Trinocular Modification for an Olympus CX31?

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Docgene888
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Trinocular Modification for an Olympus CX31?

#1 Post by Docgene888 » Sat Oct 05, 2019 11:03 pm

Hello all,

I joined the forum back in August but got caught up in work projects and am just now catching my breath so this is my first post. I had an interest in film photography back in high school (Minolta SRT-101) and then in digital photography (mostly Nikon DSLRs) after I established my first practice in Tucson in the early 1980’s. I also have had an interest in microscopy since my undergrad/grad school days as a microbiology major. Now that I am nearing retirement, I thought long and hard about what I wanted to do with my spare time and after much reflection, I decided to blend my two life-long interests and take up photomicroscopy as a hobby. I purchased compound and stereo microscopes on sale from AmScope earlier in the year to verify my current interest and future dedication to this hobby and thankfully, both were confirmed! My day job is as a physician administrator at a VA hospital in the Philadelphia suburbs and through a colleague I became aware of an auction open to the public of six microscopes, four of which were made by Olympus, that came from the pathology lab at a VA Hospital (not the one I work at but not far from where I live) conducted online by the General Services Administration (www.gsaauctions.gov). For those so inclined, GSA auctions are a terrific way to buy lab and medical equipment at prices far below market value. The only thing that limits availability is locality in that you have to pick-up your purchase in-person...GSA will not ship items to the winner. From this forum and Oliver Kim’s informative videos, I learned about the desirability of microscopes made by the “Big 4” (in fact, I recall using Zeiss microscopes in med school). In the end, I was the high bidder and two days later, I picked up six microscopes - 2 Olympus CX31s, 2 Olympus SZ61TRs with LED bases, one AO 1036A and one AO 110 Dual Head with a 40x phase contrast set-up. The four Olympus scopes are essentially in like-new condition with annual preventive maintenance having been performed by the facility’s biomedical engineering department. I decided to keep one of the CX31s because of the quality of the infinity (UIS 2) plan optics and both of the older AO microscopes as future restoration projects. I will be selling the other CX31 and both of the Olympus stereo microscopes, most likely on ebay. So that’s a bit about me and how I came to join this forum. I would just like to add that I hope to be able to make meaningful contributions here.

Now to my questions. My time with the T490 has shown me the practical value of a trinocular photo tube. I purchased a Canon DSLR camera adapter from AmScope and have been experimenting with various exposure settings using the EOS Utility app on my MacBook Pro. The T490 has what AmScope calls a "simul-focal" system and that makes it convenient to take pictures. That 23mm adapter also fits in the CX31’s right ocular tube and the pictures it takes are rather good. I suspect they would be somewhat sharper in detail with higher quality adapter optics and so I started a correspondence with Bob Martin at Martin Microscope about their DSLR adapters. But before I progress too far down one path, I wanted to query this group and find out your thoughts on sticking with the CX31’s binocular head and taking photos through the ocular tube as compared to converting it to a trinocular design. From my research into Olympus accessories thanks to the depth of resources located on Alan Wood’s website and emails with the local Olympus sales rep, I found that I could replace the binocular head with a U-TR30-2 trinocular head or insert an intermediate tube under the binocular head, the U-TRU-1-2. For both options, I realize that a U-SPT photo port would be needed to connect to the Canon camera adapter. There is a cost difference of about $1000 between those two options based on new pricing (I’ve seen widely varying prices for used equipment on ebay).

The questions I am seeking answers to:
1) Is a trinocular head conversion advisable for ”improved” photomicroscopy as opposed to continued use of the binocular head’s ocular port?
2) Assuming that the response to (1) above is that a trinocular head is advisable for improved photomicroscopy, is one option (U-TR30 vs U-TRU) superior to the other in terms of the difference in photographic quality? The full head replacement makes more sense from an ergonomic standpoint since the intermediate tube raises the eyepieces by around 30mm. But again, the full replacement is around $1000 more (for a new head) compared to the intermediate tube.
2) For my scenario, would a better quality camera adapter (Martin vs AmScope) make a significant difference in the quality of the images such that a trinocular conversion, apart from the convenience of not having to remove an ocular to take pictures, would be rendered moot? Or is combining the two changes together - trinocular conversion + a better camera adapter - the ticket to photographic nirvana?

