LOMO as a brand

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microscopeboi
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LOMO as a brand

#1 Post by microscopeboi » Thu Apr 16, 2020 2:06 am

hey, is anyone familiar with the brand LOMO? they are russian, is this a good brand? using Zeiss as comparison would be useful. Thanks

Scarodactyl
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Re: LOMO as a brand

#2 Post by Scarodactyl » Thu Apr 16, 2020 5:31 am

Their reputation varies a lot depending on who you ask.
Built like tanks?
Prone to breaking?
Good optics?
Bad optics?
There's a range of reactions and likely a range of quality levels. It also suggests to me that QC might not have been the best.
They made (make?) a 3.7x objective that is very well-loved for photography, producing great views at a very reasonable price. I have one of those and it is quite good--that's my only personal experience.

They are somewhat related to Zeiss, in that they mostly made scopes that are basically (from what I understand) copies/derivatives of older Zeiss designs (from the eastern half of Zeiss aka Aus Jena).

My overall impression is that they made some very decent stuff, but definitely don't have a Zeiss-level reputation. On the other hand if you find one for cheap and it's in good condition it'd probably be a good deal for the money.

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daruosha
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Re: LOMO as a brand

#3 Post by daruosha » Thu Apr 16, 2020 9:28 am

I'd like to recommend the following article which answers a lot of questions about Russian microscope industry:

Why are Russian optics so good? http://www.novacon.com.br/lenses08.htm
Daruosh.

Hobbyst46
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Re: LOMO as a brand

#4 Post by Hobbyst46 » Thu Apr 16, 2020 9:54 am

daruosha wrote:
Thu Apr 16, 2020 9:28 am
I'd like to recommend the following article which answers a lot of questions about Russian microscope industry:

Why are Russian optics so good? http://www.novacon.com.br/lenses08.htm
The article is indeed interesting and presents strong belief and enthusiasm.
Some real life facts about Soviet cameras (NOT about LOMO):
The Zorki-4 camera has been nicknamed the "Russian Leica" (!!!). "Built like a tank". "Works under dust or mud".
I once wittnesed two such cameras in the hands of experienced young photographers. Under ordinary pleasant weather conditions. One camera functioned OK. The other used to get stuck and often needed professional repair. The basic design fault was a contrary-to-intuition order of cocking the shutter and setting the exposure speed. Film loading was inconvenient. The optics was not bad, but inferior to that of inexpensive Japanese rangefinder models like Yashica, Minolta, Canonette, Konica etc. Initial low price of purchase is not everything.
Zeiss Standard GFL+Canon EOS-M10, Olympus VMZ stereo

Rorschach
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Re: LOMO as a brand

#5 Post by Rorschach » Thu Apr 16, 2020 2:17 pm

Long time ago I used LOMO MBC10 stereo microscopes quite extensively during my study years at the uni. They were the only model that my university had in sufficient quantities to be able to equip about 20 students during a field course. Because they were dirt cheap.

My impression is that optically they are not bad, particularly if you take price into consideration. However, the difference to a high-quality instrument is not a trivial one. Mechanically they were not all that reliable and ergonomically they were bad. Some of the breakages were due to the users, however. The adjustment for eyetube distance was operated by a knob on the side of the binocular but many students would just grab the eyetubes and adjust directly (as with most other stereos). This would break the mechanism inside quite easily.

In any case, I would not hesitate to recommend at least the MBC10 as a starters stereo scope, provided that it is new or in excellent condition. I would rather get one of these than a Chinese one. One thing to be wary of is the 'tank grease' that the Russians used for lubricating mechanical parts: bad, bad stuff that hardens way too quickly with age and becomes a cleaning ordeal.

For a more advanced user, I see no point in getting one of these. There are cheap high-quality instruments to be had for not much more on Ebay and elsewhere. Not sure if LOMO stereos even have Plan, let alone PlanApo, objectives as an alternative to the standard ones. They are also not very enjoyable to use, particularly for extended periods.

Not much experience of LOMO compounds except that their feel and finish quality, mechanical tolerances etc. did not impress much. Same 'tank grease' problems.

