Author Topic: Disappointed in Mantis Elite  (Read 2156 times)

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Offline purfield

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Disappointed in Mantis Elite
« on: June 23, 2022, 05:41:15 am »
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?
« Last Edit: June 23, 2022, 05:49:43 am by purfield »
 

Offline jfiresto

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Re: Disappointed in Mantis Elite
« Reply #1 on: June 26, 2022, 11:18:46 am »
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?
« Last Edit: June 26, 2022, 11:22:24 am by jfiresto »
-John
 

Online thm_w

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Re: Disappointed in Mantis Elite
« Reply #2 on: June 27, 2022, 09:21:40 pm »
$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?
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Online jc101

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Re: Disappointed in Mantis Elite
« Reply #3 on: June 28, 2022, 04:32:02 pm »
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.
 
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Online thm_w

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Re: Disappointed in Mantis Elite
« Reply #4 on: July 08, 2022, 01:11:21 am »
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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Online jc101

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Re: Disappointed in Mantis Elite
« Reply #5 on: July 08, 2022, 07:28:01 am »
Taking pics through a Mantis is not easy!

Anyway, here is a x4 and a x8 pic, naturally it looks much better in stereo with a pair of eyes.  The image is crystal clear, even out at the edges.  I find the x8 about as high I'd want to go.  When I bought it they turned up with a demo unit and all the lenses so I had a chance to physically see each lens of the stuff I typically tinker with.  I settled for x4 and x8, and the x4 is in use the majority of the time.

I also have it positioned where it's comfortable for me, and use a scissor lift thing from Amazon (£30) to move what I'm working on around and into focus.  As to focus the Mantis you physically move it up and down, which because of the standard arm also moves it slightly back and forward.

Edited to add that the smallest part on there is a 0603.
 

Online thm_w

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Re: Disappointed in Mantis Elite
« Reply #6 on: July 08, 2022, 09:52:00 pm »
Good photos. Agree image quality is clear.
Now that you point out the focusing that could be annoying too. Their fixed stands have the stadard knob adjust, it would be expensive but you could combine the knob adjust with an arm as well.

edit:

Stated working distance of Mantis Elite
Code: [Select]
Objective Lens, Working Distance, Field of View
2x      160mm 57.0mm
4x      96mm 34.0mm
6x      68mm 23mm
6x SLWD      112mm 20.0mm
8x      59mm 17.0mm
10x      54mm 13.5mm

Older Mantis
Code: [Select]
Lens, Working Distance, Field of View, Depth of Field
2X      171 mm     56 mm    25 mm
4X      86 mm      28 mm    11 mm
6X      55 mm      20 mm    5 mm
6X SLWD 112 mm     20 mm    5 mm
8X      41 mm      15 mm    3 mm
10X     41 mm      12 mm    2.5 mm

Elite better, in some cases, might depend on how the lens is made.

Optical Path Alignment:
Quote
It is a good idea to periodically check the Optical Path Alignment of the Mantis stereo view. Look into the viewing screen from a distance of 12”. The view will appear as two illuminated circles.
These two circles must be horizontally aligned within 2/3 of their diameter of each other. Improper alignment will cause imaging problems. If the illuminated circles are out of alignment then they can be adjusted. Locate the large Phillips screw head on the back of the Mantis viewing head (this screw head is locked in place with black silicon). While still looking at the viewing screen from a 12” distance, adjust the screw until the two paths are in acceptable alignment.

https://cdme.osu.edu/sites/default/files/uploads/vision_engineering_mantis_x4_-_manual.pdf
« Last Edit: July 12, 2022, 10:21:21 pm by thm_w »
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Offline purfield

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Re: Disappointed in Mantis Elite
« Reply #7 on: July 25, 2022, 07:21:32 pm »
Slight update on my Mantis Elite experience:
I was really confused about why I felt so crosseyed/dizzy when using the Mantis, and it turns out at least part of the problem is the asymmetry in my face that results in one eye being a couple mm lower than the other.  If I tilt my head a bit to correct for it, I get less dizzy/crosseyed and less strain.  It could also potentially be an alignment issue with the Mantis, but will have to investigate further.  I suppose it's not a problem with a traditional stereomicroscope since I'm forced to align my eyes with the eyepieces.

