Author Topic: Mind-range microscope upgrade? Stemi 305, SMZ-2T, EMZ-5TR, Mantis...?  (Read 5865 times)

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Online jfiresto

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Re: Mind-range microscope upgrade? Stemi 305, SMZ-2T, EMZ-5TR, Mantis...?
« Reply #25 on: November 16, 2020, 11:58:17 am »
... Meiji SMZ-8TR looks interesting. One issue is that I haven't seen a 0.7x or 0.75x barlow lens listed as an accessory for this model?...

I might suggest getting the 0.5X barlow lens for more working distance, and then two sets of eyepieces, one 10X and one 15X: to swap in and out, as it moves you, for more field of view or more magnification, respectively.

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EDIT: Oh ... the M420 "macroscope" is not a stereo microscope and does not provide a 3D view with depth to the eyepieces. So much for that idea!...

Leica/Wild made some "S" models that you can use as standard, stereo microscopes or,  by moving the objective under one of the optical paths, as macroscopes – when you want to measure or photograph things, or peer down deep holes. The "S" models have about half the resolution of the M400/M420, but otherwise, they give you the best of both worlds.

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I wonder if you could talk to Zeiss, explain that you need a better microscope than your present one, are unfamiliar with theirs and are intrigued by the 305. You could tell them you might need it for, say, 10–20 hours of rework and inspection per week, or whatever it is you might do, for however long. Then see if they think a 305 or something else would be a good or better fit.
Maybe so. I have a deep resistance of engaging with the sales pipeline of these companies. Maybe too many experiences of being assessed as a cheapskate who is not worth spending time on :)

I would not worry about that. Knowing what they charge, I expect, to Zeiss, most people look like cheapskates or were cheapsakes, including some who are now their customers. You should hear a dentist grumble about how much he had to pay for his surgical microscope, but I doubt he will ever, willingly, be parted from it.  ;D
 
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Offline lukego

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Re: Mind-range microscope upgrade? Stemi 305, SMZ-2T, EMZ-5TR, Mantis...?
« Reply #26 on: November 16, 2020, 11:58:40 am »
Note to self: I should also consider the possibility that the main problem in my Eakins is a low-quality reducer lens. This could potentially be cheap to correct. I have heard talk of such issues in the forum. I need to find videos of the quality that other people are achieving with this low-end equipment and see how mine compares.

EDIT: Having said that, looking through the eyepieces and reflecting on what I see, I suspect (without proof) that much better clarity is achieved by more reputable suppliers.
« Last Edit: November 16, 2020, 12:00:26 pm by lukego »
 

Online jfiresto

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Re: Mind-range microscope upgrade? Stemi 305, SMZ-2T, EMZ-5TR, Mantis...?
« Reply #27 on: November 16, 2020, 12:04:33 pm »
I have read a fair number of complaints about cheap relay lenses.
 
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Offline lukego

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Re: Mind-range microscope upgrade? Stemi 305, SMZ-2T, EMZ-5TR, Mantis...?
« Reply #28 on: November 16, 2020, 12:09:14 pm »
I might suggest getting the 0.5X barlow lens for more working distance, and then two sets of eyepieces, one 10X and one 15X: to swap in and out, as it moves you, for more field

I will spend a little time using the 0.5x barlow on my Eakins scope and see how that feels.

The working distance is valuable for having space to operate but it can strain my posture when working on a board that is elevated ~8cm over my preheater. However this may be more an issue with my desk chair being designed for a smaller person and not being able to give me a few cm more height...

re: 15x eyepieces, I suppose one issue with Zeiss is that you are reaching into your wallet for ~$250 for each small accessory like that. Is it the case that Meiji accessories sell for about half the price? If so it might even make sense to spring for a new SMZ-8TR if one anticipated needing a couple of barlow lenses and eyepieces.
 

Offline lukego

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Re: Mind-range microscope upgrade? Stemi 305, SMZ-2T, EMZ-5TR, Mantis...?
« Reply #29 on: November 16, 2020, 01:50:24 pm »
Question: How compatible are the accessory lenses (barlow, relay, etc) between brands like Zeiss, Meiji, Nikon? Is the main concern mechanical (e.g. threads and diameters) or optical (e.g. corrections and focal lengths)? For example might one put a Zeiss 0.75x barlow lens on a Meiji microscope, or a pair of Meiji 15x eyepieces into a Nikon microscope?