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Re: LOMO as a brand

#6 Post by MicroBob » Thu Apr 16, 2020 7:28 pm

Rorschach wrote:
Thu Apr 16, 2020 2:17 pm
Long time ago I used LOMO MBC10 stereo microscopes
Hi Riku,
this is unlikely! :D
The MBS 10 was actually made by the russian company Lytkarino, not LOMO. But this is mixed up very often.
I have used an MBS 10 a few times and liked it in the lower and medium powers, not so much in the higher magnifications.

LOMO:
At tha Yalta conference in february 1945 the allied forces discussed what would become from Germany when the war would be finally won. Jena was to fall into the soviet sector. But the american troops reached it first. To be precise: One american officer reached it first, he was collecting "first reached" proofs! :lol: The Zeiss works was one of the most attractive factories to get hold of. And at this time the next conflict was already at the doorstep: Capitalism against communism. Once Germany was no danger any more it was unclear what would happen.
So a company that produced important war goods was of strategic interest. And against the Yalta contract the Americans moved the management and scientists with family and household to the american sector. They wanted to continue with machines and master craftsmen but got cold feet and stopped he deportation. These deported people founded what became Zeiss West.
The whole remaining factory including men and mice was expertly moved to Russia and became LOMO there. The 1934 Zeiss LG design was produced in Russia until about 1970, in near Zeiss-quality. Here in Germany we have lots of LOMO Biolams, the simplified successors of the russian Zeiss LG, but very very few more advanced russian microscopes. But LOMO made a huge variet of microscopes, even some very special ones.

How good are they? Where Zeiss had always the competitor Leitz at it's heels LOMO had the home market and some special export market for themselves. This can't have led to record performance and product quality. But on the other hand side: Do you need maximum performance?
When evaluating decades old microscopes it is not only the initial quality, but also the way the instrument was kept that makes a good or a bad one. And many LOMO microscopes had an exciting life with crash of eastern block economy and flea market sales.

So if one finds a good working LOMO microscope for a good price he can do worse than buying und using it.

Bob

Rorschach
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Re: LOMO as a brand

#7 Post by Rorschach » Thu Apr 16, 2020 7:45 pm

MicroBob wrote:
Thu Apr 16, 2020 7:28 pm
Rorschach wrote:
Thu Apr 16, 2020 2:17 pm
Long time ago I used LOMO MBC10 stereo microscopes
Hi Riku,
this is unlikely! :D
The MBS 10 was actually made by the russian company Lytkarino, not LOMO. But this is mixed up very often.
I have used an MBS 10 a few times and liked it in the lower and medium powers, not so much in the higher magnifications.

Bob
Hi Bob,

Ok, I stand corrected :D I think we were told they were Lomos and at the time I didn't care enough about the makes of microscopes to check.

Lots of them (and the genuine LOMO compounds) were given to Finnish universities as down payment for debts that the Soviet Union owed to Finland at the time. Most likely early to mid 80ies. That's how also my university had so many of these.

Leitzcycler
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Re: LOMO as a brand

#8 Post by Leitzcycler » Thu Apr 16, 2020 8:29 pm

I share the reviews given here and have same kind of experiences. Actually I planned to take some pictures and write some funny features of Lomo stuff I have. But some of the thoughts have allready presented here... What a coincidence.

By the way: greetings from Finland :D

Rorschach
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Re: LOMO as a brand

#9 Post by Rorschach » Thu Apr 16, 2020 8:36 pm

Well, nice to see another Finn here :D Even better that you're also into Orthoplans!

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zebra222
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Re: LOMO as a brand

