New Stereo - Nikon SMZ800

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mrsonchus
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New Stereo - Nikon SMZ800

#1 Post by mrsonchus » Wed Dec 09, 2020 11:42 pm

Hi all, well, having attempted an upgrade a while back now of my Amscope stereo-zoom 7.5X->45X in an attempt primarily to be able to use the photo-port at the same time as BOTH eyepieces and failing, I've tried again and yes, spent yet more money... :cry: The first 'scope had a pull-push rod to divert the LH eyepiece image to the camera port - a common arrangement, but stereo use is lost which makes it impossible to dissect and document at the same time.

The 1st attempt was the purchase of basically the same Amscope, but the 'simulfocal' version, which indeed does allow the use of all-three image ports...
The relative lowering of brightness caused (seems obvious now to consider that the light is 'shared' 3 ways rather than formerly 2...) and the overall inability to achieve satisfying images either video or stills through the stereo 'scope soon caused frustration and regrets....

Anyway I decided after a lot of reading about the Greenough system vs the CMO system, to save up a bit and go for a 'scope of the CMO design and the ability to use all three ports at once - selectably - the 1st replacement 'simulfocal' 'scope above was not selectable, but permanently 'on' as it were, no selector rod or similar...

The rationale being that the CMO system with it's parallel optical paths may give better camera results, although the optical paths pass through the edges of the CMO - which is very large to enable this I suppose. This causes it's own set of limitations as the optical axis is never actually used (unless the excellently laterally-slideable head of the 'S' series M3 Wild 'scopes is used - still no simul.focus there, but theoretically excellent or at least optimal photomicroscopy images..). These limitations have proved to be mere 'ghosts in the machine' as the performance is superb - thank goodness!

Anyway I'm going on-and-on - sorry :oops:

I bought a very clean and well-maintained Nikon SM800 locally (50 miles away from my home) that has a phototube included and a plan 1x CMO objective. First trials after setup are very promising indeed. For sheer image quality in just about all terms it surpasses the Amscopes' enormously, but then considering the Nikon reputation not to mention price-factor of about 10-times new (which mine is of course not) it should do!

I love this 'scope so-far, beautifully clear, detailed and above-all BRIGHT optics - selectably simulfocal across both eyepieces AND the camera-port. I've also ordered an iris-pair for it to hopefully complement the excellent optics with more control and maybe even an ability to influence depth of field somewhat - when they arrive I'll let you know how they perform....

Here are some images at last....

Image

I cobbled-together an old 38mm diameter Leitz photo-port to eyepiece adapter to put into the Nikon's photo-port until I can find an appropriately-sized reduction-optic adapter to C-mount or Canon EOS. This strange arrangement actually works very well, apart from the rather poor optics of the reducing and focusable adapter that the camera is attached to at the moment - still, concept is proven and parfocal - a good start in that direction. Meanwhile the 'scope is a beautiful performer in use, regardless of the camera-port at this time...

Image


The photo-port selectable between 3-way simulfocus and eyepiece stereo without photo-port..
Image

I particularly like the stand's column design, which has a continuous-rack. This allows a very large focus range rather than the shorter racks of the round pole-type where the range of height is far smaller before moving the mount's clamp up or down the pole wholesale...

Image

The plan 1x objective is a really nice performer indeed.
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This is the LED disc I fitted to my Amscopes a couple of years ago, which works perfectly as a very inexpensive to make transmitted light source, when used with a cheap dimmer and power supply (I think it's 12-volt - now sure now without checking, it's either 12 or 6V). These are made I think for cars hence the yellow outer-ring of LEDs that may also be connected and seperately controlled from the white disc if desired! Perhaps a basic for oblique or darkfield - but they're yellow so maybe not.
Image

Image

I actually bought 2 at the time in case I blew one up - they were about £4 each I think!
Image

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I also placed a piece of frosted plastic over the disc as an extra diffuesr - cut to round with strong scissors at the time - works perfectly.
Image

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I have also (came with the 'scope) the usual black one side white the other discs for incident lighting. What I don't have is a frosted glass disc yet - the Amscope ones I have are a little larger diameter - but should be easy and cheap enough to find... For now and in these images I simply placed the oversized one over the hole for the transmitted images...
Image