Please feel free to also provide answers to the questions I neglected to ask. From some of the posts I’ve read in this forum, I realize that many of you are subject matter experts in optics and the physics of light as well as microscopy in general and I am in awe of that knowledge but also hope to tap into that well. I would be grateful for any guidance you can provide.

Thank you!

Gene
Olympus CX31
Olympus SZ61TR-LED
AmScope T490B-LED
AmScope SM-2TZ-LED
AO 110 MicroStar Dual Head
Canon EOS 40D

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Re: Trinocular Modification for an Olympus CX31?

#2 Post by microb » Sun Oct 06, 2019 5:01 am

A single port with a camera that allows you to do video on your computer screen then some high res single shots would be the way I would go. I don't like eye pieces. They're a relic from the past. So instead of buying an expensive trinocular, buy a tube lens instead. For Olympus the part is the U-TLU. It's been a while but CX31's I believe take the BX/AX heads, so the dovetails should all fit. E-bay has several people that seemed to have specialized in microscope camera adapters. These mounts are without any optics inside. It's just a straight shot to the camera after the tube lens.

If someone has pointers to what they believe is the best camera mount for Olympus, please let me know so I can add to my tests.

Thanks.

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Re: Trinocular Modification for an Olympus CX31?

#3 Post by 75RR » Sun Oct 06, 2019 6:13 am

A single port with a camera that allows you to do video on your computer screen then some high res single shots would be the way I would go. I don't like eye pieces. They're a relic from the past. So instead of buying an expensive trinocular, buy a tube lens instead.
Dispensing with a head and eyepieces would be cheaper, though it does not suit everyone.

A couple of points if you decide to use this method:

You might want to look into a camera monitor (might be more convenient than a computer screen)

Re Parfocality: You should set the microscope up using the head and eyepieces first (and then remove it, leaving the setup as is) while you set the camera up - that would give you parfocality, effectively making sure that the microscope can be subsequently setup correctly when using just the screen/monitor.
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Re: Trinocular Modification for an Olympus CX31?

#4 Post by Docgene888 » Sun Oct 06, 2019 11:15 pm

Thank you, Microb and 75RR.

I looked into the U-TLU today and that was a great suggestion! Re-sale prices from companies are right around where a U-TRU unit sold for on eBay last Thursday ~$350. I still need to decide which path to pursue (U-TR30-2 vs U-TRU vs U-TLU vs status quo) and both cost and availability will be considerations.

I took this image today with the Olympus CX31 using an AmScope MU303 installed in the right ocular.
https://www.instagram.com/p/B3S3LukhW12 ... mikal1mcwn

Best,

Gene
Olympus CX31
Olympus SZ61TR-LED
AmScope T490B-LED
AmScope SM-2TZ-LED
AO 110 MicroStar Dual Head
Canon EOS 40D

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Re: Trinocular Modification for an Olympus CX31?

#5 Post by 75RR » Mon Oct 07, 2019 2:38 am

Image looks as if the condenser diaphragm might be closed a little too much

Here is a great practice tutorial on setting up Köhler - needs Flash though!

http://zeiss-campus.magnet.fsu.edu/tuto ... flash.html
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Re: Trinocular Modification for an Olympus CX31?

#6 Post by PeteM » Mon Oct 07, 2019 5:14 am

The best setup, IMO, is an ergonomic binocular head (tilts to a comfortable height) on top with a U-TRU intermediate piece under it to hook to a camera. This is the most stable perch for a dedicated camera and the best possible ergonomics for viewing. As you suggest, even used it will likely cost near $1000.