#10 Post by zebra222 » Fri Apr 17, 2020 2:03 pm

As for now LOMO microscopes (MBR series, MBI series, Biolam series) is a legacy products. Nowadays LOMO factory in Saint-Petersburg is still exists, but they do now only generic microscopes which is based on China models. As far as I know local production is ended. Surely, in Russia, used models is very attractive since you could buy scope in good condition for 100-200 USD. And a lot of accessories is still available. When it's sold internationally there is quite big price increase happening. Most of models is routine microscopes so it's no use to talk about high-end features. You could find couple of research grade systems in MBI series but still it could not compete with high-end solutions. It's just because of USSR strategy for instruments production - mass production of reliable instruments with consistent quality. There were no market segmentation like it was done by western manufacturers.
Couple of words about infamous grease problem. It's much less complicated explanation than unified grease standards for tanks and microscopes. =) It's mostly lack of maintenance. I'm sure that most of aftermarket LOMO microscopes is come from long-term storage. It mean that microscope was stored in package for 10-20-30 years straight by some reason (mostly it was surplus in some organizations or maybe even nuclear-war emergency supply). And for sure everybody knows that ANY grease have it's life-time. So, people who most of the time selling scopes are not service engineers or engineers at all, so they never heard of any kind of de-preservation procedures required, which mean change of grease. So, all in all, it's just human factor. When properly greased soviet microscopes have70 no mechanical issues.
And here is a couple of words about MBS series. As it was pointed out, MBS series of microscopes is not LOMO brand. It's LZOS brand, another microscope manufacturer in Russia. It was historical division from 1970. Compound microscope was manufactured by LOMO. Stereomicroscopes was manufactured by LZOS. Such devision was mostly due to technical speciality of both factories. LOMO was not able to manufacture enough quantity of big lenses for objective for CMO stereomicroscopes. While LZOS was specialized for big optics (up to 6 m in diameter =) ). But initially MBS-1 model, as well as MPS-1 was manufactured by LOMO in 1950-1960s. Starting 1970s all USSR stereos was manufactured by LZOS - MBS-1, MBS-2, MBS-9, MBS-10, MBS-12, MBS-14 and modern models. Actually LZOS factory is stil manufacturing MBS series of stereomicroscopes and it's one of last full-cycle optical microscopes manufacturer in European region. MBS series throughout the years used very short range of objectives, simple achromats. MBS-10 was using planachromat objective.
Just some brief overview of russian microscopes. =) For sure there is a lot more models in existence both for compound and stereo range, but I believe it's not possible to get it outside of Russia, mostly due to small quantity in existence.
Да будет свет

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Re: LOMO as a brand

#11 Post by DonSchaeffer » Fri Apr 17, 2020 4:09 pm

Unless I have the wrong memory, Lomo used to make very cheap film cameras that were designed to purposefully make very poor images, but you could get them with strange features. I used to have one that took 6 pictures in rapid succession on the same image frame on the film. I still have a LOMO 3D lens. It makes rather poor stereograms.

Leitzcycler
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Re: LOMO as a brand

#12 Post by Leitzcycler » Fri Apr 17, 2020 7:52 pm

Interesting Lomo experiences: Part 1

As it has already been mentioned, we in Finland had a huge number of Lomo microscopes at Universities. Most of them were used in education by students and most of them were also removed by the beginning of 90’s. So there were lots of Lomo stuff in the junk rooms waiting to be thrown away. I obtained several Lomo Biolam microscopes that I refurbished and gave away to children. I kept one, which I actually bought in the beginning of 90’s when I entered University to study biochemistry. I stored also some other microscope models as well as other equipment because it was too painful to watch them going to trash.

As refurbishing and using Lomo instruments may be very exotic experience I decided to share and post some photos of my collection with my personal opinions and comments. The series begins with a drawing device, which I think was actually rarely if ever used at university courses.

The very elegant and careful packing is typical for Lomo instruments. The lacquered wooden boxes were of high quality and every part had its own position behind a dividing wall or in a hole drilled into a wooden block. Every small part – filters, screws, holders etc- is also carefully wrapped into silk paper. The extensive use of silk paper is like a trade mark of Lomo packing.

In this box you can see also some cloth bags containing silica gel to absorb moisture during storage. For every device there is a booklet for instructions and a passport. The latter is a detailed certificate with quality control stamps, dates and signatures that the equipment meets the specifications and is ready to export. There may be both Russian and English documents.

The drawing devise itself looks very elegant and of high quality. It can be easily fitted between the stand and binocular head of Lomo Biolam microscope. The device has two settings: you either see the sample and table under the head of the device arm simultaneously. You can then draw the lines of the image by pen on paper. Or if the projection setting is used you can project the image on the table or on the wall as you can turn the projection arm head. I have tried the first setting and it works well. However, the projection setting needs so much light that I did not manage to project an image with a standard lamp. However, I have not spend too much time for this experiment.

BUT: despite of the high standards and quality control, the moving prism/mirror setting between the stand and binocular head is not aligned in the center. So when looking into the binocular head you only see part of the sample and not the whole field of view. Fortunately you still see most of it.

