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What to look for in a stereo microscope?

 
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siliconGary



Joined: 18 Oct 2016
Posts: 63
Location: Canada

PostPosted: Fri Nov 24, 2017 8:29 am    Post subject: What to look for in a stereo microscope? Reply with quote

I am considering getting a stereo microscope. At first glance the choice seems a bit overwhelming, so I am seeking advice from the experts here on what is important for a stereo microscope.

I want it primarily to aid in plucking bond wires ~25 um diameter gold wire attached to silicon chips using tweezers. Also looking at PCB solder landings etc and occasional random low mag observations. I have a decent compound microscope (epi-BH2) this is really to help with sample preparation.

Things I know - I don't need a camera (Binocular is fine). Whilst I think a boom stand might be handy very occasionally I don't see it as necessary. I think I want zoom (Many moons ago I used Bausch & Lomb stereo microscopes with zoom on a probing station and found them very good, but I am guessing they are probably out of my price range.) I assume 5x-45x magnification would be adequate for what I want.

So are the OMAX type stereo microscopes good value, or are you better off buying an older professionally targetted stereo microscope? What should I be looking for in a stereo microscope listing?, and what do you think is a reasonable price range for one for my usage?
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Ken Ramos



Joined: 27 Jul 2006
Posts: 6997
Location: lat=35.4005&lon=-81.9841

PostPosted: Fri Nov 24, 2017 6:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I recently have purchased an Omano OM2300S-V3 stereomicroscope. Of course it is a trinocular but you can get it without. You can get it on a stand or a boom, which ever you prefer. Magnifications are from 7X to 45X and the image is sharp as a tack! I have a Zeiss Axiostar Plus TLM and I would say that my Omano is comparable to the Axiostar in image quality. I also have a Meiji EMZ-13TR stereomicroscope and the Omano blows it out of the water for image clarity and detail.

The Omano is light weight, composite body but with metal points of attachment where you would desire them to be. Focus is smooth as is the zoom and there is no sloppy movements. I have the standard pole stand, it and the focusing block are solid metal with brass gearing and tension adjustment for the focusing knobs. I got the scope from Microscope.com Look in the Photography Through the Microscope for my posts showing examples of the Omanos imaging. Very Happy

OBTW, you mentioned soldering. There comes with the Omano an adapter ring 44mm which you can probably go to any camera supply and purchase a clear glass filter to thread over the microscopes objectives to keep acidic fumes and what not from getting on the lenses.
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zzffnn



Joined: 22 May 2014
Posts: 1488
Location: Texas USA

PostPosted: Fri Nov 24, 2017 7:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I am no expert.

I bought a good used Bausch & Lomb StereoZoom 7 head off eBay bidding for about $80, then a used stand for $50. So they can be cheap.

SZ7's 0.5x and 2x ancillary objectives are not common and may be expensive, so I Blutak'ed AmScope branded 0.5x and 2x on SZ7. 0.5x objective produces very good image; 2x objective produce a little bit CA, but still quite decent.

Buying used dissecting scope have the risk of getting one that is out of optical alignment though, which may not be easy to repair for a beginner.

I would think 5x total magnification and zoom is important for soldering. You have pretty much figure out what you need and don't need yourself. I was going to suggest boom stand (for soldering), which can be heavy, bulky and expensive sometimes. But you already knew you don't need it.

You don't want most of the 20x eyepieces on market, as most of them have low eyepoint and narrow view field.
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ray_parkhurst



Joined: 20 Nov 2010
Posts: 1076
Location: Santa Clara, CA, USA

PostPosted: Fri Nov 24, 2017 9:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'll send you a StereoZoom-2 (1x-2x zoom) pod for shipping if you want it. You'll need to get a stand and eyepieces.
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siliconGary



Joined: 18 Oct 2016
Posts: 63
Location: Canada

PostPosted: Sat Nov 25, 2017 11:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for the feedback, and for your generous offer Ray. I think for my needs I probably want a good working system with reasonable lighting and zoom, without vibration issues, but not necessarily the best or top quality optics possible. With the cost of shipping to Canada (+ duty taxes) and the risks of getting the unknown quality it is making the ebay route less attractive.
Your comments on the Omano Ken are very encouraging. I have not heard of Omano before. I wonder if there is much to differentiate the Chinese made brands Omano, OMAX, Amscope etc.

The range is still huge, though they all seem to have WF 10x /20 (or 22, 23mm FOV) eyepieces, 100mm working distance. The lighting is mostly LED ring lighting which I think will be fine, and the choice of base is obviously different.
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Ken Ramos



Joined: 27 Jul 2006
Posts: 6997
Location: lat=35.4005&lon=-81.9841

PostPosted: Sat Nov 25, 2017 4:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

siliconGary wrote:
Thanks for the feedback, and for your generous offer Ray. I think for my needs I probably want a good working system with reasonable lighting and zoom, without vibration issues, but not necessarily the best or top quality optics possible. With the cost of shipping to Canada (+ duty taxes) and the risks of getting the unknown quality it is making the ebay route less attractive.
Your comments on the Omano Ken are very encouraging. I have not heard of Omano before. I wonder if there is much to differentiate the Chinese made brands Omano, OMAX, Amscope etc.

The range is still huge, though they all seem to have WF 10x /20 (or 22, 23mm FOV) eyepieces, 100mm working distance. The lighting is mostly LED ring lighting which I think will be fine, and the choice of base is obviously different.


