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Disappointed in Mantis Elite

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purfield:
Hi all,
Based largely on Dave's enthusiastic video on the Mantis Elite, I set up an eBay alert for any that pop up hoping to snag a deal.  Eventually I got one for $800 USD with a 10X objective, which I figured was a pretty good deal.  It was missing a few plastic bits and the table clamp/mount, but I eventually procured the missing parts and got it all put together.  I also bought a 4X objective. 

Now that I have it all together and I've had a chance to use it, I'm kind of unimpressed.  For comparison, my daily driver has been a Nikon SMZ1000 with a 1X Apo objective and a Chinese ring light.  The LED lights on the Mantis are probably only about 5-10% as bright, but its quite possible they are shot (some are dead) and need replacement.  The dim lights allow a lot of ambient reflections on the view screen to distract me.  I also noticed a lot of pincushion distortion in the image as well as some ghosting.  My eyes felt MORE fatigued on the Mantis compared to my Nikon - it felt like I was looking at things cross-eyed (yes I adjusted the eye spacing control). 
I was looking forward to the longer working distance on the Mantis, but I didn't anticipate the additional complications of the giant size of the microscope head kind of getting in the way of my work space.

It's possible that the particular Mantis I bought, which was in somewhat rough shape, needs some adjustments before it's in proper working condition.  So I want to withhold final judgement until I have it working in tip top shape, but my gut tells me I'm still going to be underwhelmed.

Has anyone else tried a Mantis, compared it to a traditional stereomicroscope, and preferred the traditional microscope over the Mantis?

jfiresto:
I also wonder if your Mantis Elite has worn itself or been knocked out of alignment. In any case, you will be hard pressed to match the brightness, sharpness and flatness of a Nikon SMZ1000 with its Plan Apo, Common Main Objective.

Is the distortion as bad as the following image I captured from a Mantis-1 teardown?

thm_w:
$800 is good in the current market. From what I've seen 10x objective is bit high, most people are using 4X-6X for soldering work. Although they do sell up to 20X lens so you'd think the optical quality would be good enough for 10 at least.
Does it look just as bad with 4X as 10X?

The Nikon is what a $5,000 microscope?

Is there any way you can take example photos?

jc101:
I have a 4x and 8x lens on my Mantis Elite, which is about 15 months old. For me everything is pin sharp.  It's a delight to use even for long periods.

The x4 is used the most of the time, flipping to the x8 when close inspection is needed.

I can try and get some pics tomorrow.

thm_w:
Any updates?

I have a damaged Mantis, so my opinion may not be useful but:
- I can see even more how incredibly fragile these things are. Mirrors are mounted with tape onto thin plastic.
- Field of view is much worse than a typical amscope stereo microscope, both feel like the same "distance" but FOV on the stereo microscope is ~40% larger.
- I can barely move my head before it loses image, maybe a few cm.

In this thread frozenfrogz says:
"The TS4 has a smaller viewing image and it is a lot less potent in terms of light efficacy."

So maybe the older models are worse in terms of FOV?

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