If you have a permanent station and can adjust the table and chair height then the ergonomic head is not so necessary. Then, either a standard binocular and U-TRU or just the trinocular head might come into play.

While I understand the logic of using a single tube, a camera, and screen to view everything (especially with fluorescence, laser confocal, etc. where there is a safety factor), viewing through eyepieces (at least for me) provides a more immersive view, the best possible resolution, and higher effective contrast from blocking out room light.

As a hypothesis, it may be that having two eyepieces in play rather than a single image presented to a screen allows slightly different focus points into a specimen and a "combined in the mind" sharper image. I do know that contact lenses may be set with one at near distance and the other at far, and our minds (for most users) manage to get the best of both. In a way that is sort of two image focus stacking, with the "processing" in our visual system. Seems to me the same is a possibility with binocular viewing through a microscope -- and perhaps a reason why the view seems more immersive??

AmScope made a combination binocular head and U-TRU-like intermediate piece for their higher end (e.g. $4000 or so) scopes that is a drop-in replacement for BX series (and thus, I believe CX series) heads. You might get one for about half what an Olympus might fetch, maybe $500.

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Re: Trinocular Modification for an Olympus CX31?

#7 Post by Docgene888 » Mon Oct 07, 2019 10:27 am

Hi Pete,

I am in line with your thinking. I have a permanent location for the microscopes (a cross-braced work table) and I use a pneumatic exam stool for viewing. The dynamics of monovision as you described the contacts analogy pertains to my situation. With the camera in the ocular tube, I feel a loss of the pleasure of direct examination through the eyepieces. So that leaves the options of the U-TR30 vs the U-TRU. Olympus provided me with a quote of $890 for a new U-TRU with a U-SPT photo tube. Recent sales on ebay for both items came to around $400. So that will likely be my course of action.

Best,

Gene
Olympus CX31
Olympus SZ61TR-LED
AmScope T490B-LED
AmScope SM-2TZ-LED
AO 110 MicroStar Dual Head
Canon EOS 40D

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Re: Trinocular Modification for an Olympus CX31?

#8 Post by Docgene888 » Mon Oct 07, 2019 10:37 am

Hi 75RR,

Thanks for the tutorial link. I have Flash on my Mac (and also Windows 10 within Fusion where I run Toupview) but not on my iPad where I am typing this reply so I will view it later. You are spot-on with your Köhler observation. Both of the CX31s I purchased at auction are capable of Köhler but the one I will be selling achieved it without effort (I wouldn’t sell something for the price I will be asking if it had material defects without a full disclosure). The one I am keeping needs a realignment somewhere, probably in the light source or in the condenser mount, because the closest I can get to Köhler is about 25º off right-center. Perhaps the tutorial you sent will provide the answers because the one I found from Olympus did not.

Best,

Gene
Olympus CX31
Olympus SZ61TR-LED
AmScope T490B-LED
AmScope SM-2TZ-LED
AO 110 MicroStar Dual Head
Canon EOS 40D

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Re: Trinocular Modification for an Olympus CX31?

#9 Post by mrsonchus » Thu Oct 10, 2019 9:08 am

Hi there, will this trinocular-head fit your 'scope - the price is good and I've bought from this chap and know him to be reliable.
Link to trinocular head
John B

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Re: Trinocular Modification for an Olympus CX31?

#10 Post by Docgene888 » Thu Oct 10, 2019 1:16 pm

Hi John,

Thanks for the suggestion and link. The U-TR30-2 or the U-TRU mods are the way to go IMHO. The price is certainly fair although the shipping cost is understandably higher than postage for shipping within the US.

