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¿How do I get started?

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#1 Adun

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Posted 30 December 2019 - 01:55 PM

I'm beginning to think I should take advantage that my eyes are still good, to delve into the depths of the tiny world, before I age too much.

 

However, if astronomy has taught me anything it's that hobbies involving optics can be very expensive, and that even then, cost doesn't guarantee anything.

 

So, with my birthday coming I'm thinking to gift myself a microscope. I just don't know the first thing about them, except probably that Zeiss is something I can't afford (as is anything called "vintage"), but similarly the cheap low end (NatGeo and the like) is to be avoided.

 

I've been trying to do my homework and read the forum and learn what I can (now I know what an abbe condenser is), and it seems my first choice is "simple vs compound".

 

It would be nice to be able to observe insects, leaves or butterfly wings, but then again, the smaller stuff like living cells is interesting too, I guess people get "oil coupled dark field condensers" for a reason.

 

So, ¿how does one get started with this? I hadn't felt this overwhelmed since I got started with astronomy.



#2 db2005

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Posted 31 December 2019 - 03:03 AM

Try taking a look at http://www.microbehunter.com/  . It is a treasure trove of useful information for beginners and experienced microscopists alike.

 

One nice thing about microscopy as a hobby is that it complements amateur astronomy well and I am surprised that not more people cultivate the two hobbies together. I actually started microscopy several years before I started in amateur astronomy.

 

Entry-level equipment for microscopy tends to be better and less expensive than entry level equipment for amateur astronomy (what I mean by this is: the same amount of money, say, 300 USD will buy you a much better entry-level microscope than an entry-level telescope).

 

But, as microscopes are professional instruments in widespread use, the sky is the limit for advanced optical microscopes with price tags leaving us mere mortals in shock and awe. For instance, the research lab in the business I work for owns an Olympus optical microscope which costs in excess of USD 25K. The good news is that professional/institutional users tend to upgrade their equipment with little regard for price, dumping some really nice 20-30 years old microscopes on the second-hand market at maybe 20% of the original purchase price.

 

You don't mention any budget limit, but assuming you have a few hundred $ to begin with, my advice would be to get the following:

  • Get a relatively inexpensive factory-new compound microscope to "get your feet wet". 2-300 USD should be more than sufficient. Don't buy anything too fancy or expensive. You will make mistakes, and it's better to damage a cheap scope than an expensive scope.
  • Get one or two sets of prepared slides, maybe animal tissue and plant tissues. Some people would skip this step, but having some prepared slides will allow you to learn the ropes of using a microscope without having to deal with making microscope slides.
  • Get a pack of blank slides and 0.17 mm cover glasses.
  • Get a few petri dishes and pipettes for making samples, e.g. for taking water samples from a local pond.
  • Expect to tinker with your microscope for improving performance: Darkfield adaptations, oblique light, rheinberg filters, etc. These things are expensive to buy ready-made but cheap and easy to make yourself.

Expect to outgrow this equipment eventually as you will later want to get some better equipment. But only your personal hands-on-experience will teach you which features are important to you. The money you spend on your first microscope should be considered a "learning fee". 2-300 USD might seem like a lot, but in amateur astronomy this kind of money will barely buy you a single high quality eyepiece.

 

For observing large specimens, like insects too large to put on a slide under a cover glass, you will need a stereo microscope. Stereo microscopes and compound microscopes complement each other extremely well; stereo microscopes are providing a 3D appearance of specimens up to around 40x magnification (more is possible, but rarely beneficial unless you buy really high end equipment). Compound microscopes ("normal microscopes") start around 40x going up to around 1000x. Remember, just like in amateur astronomy: more isn't always better. I rarely exceed 400x with my compound microscope, and water critters are often best observed at 100x or less.

 

Good luck with your entry into the microscopy hobby!

 

Daniel


Edited by db2005, 31 December 2019 - 02:02 PM.

