Chinese Wild M3 Clone: It's pretty good! [With comparison to mz6]

What equipment do you use? Post pictures and descriptions of your microscope(s) here!
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Scarodactyl
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Chinese Wild M3 Clone: It's pretty good! [With comparison to mz6]

#1 Post by Scarodactyl » Sun Nov 10, 2019 1:47 am

There has recently been some interest in people posting their own first-hand experiences with Chinese microscopes, so I thought I should contribute. I'll try to get to the very popular Nikon SMZ series lookalikes in a bit, but for now I wanted to post a quick review of this Wild M3 clone:
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This baby is branded Parco (I'm as shocked as anyone that Parco sold something this nice, given their reputation--they don't sell them anymore anyway) but it is also sold by Mitutoyo, Motic, formerly by Unitron and many other suppliers.
This one is a clone of a later version of the Wild M3 (the earlier tan M3 took a 20mm post, this one takes a 25mm post and has a 50mm threaded objective). It has three zoom settings, 6.4x, 25x and 40x. I believe they also made one that's more like an M3C, with five zoom settings.

Optically, my impression is that it is comparable or a bit better than my old tan M3. It has a nice image but there is significant doming and curvature of field at the lowest zoom setting. I sold the M3 a while back, though, so I can't give a fine comparison.

Construction is very solid on it, metal everywhere like the old days--the only decision that seemed weird to me was a bit of surgical tubing that they apparently put in to smooth the motion of the lens drum, which had fallen off on one end and jammed things up. It was easy to remove and works well without it. It is clearly a very close copy. This one came with 10x/21 eyepieces, but they also have 10x/23 eyepieces which I have tried and give a nice wide field of view.

The head is fully compatible with Wild/Leica M series microscopes, which is also nice in light of how expensive those can get. I am not sure it is quite as good, though--the image produced is great, but when I look in a stereo there's always a small delay before the image converges, and the Chinese head's images are a little further apart than a Wild or Leica head. I don't know if that actually matters though. Actual alignment has been good on the two heads I have tried, in that both eyepieces saw the exact same FoV when properly set up.

Whoever makes these also makes clones of the M5 and the M7 (apparently two flavors of M7-alikes), including teaching bridges, drawing attachments and trinoc ports. I also have one of the trinoc ports--it works on a Leica and takes 38mm accessories, and has an iris as well. It does not look like as close of a clone as the rest of the scope, though, and the design feels a little cheaper. Still, given how expensive a used Leica trinoc port can be having the option of buying one new for a decent price is pretty nice.

Overall, it's beautifully made and really feels like a quality product. That being said, as you would expect quality comes at a price in China as anywhere else. From what I can tell these are around 1500usd new. At that price you could get a used genuine Wild with some excellent accessories and have a bunch of cash left over. But used they sometimes go for a lot less than genuine Wild, so if you're in the market for a basic stereo and see one for a good price you should definitely consider it.
Last edited by Scarodactyl on Sat Nov 16, 2019 12:48 am, edited 1 time in total.

PeteM
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Re: Chinese Wild M3 Clone: It's pretty good!

#2 Post by PeteM » Sun Nov 10, 2019 4:10 am

Thanks for that review.

Scarodactyl
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Re: Chinese Wild M3 Clone: It's pretty good!

#3 Post by Scarodactyl » Fri Nov 15, 2019 9:59 pm

OK, let's get to the meat of things. I got it set up on a proper stand (one of these very well-priced modern Wild reproductions https://rover.ebay.com/rover/0/0/0?mpre ... 3944544346) and took some comparison pictures. I don't have a Wild M3 on hand, but I do have a Leica MZ6, equipped with their lowest-end non-plan achro objective. That's not an entirely fair comparison (this is a copy of the original M3, while the MZ6 is a descendant of the more advanced M3Z, but the MZ6 has a continuous zoom vs the simpler step zoom of this Parco scope) but it seems like it should be of interest.
How does it hold up? Pretty well, I think.
These shots were taken using the same Wild beamsplitter, direct projected onto my Canon EOS T6, on different stands but using the same cheap LED ring light. Exposure isn't always ideal on these shots, I was controlling it from my phone over wifi.
First the M3 clone (click for full size), in increasing mag order (.64x, 2.5x and 4x)
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There is pretty obvious blue-yellow CA on high contrast stuff, as well as spherical abberations.
So let's try a more interesting subject, a plate of uvarovite garnet crystals:
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On a more realistic subject than text on paper I think it does fairly well.

Now the MZ6, taken at nominally the same magnifications using the zoom knob:
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Similar levels of CA visible, maybe a bit less. Magnification levels aren't quite the same either.
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On the Uvarovite performance is also similar. Here they are at max mag, side by side:
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Obviously, if you have a choice between the two at the same price point you'd want a real Wild or a real Leica. The original M3 it's a copy of is a solid and beautiful scope but not top of the line. That being said, I am quite pleased with the performance of the clone.

jfiresto
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Re: Chinese Wild M3 Clone: It's pretty good! [With comparison to mz6]

#4 Post by jfiresto » Sun Nov 17, 2019 4:33 pm

For comparison, here are some images from a ca. 1980 Wild M3, using an even older Wild 376788 photo tube, projecting directly onto the sensor of a 12 megapixel, Micro Four Thirds Olympus E-PL3 camera, with no additional optics. The text is from a 1200 dpi laser printer with ca. 5 µm toner particles. The color cast is from a single, IKEA Jansjö lamp that fooled the camera's auto white balance sensing. The full frame images are decimated to 1024 pixels wide; the center crops show 1:1 the camera's JPEG pixels.