Vision Engineering is the unexplored territory here. They seem to cost between $1k and $10k new but to have an active second hand market on eBay. I understand that their killer feature is ergonomics but do we know how they compare on e.g. optics or compatibility with accessories like C-mount cameras?

How would we evaluate an offer like this kitted-out older-model Vision Engineering Lynx Dynascope? (Aside from being over budget). https://www.ebay.com/itm/Vision-Engineering-LYNX-Dynascope-okularfreies-3D-Mikroskop-PCB-12-000-NP-OVP/184297419390
« Last Edit: November 16, 2020, 01:52:33 pm by lukego »
 

Offline lukego

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Re: Mind-range microscope upgrade? Stemi 305, SMZ-2T, EMZ-5TR, Mantis...?
« Reply #30 on: November 16, 2020, 02:02:40 pm »
I might suggest getting the 0.5X barlow lens for more working distance

This would imply a significant loss of light, right? I like the working distance of the 0.5x barlow but I worry that having the objective lens so far away means I'll spill too much light and have a hard time capturing decent video. Maybe that concern is misguided?
 

Online jfiresto

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Re: Mind-range microscope upgrade? Stemi 305, SMZ-2T, EMZ-5TR, Mantis...?
« Reply #31 on: November 16, 2020, 02:44:48 pm »
... I like the working distance of the 0.5x barlow but I worry that having the objective lens so far away means I'll spill too much light and have a hard time capturing decent video. Maybe that concern is misguided?

Yes, stronger reflection is a challenge with a ring light at greater distances. Do you have room to use a couple spotlights shining more obliquely from the left and right sides?
« Last Edit: November 16, 2020, 02:52:30 pm by jfiresto »
 

Online jfiresto

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Re: Mind-range microscope upgrade? Stemi 305, SMZ-2T, EMZ-5TR, Mantis...?
« Reply #32 on: November 16, 2020, 02:50:16 pm »
Question: How compatible are the accessory lenses (barlow, relay, etc) between brands like Zeiss, Meiji, Nikon?...

I have not had much luck with foreign barlow lens (auxiliary objectives). People get all sorts of relay lenses to more or less work, but it sometimes requires some optical improvisation. People mix adjustable stereo microscope eyepieces all the time. Non-adjustable ones can be hit and miss if the eyepiece tubes lack diopter adjustments.
 

Offline lukego

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Re: Mind-range microscope upgrade? Stemi 305, SMZ-2T, EMZ-5TR, Mantis...?
« Reply #33 on: November 16, 2020, 04:19:43 pm »
Yes, stronger reflection is a challenge with a ring light at greater distances. Do you have room to use a couple spotlights shining more obliquely from the left and right sides?

Yes. I'm currently using a ring light with polarizer and oblique LED gooseneck lights. I find that at 1x the ring light by itself is okay, at 0.7x barlow adding the oblique lights makes it good, but at 0.5x barlow it becomes a challenge if I want to zoom in: I need to bring the gooseneck lights in so close that it cramps my working space (and can be blocked by PCB features like big connectors.)

I'm not sure how much light I'm losing due to cheap optics verses distance. Maybe the Zeiss would perform better? Just now though it feels like the 0.7x barlow lens represents the inflection point where buying working distance at the expense of optical strength stops being worth it. (Come to think of it the specific ring light I'm using steals about 20mm of working distance...)
 

Offline lukego

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Re: Mind-range microscope upgrade? Stemi 305, SMZ-2T, EMZ-5TR, Mantis...?
« Reply #34 on: November 16, 2020, 05:47:23 pm »
Summary for today!

Zeiss Stemi 305. Pro: Reasonable new price; Good optics (assumed: no test pictures seen.) Con: Limited magnification range; "made in China"; expensive accessories.

Meiji EMZ-8TR. Pro: Same objective magnification as AmScope; presumed good build quality (evidenced by second-hand market); less expensive accessories than Zeiss. Con: No barlow lens between 0.5x and 1.0x?; Camera port image small?; More expensive than Zeiss to buy new.
 
Nikon SMZ-U: Don't know.

Vision Engineering Mantis/Lynx: Don't know.

Olympus: Don't even know yet what model is their "AmScope."

Eakins: Pro: I already have one; it works. Con: Picture quality presumed relatively poor; bad performance on camera port; I'm reluctant to invest more money in low-end gear.

So... still no really obvious "spend a thousand dollars to upgrade your AmScope" path identified. Closest would seem to be setting an eBay alert on a Meiji SMZ-8TR.
 