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#3 Adun

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Posted 31 December 2019 - 04:38 PM

Thank you Daniel.

 

I have seen a couple of videos from microbehunter on youtube, I'll check out more.

 

The first thing I notice is the need to choose between stereo (which would enable me to observe more "everyday" objects) and compound (which would be more about observing "slides"). That's the biggest dilemma (followed by "zoom or no zoom")

 

Youtube offered me plenty of vídeos about stereo microscopes from electronics people (probably because my background is in electronics and is a subject I watch a lot), and I got to understand a few things, like how they operate, and the usefulness of some features.

 

Since Depth of field shrinks with magnification, it seems the ~40x threshold is not just because of optical quality, but also because 3D objects ("non-slides") won't focus, and also because of how vibration defocus the view at higher and higher powers.

 

I really feel I don't want to give up the ability of observing normal things (as opposed to flat slices inside prepared slides), but stereo microscopes seem to have a hard time approaching 100x, so this kind of froze my decision process



#4 Adun

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Posted 31 December 2019 - 05:44 PM

I think I'm liking this one:
 
https://www.amscope....microscope.html
 
Pros (for me) 
It is stereo (not compound), long working distance of 100mm
Has a zoom, from 7x to 90x
costs $290 (the top of my budget).
It's trinocular (has a receptacle for an camera, my C-mount astro can might fit)
 
Cons
It's an "industrial inspection" microscope, so it:
Lacks the important condenser at the bottom. ¿Is there a way to add it later, to be able to do brightfield observing? ¿Or are condensers incompatible with stereo objectives?
Lacks the nice mechanical stage that is often recommended
Lacks dimmable lights (although I could make those).
 

I'm starting to feel this might be like astrophotography + visual, requiring two very different optics, and perhaps making it better to start with a good "mount" on which I can later add a second "head".

 

So much for a "simple" new hobby.



#5 Forward Scatter

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Posted 01 January 2020 - 12:50 AM

Phase contrast is great with eukaryotic cells. Allows for easy viewing of internal structures. Nucleoli jump out!. No need for oil immersion unless one plays with bacteria. 



#6 db2005

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Posted 01 January 2020 - 01:00 AM

I really feel I don't want to give up the ability of observing normal things (as opposed to flat slices inside prepared slides), but stereo microscopes seem to have a hard time approaching 100x, so this kind of froze my decision process

Actually, metallurgical microscopes can be used to observe non-transparent specimens and still reach very high magnifications. On a metallurgical microscope, the light beam comes out of the objective to illuminate the specimen from above. I have tried using a metallurgical microscope once (for looking at an integrated circuit) and found the views very impressive. Unfortunately, so is the price ...

 

For small items and magnifications up to, say, around 100x, you can achieve almost the same result on a biological compound microscope by illuminating the sample from above by shining a strong LED lamp on the specimen.

 

But if observing "normal objects" is important to you, it would possibly make best sense to get a stereo microscope to begin with. Stereo microscopes are easier to use than compound microscopes. Stereo microscopes are available with light sources from above (for non-transparent items) and from below (for transparent specimens).


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#7 Microscopy

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Posted 02 January 2020 - 10:10 AM

A condenser is only needed on a compound microscope, if the objectives have higher NA's than some 0.40 - 0.50 .

A mechanical stage is a great tool, except for observing fast moving critters...



#8 Microscopy

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Posted 02 January 2020 - 10:18 AM

Phase contrast is great with eukaryotic cells. Allows for easy viewing of internal structures. Nucleoli jump out!. No need for oil immersion unless one plays with bacteria. 

You're right, but it's not something for a beginner.



#9 JMKarian

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Posted 02 January 2020 - 08:03 PM

Adun

There is nothing quite like microscopy.  Lots of good points above.

My favorite subject -pond water.  I have a HD screen which projects the video feed from my camera, and I can spend hours just sitting back and watching.

