Author Topic: The Ergonomics of Microscope Soldering: Direct Optical View vs Camera/Monitor  (Read 5984 times)

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Offline Berni

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Every microscope needs a good light source to work well since having magnification means you are collecting light from a smaller area.

At low magnifications this really is not much of a issue, lots of light still makes it trough so any resonable close by light source is enugh for the job. At high magnifications, it becomes more of an issue, especialy for the camera that is trying to maintain a shutter speed fast enugh for 60 fps, but your eyes can generaly cope with a much wider range of brightness. So at very high magnifications the solution is to simply throw more light at the problem. Luckily since the area needing light is very small this is not hard to do. The light source simply needs to be focused enugh to put most of the light in the area under the microscope rather than spilling it elsewhere, combining this small area with modern efficent LEDs means you can get some ridiculusly bright light levels without needing all that much input power. So if you lost 30% of light you can simply put 1.4W in the lighting LEDs rather than 1W and get the same result. Generaly just a simple cheap ring light can provide more than enugh light for most cases (Tho can have some glare issues sometimes).

For just personal home use id say the most value is in the optical miscoscope rather than the camera. You will end up using it through the oculars most of the time, mostly the benifit of the screen is faster view change between the miscorscope image and the desk since you can move your eyes around much faster than you can move your head away from the oculars. This is why its useful for hot air rework since you can watch the board directly and only look at the microscope image when needed to verify alignment and such. The other use for the camera is easily documenting nice chrisp high res photos and video of tiny things at the push of a button. So get the camera if you want one and can afford it, but its not a must have.

Oh and the particular chinese microscope + camera kit we ended up buying actually didn't come with a properly aligned camera setup. It had adjustable optics to dial in the camera port but no matter what i did i could never get the camera to properly track focus with the oculars for all cases. With some experimenting i found out that unscrewing the camera and holding it slightly above the camera port did get me a lot closer. So i ended up buying a small few mm C-mount spacer to put on the camera. After a good bit of adjustment(and actually figuring out the process of how to do it) i got it all dialed in so that the camera image and ocular image stays always in focus as you zoom in and out all the way. The two should track together on any half decent microscope.
« Last Edit: October 26, 2020, 05:58:30 pm by Berni »
 
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Offline Electro Fan

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I gather Amscope does not let you flip a switch to optionally remove "simul-focal" (simul-view) and send all the light to the eyepieces and none to the camera, like this.

Doesn't seem to be an option with Amscope (or likely in this budget class).

What do you think?  Just add ~30% more light or go for regular stereo?
 

Offline CDN_Torsten

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Only add a camera if you really need one - you can save some money by not buying the camera.  Not having the camera port will also make the microscope less bulky.
The key thing to note is you will need lots of light when working at higher magnifications or under difficult conditions.  The standard lighting ring (for me) is generally not enough.  IMO - adding an additional light source that can be aimed at various angles will be a much better investment than the camera.
 
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Offline Electro Fan

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Only add a camera if you really need one - you can save some money by not buying the camera.  Not having the camera port will also make the microscope less bulky.
The key thing to note is you will need lots of light when working at higher magnifications or under difficult conditions.  The standard lighting ring (for me) is generally not enough.  IMO - adding an additional light source that can be aimed at various angles will be a much better investment than the camera.

Ok, I understand your thinking.  I was just drafting another post when I saw yours.  Just to nail it down, here is what I'm thinking through.  I think your vote is for stereo (plz correct me if I'm wrong on that) but fwiw....

These seem to be the tradeoff configurations:

SM-4NTPX (Simul-focal)
https://www.amscope.com/3-5x-45x-simul-focal-stereo-lockable-zoom-microscope-on-dual-arm-boom-stand.html

SM-4BX (Stereo)
https://www.amscope.com/3-5x-45x-binocular-stereo-zoom-microscope-with-double-arm-boom-stand.html

The tradeoff seems to be add more light to SM-4NTPX, or go with SM-4BX and occasionally use a phone camera through an eyepiece.

