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Are those vintage Japanese toy microscopes any good?

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#1 sarastro

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Posted 06 November 2018 - 02:14 PM

There are dozens of them on Ebay at any given time.

They look pretty well made, all metal, and have wood cases.

I see brands like Sans & Streiffe, Mayflower, Lafayette, Monolux, etc. In terms of classic telescopes, these brands can have very fine optics.

Anyone have any experience with these microscopes? Are they functional?  

 

Thanks,

 

Roger


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#2 photomagica

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Posted 06 November 2018 - 02:30 PM

I had a couple of these back in the day. They work. The optics are OK with some flare and chromatic aberration. The powers tend to be ridiculously high, the field of view narrow and thus the overall usability is poor. It was very had to prepare slides and the only satisfactory views I got were of some of the prepared slides that came as part of the microscope kit. It was a revelation when I at last used a real laboratory microscope and a proper slide preparation station.

 

I'd look at these as collectibles that look pretty on a shelf. If you are serious about microscopy, buy a new or used modern instrument. As a general purpose look-at-things microscope a low power (20x to 60x) binocular stereo microscope is amazing. These can be had, especially used, at reasonable prices. In my view these provide a much more appealing entry to microscopy.


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#3 PETER DREW

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Posted 06 November 2018 - 02:31 PM

I've tried a few "cheap" units in the past. Some have performed surprisingly well. My main criticism has been the relatively high magnification, if you're not a student of microbiology it's difficult to appreciate what you are looking at. For casual use, I much prefer the lower power stereo versions.
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#4 db2005

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Posted 06 November 2018 - 02:32 PM

I picked up an old Japan-made Swift microscope on a flea market about a year ago. I briefly tried it on some sample slides I own and I found the microscope to be a surprisingly good performer which did not embarrass itself when compared with more modern microscopes. Old optics can be very good indeed - but beware that microscopes often age less gracefully than telescopes do. The exposure to dust, fluids, fingerprints, bacteria and fungi, etc. has put many poorly maintained microscopes out of operation because the objective lenses act like green-houses with a comfy climate for germs to grow. Whether or not such old microscopes are functional depends mainly on how they have been used and stored. Trying before buying is preferable, but you can always ask the seller for details.



#5 vtornado

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Posted 06 November 2018 - 02:43 PM

Hi, I have a microscope I got from Sears in the 70's.

Is mostly metal, and the optics are quite usable.

Of course like all these pop marketed scopes it is 50-1200x, and of course the

1200x is not really usable.   But 250x is ok.

 

I think I paid about $35.00 for it.



#6 EJN

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Posted 06 November 2018 - 03:00 PM

I picked up an old Japan-made Swift microscope on a flea market about a year ago. I briefly tried it on some sample slides I own and I found the microscope to be a surprisingly good performer which did not embarrass itself when compared with more modern microscopes.

 

The Swift Nine-Fifty, which often shows up on fleaBay, is not a toy but a serious student

microscope with JIS achromatic objectives.


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#7 sarastro

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Posted 06 November 2018 - 04:04 PM

I agree the magnifications get crazy high, but the lower mags might be OK. 

 

Does any one know if there is any standardization with the toy scopes? Likely these were re-branded from a few manufacturers.

Can the objectives be swapped between brands?

Are the oculars 23mm?



#8 sarastro

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Posted 07 November 2018 - 07:01 PM

I guess I'll head over to Ebay and pick up one or two and play around. Lot's of them and they're cheap.



#9 Microscopy

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Posted 09 December 2018 - 07:56 PM

It's not as simple as it seems to distinguish between "toys" and "real" microscopes...

For every criterion one uses there are at least a few (and sometimes a lot of) exceptions.

I struggled with that for quite some time, as I was trying to write a leaflet on "how to buy a (second-hand) microscope".

Even when using a set of criteria it's not always possible to distinguish between the two.

"Brand" is the least thrustworthy criterion of all.


Edited by Microscopy, 09 December 2018 - 07:58 PM.



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