Questions if you don’t mind - I have seen different model numbers for this part from U-TR30 to U-TR30-2 to U-TR30-2-2. Is there one that works (fits) best with the CX31? Or is the modifier unrelated to compatibility for my model? And I’ve done a few searches, and have looked over the Olympus optical accessories catalog, but can’t seem to determine the practical difference from a wide field version of that trinocular head, like the one in the link you sent, vs the super wide field version of that same head other than obviously a wider optical field. How would a super wide field model (U-SWTR-2) change the optical clarity of photos taken with an APC sensory as found in my Canon EOS 40D DSLR, if at all?

Thanks again!

Best,

Gene
Olympus CX31
Olympus SZ61TR-LED
AmScope T490B-LED
AmScope SM-2TZ-LED
AO 110 MicroStar Dual Head
Canon EOS 40D

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Re: Trinocular Modification for an Olympus CX31?

#11 Post by mrsonchus » Thu Oct 10, 2019 5:52 pm

Hi Gene,
I've seen the -1, -2 etc additions to the end of other Olympus part numbers such as the ergonomic heads, and can't find any definitive info re this.....

The super-widefield head is for use with the super-widefield objectives, i.e. those marked with a 26.6 mm fild number on the barrel. The 22mm 'normal' heads are for those objectives such as the Plan N UIS2 or Plan UIS1 objectives, such as those I have on my BX40. I also have a UPlanApo 26.5mm filed 'super-widefield' objective, which of course works the same as the others at 22mm with the 'normal' widefield head.

Personally I have no intention of stepping-up to the 26.5mm head as the 22mm preserves the capability to use the 22mm objectives. The extra widefield-width isn't relevant unless your camera actually covers the extra amount, and is only seen via the eyepieces...

My Canon and nearly all others covers only a smaller part of the eyepiece view, which stays the same of course even with the super-widefield head..... So, no difference to photographic image. There are experts here that know more than I do, but the different heads I'm sure make no difference at all to your camera's image quality.

This is my setup with Canon atop, and it works perfectly, this is the configuration I'd recommend myself,
Image

An Olympus PE2.5x photo-eyepiece sits inside the black part of the tube and projects a perfectly parfocal image to the camera.
Here's a link to a very reasonably-priced PE2.5x eyepiece...

Here's a link to how it fits together...

This is assuming that the head (which fits the BX 'scopes such as my BX40) has the right fitting to be used with your CX31 - you must check this!
John B

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Re: Trinocular Modification for an Olympus CX31?

#12 Post by Docgene888 » Thu Oct 10, 2019 8:05 pm

Thanks, John.

I appreciate the photo of your very nice set-up and the link to your excellent post on the eyepiece. I obtained a quote from Olympus for the U-TRU with a U-SPT phototube and it does fit the CX31. New pricing for both with a professional discount of 8% came to $900 USD. I'm holding off on buying though since as you pointed out earlier, a U-TR30 trinocular head in good condition can be had for about the same price as an intermediate tube. I viewed the schematic on Alan Wood's website for the CX series that showed a trinocular port connected to the SPT tube with a PE 2.5x eyepiece inserted that was connected to the OM-L photo adapter topped with an OM-EOS mount (http://www.alanwood.net/photography/oly ... scope.html). The SPT/PE/OM-L costs totaled around $400 USD on eBay.

So for me, it all boils down to the TR30 vs the TRU as the base for my EOS 40D attachment since the other components are the same for either set-up. Any thoughts on the difference between them as to image quality, ease of use, etc? In your earlier email, you recommended the TRU but I see that your set-up has the TR30 head. I know that the TRU price new is about the same as the used TR30 per your example and that the TRU has optical pathway settings for either 100% observation/0% camera or 20% observation/80% camera. And of course as we discussed, the TRU raises the eyepieces a bit over the stock head but with my pneumatic stool, that's a non-issue.

Thanks again!

Best,

Gene
Olympus CX31
Olympus SZ61TR-LED
AmScope T490B-LED
AmScope SM-2TZ-LED
AO 110 MicroStar Dual Head
Canon EOS 40D

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Re: Trinocular Modification for an Olympus CX31?