 

John


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#10 Adun

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Posted 02 January 2020 - 08:43 PM

Adun

There is nothing quite like microscopy.  Lots of good points above.

My favorite subject -pond water.  I have a HD screen which projects the video feed from my camera, and I can spend hours just sitting back and watching.

 

John

 

 

I've read 100x to 400x is the best range for pond water.

 

... Which means a compound microscope, not a stereo one.

 

I was thinking about the $230 amscope stereo zoom 7x to 45x, but now wonder about just getting the $107 stereo 10x & 30x, and use the rest of the money for a compound one. It'd have to be mono, though.

 

If only I could use my baader zoom on these things.



#11 Microscopy

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Posted 04 January 2020 - 03:58 AM

[...] and it seems my first choice is "simple vs compound".

 

It would be nice to be able to observe insects, leaves or butterfly wings, but then again, the smaller stuff like living cells is interesting too, I guess people get "oil coupled dark field condensers" for a reason.

 

So, ¿how does one get started with this? I hadn't felt this overwhelmed since I got started with astronomy.

Well, it seems obvious you need both a stereo microscope and a compound one then, lol.

 

db2005 is IMO right in his assertion that about 40x is the highest achievable magnification in a stereo microscope offering decent quality images, unless you want to spend a small fortune...

My main stereo microscope is a vintage 1970's - 1980's Zeiss STEMI DR (this one: https://www.cloudyni...e/#entry9001918). It's offering very good images... up to about 40x. It's highest magindication is some 140x, delivering hardly usable imagery.

Popular here is the Russian BM 51-2 binocular loupe (see:https://www.cloudyni...-2#entry8846144). It only has one magnification (8.75x) but using a simple hack, it can be modified to offer 20x. Images are very good and it's dead cheap second hand (some 20 - 30 Euro's with some luck).

Regarding compound microscopes: not all that hard to find a second hand decent microscope for less than 100 Euro's. Well at least not here.

 


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#12 j.gardavsky

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Posted 04 January 2020 - 05:30 PM

I'm beginning to think I should take advantage that my eyes are still good, to delve into the depths of the tiny world, before I age too much.

 

However, if astronomy has taught me anything it's that hobbies involving optics can be very expensive, and that even then, cost doesn't guarantee anything.

 

So, with my birthday coming I'm thinking to gift myself a microscope. I just don't know the first thing about them, except probably that Zeiss is something I can't afford (as is anything called "vintage"), but similarly the cheap low end (NatGeo and the like) is to be avoided.

 

I've been trying to do my homework and read the forum and learn what I can (now I know what an abbe condenser is), and it seems my first choice is "simple vs compound".

 

It would be nice to be able to observe insects, leaves or butterfly wings, but then again, the smaller stuff like living cells is interesting too, I guess people get "oil coupled dark field condensers" for a reason.

 

So, ¿how does one get started with this? I hadn't felt this overwhelmed since I got started with astronomy.

Hello Adun,

 

on your place I would take as a starter a stereo microscope with the magnifications up to about 60x in the basic configuration. With your budget, you can find on the second hand markets older professional grade "stemi" from Olympus or even ZEISS (West), like my ZEISS Stemi I have purchased for 50 EUR.

 

https://www.cloudyni...3_11919_388.jpg

 

Herewith you will grow into the basics of microscopy, and see if it is a keeper to add something more sophisticated.

 

With the equipment as shown in the pic above, I have been taking micro photos of the paleobotanics specimens for the published papers, - another hobby of mine.

 

Best,

JG
 


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#13 Adun

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Posted 04 January 2020 - 09:39 PM

I don't have easy access to the used market of the US nor Europe. I'm in South America, and haven't found any "old professional grade" €100 Olympus/Zeiss.
 
I've had good luck importing a couple of barely used astro items from the US (CN classifieds), but I'm unwilling to take the risk with a used microscope, not being able to test it first (nor to return it after).
 
Despite the lesser value, I'd be more comfortable with a brand new China am scope/swift/similar.
 