I get a strange feeling with a taste of disappointment: on one hand this looks like a top-quality optical instrument, but… welcome to Lomo-world!
Attachments
Drawing device.JPG
Drawing device.JPG (149.66 KiB) Viewed 1459 times
Biolam with drawing device.JPG
Biolam with drawing device.JPG (96.71 KiB) Viewed 1459 times

Scarodactyl
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Re: LOMO as a brand

#13 Post by Scarodactyl » Fri Apr 17, 2020 8:11 pm

Thank you for sharing that! I have been curious about Lomo for a while, but not curious enough to buy on (aside from the aforementioned excellent 3.7x objective).
I was searching for something else (an urban legend about a model of microscope that was exported from the soviet union solely for the scandium content in a bulb or something like that), and came across a link to this CIA document about Soviet microcopes: https://www.cia.gov/library/readingroom ... 0006-8.pdf
I'm thinking of filing an FOIA on it to get the full unredacted document, the idea of them redacting this so extensively is insane.

Leitzcycler
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Re: LOMO as a brand

#14 Post by Leitzcycler » Sat Apr 18, 2020 6:25 am

Interesting Lomo experiences: Part 2

This Lomo Polam polarizing microscope stand was found in the early 90’s at the junk room of the Pathology department. They didn’t even know what it was so I carried it home. It was missing some parts. However, there was a trinocular head so I used it for film photography for some time.

The most striking feature of this stand is the objective stage block. The dovetail has been machined to be oblique so the whole block is not aligned with the stand and the light path. The obvious solution is that the dovetail for condenser holder has been machined to be oblique to the opposite direction.

There was a rotating objective stage which was of rather high quality itself. However, it was not centered and the sample just disappeared from the field of view as you rotated it. The stage was fixed with screws and there was no way you could center and align it.
Attachments
Polam stand1.JPG
Polam stand1.JPG (80.07 KiB) Viewed 1419 times
Polam stand2.JPG
Polam stand2.JPG (77.23 KiB) Viewed 1419 times

MicroBob
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Re: LOMO as a brand

#15 Post by MicroBob » Sat Apr 18, 2020 7:00 am

Here in Germany we have a lot of simple LOMO Biolams on the used market. As far as I know they were not sold in former East Germany (DDR) but inly in West Germany over a mail order campany and later by Bresser. The more advanced LOMO microscopes are very rare here.
I have one, that was painted black and is equipped with some non standard parts.

Here you can see my Biolam-based field microscope:
viewtopic.php?f=24&t=7554&p=67491&hilit=bob+lomo#p67491

I had an early Biolam, an exact copy of the Zeiss LG and it was nicely made, near Zeiss quality.

The rectangular Biolam is a nice basic microscope, good enough for most work, comparatively light and small, and a lot of accessories available. The older gear fine focus is nicer to use, the newer "disc type" fine focus is bulletproof and ideal for a field microscope. Quality control must have been a bit sloppy from new and these microscopes have in average suffered more from unexperienced handling than others. But in used microscopes there is no brand that can be expected to be without fault.

Bob
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Lomo 1.jpg
Lomo 1.jpg (174.41 KiB) Viewed 1413 times

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75RR
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Re: LOMO as a brand

#16 Post by 75RR » Sat Apr 18, 2020 7:01 am

.
Hi Leitzcycler, from what you say about the LOMO problems, it would seem to be to mostly due to poor assembly. Disillusioned workers?

On another point, could you show us the bulb in the lamphouse (the one in the Biolam with drawing device photo)

be interesting to see how it compares with MichaelG.'s

Image
Zeiss Standard WL (somewhat fashion challenged) & Wild M8
Olympus E-P2 (Micro Four Thirds Camera)

Leitzcycler
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Re: LOMO as a brand

#17 Post by Leitzcycler » Sat Apr 18, 2020 7:33 am

These photos I have readily available, originally for my Lomo series, but I can post them now. The same bulb base fits both the koehler illuminator (seen in the drawing device picture) and a more simple standard illuminator, which I will show later. You just push them into the hole of the lamp holder. The base in this picture has a retrofitted halogen bulb which I made say 20 years ago. It is not ideal for koehler illuminator, however works well in the standar iluminator. I have also a picture of the legendary original Lomo bulb. Unfortunately I don't have a picture in which the original bulb is fitted in the base. So if you want more pictuers like that you have to wait until I go to my lab and take more.
Attachments
lamp holder1.JPG
lamp holder1.JPG (35.89 KiB) Viewed 1402 times
lamp conversion.JPG
lamp conversion.JPG (28.61 KiB) Viewed 1402 times
original bulb.JPG
original bulb.JPG (28.62 KiB) Viewed 1402 times

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75RR
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Re: LOMO as a brand

#18 Post by 75RR » Sat Apr 18, 2020 7:41 am

Thanks Leitzcycler, I had thought it would be a similar arrangement to MichaelG.'s, just with a different bulb and guard.