#13 Post by mrsonchus » Thu Oct 10, 2019 8:19 pm

That sounds about right Gene. The choice of the side-port intermediate or the trinocular.

Incidentally, did you find a supplier for the U-TRU, as I'm looking for one too?
John B

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Re: Trinocular Modification for an Olympus CX31?

#14 Post by Docgene888 » Thu Oct 10, 2019 9:39 pm

Hi John,

There were two up for bid on eBay 2 weeks ago. I missed one by $20 and the other by $50 when one sold for $350 and the other for $320. Same seller. I worried about bidding high on both since it was a simultaneous auction and the risk was I’d have wound up buying both! There are a few medical optical companies in the US that resell the U-TRU for around $650 in “excellent” used condition (https://www.spachoptics.com/OLYMPUS-U-T ... -u-tru.htm). But that’s not far off from the new Olympus price that includes a warranty.

I think patience is the key in finding the TRU in the right condition, at the right price, from the right seller.

Best,

Gene

ps - I’m taking pictures over the next few days of the second CX31 I have as well as shots of the two Olympus SZ61TR-LEDs that I’m selling. I’m going to offer them to forum members first before I post them on eBay. If you know anyone who might be interested they can contact me via PM. Thanks!
Last edited by Docgene888 on Fri Oct 11, 2019 2:11 am, edited 1 time in total.
Olympus CX31
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AmScope T490B-LED
AmScope SM-2TZ-LED
AO 110 MicroStar Dual Head
Canon EOS 40D

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Re: Trinocular Modification for an Olympus CX31?

#15 Post by mrsonchus » Thu Oct 10, 2019 10:54 pm

I agree completely Gene, it's always just a matter of time I find.
I like the look of the stereo-zoom trinoc, but way-above my budget I'm afraid old chap. If I hear of any interest I'll surely let you know.
John B

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Re: Trinocular Modification for an Olympus CX31?

#16 Post by Scarodactyl » Fri Oct 11, 2019 12:28 am

You should keep one of the stereos if you don't already have a nice one. They are amazing tools.

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Re: Trinocular Modification for an Olympus CX31?

#17 Post by Docgene888 » Fri Oct 11, 2019 1:07 am

Thanks, John. I’ll send out links to the Google photo albums once I upload the pics.

Hi Scarodactyl - I bought an AmScope SM-2TZ earlier this year and while it isn’t in the same league as the Olympus stereoscope, it takes a rather nice picture through the trinocular port. I’ve compared them side by side and can say that the major advantage of the SZ-61TR aside from the obvious higher quality of the optics is the compact size compared to the AmScope. If the receipts from selling one of them in addition to selling the second CX31 covers my auction purchase outlay plus the cost of desired upgrades to the CX31 I am keeping (adding a trinocular port, photo tubes and requisite optics/connectors for my Canon 40D), I would definitely be in favor of keeping one. In fact, I have an AmScope 3MP USB 3.0 c-mount camera that works great and fits perfectly with the trinocular port on the Olympus SZ-61TR. That would definitely be a win-win scenario! 8-)

Best,

Gene
Olympus CX31
Olympus SZ61TR-LED
AmScope T490B-LED
AmScope SM-2TZ-LED
AO 110 MicroStar Dual Head
Canon EOS 40D

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Re: Trinocular Modification for an Olympus CX31?

#18 Post by Docgene888 » Fri Oct 11, 2019 10:17 pm

Hello all,

I posted the notice of sale for the second Olympus CX31 and one of the SZ61TRs w/SZ2-ILST LED base in the equipment for sale section of this forum. Here is the link: viewtopic.php?f=16&t=8168#p71621.

Please let me know if you have any questions.

Thanks!

Gene
Olympus CX31
Olympus SZ61TR-LED
AmScope T490B-LED
AmScope SM-2TZ-LED
AO 110 MicroStar Dual Head
Canon EOS 40D

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