So I went and checked Amscope's compound options under $150 and this is what I found:
 
There are several different  base/mount, differing in design, orientation and some lighting (halogen vs led, top vs bottom, handle vs none, batteries vs ac power, etc), all holding a monocular head, 10x eyepiece, and rotating objectives of 4x, 10x and 40x. Each of these base mounts then comes in several incarnations at increasing prices, by adding features/accessories.
 
The first step up in price brings adds fine focus, which I think is a must.
 
Next step up in price adds a rotatable head (nice to have).
 
Next step up seems to add an extra eyepiece of 20x or 25x, which raises the theoretical magnification specs to 800x or even above 1000x for some models, which I think is pointless, and I doubt anything above 400x will be much useful. At most, the value of that extra 20x eyepiece lies in enabling the intermediate magnification of 200x, considering that 100x to 200x is said to be the most useful power for observing pond water life (according to what I've read). Still, I do wonder how likely I'd be to swap eyepieces.
 
Next step up in price brings a mechanical stage (which can be had separately for $27 anyway), and some models come with sets of slides plus a book.
 
Next step up in price comes with a "dual head" meant for two observers (professor + student?) or maybe for a camera.
 
Next step up in price goes over my price range (unless I gave up the stereo microscope), with binocular (although non-stereo) heads and features like dark field, phase contrast, flux condensers and whatnot.
 
So, wanting to concentrate on value, not hoping to observe above 400x (but desiring the intermediate 200x) power, preferring LED over halogen, and leaving the mechanical stage for a later purchase, I end up with the the M158B-2L model as the most attractive for me, and surprisingly inexpensive: $99 (+5lb international shipping).
 
This leaves money for a stereo microscope, just not the nice 7-45 zoom that I fancied (which goes for $227 +18 lb international shipping).
 
Here the choice is basically the fixed 20x & 40x stereo for $118 vs the fixed 10 & 30x for $108. I fear as a low magnification, 20x is too high for a stereo, so I'm leaning towards the 10 & 30x.
 
There are ~$60 "barlows" for these, at 0.3x, 0.5x and 0.7x powers, and these even seem to be M48, making me wonder whether my 2" astro focal reducer + spacers could work here to make it more versatile (or give it more backfocus working distance)

 

The compound + stereo 30x would run me $207 + shipping (~11 lb), and I'd have 10x, 30x (stereo) and 40x, 100x, 200x, 400x (mono).

 

Not bad, but I wish there was a "single mount, dual head" solution.

 

¿What do you think of my reasoning?


Edited by Adun, 04 January 2020 - 09:51 PM.

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#14 db2005

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Posted 05 January 2020 - 03:17 AM

I would be OK getting a Chinese microscope. In my personal experience, Chinese optics tends to be better than their reputation, though I have had the bad luck of getting some duds through the years (both for telescope optics and microscope optics), but all my "bad" samples are from a decade ago or even more. The advantage of getting something factory-new is that you get some sort of warranty.

 

And I agree that I would choose a 10x and 30x stereo microscope, as 20x and 40x seems like a bit too much on inexpensive stereo microscopes.

 

However, I would defininitely get a compound microscope with a stereo head instead of just a monocular head. The improvement in terms of observing comfort is massive. If you need to wear eyeglasses while observing, look for eyepieces with "High eyepoint", having an eyeglasses symbol imprinted on the eyepiece barrel. And, if you stretch your budget to get a microscope with a proper condenser with an iris diaphragm and filter holder below the stage, you can fairly easily accomplish simple darkfield up to around 400x by making your own patch stop. Darkfield is great for observing water critters in a drop of water, as it is causes less eye fatigue due to less brightness, and much better contrast on unstained specimens like living organisms. It's so good, in fact, that dark field microscopy is sometimes referred to as "the poor man's phase contrast". I know I was sold the first time I observed rotifers and paramecia in darkfield.