Online jfiresto

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Re: Mind-range microscope upgrade? Stemi 305, SMZ-2T, EMZ-5TR, Mantis...?
« Reply #35 on: November 16, 2020, 06:38:51 pm »
FYI, tequipment.net quotes me $240.55 (before discount) when I total up the three parts in Meiji's SLR/NIKON/2.5X kit for mounting a Nikon FF camera with a T2-5 ring. It may be cheaper as a kit.
 

Offline lukego

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Re: Mind-range microscope upgrade? Stemi 305, SMZ-2T, EMZ-5TR, Mantis...?
« Reply #36 on: November 17, 2020, 06:59:46 am »
Collecting my thoughts.

I have an Eakins microscope that works okay for my current requirements. This may not have been the optimal choice from the beginning, since I've bought a bunch of low-quality accessories like cameras and lenses and illuminators that cost real money when you add them together, but it gets the job done.

My "dream" microscope might be a Vision Engineering LYNX EVO. Great features: ergonomic design, quick objective lens switcher, camera capability (details unknown), oblique 360° viewing attachment. However I don't imagine acquiring one any time soon because they cost around $10k new, probably have limited service options, and amazingly poor product literature (I can't actually tell what the main difference is between the LYNX EVO and the much cheaper Mantis Elite despite much reading and youtubing.)

Maybe one day an eBay deal on such a microscope will come along, and maybe at that time I'll have a project that justifies the purchase, but also quite possibly not.

So what to do in the meantime? Maybe in parallel I can continue to research what would be the "dream" microscope so that I'm ready if and when opportunity and budget present themselves. I suppose that I could also invest in a better microscope than I have now provided it has good expected resale value in case it underwhelms or is replaced within a couple of years.

So that brings me back to scanning eBay for a deal on a Meiji EMZ-8TR that's probably a good upgrade from the Eakins, could probably be resold without losing much, and might end up being all that I ever want and need. I should check if there are any other brands/models to search for in parallel.

Zeiss Stemi 305... seems that it was not to be. Sure is shiny and does have an attractive new price, but risk is that the more limited magnification range would be aggravating, that the accessories like barlow lenses would be too expensive, and that the resale value would be disappointing.

Meanwhile I already have another microscope to setup and play with: a cheap monocular head on a stand to try with the RaspberryPi and Eakins cameras. https://shop.pimoroni.com/products/microscope-stand-with-0-12-1-8x-lens Maybe this will be a good solution for inspection and close-up photography. In this setup I should be able to bring the lenses and lights in much closer to the subject. Maybe I'll even find that inspection is what I'm most interested in and come back to look at that non-stereo Wild Macroscope again one day...

Thanks so much jfiresto for all your guidance on this journey :)
« Last Edit: November 17, 2020, 07:01:31 am by lukego »
 

Online jfiresto

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Re: Mind-range microscope upgrade? Stemi 305, SMZ-2T, EMZ-5TR, Mantis...?
« Reply #37 on: November 17, 2020, 01:38:21 pm »
You are welcome. I hope you find a nice microscope!

I would not limit yourself to getting just a used Meiji EMZ-8TR or Meiji off e-bay. There are many other good alternatives, and like buying a used car, arguably the first thing is to get a microscope that was looked after and in good condition. It is a pity you did not start this thread a couple months ago, as a first time ebayer listed an older model I know fairly well, together with a couple stands. I did not buy because I had no need for the microscope, but I would have been happy to take and adapt one of the stands, check out the rest and send it on to you. It would have made the deal and a good one.

What is the diameter of the post of your microscope stand, the vertical post to which you clamp the microscope cradle? Is it 20mm like that older model?
« Last Edit: November 17, 2020, 02:06:13 pm by jfiresto »
 

Offline lukego

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Re: Mind-range microscope upgrade? Stemi 305, SMZ-2T, EMZ-5TR, Mantis...?
« Reply #38 on: November 17, 2020, 04:02:07 pm »
I would not limit yourself to getting just a used Meiji EMZ-8TR or Meiji off e-bay.

Thanks for the advice! I'm open to any and all possibilities.

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What is the diameter of the post of your microscope stand, the vertical post to which you clamp the microscope cradle? Is it 20mm like that older model?

I have an articulating arm stand without a post. I don't especially like it - I don't need the mobility and it needs extra support to avoid wobbles - but I was quoted $250+ to replace it with a double boom stand and that's not a high enough priority at the moment.
 