At 1X (10X with eyepiece) zoomed-out as it were, apologies but this is a simple shot through an eyepiece for now...
Image
Image

Zoomed in to 6.3X max-zoom (63X including eyepiece of course),
Image
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More info and images soon - so far I'm really pleased with the Nikom SMZ800's performance, soon have the irises and lighting set-up properly too!
Last edited by mrsonchus on Thu Dec 10, 2020 10:25 am, edited 2 times in total.
John B

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Re: New Stereo - Nikon SMZ800

#2 Post by Scarodactyl » Thu Dec 10, 2020 5:24 am

This is a nice scope, a bit underrated by a few online sources. I set one up for a friend on a gemscope with a planapo objective and it was just great. I'd note this series has what seem to be the cheapest and most available used planapo objectives, so that upgrade is easy. They did make an objective changer which has a decentered setting for on-axis photography, at least for the 1500 and 1270. I don't think the 800 has the bolt hole to prevent it unscrewing though, and it's kind of rare (I bought the only one I've ever seen sold loose).
I have a couple excellent diagnostic instruments adapters for nikon scopes I can part with by the way.

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mrsonchus
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Re: New Stereo - Nikon SMZ800

#3 Post by mrsonchus » Thu Dec 10, 2020 6:09 am

Hi, yes I agree - underrated often but very nice indeed - anything you have for this one is interesting - tell me more.... pm?
I'm finding a 3 1/2" frosted glass stage-plate quite difficult to find - I don't suppose you have one or preferably two for it?
The objective changer - love one, as well as perhaps a 2x objective - I wouldn't consider a 2X for a stereo before I saw the quality possible with this 'scope - a renewed desire to go that little-bit closer in at times, great for Botanicals with oblique from the lights I bought with this one....
Ergo-head, maybe wedge for cheaper option...

Planapo 2X......
Plan 0.5X......

Quick somebody throw a net over me before my bank-account has a breakdown.... ;)
John B

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Re: New Stereo - Nikon SMZ800

#4 Post by MicroBob » Thu Dec 10, 2020 6:58 am

Hi John,
congratulations to your new stereo microscope. Squeaking modern piece of equipment for me! I'm a bit cautious to look through instruments like this because I might not like my 1960s 1970s Leitz and Olympus anymore. :lol:
I recently had a round stage insert and a rectangular stage insert with angled sides made by an aquaintance who is a glazier by profession. As far as I know he does general glazier jobs so this should be a job many glaziers can do.

Bob

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Re: New Stereo - Nikon SMZ800

#5 Post by PeteM » Thu Dec 10, 2020 8:03 am

John - let me join the admiring chorus. If an 85mm or 90mm stage plate would fit - Ebay will have frosted glass plates from China modestly priced. For example:

https://www.ebay.com/itm/Stereo-Microsc ... SwbHpfxgjh

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Re: New Stereo - Nikon SMZ800

#6 Post by jfiresto » Thu Dec 10, 2020 10:12 am

That is a very nice microscope you have there. I am trying to wean a couple guys off their Amscope/Eakins stereo microscopes (I think wean is the right word). Both wish for better photo and video imaging. I hope they will be equally pleased.

Wild made a phototube, the 180570, with a 50:50 beam splitter. It is very convenient on an "S" model in macroscope mode, as you can then use an eyepiece as a focusing viewfinder.
-John

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Re: New Stereo - Nikon SMZ800

#7 Post by mrsonchus » Thu Dec 10, 2020 11:57 am

Yes I struggled with the choice once I'd decided on a larger budget, the Wild classics such as the incredibly configurable M3 series or the beautiful M8 with zoom and larger range - the shift-head for coaxial photography....... Then there's the venerable Olympus SZH - a beautiful 'scope also.

The deciding factor was the location at first - only 50 miles away from me and a very reputable company with large premises etc (weld inspection metallography 'scopes sold new and sales of 'trade-ins'). This enabled me to go and look at a few 'scopes and as soon as I tried the SMZ800 I knew I'd found a nice one - very clean indeed. There were a couple of Olympus SZH 'scopes which were just in but absolutely horrific internally - they looked as though they had come from an industrial setting, lots of oils condensate and even fungus.... On to the Nikons I went...