6.4x_full_frame.jpg
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6.4x_center_crop.jpg
6.4x_center_crop.jpg (82.44 KiB) Viewed 163 times
16x_full_frame.jpg
16x_full_frame.jpg (201.5 KiB) Viewed 163 times
16x_center_crop.jpg
16x_center_crop.jpg (158 KiB) Viewed 163 times

I closed the photo tube iris half way to bring more of the periphery into focus. I will try a more modern tube and camera to see how much that improves the images.
Last edited by jfiresto on Sun Nov 17, 2019 5:00 pm, edited 3 times in total.
-John

jfiresto
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Re: Chinese Wild M3 Clone: It's pretty good! [With comparison to mz6]

#5 Post by jfiresto » Sun Nov 17, 2019 4:34 pm

...
40x_full_frame.jpg
40x_full_frame.jpg (177.62 KiB) Viewed 163 times
40x_center_crop.jpg
40x_center_crop.jpg (123.2 KiB) Viewed 163 times
-John

Scarodactyl
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Re: Chinese Wild M3 Clone: It's pretty good! [With comparison to mz6]

#6 Post by Scarodactyl » Sun Nov 17, 2019 5:08 pm

Thanks! I appreciate that. These are better pictures for showing quality as well (I was kind of rushed in taking mine, and ring lights are not very flattering on this type of subject).
The M3 family definitely shows some CA, and doming distortion as well in the earlier ones (though that doesn't show up in photos like it does in the eyes). But they're still awfully nice.

jfiresto
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Re: Chinese Wild M3 Clone: It's pretty good! [With comparison to mz6]

#7 Post by jfiresto » Sun Nov 17, 2019 5:36 pm

I am glad they were helpful. I wanted to include some shots of a green mineral, but have misplaced it.

It is funny. All this time, I saw but never really felt the original Wild M3's, enthusiastic dome distortion – until a few minutes ago, when I looked at the text, again, in stereo, through the eyepieces. I had grown used to the images from an M7x which, by comparison, look plano plano.
-John

Scarodactyl
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Re: Chinese Wild M3 Clone: It's pretty good! [With comparison to mz6]

#8 Post by Scarodactyl » Sun Nov 17, 2019 7:32 pm

It's a common issue with CMOs at lower magnifications, even some thst were rather high end in their day (like the Nikon SMZ-10).
The m7 is a later scope, and it does deliver excellent views. I wonder how the Chinese M7 clone compares, but they only seem to be sold as part of a very expensive teaching bridge setup. There is one on eBay now listed as a Parco SMZ 7.

jfiresto
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Re: Chinese Wild M3 Clone: It's pretty good! [With comparison to mz6]

#9 Post by jfiresto » Sun Nov 17, 2019 8:29 pm

I believe the Motic K700 is a derivative. You can get both single and dual observer versions from Ted Pella. Their prices appear reasonable. They list the Motic 1500.3 photo bridge for $190. I have seen it as high as $300.
-John

Scarodactyl
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Re: Chinese Wild M3 Clone: It's pretty good! [With comparison to mz6]

#10 Post by Scarodactyl » Sun Nov 17, 2019 8:38 pm

The k700 is pretty similar (maybe it's modeled after the original M7?) but the one I'm thinking of is an M7a clone:
Image
Motic doesn't sell this one.

jfiresto
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Re: Chinese Wild M3 Clone: It's pretty good! [With comparison to mz6]

#11 Post by jfiresto » Sun Nov 17, 2019 8:53 pm

Could that be Motic's previous model that Parco has copied, and a copier being copied?

I ask because Motic continues to sell the spitting image of Parco's photo adapter, for the K700 – and ask their customers to mix visual styles: Swiss rounded and Chinese rounded rectangular.
-John

Scarodactyl
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Re: Chinese Wild M3 Clone: It's pretty good! [With comparison to mz6]

#12 Post by Scarodactyl » Sun Nov 17, 2019 9:51 pm

I have heard that Motic doesn't actually make these, but instead get them from a supplier like everyone else. Parco certainly doesn't make anything, they just resell scopes (usually the cheapest type of stuff, though these were an exception). In theory Motic could be the original source and stenciling for other sellers, but I have found the m7a-alike model still on offer on alibaba.

jfiresto
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Re: Chinese Wild M3 Clone: It's pretty good! [With comparison to mz6]

#13 Post by jfiresto » Wed Nov 20, 2019 3:47 pm

The pictures I posted earlier are somewhat pathological, in that they try to excite the optical shortcomings of the microscope rather than demonstrate its strengths. The Wild M3 was sold as a "routine" microscope, designed to efficiently support daily production and inspection, in the field or on the factory floor. Its subjects have considerable and much more interesting relief and variation that push those shortcomings into the shadows.

I bought a used, die cast T-connector off ebay that has a rusted nut that just will not come out. So, I put the casting under the microscope and took a picture at 6.4X. Here is the JPEG out of the E-PL3, first decimated to 1024 points across and then cropped, with the original pixels, around the top of the nut:

casting_nut_full.jpg
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casting_nut_crop.jpg
casting_nut_crop.jpg (155.18 KiB) Viewed 39 times

Here is a stereo microscope that is in its element. I think I will spoil the seller sending him the picture.
-John

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