Edited by db2005, 05 January 2020 - 04:19 AM.

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#15 Microscopy

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Posted 05 January 2020 - 06:09 AM

That M158B-2L doesn't have a focusable condenser, so DF is out of the question, as db2005 noted as well...

In my experience, DF using simple home made patch stops  is limited to objective N.A.'s up to around 0.50.

For higher N.A.'s/magnifications (40/0.65) it's sometimes possible to achieve DF by putting the patch stop IN the condenser, immediatly underneath the condenser's front lens, but for that one needs a microscope with a propper condenser in a height adjustabe mount...

 

I beg to differ on db2005's opinion regarding the monocular/binocular issue: observing using a monocular tube isn't less comfortable provided propper observing technique (keeping both eyes open, ambient light level lower than that of the microscopic image), but it takes some training. 


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#16 Microscopy

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Posted 05 January 2020 - 06:18 AM

Hello Adun,

 

on your place I would take as a starter a stereo microscope with the magnifications up to about 60x in the basic configuration. With your budget, you can find on the second hand markets older professional grade "stemi" from Olympus or even ZEISS (West), like my ZEISS Stemi I have purchased for 50 EUR.

 

https://www.cloudyni...3_11919_388.jpg

 

[...]

 

Wow J.G. ...

 

I paid more than 600 Euro's for mine... I have the complete STEMI DR set, including all ojectives, eyepieces, cabinet, transmitted light table and so on, but still: a lot of money...


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#17 Microscopy

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Posted 05 January 2020 - 07:26 AM

I don't have easy access to the used market of the US nor Europe. I'm in South America, and haven't found any "old professional grade" €100 Olympus/Zeiss.
 
I've had good luck importing a couple of barely used astro items from the US (CN classifieds), but I'm unwilling to take the risk with a used microscope, not being able to test it first (nor to return it after).
 
Despite the lesser value, I'd be more comfortable with a brand new China am scope/swift/similar.
 
So I went and checked Amscope's compound options under $150 and this is what I found:
 
There are several different  base/mount, differing in design, orientation and some lighting (halogen vs led, top vs bottom, handle vs none, batteries vs ac power, etc), all holding a monocular head, 10x eyepiece, and rotating objectives of 4x, 10x and 40x. Each of these base mounts then comes in several incarnations at increasing prices, by adding features/accessories.
 
The first step up in price brings adds fine focus, which I think is a must.
 
Next step up in price adds a rotatable head (nice to have).
 
Next step up seems to add an extra eyepiece of 20x or 25x, which raises the theoretical magnification specs to 800x or even above 1000x for some models, which I think is pointless, and I doubt anything above 400x will be much useful. At most, the value of that extra 20x eyepiece lies in enabling the intermediate magnification of 200x, considering that 100x to 200x is said to be the most useful power for observing pond water life (according to what I've read). Still, I do wonder how likely I'd be to swap eyepieces.
 
Next step up in price brings a mechanical stage (which can be had separately for $27 anyway), and some models come with sets of slides plus a book.
 
Next step up in price comes with a "dual head" meant for two observers (professor + student?) or maybe for a camera.
 
Next step up in price goes over my price range (unless I gave up the stereo microscope), with binocular (although non-stereo) heads and features like dark field, phase contrast, flux condensers and whatnot.
 
So, wanting to concentrate on value, not hoping to observe above 400x (but desiring the intermediate 200x) power, preferring LED over halogen, and leaving the mechanical stage for a later purchase, I end up with the the M158B-2L model as the most attractive for me, and surprisingly inexpensive: $99 (+5lb international shipping).
 
This leaves money for a stereo microscope, just not the nice 7-45 zoom that I fancied (which goes for $227 +18 lb international shipping).
 
Here the choice is basically the fixed 20x & 40x stereo for $118 vs the fixed 10 & 30x for $108. I fear as a low magnification, 20x is too high for a stereo, so I'm leaning towards the 10 & 30x.
 