When you go with the SM-4BX you not only save some $ by deleting the 3rd port, but you also avoid the rest of the budgetary "scope creep" (haha) by avoiding the dedicated (non-phone) digital camera and a HDMI monitor.  While it's always good to manage the budget downward at this point the main criteria is image quality.  Will the SM-4NTPX equal the SM-4BX if you add enough extra light?; and how much light is enough?  (This leads to the question of whether, for example, the Amscope ring light and double gooseneck are going to be maxed out on the SM-4BX ....which would mean sacrificing light and image quality on the SM-4NTPX, or finding other stronger lights for the SM-4NPTX.  Not sure if it also has implications for ambient light.)

(BTW, what model scope was used to make the phone camera photo in your post, a 745, 3B-80S or something else?
https://www.eevblog.com/forum/beginners/the-ergonomics-of-microscope-soldering-direct-optical-view-vs-cameramo-257888/msg3295864/#msg3295864)

Stereo or Simul-focal?  Either way, my plan has been to go with both the ring light and double individually adjustable gooseneck light.  Currently my thinking is that if the ring plus double gooseneck lights are enough for simul-focal I'll go for the simul-focal; if on the other hand the ring plus gooseneck lights with the stereo scope will let me see not just the the landscape on Mars but also small Martians, I'd have to go with stereo.  But even then I might have to ask:  Can I just add still more light (and how much more and with what kind of lights) to the simul-focal so I can see the Martians and also capture them with a digital image?  It's rabbit hole that needs some quantification or at least some good advice based on experience, I think.
 

Offline jfiresto

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Have you seen any good images out of an SMZ-4NTP photo port? Or any Amscope trinocular stereo microscope? All the reports I remember were not favorable, but I have not looked at many. It would be rather annoying if instead of its binocular sibling, you bought a less bright 4NTP only to be disappointed by its additional tube.
 

Offline Electro Fan

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Have you seen any good images out of an SMZ-4NTP photo port? Or any Amscope trinocular stereo microscope? All the reports I remember were not favorable, but I have not looked at many. It would be rather annoying if instead of its binocular sibling, you bought a less bright 4NTP only to be disappointed by its additional tube.

Roger all that.  I think your comment above summarizes the situation very well (maybe perfectly).

The challenge is often to find information specific to the questions - which is often difficult, so then you have to deduce/induce/extrapolate from what info is available.

I have watched this a few times, and just watched it again.



Starting at about 10:00 he talks about the lighting.  By about 10:50 he makes a comment that keeping the lights at max makes sense because it helps reduce noise on the camera view.... but then he comments in a way that indicates the lights don't seem to make so much difference on the direct optical view:  he says "through the eye pieces you can turn the lights right down and still see perfectly."  And he goes on from there by about 11:10 to further speak very highly of the the direct optical view.  Of course this is mostly qualitative and subjective rather than quantitative.  But maybe the ring light and double gooseneck are more than enough to illuminate the direct view even in the face of 30% light attenuation - especially given that he seems to think the view was good even with the lights turned "right down."

YOMMMV (Your/Our/My Mileage May Vary) :)
 

Offline Electro Fan

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Have you seen any good images out of an SMZ-4NTP photo port? Or any Amscope trinocular stereo microscope? All the reports I remember were not favorable, but I have not looked at many. It would be rather annoying if instead of its binocular sibling, you bought a less bright 4NTP only to be disappointed by its additional tube.

An not only would it be annoying, it would also be more expensive.

Every time I think I'm ready to climb out of the rabbit hole I find something that drags me back in but so far, if I had to guess, I'd say that if someone wanted to solder with an optical microscope, you could probably get the same results for about half price if you forgo the simul-focal.  Not only could you get by without the cost of the third port and without the digital camera and without the monitor (and without some cabling) but you might possibly also get by with some different/less expensive lighting if just go with a stereo scope vs a three port scope.

Having said all that, it's hard to live in a combined analog/digital world and not want to have the capabilities offered by digital.

It's a thinker.  :-\ , :)  But based on the video in my post above, I'm pretty sure it's more likely to be a budget issue than an image quality issue for the direct optical view.
 

Online SilverSolder

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Is it worth worrying about a 30% light attenuation - in dB terms, it isn't much?  -  and you can always add more light...
 