The beautiful SMZ is now sitting in place of my Amscope - which is now for sale on internet if anyone's interested.

Here it is placed temporarily loose in a box - not packed like this for post! Included is a 0.5X objective that really gives superb views.
Image

Image

It's on e-bay but I'll post details here (in the for sale area of the forum of course) later....

Just let me know if interested.
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Re: New Stereo - Nikon SMZ800

#8 Post by apochronaut » Thu Dec 10, 2020 1:03 pm

That does seem more what you were looking for. Lots of leeway to build on it too. It is hard to make a decision when trying to economize but sometimes the money just has to go where it is intended. Very impressive scope and looks in good shape too.

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Re: New Stereo - Nikon SMZ800

#9 Post by jfiresto » Thu Dec 10, 2020 1:18 pm

The Amscope/Eakins microscopes are good value for the money, but I think at some point you hit the limits of what is possible at that price point. Earlier, I wrote "trying to wean" because I gave enough advice that I am going to feel a bit responsible if things do not work out. I appreciate your report because it reassures me that my advice was probably not unsound and that I may have saved those guys some trouble in discovering everything on their own.

I will be curious what the irises win you. They noticeably extend the sharp field of view of a non-plan Wild M3 at 6.4x: with half closed being the "sweet spot" for the objective. The sweet spot of an M7A/M7S appears to be wide open. I thought the M7's had a semi-plan objective and I am now pretty much convinced. The irises do moderately increase the depth at depth of field at high magnifications, at the cost of reduced resolution below the sweet spot.
-John

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Re: New Stereo - Nikon SMZ800

#10 Post by mrsonchus » Thu Dec 10, 2020 4:25 pm

The irisis came this morning but I had no time to fit and try them! :cry:
Anyway I just came home and gave them a very quick try - they took all of 1 minute to install between the body and phototube.
At first look they are very effective indeed - I was taken-aback by their contribution. As possibly expected as they're closed the image begins to show a very slight increase in contrast (as on a compund 'scope in fact) that is entirely adjustable to taste - I honestly didn't notice any loss of resolution but there must technically be some....

I moved to max-zoom and again set them just-so. As closing them I actually saw the DOF increase as the 3D moss cluster I tried them on has a mass of seta and leaves, which make the change of DOF and contrast easily noticeable.
In fact, parts below my focus-plane became sharper in addition to that plane - very useful indeed for my Botanical dissections. Not only that - as the 'background' became generally sharper and more defined (just as with a camera when the F-stop is increased) contrast rose considerably and reduced flare from reflections significantly also.

The sum of these individually perceived characteristics resulted in an even better image than the already excellent one without the intervention of irises! In short - the irises when used well add far more than the extremely useful increase in DOF that they are well known for.
This tells me for one that if the 'scope's of a decent quality, additions such as irises have a very high chance to work at their optimum and contribute greatly. They weren't cheap, but I bought them (used of course) from a very reliable e-bay seller that I have purchased from (and I think sold to...) before who I know for certain, from experience, always sells equipment in exceptionally good condition.

The irises are as-new, absolutely perfect condition in their original bag I think - real beauties.... So, another chunk of money gone, but well-worth it in my case as I'm really pleased with this 'scope, which has, even at a cost, exceeded my hopes for it let alone my expectations... So-far so-good. As soon as I get a chance I'll post some images, hopefully with the nice 5mp Toupcam I have ready for it's phototube....

Back soon as I get a chance...
John B

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Re: New Stereo - Nikon SMZ800

#11 Post by jfiresto » Thu Dec 10, 2020 5:36 pm

I think I have not yet found the right subject. I can see a reduction of relative glare near the smallest aperture, but I then also get a big resolution hit from diffraction – and need to clean my eyeglasses and perhaps trim my eyelashes because they also come in focus!

I found a dead fly. Oh yeah. I like it.
-John

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Re: New Stereo - Nikon SMZ800

#12 Post by Scarodactyl » Thu Dec 10, 2020 10:11 pm

jfiresto wrote:
Thu Dec 10, 2020 1:18 pm
The Amscope/Eakins microscopes are good value for the money, but I think at some point you hit the limits of what is possible at that price point.
Indeed. Amscope sells a clone of the smz800, and while it is an impressive scope in some ways it is also extremely pricey.