Offline lukego

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Re: Mind-range microscope upgrade? Stemi 305, SMZ-2T, EMZ-5TR, Mantis...?
« Reply #39 on: November 18, 2020, 05:59:28 pm »
This is venturing off topic now but I'm also considering whether a DSLR macro lens might make sense as an optical upgrade instead. Maybe I could pick up a Sigma 105mm f/2.8 and use my Nikon D750 to take 24MP photos of PCBs or individual soldered ICs. Maybe an automated focus stacking setup would make it easier to get an oblique view instead of trying to focus in realtime on the microscope while manipulating the board.

Food for thought!
 

Offline lukego

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Re: Mind-range microscope upgrade? Stemi 305, SMZ-2T, EMZ-5TR, Mantis...?
« Reply #40 on: November 24, 2020, 04:10:32 pm »
Back again!

I find myself looking at a series of dead-ends:

  • Zeiss Stemi 305 looks great BUT crazy expensive ecosystem and potential compatibility issues (e.g. I don't think my polarized ring light will fit its wide diameter.)
  • Macro lens for DSLR would surely take incredibly fine pictures BUT guessing I'd still do 95% of my work under the microscope rather than observing a photo.
  • $50 reducer lens might fix my immediate image quality problems BUT death of a thousand cuts to keep investing in endless bits of cheap crappy optics from China.

Current temptation is to simply buy a Meiji 8TR or 13TR brand new with all relevant barlow and relay lenses and a (non-brand) double-boom stand. This would cost more like $2500. This way I would have the high quality Meiji microscope AND my current Eakins to operate side-by-side. This actually seems pretty attractive e.g. Eakins for low magnification like placing parts beside the Meiji for high-magnification like microsoldering.

Questions!

Is this a reasonable plan, supposing the budget would allow? (How likely are Meiji optics to disappoint an Eakins owner?)

Is the 8TR or 13TR the better option? (The latter seems to just have more magnification and closer working distance more akin to the Zeiss Stemi 305?)

How does one buy a Meiji in Europe when willing to pay new prices but not wanting to be overcharged or oversold?

Is there a better option to consider if the budget were stretched to ~$2500 for a full setup sans illumination? (I would be shopping as a small business so I'd save 25% VAT on new products but not on second-hand.)
« Last Edit: November 24, 2020, 04:12:14 pm by lukego »
 

Offline lukego

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Re: Mind-range microscope upgrade? Stemi 305, SMZ-2T, EMZ-5TR, Mantis...?
« Reply #41 on: November 24, 2020, 07:41:29 pm »
Talking to myself again :-)

I'm not about to run out and spend $2500 on a shiny new Meiji but it does seem like that's probably a realistic budget for a good microscope setup given the requirements. That's partly because the microscope head and accessories cost real money and partly because once you've spent that much then why not also pick up a heavy double-boom stand at the same time.

I'm still tempted by the DSLR macro lens. I'm starting to wonder if that could potentially even be used as an alternative to the microscope camera port? I mean a use a stereo microscope combined with a macro shot from an oblique angle. If so that could potentially open up a whole new range of options since there are a LOT more microscopes on the market, especially the second-hand market, if you take split trinocular operation off the requirements list.
 

Offline lukego

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Re: Mind-range microscope upgrade? Stemi 305, SMZ-2T, EMZ-5TR, Mantis...?
« Reply #42 on: November 26, 2020, 02:28:29 pm »
Current status: Contacting Meiji for a quote on an EMZ-8TR headpiece with 15x eyepieces and 0.5x barlow lens. TEquipment.com price this at $1813 but I'm concerned about potential fees related to import from the USA. I haven't had much luck contacting a local distributor in Europe now but I'm scouring the web for one.

I am building up my confidence in Meiji the more I read. The quality seems to be high - and new microscopes come with a lifetime guarantee? - and the accessories extensive and fairly reasonably priced. I think that I would have been much better of buying a Meiji from the beginning instead of cheap Aliexpress optics and an endless procession of cheap lenses/cameras/illuminators to try and workaround their weaknesses.
 

Offline lukego

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Re: Mind-range microscope upgrade? Stemi 305, SMZ-2T, EMZ-5TR, Mantis...?
« Reply #43 on: November 26, 2020, 03:52:41 pm »
ORDERED!

Just placed an order with TEquipment.net for Meiji EMZ-8TR with 10x and 15x eyepieces and 2.5X camera adapter to use with my full-frame Nikon DSLR. Total cost $2000 including shipping and EEVBlog community discount.