Offline Electro Fan

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Is it worth worrying about a 30% light attenuation - in dB terms, it isn't much?  -  and you can always add more light...

Yes, the cost of adding a few watts of light is close to nothing, so it's really about the cost of adding the digital sub-system, which looks to be roughly 2x (if you need the camera and you don't already have the right monitor in the right place - which then also requires giving up some bench space - it's a spiral).  I'm convinced an optical scope will be superior to digital as the primary tool, the question is really about giving up on the digital sub-system.... which would seem to be a limited path to the future....  :)  TEA is persistent.
 

Online SilverSolder

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I don't think you'd even notice 30% less light in any well lit scenario - it is a change in brightness of (much) less than one stop in photography terms - nothing to worry about, since you are still in the range where the eyes works well.

I would definitely prefer the ability to put a camera on there...  it comes in handy to take pictures surprisingly often!
 
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Offline Berni

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The reason lots of light is more important for the camera is because your eyes are more sensitive than the typical camera sensors.

The cameras on these microscopes try to maintain 60fps so that you get a nice responsive view on the monitor to be able to work under it live. But this also limits how long the shutter can be held open per frame, so simply extending the shutter time on the image sensor to collect more light is not an option, combined with this not being the fancy state of the art image sensors found in professional cameras means they don't have the required low light performance to be able to just gain up the image enough without it being noisy, so the camera at some point just gives up on turning up the gain any more than that and gives you a too dark image.

As others said 30% light is not that much of a difference. And you only really need lots of light at the highest magnifications and that can be solved my simply putting a bright LED near by. The goose neck focused microscope lights are a good way to do it because they have a very narrow beam angle so they can be placed a good distance away and still provide nice focused light. Solving the light problem with brute force is easy since we are only taking about a few Watts of light.(If you actually went >100W of light on such a small area you could probably solder components on a PCB with just light)
 
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Offline jfiresto

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A 50:50 beam splitter will actually diminish each exit beam by somewhat more than a 50% (one f-stop), not 30, so that the camera and eyepieces might each see perhaps 45% of the original intensity. I notice when I switch in such a beam splitter but, as others suggest, it is something you might later overlook, until you wonder: that is funny, I seem to remember these eyepieces being a bit brighter....
« Last Edit: October 27, 2020, 09:21:44 am by jfiresto »
 
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Offline CDN_Torsten

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(BTW, what model scope was used to make the phone camera photo in your post, a 745, 3B-80S or something else?


The image was taken with the SM-3B-80S using only the ring-light that came with the microscope.
 
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Offline CDN_Torsten

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Electro Fan - there is a lot of discussion around the reduction in image brightness by adding the 3rd output...
The other thing to keep in mind, especially with these lower-cost microscopes, is that adding the 3rd output increases the complexity of the optical path.
This may result is a reduction in image quality (sharpness/contrast).  Adding more light will not correct for this. 

Your best bet here would be to get feedback from users of the exact model you are interested in to see if the image quality meets your needs.
« Last Edit: October 27, 2020, 10:10:18 am by CDN_Torsten »
 
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Offline jfiresto

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I was going to suggest paying a visit to Amscope's website and looking at what images they captured from a trinocular SMZ-4NTP, images for a more expensive microscope package that, we hope, bundles one of their best cameras. For example, this stock image that Amscope uses for various packages:



Oh dear. Even at 600x600 pixels resolution, you can see that the trinocular optics are plain miserable. If this is underpromising so as to exceed the customer's expectations, include me out.

For comparison, here is an image, with a similar resolution over the foreground, from the trinocular port of a grizzled, used microscope:



I took the image with a Wild M3, Wild Heerbrugg's bottom of the line, system microscope, forty years ago – and definitely not the model you would choose for microphotography. (Just look at those spherical aberrations!)  Nonetheless, no guesses which microscope whose images I would choose to look at and work with all day.

What I am about to suggest, based on your recent threads, is that you might do what many have done. Start with a more basic, less expensive microscope to gain practical experience, one that you can make work for your purposes, although perhaps not quite as easily or pleasantly as you might wish. After discovering what works and does not work, and what is important and unimportant – for you – you can then invest in a nicer microscope you know that you will enjoy, that will do exactly what you want and very well. In short, first invest in your education, then in just the right tool.