It's also nice to have compatible third party parts.

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Re: New Stereo - Nikon SMZ800

#13 Post by mrsonchus » Thu Dec 10, 2020 10:55 pm

UPDATE

The Amscope I placed on e-bay has sold almost straight away - a few funds clawed back....
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Re: New Stereo - Nikon SMZ800

#14 Post by einman » Sat Dec 12, 2020 9:09 pm

The SMZ800 is a fine scope. I have owned two SZM800's. However, for those individuals with less spending money you can generally pick up a Nikon SMZU, comparable in terms of resolution etc. On E-bay you will find the SMZ800 commanding a higher price. So if looking for a scope with the SMZ800 quality and resolution, a cheaper alternative can be a Nikon SMZ-U. The SMZ800 has an na of 0.105 compared to the SMZ-U at 0.09. Working distance for the SMZ800 is 78 mm and for the SMZ-U 84 mm. So you do get some extra working distance with the SMZ-U assuming both are using plan optics.

As a comparison if you translate the numeric aperture to lines/mm the SMZ800 has a resolution of 315 compared to the SMZ-U which as a resolution of 270. Although I question that number when doing side by side comparisons. In my personal experience I preferred the SMZ-U.

Currently I lean towards my Leica M80 although the resolution is rated at 0.103 nearly identical to the SMZ800. I do not yet have an imaging set-up for the Leica M80.They tend to cost more than the SMZ-U as well. Now is the time to acquire an SMZ-U. I have seen some at reasonable prices on E-bay.

Interestingly the B&L SZ7 has a resolution of 300 lines/mm and I found the optics to be comparable to both of the Nikon's, assuming you have a very good example. The age can often introduce deterioration etc. The downside to the B&L SZ7 is the FOV is significantly smaller than either the SMZ-800 or the SMZ-U. Here is one of my favorite photos taken through the SMZ-U. A fruitfly..

Image

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Re: New Stereo - Nikon SMZ800

#15 Post by mrsonchus » Sat Dec 12, 2020 9:57 pm

Very nice image einman.
I spotted and bought irises for the SMZ800 and they've added a nice measure of flexibility to the light/focus mixing that I really like with a stereo 'scope and Botanical dissection.

The SMZ is really very nice indeed, and I've today finished fitting the LED panel under the stage that worked so well with my Amscope, now sold-on for someone else to enjoy.

I can't find a (frosted) glass plate for the stage though - it came with the black/white solid plastic/resin type plate as the stand had no transmitted-illumination as bought.
If you spot one or preferably a couple, of frosted plates for the stand please let me know and I'll snap them up. The diameter is slightly smaller than those I have for the Amscope (which I may resort to grinding down a touch as a last resort...) at approx 88-89mm diameter or 3½" exactly as far I can see.

I'm very pleased indeed with the 'scope and have made real progress also with mounting a Canon DSLR (tethered with Canon Utility) onto the photo-port (also have had success mounting a Toupcam C-mount + reduction optics - a lovely small and simple solution also) and achieving parfocality almost immediately.

Having discovered just how fine the view is with the SMZ and the 1X Plan objective I find myself looking for a focus-arm that has both coarse and fine focus - the extra finesse of the fine-focus would actually be useful with this 'scope - especially if I go-on in the future (funds permitting) to acquire a planapo or perhaps a higher magnification objective also. Great for my Botany - particularly for taxonomy in tiniest but taxonomically-significant parts of mosses and grasses for example.

So-far so-good!
John B

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Re: New Stereo - Nikon SMZ800

#16 Post by einman » Sun Dec 13, 2020 3:05 am

I will keep my eye out for a frosted plate. I recall searching for one myself sometime ago. I once owned a stand almost identical to the one you have that had both coarse and fine focus. I used with a Nikon SMZ-2T.