There are ~$60 "barlows" for these, at 0.3x, 0.5x and 0.7x powers, and these even seem to be M48, making me wonder whether my 2" astro focal reducer + spacers could work here to make it more versatile (or give it more backfocus working distance)

 

The compound + stereo 30x would run me $207 + shipping (~11 lb), and I'd have 10x, 30x (stereo) and 40x, 100x, 200x, 400x (mono).

 

Not bad, but I wish there was a "single mount, dual head" solution.

 

¿What do you think of my reasoning?

I always advice beginners to start with a very simple, basic compound microscope, leaving aside all gadgets and only equipped with what's really usefull. Meaning: a simple inclinable stand with a horse shoe shaped foot, a mirror and a regular focusable and centerable abbé condenser.

That kind of microscopes sells new for less than 100 Euros and can be found everywhere, new as well as second hand.

A good example is the Chinese Guangzhou Liss L-201, which has been marketed as Euromex LMS, Paralux L-series, GLOIC L-201, Olympus HSC, and so on, see for example this Paralux user manual: http://gloic-l-201.i...om/Paralux.html or this Micscape article: http://www.microscop...0/dc-l-201.html .


Edited by Microscopy, 05 January 2020 - 07:40 AM.


#18 Adun

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Posted 05 January 2020 - 07:55 AM

Thanks for the feedback.
 
Looking for "proper condenser with an iris diaphragm and filter holder below the stage", I see there are two options:
 
"Abbe Condenser with Iris Diaphragm, Blue Filter and Rack & Pinion Adjustment Control" at $165.
 
"Abbe condenser w/ iris diaphragm and color filter holder", classified as "spiral" instead of "rack & pinion", at $140.
 
Which condenser control would be the right approach?
 

Edit: I just noticed Am also sells dark field condensers for their stereo microscopes ($60, or $83 with iris). ¿Is it useful at such low powers? Intriguing!

 

I always advice beginners to start with a very simple, basic compound microscope, leaving aside all gadgets and only equipped with what's really usefull. Meaning: a simple inclinable stand with a horse shoe shaped foot, a mirror and a regular focusable and centerable abbé condenser.
That kind of microscopes sells new for less than 100 Euros and can be found everywhere, new as well as second hand.
A good example is the Chinese Guangzhou Liss L-201, which has been marketed as Euromex LMS, Paralux L-series, GLOIC L-201, Olympus HSC, and so on, see for example this Paralux user manual: http://gloic-l-201.i...om/Paralux.html or this Micscape article: http://www.microscop...0/dc-l-201.html .

 
I can't seem to find where these are sold in America. Shipping ~10 lb from UK/Europe (or even China) is not an option for me.


Edited by Adun, 05 January 2020 - 08:06 AM.


#19 db2005

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Posted 05 January 2020 - 08:43 AM

Looking for "proper condenser with an iris diaphragm and filter holder below the stage", I see there are two options:
 
"Abbe Condenser with Iris Diaphragm, Blue Filter and Rack & Pinion Adjustment Control" at $165.
 
"Abbe condenser w/ iris diaphragm and color filter holder", classified as "spiral" instead of "rack & pinion", at $140.
 
Which condenser control would be the right approach?
 

Both serve their intended purposes allright, although I do prefer the type with rack and pinion height control. The "spiral" mounted condenser on the Euromex BioBlue microscope I own tends to creep down during use, especially when adjusting the diaphragm, so it requires both hands to adjust it: one hand to adjust the iris, and one hand to keep the condenser in the correct height.

 

I agree with Microscopy. If possible, get something simple, possibly second hand. Perhaps at a flea market or from a school selling old equipment (be sure to try before you buy in both cases). However, one small disadvantage with the simple old style microscopes with simple inclinable stand and horseshoe foot is the reduced observing comfort when observing wet specimens with small critters. Since the stage must be kept horisontal you need to observe vertically down the eyepiece. It's nothing a dedicated microscopist can't live with (a tall chair might be all you need to overcome this), but it's still a disadvantage worth keeping in mind. For permanent slides this isn't a problem.


