focusing). The other parts on my current Orthoplan are in good shape, so when I transfer them to the new stand I should have something that is usable without much fiddling.

https://www.ebay.com/itm/Leitz-Wetzlar- ... 7675.l2557

I've decided to give older microscopes one last shot--if this doesn't work out, I'll probably spring for a brand new Olympus. I'm hoping that the Orthoplan works out because the upgrade path to better objectives and phase contrast is not as expensive as it would be with a new Olympus.

I decided to go the Leitz route rather than Zeiss because of the two scopes I have, the Orthoplan and a Universal, the Orthoplan has always seemed more elegant to me vs. the brutalist Universal. And as far as I know, Leitz optics don't suffer from the delamination problems that seem to plague older Zeiss optics. Also, I've always been a big fan of Leitz/Leica rangefinder cameras.
That looks like a very nice stand! Did you query the seller for the functionality of those critical parts?

There's a couple reasons why I chose Leitz and Orthoplan. Firstly, the modularity and staggering number of optics and accessories available. Prices are usually quite reasonable too, compared to contemporary Zeiss and don't even mention the modern ones, Olympus or others! Secondly, as the Orthoplan was in the market for nearly 30 years, it has to be a good design. Thirdly, I have a lot of things for Wild stereos and some of these are compatible with Leitz compounds. Mainly photo accessories.

But the elegance of Leitz, yeah, you may be on to something there.

Zeiss is notorious for the delamination problems, yes.

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75RR
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Re: Frustration!

#50 Post by 75RR » Mon Mar 23, 2020 9:01 pm

That seems to be a sensible and economical solution.

It looks nice, however, if it is not as advertised remember that you can return it.

Let us know when it arrives!
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Re: Frustration!

#51 Post by apochronaut » Mon Mar 23, 2020 10:54 pm

Leitzcycler wrote:
Thu Mar 05, 2020 8:31 pm
Perhaps this is a question of life strategy.
Which includes bad decision making. The problem of course has been identified as a problem with used microscopes in general, not the problem of which specific ones were purchased.

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Re: Frustration!

#52 Post by JGardner » Tue Mar 24, 2020 5:36 pm

apochronaut wrote:
Mon Mar 23, 2020 10:54 pm
Leitzcycler wrote:
Thu Mar 05, 2020 8:31 pm
Perhaps this is a question of life strategy.
Which includes bad decision making. The problem of course has been identified as a problem with used microscopes in general, not the problem of which specific ones were purchased.
The problem with used microscopes is that they're, well, used. Many of them are decades old, have seen hard use in hospitals and labs, and have been stored under less than ideal conditions for years at a time. Grease is going to congeal, cements, adhesives, and rubber deteriorate, and optics have been cleaned harshly.

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75RR
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Re: Frustration!

#53 Post by 75RR » Tue Mar 24, 2020 6:25 pm

I see that the late-model Orthoplan you linked to is still awaiting ... second thoughts?
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JGardner
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Re: Frustration!

#54 Post by JGardner » Tue Mar 24, 2020 6:35 pm

75RR wrote:
Tue Mar 24, 2020 6:25 pm
I see that the late-model Orthoplan you linked to is still awaiting ... second thoughts?
It should show as sold--that's how it appears here when I click on the link. I've already gotten the confirmation from eBay. Who knows when it'll ship and when I get it, however, due to the Corona virus situation.

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Re: Frustration!

#55 Post by 75RR » Tue Mar 24, 2020 7:00 pm

Can confirm it shows as sold now. Still looking nice!

I had two items delivered at my sisters office the day they shut down (they arrived after she had left) - looks like I am going to have to wait a bit to get them.
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Re: Frustration!

#56 Post by JGardner » Tue Mar 24, 2020 7:40 pm

Several people who know I'm interested in microscopy have asked me recently if I can see Corona virus with my microscopes. I tell them nope, you need a transmission electron microscope for that. I wonder if any amateurs have a TEM?

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Re: Frustration!

#57 Post by 75RR » Tue Mar 24, 2020 7:53 pm

maikl36911 over at the photomacrography forum seems to have got access to a SEM: https://www.photomacrography.net/forum/ ... hlight=sem
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Leitzcycler
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Re: Frustration!

#58 Post by Leitzcycler » Tue Mar 24, 2020 8:41 pm

apochronaut wrote: ↑
Mon Mar 23, 2020 10:54 pm

Leitzcycler wrote: ↑
Thu Mar 05, 2020 8:31 pm
Perhaps this is a question of life strategy.

Which includes bad decision making. The problem of course has been identified as a problem with used microscopes in general, not the problem of which specific ones were purchased.

The problem with used microscopes is that they're, well, used. Many of them are decades old, have seen hard use in hospitals and labs, and have been stored under less than ideal conditions for years at a time. Grease is going to congeal, cements, adhesives, and rubber deteriorate, and optics have been cleaned harshly.
This is obvious. What I mean is simply that you either choose to buy a new one or a used one which could be a DIY project. Which option you prefer is your life strategy. Poor optics is a problem, grease and rubber parts (if there are any at all) are not = my life strategy and not bad decision making. Sorry I didn't express mysel clearly enough.

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Re: Frustration!

#59 Post by apochronaut » Wed Mar 25, 2020 12:55 pm

Some people develop skills ; skills at observing , skills at asking the right questions and skills in dealing with ones oversight. If one adheres to that, then you have a very good chance of buying a used microscope, or any other used piece of equipment for a much lower cost than would be possible by relying on a bloated retail system that provides minimalist goods and false promises of rectification, if the goods don't function as intended.
The fact that someone gets burned spending thousands of dollars on used microscopes is a totally preventable scenario and clearly has more to do with lack of skill than the nature of used microscopes. Of course older equipment can have problems but not ALL older equipment does. I just bought a 100 watt top of the line stand, with 3 of 4 planachro objectives in it, lamp socket, working lamp , the original transformer and trinocular head in almost mint condition for 175.00. It was on ebay for weeks , sitting there because unskilled potential purchasers haven't a clue what they are looking at. I asked around to see if anyone I knew wanted it and finally, someone did and I bought it for them. The oddest thing was; it was still there, unpurchased, while dozens of people likely bought Chinese trash or used microscopes with obvious flaws in them during the time it sat there. That might not matter, if one has bags full of money to waste but not everyone does, so developing skills becomes quite useful.
Last edited by apochronaut on Wed Mar 25, 2020 7:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Frustration!

#60 Post by MicroBob » Wed Mar 25, 2020 2:42 pm

In a way a good financial situation can be substituted with good trading knowledge or good technical skills. So there are more ways to the same result. I usually buy stuff cheap from sellers who don't know where the top side of the item is. This often generates some technical repair work, which is fine for me. Buying cheap and then looking for a professional to get it repaired will be difficult.

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