I doubled down and bought another one on eBay for $450 with two lenses.  Unknown condition.  I suffer from gear acquisition syndrome and have a very understanding wife.   :-)
 
 

Online thm_w

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Re: Disappointed in Mantis Elite
« Reply #8 on: August 10, 2022, 01:06:38 am »
So I finally mounted the Mantis (non-elite), I used a vertical linear rail instead of the stock arm with springs.
There is a lot of distortion when your head is too far forward or too far back. Forehead right up against the eye cover is too far forward, ideal viewing distance is maybe a few cm back from that. But, this also gives you some additional 3D effect as well.

Here is a rough idea of FOV compared to an Amscope stereo zoom (10x eyepiece, 0.5x barlow):



Its just really lacking in FOV, for me I'm not sure if I could work under this all day long, as its almost like tunnel vision. But, image is nice and crisp. Certain work would definitely benefit from it, need to use it a bit more first.



And continuing a thought from another thread:

There IS a clone of the Mantis! Its the Scienscope Vizor-A, actually a clone of the old style mantis and not the Elite. They even copied the old style arm... odd. I assume its a copy and not a rebrand?
Cost is about $1800 with 4x, 6x, and 8x objectives.

https://www.jensentools.com/scienscope-vizor-a-vizor-vision-system-articulating-arm-4x-6x-8x-lenses-int-adj-led-light/p/489-455
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Online thm_w

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Re: Disappointed in Mantis Elite
« Reply #9 on: August 17, 2022, 11:40:41 pm »
The Amscope CMO (Nikon SMZ800/1000/1500 clone) seems to have the same or slightly larger FOV as the trinocular Amscope.
I measured some numbers using a ruler, although with the zoom knob I am trusting the markings are accurate, I didn't verify that.

They specify as:
Code: [Select]
                               Specified FOV                        Measured FOV
- Amscope Trinocular:    32.5mm (7X-45X) or 4.4mm-28.6mm (7-45X?)   (8X measured at ~27mm, 3.5X 62mm)
- Amscope CMO:           26mm @ 8X; 2mm @ 80X                       (8X measured at 28.5mm)
- Mantis old:            28mm @ 4x, 20mm @ 6x, 15mm @ 8x            (4X measured at 29mm, 6X measured at 21mm)
- Mantis elite:          34mm @ 4x, 23mm @ 6x, 17mm @ 8x

So the Elite improves things a bit. But its still not near the Amscope, you are seeing an extra 60% of the board width at 8X magnification.
Not sure whats up with the 32.5mm quoted from Amscope being high, or the 26mm on the CMO being low when Nikon quotes 27.5mm. Seems its a bit of a rough number. I think the Mantis is on spec if you subtract the distorted areas.

Amscope CMO optical clarity is higher than the SM series, but, this does not matter at all for electronics work. You would only notice on very high zoom (50X+).

Wonder if there is a way to get the 3D rotary viewer working on a normal microscope: https://amscope.com/products/dm745-hdm11-3dr?variant=41108539703471
It looks like its just two flat square mirrors.

« Last Edit: August 17, 2022, 11:46:13 pm by thm_w »
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Offline jfiresto

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Re: Disappointed in Mantis Elite
« Reply #10 on: August 18, 2022, 07:01:58 am »
... Not sure whats up with the 32.5mm quoted from Amscope being high, or the 26mm on the CMO being low when Nikon quotes 27.5mm....

If these are all at 8X total magnification, multiplying by 0.8 suggests microscopes with 10X/26mm, 10X/21mm and 10X/22mm oculars, respectively. The oculars usually set/limit the FOV.

I expect the Amscope CMO microscope would have a usefully brighter and flatter image (no keystone distortion).
-John
 
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Online thm_w

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Re: Disappointed in Mantis Elite
« Reply #11 on: August 18, 2022, 09:54:28 pm »
If these are all at 8X total magnification, multiplying by 0.8 suggests microscopes with 10X/26mm, 10X/21mm and 10X/22mm oculars, respectively. The oculars usually set/limit the FOV.

