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Old 01-09-2023, 01:16 PM   #1
Dannyx's Avatar
Join Date: Aug 2016
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Lightbulb Looking to buy a microscope

Good day and a belated happy New Year folks !
Wow....feels like forever since I've had a chat with all the wonderful folks we got here - guess you could say I grew up and can look after myself now
In all seriousness, I'm in need of some assistance choosing a microscope. I decided it's time I finally got one and I might as well put some of the money I earned caroling this year to good use

The reason I'm turning to our community for advice is because I'd like to hear some thoughts from people who actually own a microscope already or at least worked with them hands-on, as opposed to relying strictly on specs and numbers the manufacturers list (or sometimes DON'T list !).

I'm aware most 'scopes (on Aliexpress at least) are pretty much identical. The only thing that's different is the "brand" (if we can even call it that, since it's the same product all around, just under a different name) and the countless combinations of stands, lenses and cameras which you can mix and match to fit your needs (and budget !). I'm not interested in a camera, at least not yet, so I left that out of the equation. Still, I DO know I want a trinocular 'scope, just in case I decide to add one later on.

The work distance is what I'm particularly interested in (the usable space between the ring light and the workpiece). It appears to be 4" (100mm) for most of them, HOWEVER (and this is what inspired me to start this discussion in the first place), some boast a distance of 8" (200mm) and I even saw a 300mm one, despite the heads not looking any different - maybe the optics inside ARE different ? The thing some sellers don't quite make clear is whether this is measured with or without a Barlow lens in place and the value it's got. Some have a table where they list the various combinations of lenses and oculars for a given zoom level and also work distance. I know a Barlow lens alters the work distance and the maximum/minimum "zoom", as well as the field of view - apparently, the higher the value of the Barlow lens, the higher the MAX zoom, the lower the work distance. Most sets seem to come standard with a 0.5x and 2.0x lens, so what are your thoughts on these ? Favourite combinations for "everyday" work ? Any additional lenses I should invest in at a later date ? The 0.5x one makes most sense, as it bumps the distance up to 165mm according to some sellers. Makes me wonder on what basis the ones with 200+mm work distances are being "judged"...and if it's worth the higher asking prices

I'd also like some thoughts on the stands: articulated arm vs. boom (single/double pipe) ? Louis Rossmann did several videos on the microscopes he uses and to be honest, I'd go with the boom stand, rather than an articulated one, since it appears to take up less space and is less susceptible to accidental movements.

"Amscope" seems to be a popular brand, though again, I take the word "brand" with a grain of salt here. I was able to find a set for around 320$, including shipping, without a camera, 2 barlow lenses and a single-bar stand. The stand doesn't inspire particular confidence with this one.

There's also THIS Amscope one, which is considerably more expensive, but boasts that 8" work distance. After a chat with the seller, they said this is with a Barlow lens fitted, which I figured, but they didn't give any numbers here, so once again, I've drawn a bit of blank figuring out whether the work distance is influenced solely by the lens or the optics in the heads themselves differ internally as well...

Just for reference, since it's insanely expensive, there's also this big beast, which aside from the very steep price and the fiber-optic illuminator and sturdier arm which I'd love to have, claims an even more impressive distance of 14" (350mm) ! This one COULD be different indeed, because if you look closely at the head, you'll see it differs a bit, but again, there's probably a Barlow lens on there to get that sort of number !

Last edited by Dannyx; 01-09-2023 at 01:19 PM..
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