Edited by db2005, 05 January 2020 - 08:58 AM.

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#20 j.gardavsky

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Posted 05 January 2020 - 11:03 AM

Hello Adun,

 

you have already got correct advice from Microscopy, as above.

Just on my part, I would not buy higher magnification eyepieces than 10x, and I would not buy the Barlows.

I prefer the bino vision, especially when I spend more time with the microscope.

 

On a side line, here is a pic (3.5mm wide) od the cell structure in the petrified Psaronius farn, I took before X-Mas through the Leitz microscope (10x eyepiece Leitz,objective Leitz Pl Fl 4x/0.14) during my study of the parasite epiphytes,

 

Star of Betlehem pic width 3,5mm.jpg

 

 

(Click on the image for the full resolution)

 

Best,

JG


Edited by j.gardavsky, 05 January 2020 - 11:04 AM.

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#21 Microscopy

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Posted 11 January 2020 - 02:37 PM

I can't seem to find where these are sold in America. Shipping ~10 lb from UK/Europe (or even China) is not an option for me.

Well, Guangzhou Liss was only one example. I mentioned it as I had two of those L-201's/ Euromex LMS's.

 

Another manufacturer of that type of microscopes is in India and sells under the brand name "Radical", see f.e.: https://www.ebay.com...QcAAOSw2zRcV99C. They claim "FREE Expedited International Shipping". I suppose it won't be that simple, but it wouldn't hurt to ask them about it.

 

The company Magnus/Zenith Engineers in Agra, Uttar Pradesh, India still produces a range of copies of legendary Olympus microscopes, including Oly's flagship of the late 1940's - early 1950's, the GB, see: https://www.olympus-...eum/micro/1949/ .

I suppose Magnus/Zenith Engineers only work B to B, but it won't hurt to ask them: https://www.exporter...pes-4700895.htm

 

I tried to have a look on what's availlable in the US, and well, indeed, those classic stands are very rare, if not absent (I looked in the US as, well: that's the closest to South America...).

On the other hand: there's no shortage on second hand microscopes of that type and they're usualy cheap, as nobody wants them anymore (one of the reasons why I'm a fan: a lot of microscope for pocket change, uncomplicated, few possible error sources, usually not that hard to overhaull/repair!). 


Edited by Microscopy, 11 January 2020 - 02:39 PM.

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#22 Microscopy

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Posted 25 January 2020 - 10:47 AM

I had a brief private conversation with Mr. Adun on the subject, as I, unexpecedly, run into two very cheap G. Liss L-201 microscopes (practically for free).

 

He allowed me to quote from that conversation in the CN fora (of course I asked!). 

 

Most of that small conversation is of litlle importance here (on shipping cost and such) but one thing Mr. Adun wrote, struck me: "Also, I watched lots of microbehunter's YouTube videos, specially those involving microscopy and "slide making", which made me reconsider the whole compound telescope idea, at least for now.".

 

I responded with: "You shouldn't be intimidated by those YouTube video's! Slide prep (meaning making your own permanent slides) is very demanding ((...)) but one doesn't need all that to have lots of fun with a microscope.".

 

There's some mixed feelings here: sites like Microbe hunter are marvellous and in the forefront of spreading "citizens science". On the other hand, they sometimes seem to lead to people becoming dissapointed in advance, due to a perceived a too steep to handle learning curve.

Such a pity.


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#23 db2005

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Posted 25 January 2020 - 11:12 AM


There's some mixed feelings here: sites like Microbe hunter are marvellous and in the forefront of spreading "citizens science". On the other hand, they sometimes seem to lead to people becoming dissapointed in advance, due to a perceived a too steep to handle learning curve.

Such a pity.