I called the Swedish customs office and they say there are no tariffs on import of stereo optical microscopes from the USA and that import VAT can be reclaimed as this is a business purchase: I sure hope those details are right.

Thanks jfiresto for all your advice! I'm confident now that this is the right choice and that the original $1000 budget is only realistic for excellent second-hand deals. I prefer to buy new to get the lifetime warranty and avoid risks of my not being an expert eBay shopper.

I can't afford that JBC JNASE that I had my eye on anymore but I'm feeling confident that I'll get more value out of a quality microscope for now.
 

Online jfiresto

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Re: Mind-range microscope upgrade? Stemi 305, SMZ-2T, EMZ-5TR, Mantis...?
« Reply #44 on: November 26, 2020, 04:16:54 pm »
... Just placed an order with TEquipment.net for Meiji EMZ-8TR with 10x and 15x eyepieces and 2.5X camera adapter to use with my full-frame Nikon DSLR. Total cost $2000 including shipping and EEVBlog community discount....

You did what?! What about all the adventures of buying used junk on ebay that you will not get to savour? :) I am happy for you, that you got everything sorted out, and I think you will enjoy the new microscope.

I have one tiny, little question, however. If the microscope is from Meiji Techno America, will their European colleagues also support the warranty?
« Last Edit: November 26, 2020, 04:26:09 pm by jfiresto »
 

Online jfiresto

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Re: Mind-range microscope upgrade? Stemi 305, SMZ-2T, EMZ-5TR, Mantis...?
« Reply #45 on: November 26, 2020, 04:48:19 pm »
Should you feel a little buyer's remorse, click here.
 

Offline lukego

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Re: Mind-range microscope upgrade? Stemi 305, SMZ-2T, EMZ-5TR, Mantis...?
« Reply #46 on: November 26, 2020, 05:39:54 pm »
Should you feel a little buyer's remorse, click here.

Thanks! I had actually come across that page and discovered the Microbehunter forum and read all their relevant threads too :).

Having placed the order I hope to now stop waking up in the middle of the night thinking of new microscope buying keywords to search for :). The new Meiji seems like a valid choice between restoring a vintage Wild scope or mortgaging the house for a Lynx EVO.

If I didn't buy this now I'd have given in to the temptation of a DSLR macro lens and that would have felt like yet more expensive dancing around the need for a quality microscope.

« Last Edit: November 26, 2020, 05:46:48 pm by lukego »
 

Offline lukego

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Re: Mind-range microscope upgrade? Stemi 305, SMZ-2T, EMZ-5TR, Mantis...?
« Reply #47 on: November 26, 2020, 05:53:56 pm »
... Just placed an order with TEquipment.net for Meiji EMZ-8TR with 10x and 15x eyepieces and 2.5X camera adapter to use with my full-frame Nikon DSLR. Total cost $2000 including shipping and EEVBlog community discount....
I have one tiny, little question, however. If the microscope is from Meiji Techno America, will their European colleagues also support the warranty?

I wonder about that too. But I showed the Meiji UK people the TEquipment price and they could only offer about $500 higher cost even after shipping. So I'm willing to take a chance on possible return to US for service to save that cash now.

I couldn't find a distributor in continental Europe, maybe there's one that I missed though.
 

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Re: Mind-range microscope upgrade? Stemi 305, SMZ-2T, EMZ-5TR, Mantis...?
« Reply #48 on: November 26, 2020, 06:20:33 pm »
... Just placed an order with TEquipment.net for Meiji EMZ-8TR with 10x and 15x eyepieces and 2.5X camera adapter to use with my full-frame Nikon DSLR. Total cost $2000 including shipping and EEVBlog community discount....
I have one tiny, little question, however. If the microscope is from Meiji Techno America, will their European colleagues also support the warranty?

I wonder about that too. But I showed the Meiji UK people the TEquipment price and they could only offer about $500 higher cost even after shipping. So I'm willing to take a chance on possible return to US for service to save that cash now.

I couldn't find a distributor in continental Europe, maybe there's one that I missed though.

Are you going to go with a particular Barlow lens?
 

Online jfiresto

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Re: Mind-range microscope upgrade? Stemi 305, SMZ-2T, EMZ-5TR, Mantis...?
« Reply #49 on: November 26, 2020, 06:47:49 pm »
... I couldn't find a distributor in continental Europe, maybe there's one that I missed though....

Clicking on the Meiji Techno Europe link forwards me to Meiji Techno America. I tried ringing both their numbers but today is a national holiday.
 


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