That Wild M3 was my starter microscope and at first I held a cell phone over an eyepiece to document my work. In your case, you might start with the binocular SM-4B and use an eyepiece camera or a cell phone to get a feel and appreciation for photo/video imaging. Then later, if you feel so moved, you could buy a new Meiji Techno. Or a nice, used scope for less money (often much less) made by one the "big four": Nikon, Olympus, Zeiss or one of the several brands that merged into Leica Microsystems.

Just my two cents, in your favorite currency.
« Last Edit: October 27, 2020, 12:29:06 pm by jfiresto »
 
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Online SilverSolder

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[...] For example, this stock image that Amscope uses for various packages:



Oh dear.
[...]


No optics, not even the bottom of a Coca Cola glass bottle, could possibly produce such a terrible image on their own!  :D

I suspect the web designers dropped a clanger in this case...
 

Offline jfiresto

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Here is their other common, stock image: I was trying to show the nicer one.



They are funny images for selling microscopes.
« Last Edit: October 27, 2020, 12:48:52 pm by jfiresto »
 
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Offline CDN_Torsten

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To give everyone a sense of scale and resolution of the image I had attached earlier (https://www.eevblog.com/forum/beginners/the-ergonomics-of-microscope-soldering-direct-optical-view-vs-cameramo-257888/msg3295864/#msg3295864), the red wire is comprised of individual strands which are 50um in diameter...

Most of the colour and image distortion is due to JPG compression...the image is crystal clear through the eyepieces.
« Last Edit: October 27, 2020, 12:51:32 pm by CDN_Torsten »
 
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Offline jfiresto

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I can see someone being happy with the binocular models. I just have my doubts about the third tube and hope someone has captured some nicer images than Amscope's.
 
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Offline Electro Fan

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To give everyone a sense of scale and resolution of the image I had attached earlier (https://www.eevblog.com/forum/beginners/the-ergonomics-of-microscope-soldering-direct-optical-view-vs-cameramo-257888/msg3295864/#msg3295864), the red wire is comprised of individual strands which are 50um in diameter...

Most of the colour and image distortion is due to JPG compression...the image is crystal clear through the eyepieces.

Torsten - thanks again for this - I think it reasonably serves as a reference image.  As jfiresto says it’s possible to see someone being happy with this image quality. :)  I would be very happy with it. :) :)

Must be at least a few EEVers with an Amscope 745 trinocular who can put an iPhone on an eyesight port (and maybe also a trinocular port?) to show us some of their best quality PCB and soldering related images, ideally each at full zoomed in and full zoomed out.

No doubt, the images from Amscope’s site are not ideal but after seeing the state of marketing from Hayear (they sometimes don’t display model numbers) Amscope might be par for the course in some respects.  So it wouldn’t be too surprising if the Amscope web marketing team displayed less than their best.  I’m betting the EEV product review team can sort this out.  It will be interesting to see how well Amscope’s trinoculars compete with their binoculars on image quality.  I’ve done some soldering for decades without a microscope so one more week or so probably isn’t going to change my chances of seeing the Martians or the winning the Nobel prize for PCB work :)

May the thread within this thread begin:
“Show Us Your Best Amscope Trinocular Image” ....
« Last Edit: October 27, 2020, 03:01:16 pm by Electro Fan »
 

Online rsjsouza

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I couldn't take a photo from the trinocular (I don't have the accessory) but, just like CDN_Torsten, the photos straight from the oculars of my SM-1TSZ-V203 are reasonable (taken with a cellphone as well).

With illumination
[attach=1]

Without illumination
[attach=2]

I am using a regular Ikea lamp to illuminate my target.
[attach=3]
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Oh, the "whys" of the datasheets... The information is there not to be an axiomatic truth, but instead each speck of data must be slowly inhaled while carefully performing a deep search inside oneself to find the true metaphysical sense...
 
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Offline Electro Fan

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I couldn't take a photo from the trinocular (I don't have the accessory) but, just like CDN_Torsten, the photos straight from the oculars of my SM-1TSZ-V203 are reasonable (taken with a cellphone as well).