They are sold on E-bay for about $200

https://www.ebay.com/itm/Scienscope-CMO ... Sw5XVfo0Bl
Image

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Re: New Stereo - Nikon SMZ800

#17 Post by mrsonchus » Sun Dec 13, 2020 3:16 am

That's very kind einman thanks. That new one looks just the job, but the dratted import duties are going to douple the price in the U.K..... :(
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Re: New Stereo - Nikon SMZ800

#18 Post by einman » Sun Dec 13, 2020 3:23 am

Actually that is a used one. New ones sell for more. Sorry about that. I did not take into consideration your being in the UK.

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Re: New Stereo - Nikon SMZ800

#19 Post by newtonsapple » Mon Jan 25, 2021 7:20 pm

I have an SMZ800 with the P-BERG ergo eyepieces that I actually need to repair as the left and right images don't align and converge. I have the repair manual, but not the specific collimation tools, so it is a little daunting of a task. Any input would be great, but not the main focus of my post.

I have some assembly work I do where having a lot of DOF is more beneficial than image sharpness. I believe a lower power objective will get me this along with an increased working distance. I believe this objective will work:
https://scienscopeproducts.com/auxiliar ... s-05x.html

Looking at the brochure for the SMZ800, I see there is a "C-ER Extension Ring Adapter for 0.5X Objectives." What is this used for?
microbehunter.com/microscopy-forum/search.php?keywords=smz800

Does anyone know if the Scienscope beam splitter will work if I decide to add a camera to this setup: https://scienscopeproducts.com/video-sp ... cular.html

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Re: New Stereo - Nikon SMZ800

#20 Post by Scarodactyl » Mon Jan 25, 2021 8:25 pm

The scienscope parts are compatible, yes.
The c er is a ring that sita in the 76mm round mount on your stand so the microscope sits higher. Your working distance doubles with a 0.5x objective so the scope has to sit higher.

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Re: New Stereo - Nikon SMZ800

#21 Post by newtonsapple » Mon Jan 25, 2021 8:53 pm

Scarodactyl wrote:
Mon Jan 25, 2021 8:25 pm
The scienscope parts are compatible, yes.
The c er is a ring that sita in the 76mm round mount on your stand so the microscope sits higher. Your working distance doubles with a 0.5x objective so the scope has to sit higher.
Thanks, that makes sense as a lot of stands won't go high enough.

Have you compared Scienscope and Nikon objectives for image quality?

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Re: New Stereo - Nikon SMZ800

#22 Post by Scarodactyl » Mon Jan 25, 2021 9:48 pm

I haven't but I plan to as I currently have two of the Chinese smz 800 clones (just got one in today with a 0.5x marked plan apo) as well as an smz-10a and a few different Nikon objectives. So between all those options I should be able to get a good feel for relative quality, though not as complete as if I had a real smz-800 on hand. Oh well. I just need to actually hook up a camera, which may take a little more time.
That all said, to my eye the Chinese smz clones are impressive and look very similar to the equivalent Nikon. Take that with a grain of salt as I thought the Motic m700z looked similar to the wild m7 from quick impressions but the testing showed it wasn't even close. Hence doing the tests.
As a side-note I thought the smz-800/1000/1500 series were made in Japan, but I noticed that the body of the newer 800N is actually marked Made in China, so it's possible these are all coming from the same factory now, with only the higher end planapo objectives and the SMZ18/SMZ25 stuff being made in Japan.

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Re: New Stereo - Nikon SMZ800

#23 Post by newtonsapple » Tue Jan 26, 2021 2:34 am

So I grabbed a camera beam splitter under the Bolioptics name.

Bolioptics has a .7x objective I haven't seen elsewhere: https://bolioptics.com/0-7x-infinity-co ... nce-135mm/

The .5x plan APO should be interesting. Given the intent of my work, I would like to know if there is much benefit over the basic .5x achro.

I also bought another Scienscope 6x model for a reasonable price. It should be interesting to compare to an actual SMZ800 and if it turns out to be okay, swapping heads may help narrow down what needs alignment.

Ultimately, I think I need to track down an SMZ1000 or similar with low zoom magnifications less than 1x as the low end is very useful. My work involves a lot of time at 6-10x and some time at 30x. With a longer working distance setup the Ergo eyepieces on these seem attractive, but I need to try everything out for real.

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