No need to take more photos. Thanks again!
Zeiss Standard WL (somewhat fashion challenged) & Wild M8
Olympus E-P2 (Micro Four Thirds Camera)

MichaelG.
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Re: LOMO as a brand

#19 Post by MichaelG. » Sat Apr 18, 2020 8:08 am

75RR wrote:
Sat Apr 18, 2020 7:41 am
Thanks Leitzcycler, I had thought it would be a similar arrangement to MichaelG.'s, just with a different bulb and guard.
The circular holder, with adjusters, looks the same ... but the lamp-holders and bulbs are very different:

Mine is configured for side-viewing, but Leitzcycler’s is for end-viewing.

MichaelG.
.

P.S. mine is in bits now [pending development of an LED conversion] and the alignment error is indeed about 12mm ... There are no convincing signs of use, so I suspect that it never worked !!
.
0D39BC7F-2130-4546-AF14-95C17E23B9BC.jpeg
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Note: To work correctly, the filament should be centred on that Asbestos [?] pad
Too many 'projects'

Hobbyst46
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Re: LOMO as a brand

#20 Post by Hobbyst46 » Sat Apr 18, 2020 9:28 am

MichaelG. wrote:
Sat Apr 18, 2020 8:08 am
Note: To work correctly, the filament should be centred on that Asbestos [?] pad
I would bet it is Asbestos.
Hoping to see the conversion-to-LED project ! perhaps with a high-CRI LED...
Zeiss Standard GFL+Canon EOS-M10, Olympus VMZ stereo

MichaelG.
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Re: LOMO as a brand

#21 Post by MichaelG. » Sat Apr 18, 2020 9:39 am

Hobbyst46 wrote:
Sat Apr 18, 2020 9:28 am
Hoping to see the conversion-to-LED project ! perhaps with a high-CRI LED...
The ‘lash-up’ model is underway ... but no promises how long it will take

When I get to something that works, and looks reasonably tidy, I will write it up.

MichaelG.
Too many 'projects'

Leitzcycler
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Re: LOMO as a brand

#22 Post by Leitzcycler » Sat Apr 18, 2020 1:53 pm

Interesting Lomo experiences: Part 3

Lomo MBI-11 is a very professional-looking instrument. I think it is a research-quality microscope – or at least intended as such. I found it in the storage room of our department collecting dust. I went to the professor and head of the department and asked if I could take it. “Just go ahead and take it” he said. “You may use it as an anchor for your fishing net.”

This instrument was equipped exactly with same type and quality of objectives as standard student Biolam. However, it has a better quality condenser and more advanced illumination path though there was no light source left. There is an epi-illumination path inside the stand which suggests this can be used for fluorescence. However, there was no filters or any special devices for epi-illumination. The scope has a magnification changer attached to the binocular head. One of the lenses seem to be some kind of Bertrand-lens. The objective stage is of rather high quality, it is partly rotatable and it can be centered by a couple of centering screws.

The overall impression of the optical quality is very close to Biolam, though I have not cleaned the unit or installed a proper lightning. However, there are again some strange features which you surely don’t expect for a research grade microscope – or any decent quality microscope.

There are normal measuring scale plates on the sides of the objective stage. However, the machining department forgot to drill the holes for the fixing screws. The practical solution was to use glue to fix the plates. As time passes, the glue deteriorates and the plates get loose.

More serious problems might arise by the poor alignment of the lenses. Looking from the bottom of the binocular head, the lenses of the rotating magnification changer are not at the center of the light path. It is difficult to say how much this affect the image quality after just having a brief look. However, the Bertrand lens is not seen in the center of the field of view but somewhere in the eight o’clock. Still you can see the aperture diaphragm in the center of the Bertrand lens. I should dismantle the binocular head in order to see if it would be possible to align the lenses.