I'm not one to hold a grudge but I had a bad experience with Amscope years back. This issue was a brand new scope with filthy optics and they didn't want to make good on it. So burn me once and I can be very unforgiving. As for Omax, I have heard good things about them but have only once seen one of their TLM's, a very nice scope and my doctors lab tech really liked the one in their lab. Omax may be okay, I don't know but I really didn't like the build or what was offered from Omax in a stereo microscope. Omano on the other hand, I took a chance on. It had the desired range of magnification that I wanted, not too little or grossly to much, 7X to 45X and a nice build. I cross my fingers put down the cash and hoped for the best and to be truthfully honest I was not disappointed. From the moment I viewed and photographed my first specimen with the scope I was greatly impressed by the optical quality, which is comparable to much higher-end scopes and the crispness of the images obtained from it. Now of course there is a camera to be considered in that system but any way you slice it, I could not have been happier with my new stereo microscope. Now opinions as we all know are like belly buttons, we all have one but that is my take on the Omano. Very Happy
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phil m



Joined: 10 Aug 2014
Posts: 143

PostPosted: Thu Nov 30, 2017 2:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

One that gets overlooked, generally is the AO Cycloptic. It is not a zoom, in fact AO continued to mfg. it parallel with their Stereostar zoom series, despite it having a rotary( horizontal) objective changer.

I mention it, because it is by far the cheapest stereo available with apochromatic objectives.

The main mono objective is apochromatic and there are 3 other aux. lenses that are apochromatic. Unlike the Wild apo, where the aux. apos can run in the upper hundreds, the AO apos are almost always less than 100.00 ea. and the microscope on a boom , I have seen for 2-300. Exceptional underrated microscope
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Choronzon



Joined: 21 Feb 2010
Posts: 370
Location: Chicago USA

PostPosted: Thu Nov 30, 2017 7:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

You must be joking. I've repaired microscopes for 60 years. There is no larger piece of crap among stereo microscopes from that era than the AO Cycloptic.
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zzffnn



Joined: 22 May 2014
Posts: 1488
Location: Texas USA

PostPosted: Thu Nov 30, 2017 7:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Choronzon wrote:
You must be joking. I've repaired microscopes for 60 years. There is no larger piece of crap among stereo microscopes from that era than the AO Cycloptic.


^ Please kindly elaborate, as I may get a Cycloptic if I get another stereo scope, due to Phil M's recommendation.

I respect both you and Phil M as professional microscopists. Phil M has been servicing microscopes for many years as well.

Thank you.
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houstontx



Joined: 31 Jul 2015
Posts: 179

PostPosted: Thu Nov 30, 2017 7:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have a leica m3z with leica boom stand in excellent condition, not the cheapest option but I will try and work with you. Send me a pm if you are interested.

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Choronzon



Joined: 21 Feb 2010
Posts: 370
Location: Chicago USA

PostPosted: Fri Dec 01, 2017 8:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Cycloptic suffers from many design flaws; the largest one being it's serviceability. The only prisms in the system are both left and right prisms are one piece design. Epoxied onto a plate that screws into their housings and located by pins. That's asking a prism to do a giant responsibility in the alignment department. Each one has to ensure the IP image center of rotation, define the amount of image inclination, define the parallelism of the two images, etc. When, not if, the prism decides to fall off its bonded plate, the entire microscope is junk. Say hello to the dumpster, Mr Cyclops.

There is no way to rebond the prism and ensure alignment without a factory jig. It cannot be adjusted while the epoxy dries because it's in a closed housing. One can try, but I prefer to have both eyes pointing at the same image.

The individual objective lenses on the drum cannot be adjusted except by trial and error; inserting the drum in and out while making minute changes every time. Same with parcentricity between all objectives. A real nightmare to work on, and since this is an ancient cheapo microscope they all need some form of help.

The click stop leaf spring eventually breaks off due to cheap material used. This spring location defines the inner objective alignments.

Should I go on? Prisms usually fall off due to shipping, thermal shock, or on Monday mornings.

If you gave me one for free, I would promptly give it the proverbial float test.
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zzffnn



Joined: 22 May 2014
Posts: 1488
Location: Texas USA

PostPosted: Fri Dec 01, 2017 9:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you very much, Choronzon. That makes sense.

Do you consider the Bausch & Lomb StereoZoom 7 much better, in comparison?

I am asking this because the OP said he liked the Bausch & Lomb StereoZoom that he used previously and I also own a SZ7, which seems popular and not expensive on eBay.
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ray_parkhurst



Joined: 20 Nov 2010
Posts: 1076
Location: Santa Clara, CA, USA

PostPosted: Fri Dec 01, 2017 10:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The SZ7 is in a completely different league. Paired with the 15x Ultra Widefield objectives, it was the choice for wafer inspection at fab facilities for a couple decades.
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phil m



Joined: 10 Aug 2014
Posts: 143

PostPosted: Fri Dec 01, 2017 6:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Broken microscopes occur, from all brands and from all sorts of circumstances. there were a lot of Cycloptics sold and there were a lot exposed to all sorts of rigors and there are a lot , still in service, doing wonderful work and they are apos. Yes, those xy and z alignments can be confusing but not overwhelming.

--AdminCS edited
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Pitufo



Joined: 21 Jun 2015
Posts: 130
Location: United Kingdom

PostPosted: Sat Dec 02, 2017 6:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I still come across quite a few Bausch and Lomb stereos in my working life and my experience is generally very good. They are still widely used in manufacturing environments as they are built on to bonding and welding machines and regularly serviced.

The optics are fine and the zoom mechanism seems to work smoothly for decades without sticking.

There will always be exceptions of course but with a bit of patience on ebay you should be able to get something which is good value for money (from a seller who will accept returns - just in case).

A small-footprint stand is more practical for home use than a boom in my experience.

Maybe steer clear of aftermarket auxiliary lenses as I think they are of poor quality.
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