I expect the Amscope CMO microscope would have a usefully brighter and flatter image (no keystone distortion).

Oh good point, didn't even know you could have different FOV eyepieces at the same magnification.
The oculars installed are: CMO 10X/22mm, Trinocular 10X/20mm, both are cross compatible 30mm diameter mounts.

For electronics I guess there is not much downside to a wider ocular?
The highest commonly available I found was 10X/24mm: https://www.ebay.com/itm/265357691595
Although either of the Amscope are very usable FOV already, the issue is the Mantis where you can't replace the eyepiece :). Yes the CMO is brighter/flatter, but for general use its not noticeable.
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Offline jfiresto

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Re: Disappointed in Mantis Elite
« Reply #12 on: August 19, 2022, 06:15:59 am »
... For electronics I guess there is not much downside to a wider ocular?...

I would say not, other than the greater cost, and the ocular perhaps reminding you of the limits of the microscope near the edges of the FOV. The widest 30mm oculars I know of (*) are 10X/26.5mm which may show some vignetting in a CMO microscope should you insert an unlucky or too many accessories into the infinity optical paths.

(*) I had a pair of Zeiss 10X/26.5 oculars for a few days that, alas, were chipped around the edges, making them roughly 10X/24.
« Last Edit: August 19, 2022, 08:46:06 am by jfiresto »
-John
 
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Online mikeselectricstuff

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Re: Disappointed in Mantis Elite
« Reply #13 on: August 19, 2022, 08:59:45 am »
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 LEDs on the Mantis Compact I bought new died after a couple of years, so quite likely yours are below par. Not hard to replace.
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Offline Black Phoenix

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Re: Disappointed in Mantis Elite
« Reply #14 on: August 27, 2022, 08:08:25 am »

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.

Sorry stealing the thread but how it is the Nikon in your opinion?

In China I can get in a second hand app, based in companies who gone bankrupt or closed, some stereoscopes, mainly Nikon, Zeiss and Leica. But as an amateur photographer myself my love is in Nikon. I saw that exact same model being sold and I would like to know your opinions about it.
 

Offline jfiresto

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Re: Disappointed in Mantis Elite
« Reply #15 on: August 27, 2022, 02:06:37 pm »
Here are some recommendations from a microscope service company. Search for Nikon, twice, to see the models they would buy and avoid.
-John
 
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Offline Black Phoenix

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Re: Disappointed in Mantis Elite
« Reply #16 on: August 27, 2022, 04:41:24 pm »
Here are some recommendations from a microscope service company. Search for Nikon, twice, to see the models they would buy and avoid.

Will keep this link in my short list. Thank you.
 

Online thm_w

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Re: Disappointed in Mantis Elite
« Reply #17 on: August 31, 2022, 12:30:23 am »
I made some replacement LED lamps for the old style mantis. The brightness and high CRI are worth the price.
LEDs are $4 each: https://www.aliexpress.com/item/32975568763.html (SST20)
Lenses are $1: https://www.aliexpress.com/item/1005001973468244.html
Used the 30deg bead lens which seems to work, didn't realize until after that the original halogen lamps were only 10 degrees.

For the Elite, you might be able to use the existing lenses and make a aluminum ring style PCB, using the Cree SMD LEDs that SDG likes. Or maybe good through hole options exist.

Sorry stealing the thread but how it is the Nikon in your opinion?

In China I can get in a second hand app, based in companies who gone bankrupt or closed, some stereoscopes, mainly Nikon, Zeiss and Leica. But as an amateur photographer myself my love is in Nikon. I saw that exact same model being sold and I would like to know your opinions about it.

SMZ1000 is a $2000-3000 microscope used. Its usually not something you get unless you have a specific need for it.
If you have that budget or are OK with regular stereo microscope (greenough) then used Nikon is great. Just know what to look for in a used unit: what zoom and eyepiece you want, make sure it has not been dropped, scratched, or is dirty inside.
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