Agreed. 95%+ of the permanent slides I own are commercially made, and the ones I made myself are primarily pollen samples which are pretty easy to make. However, I mostly enjoy treasure-hunting in a drop of water which only requires access to a pond/stream/bird bath, a pipette, petri dish, slides and cover glasses. IMO permanent slides of water critters aren't nearly as engaging to look at as living slides with the same creatures.

 

It terms of an easy learning curve, this is probably the one aspect where commercially available "toy" microscopes shine: they are typically bundled with some permanent slides, making it seem easy to get started. And most of the supposedly complicated controls like iris diaphragm and adjustable condenser simply aren't present on toy microscopes. It's hard hard to imagine an easier start into the hobby of microscopy.

 

I believe the perceived complexity of using microscope is a real stumble block to getting started in microscopy, and I have some real life experience to support that claim: I recall in my early teenage years in biology classes in school, even the teachers didn't use the school's microscopes simply because they didn't know how to operate them and what to look at. At that time, however, I was fairly experienced in basic operation of a microscope (having used an Olympus CHA as well as a toy microscope for some time), so the teachers gave me the keys to the cabinets where microscopes were stored and allowed me to teach my classmates how to use the microscopes and used them under my guidance during some of the biology classes. This gave the teachers some leisure time, and my classmates actually got a glimpse of the microscopic world which they never would have gotten otherwise. So, while I'm not impressed with the quality of toy microscopes, I do respect what they do to make microscopy accessible to children and to remove the perception of "it-too-complicated-for-me".
 


Edited by db2005, 25 January 2020 - 11:13 AM.

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#24 Microscopy

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Posted 01 February 2020 - 12:34 PM

(Off topic, I guess)

 

Some things are difficult to understand...

 

In my country, science/biology teachers (bachelor degree) don't even know how to use a microscope. It's not in their curriculum.

I have their textbooks and lab guides. They mention studying sometimes even rather demanding stuff, using the highest magnifications, where a properly set up microscope is of prime importance (like differentiating white blood cells in May-Grünwald/Giemsa stained slides).

But how to set up their microscope for that? Oops: "forgotten". Fortunatly, some of those people are keen microscopists.

 

Our high school biology text books only have a very brief introduction on the use of a microscope, loaded with errors.

 

I know a young man, who graduated as a phycisian last year. During his 7 years in med school, he studied hundreds of histology/cytology slides, but no one ever told him how to set up a microscope: not in the curriculum...

 

Even more astonishing: I know a lady, who graduated a few years ago as a Master in biomedical sciences. She can tell everything there is to know on fluorescence flow cytometry, but using a simple light microscope? Not in the curriculum...


Edited by Microscopy, 01 February 2020 - 12:43 PM.

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#25 Adun

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Posted 01 February 2020 - 02:36 PM

(Off topic, I guess)

 

Some things are difficult to understand...

 

In my country, science/biology teachers (bachelor degree) don't even know how to use a microscope. It's not in their curriculum.

I have their textbooks and lab guides. They mention studying sometimes even rather demanding stuff, using the highest magnifications, where a properly set up microscope is of prime importance (like differentiating white blood cells in May-Grünwald/Giemsa stained slides).

But how to set up their microscope for that? Oops: "forgotten". Fortunatly, some of those people are keen microscopists.

 

Our high school biology text books only have a very brief introduction on the use of a microscope, loaded with errors.

 

I know a young man, who graduated as a phycisian last year. During his 7 years in med school, he studied hundreds of histology/cytology slides, but no one ever told him how to set up a microscope: not in the curriculum...

 

Even more astonishing: I know a lady, who graduated a few years ago as a Master in biomedical sciences. She can tell everything there is to know on fluorescence flow cytometry, but using a simple light microscope? Not in the curriculum...

 

A parallel can be drawn to other disciplines. Curriculums are defined by academic people, whose career path often steers them away from practical hands-on experience with the subject matter.


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