However, the orientation of the objective turret is indeed very convenien for cleaning the oil immersion objectives.

Well, as this scope would need much time and work and I have a high quality research microscope Orthoplan, it is now collecting dust in my junk room…
Attachments
MBI.JPG
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MBI stage.JPG
MBI stage.JPG (70.08 KiB) Viewed 1347 times
MBIlenses.JPG
MBIlenses.JPG (49.31 KiB) Viewed 1347 times

Leitzcycler
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Re: LOMO as a brand

#23 Post by Leitzcycler » Sun May 17, 2020 6:52 pm

Interesting Lomo experiences: Part 4 The Legendary Biolam

The Lomo Biolam is a basic biological microscope which was very common as a student microscope at schools and Universities in Finland during 70’s and 80’s. When I attended microbiology course in early 90’s they already had new Olympus microscopes in course rooms. Our course assistant told us with a laugh that using Russian Biolam microscopes was absolutely miserable and you could see bacteria almost better with naked eyes. After buying my first Biolam I understood why. With every microscope you got a wooden box of accessories including a ground glass filter. When using the standard illuminator the use of this filter is absolutely necessary to obtain an image without uneven illumination, reflections of light bulb and aberrations. Unfortunately this was not generally understood and I think most of the ground glass filters just stayed in accessory boxes wrapped into silk paper. Using filter the illumination is rather even and bacteria are easily seen. Actually the quality of the image is excellent for student and routine investigation purposes. The standard set of objectives was 8x, 40x and 90x 1.25 oil in the objective turret with four mounting ports one port usually plugged.

Like other Lomo stuff old Biolams and objectives suffer from poor quality grease which solidify causing the moving parts to get jammed. There are a couple of plastic gear racks – one in the condenser movement assembly and the other in the objective xy table – which might be damaged if turned by force when jammed. The focusing mechanism is easy to dismantle: two screws on top of the plate with serial number are removed and the arm with coarse focusing mechanism is lifted off. After relubrication it is important to ensure that the black pointed pin of the fine focusing mechanism is upright and goes back into the corresponding hole of the arm.

After refurbishing the Biolam is a robust microscope which is nice to use. There are plenty of different types of objectives available at reasonable price. The planarity of the 90x 1.25 oil is not very good. What I feel disturbing is the considerable backlash in the fine focus mechanism. There are also some issues with the original lightning equipment. There are two types of plugs for the transformers. One of them is exactly the same used in 240V system. This plug is unsafe and illegal. Some transformers have a bottom plate with a cooling opening. Depending on the model you either see the coil of the transformer or the open tinned connections from mains voltage to the transformer. This is very dangerous as you may accidentally touch these with you fingers when moving the transformer. The quality of the original bulbs is bad and led conversion is advisable.

And last but not least: in the accessory box you will find a pair of spare springs for the objective turret. Carefully wrapped into silk paper of course. Is there any other microscope brand which offers spare parts like that?
Attachments
Biolam12.JPG
Biolam12.JPG (34.19 KiB) Viewed 867 times
Biolam with filter and objectives2.JPG
Biolam with filter and objectives2.JPG (48.44 KiB) Viewed 867 times
focusing mechanism.JPG
focusing mechanism.JPG (56.46 KiB) Viewed 867 times

Leitzcycler
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Re: LOMO as a brand

#24 Post by Leitzcycler » Sun May 17, 2020 6:55 pm

This photo was taken by an exchange student in the Pavlov First State Medical University of St. Petersburg in the year 2000. The medical students are studying histology using Biolam microscopes. Note the innovative ball lamp in the middle of the desk.
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students and Lomos.jpg
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microbob3
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Re: LOMO as a brand

#25 Post by microbob3 » Mon May 18, 2020 1:18 pm

I am new to Microscopes but been buying and selling telescopes for 20 years. Lomo made some excellent Apo lens for telescopes, TMB scopes used them and are highly sought after and go for big bucks. Lomo lens are up their with Takahashi and Astro Physics lens.

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Re: LOMO as a brand

#26 Post by BramHuntingNematodes » Mon May 18, 2020 2:59 pm

It seems pretty typical of Soviet engineering to have astonishing innovations side-by-side with frustratingly fundamental limitations.
1942 Bausch and Lomb Series T Dynoptic, Custom Illumination

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