Swift SW380T

Summary

The Swift SW380T is a mid-range microscope (according to my definition), which I think is ideal for amateur microscopy use. The microscope has overall a good quality and the feedback from other people that bought it was also generally positive. At least at the time of writing of this article, I was a bit surprised that the microscope is not even that expensive.

It is slightly larger than other models, and the base is triangular. Because of this it is quite stable (also for camera attachment), but also not quite as portable. The arm of the microscope (the back side) is quite wide and there is no easy possibility to hold the microscope with one hand. The microscope should therefore have a more or less permanent place on your table.

It uses an internal power supply and not an external adapter. While this is much a question of taste, the advantage is that I think that connecting a power cord directly to the microscope is mechanically more stable. The power cord is directly connected to the microscope and this connection is more stable and less flimsy than connecting a small low-voltage plug from an external adapter. (This was one of the reasons why we chose a microscope with an internal adapter for school, a different model, because we expected this to break less often.)

The objectives (black) are better than the optics of microscopes with a similar price. The model SW380B is the binocular version. For comparison, the smaller and cheaper models SW350T and SW350B has the same features but the objectives (silver) show some blurriness on the side.

I generally recommend the trinocular version of either model, because of the convenience of attaching a camera. In many more expensive microscopes, there is a separate lever in the microscope head that allows you to redirect the light either to the eyepieces and/or the phototube. This microscope does not have such a lever and the light is always split between eyepieces and phototube. This means that a some light is always lost through the phototube and the image through the eyepieces will therefore appear a bit darker than with the binocular version. Overall I still recommend the trinocular version, because the light is still bright enough.

I can therefore clearly recommend this microscope. The price/performance ratio is pretty good.

Swift SW380T

Advice

Attachment of microscope head: I would re-engineer the attachment of the microscope head to the body of the microscope, however. There is a tightening screw, which (when loosened) allows for the rotation of the microscope head. The screw will then scratch the dovetail, however. This can result in metal filings coming off. I therefore recommend to keep the microscope head fixed in one place and not turn it. A slight loosening of the screw will not cause the head to fall off, but there is a noticeable wobble. Tighten the screw all the way and keep it that way. I have seen this issue also in several other microscopes of different brands.

Centering of the condenser: When you close the condenser aperture diaphragm all the way, and use the 4x objective, then you might see that the condenser is not quite centered. This has no impact on image quality, however. There are no centering screws to adjust the position of the condenser (few microscope of this price range have this), If you want to center the condenser, then you have to loosen the screws that hold the condenser to the stage. Not a big issue.

Phototube: The height of the phototube can be adjusted a little bit. This allows to to adjust it in such a way that the image is both in focus through the eyepieces and in the camera (parfocality ensured). You can do that be screwing in the phototube more or less deep and then fixing it with the tightening ring. I mention this here, because the instruction manual does not mention this.

Condenser: This microscope has a different way of raising and lowering the condenser. There is a ring that has to be turned horizontally and not a knob or lever. It can be easily overlooked. Keep the condenser in the top most position. The filter holder is a swing-out type and you have to raise the condenser all the way (and also the stage) to be able to reach it more easily to swing it out.

Specifications

  • Objectives: 4x, 10x, 40x, 100x oil
  • Condenser: yes, and filter holder
  • Mechanical stage: yes
  • Power supply: internal
  • Illumination system: LED
  • Focusing: precise (fine focus does not turn when you turn the coarse focus)

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