With illumination
[attach=1]

Without illumination
[attach=2]

I am using a regular Ikea lamp to illuminate my target.
[attach=3]

Hi rsjsouza, Thanks!

How zoomed in/out was that?  It's with a 0.5 Barlow?
What phone camera did you use?

Also, is it your perception that what you see through the eyepieces is comparable to what you see in the image, or is it possible that with your eyes the view is even better than what renders on the camera image?

Thanks again, EF
 

Offline jfiresto

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I couldn't take a photo from the trinocular (I don't have the accessory) but, just like CDN_Torsten, the photos straight from the oculars of my SM-1TSZ-V203 are reasonable (taken with a cellphone as well).
Your first one looks good for a basic achromatic objective. The image becomes soft beyond roughly 0.8 * R, where R is the radius of the field of view, right where you expect.
 
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Offline Electro Fan

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This image is shown for Amscope binocular microscopes including the SM-3B-80S, which we know from Torsten's post can produce better images:

https://www.amscope.com/7x-45x-stereo-zoom-microscope-on-boom-stand-with-80-led-light.html?medium=tsa&gclid=eb4bdf7521e818d16df780ed77a8d7cb&gclsrc=3p.ds&msclkid=eb4bdf7521e818d16df780ed77a8d7cb&utm_source=bing&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=Brand_SKU_Exact&utm_term=amscope%20SM-3B-80S&utm_content=SM-3B-80S

So either this image was taken through an eyepiece with a so-so camera, or with marginal lighting, or it was compressed in the web site posting process of the Amscope marketing dept, or it is an image that was taken with who-knows-what microscope but posted randomly with various models.

We need more samples of images taken with a good camera phone through an eyepiece from other Amscope trinocular users, and more such images from binocular models would also be helpful as we can get some insight into the effect of the particular camera and the lighting for each lighting.  What we won't know without a lot of samples would be any unit-to-unit variation for a given model that might be present due to the Amscope quality control process.
 
 

Offline Electro Fan

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Every microscope needs a good light source to work well since having magnification means you are collecting light from a smaller area.

At low magnifications this really is not much of a issue, lots of light still makes it trough so any resonable close by light source is enugh for the job. At high magnifications, it becomes more of an issue, especialy for the camera that is trying to maintain a shutter speed fast enugh for 60 fps, but your eyes can generaly cope with a much wider range of brightness. So at very high magnifications the solution is to simply throw more light at the problem. Luckily since the area needing light is very small this is not hard to do. The light source simply needs to be focused enugh to put most of the light in the area under the microscope rather than spilling it elsewhere, combining this small area with modern efficent LEDs means you can get some ridiculusly bright light levels without needing all that much input power. So if you lost 30% of light you can simply put 1.4W in the lighting LEDs rather than 1W and get the same result. Generaly just a simple cheap ring light can provide more than enugh light for most cases (Tho can have some glare issues sometimes).

For just personal home use id say the most value is in the optical miscoscope rather than the camera. You will end up using it through the oculars most of the time, mostly the benifit of the screen is faster view change between the miscorscope image and the desk since you can move your eyes around much faster than you can move your head away from the oculars. This is why its useful for hot air rework since you can watch the board directly and only look at the microscope image when needed to verify alignment and such. The other use for the camera is easily documenting nice chrisp high res photos and video of tiny things at the push of a button. So get the camera if you want one and can afford it, but its not a must have.

Oh and the particular chinese microscope + camera kit we ended up buying actually didn't come with a properly aligned camera setup. It had adjustable optics to dial in the camera port but no matter what i did i could never get the camera to properly track focus with the oculars for all cases. With some experimenting i found out that unscrewing the camera and holding it slightly above the camera port did get me a lot closer. So i ended up buying a small few mm C-mount spacer to put on the camera. After a good bit of adjustment(and actually figuring out the process of how to do it) i got it all dialed in so that the camera image and ocular image stays always in focus as you zoom in and out all the way. The two should track together on any half decent microscope.

Berni, what model trinocular are you using?  Any chance you can post some zoomed in and zoomed out photos with a phone camera through an eyepiece and with your blue microscope camera to show us how they compare?  Thanks
 


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