|When I was a young teenager [in the '50s] i was very interested in microscopes, I could not buy one but was allowed to use one in an opticians shop. I eventually studied biology as school and zoology and microbiology at university, then worked in University [as a microbial biochemist]. Now retired I have recently obtained some microscopes to play with. This web page is mainly trivial stuff that i have collected that is useful for me.
I have prepared a separate page to cover the protozoa etc that I have been looking at: Microscopical Creatures
|My microscopes||Useful websites||Microscopes for children/students|
|Books on Microscopy||Downloadable instructions||My Calibration table|
|My Microscopical Creatures Page|
Wild M5 Stereo microscope
|Now part of Leica, these Swiss-made instruments are the highest quality. Martin Microscope Company was the second Wild microscope dealer in the US (see Company History). Used M5 stereoscopes are still in demand. The Leica MZ series microscopes have continued the Wild tradition of top of the line optics, but they are no longer made in Switzerland. There is an excellent history of Wild Heerbrugg here.|
|Zeiss binocular microscope
I think that the model is a Zeiss Standard RA.
Condenser includes phase contrast.
Objectives are Zeiss Neofluar 16, 40, 100x and ordinary 3.5x and 10x; the higher ones are for phase contrast.
Eyepieces are Nikon Wide Angle HKW 10x with measuring graticule.
|Serivced by Mazurek|
The firm of Carl Zeiss was founded in Jena in 1846 and grew to be the most dominant optical and fine mechanical firm in the world at the beginning of the twentieth century through 1945. It was then effectively separated into two firms because of the partitioning of Germany after World War II. The resulting firms became Carl Zeiss in Oberkochen (West Germany) and VEB Carl Zeiss Jena (East Germany).
This links to computer by USB cable. Objects are illuminated by a ring of LED lights. The software is excellent. One click takes photo and it can used as video camera also. At the lower power it is easy to use. The pictures are thrilling although frightening when you look inside your ear or mouth.
|I bought this on Amazon for about £45 [rrp £60]. At high power it is difficult [as are all microscopes at 400x], made worse by very poor instructions. I have written instructions [see below]. My review for Amazon was apparently very useful. There is a 20 – 200x version [£30] and that might be easier.|
Pictures of a spider taken with USB. The spider was 5mm long. It took 2 minutes to set up and take these pictures.
|The dead spider at 20X||Spider eyes at 400x Note reflections of the LED|
|Natural History Museum Pocket Microscope
by TKC. 20-40x power with built in light source.
|I bought this on Amazon for £7.50. This is good. Optics are excellent. It can be used to look at anything on a flat surface [the light then comes from above] or using a special slide when the light comes from beneath. Instructions are clear.|
|Microscopes suitable for children and students|
I was interested in finding suitable microscopes for children. Many that are sold look like ‘real microscopes’ but are very difficult to use and I do not recommend the ones that I have seen. The field of view is tiny, lighting is poor, the light weight makes them unstable. They emphasise that they go to really high power but that is rarely of interest as images are poor.
An example of a typical bad 'toy' microscope is the National Geographic 47 Piece 1200X Microscope set £20. It claims it can be used at 1,200x. This is absurd as this is at the limits of a light microscope and even using a microscope costing thousands of pounds it is difficult to use such a high magnification.
Good alternatives are the Veho USB-linked microscope and the Natural history microscope [described here]. If these rouse the interest of children, then it would subsequently be better to find a 'student' microscope from a microscope manufacturer.
Although I have no personal experience of them, the student microscopes from Brunel look good [£40 - £200] and also the Apex microscopes [sold on Amazon]. Apex sell a low-power stereo microscope which is good for general natural history [£42] and a good-looking ‘standard’ microscope with built-in light source and condenser for £87 [normal price £125]. My attention has been drawn to a source (USA) for inexpensive microscopes but I have no personal experience of them (Levenhuk).
There are good buyers' guides on the webpages I have listed below.
Warning: I have read that eyes/brains of younger children may not be sufficiently developed to be able to use binocular instruments like the stereo microscopes, and the microscope eyepieces may not be able to move close enough together to accommodate a child's size.
|Microscopes and Microscopy websites|
|Microbus: Frontpage. A magnificent resource [examples are given below]|
|Microbus: Microscope information [advanced including phase contrast etc]|
|Microbus: Microscope internet links|
|Microscopy UK. Great magazine site with many excellent links|
|Ron's Pond Scum. Very nice site with beautiful photos|
|Nikon resource for microscopy education; excellent formal interactive tutorials|
|Rice university simple tutorials|
|Microscope forum; good source of tutorials|
Postal Microscopical Society. Founded in 1873 in UK.
|Introduction to Microscope parts etc|
|Pond water investigation: Microbus site covering everything to do with looking at protozoa etc|
|Pond creatures. Magnificient Microbus site describing main groups of protozoa and microscopic animals.|
|The smallest page on the web. Link from Microbus site Excellent on protozoa etc|
|Forays into 'consumercam' photomicroscopy by Paul James [from magazine Microscopy UK]|
|Making digital camera microscope adpaptors. A pdf file of Paul James's article|
|Phase Microscopy; is it worth having? by Paul James|
|Books on Microscopy for beginners [including me]|
I was interested in finding simple books for young beginners which would inform about microscopes and give sensible suggestions for use. I found very few [mainly on Amazon]. For most purposes I learned more by going to internet so here is a list of Best sites
The World of the Microscope (Usborne Science and Experiments) by Chris Oxlade, Corinne Stockley, and Kuo Kang Chen (Paperback - Jan 2008) . £4.21. Excellent, Excellent book.
Adventures With a Microscope by Richard Headstrom (Paperback - 1 Feb 2000).£9.99. Reprint of a 1941 book. It is arranged as a set of ‘adventures’ and the whole style is old-fashioned. That is, it is serious and thorough. Good illustrations. Although apparently for the amateur it would not be easy for children, but I liked it.
World in a drop of water; exploring with a microscope. By Alvin and Virginia Silversein. There is a Dover reprint [paperback] of this 1969 book. It has some good illustrations but it has only 64 pages of large writing [for use in schools]. It is worthless, especially compared with The world of the microscope [above].
A Manual of Elementary Microscopical Manipulation for the Use of Amateurs [Paperback] Thomas Charte White. This was published in 1887. You can get this hardback version for about £40 [or £6 if you are lucky in your local bookshop] or as paperback from Amazon [£14.50]. I found this an enjoyable old book. Not suitable for children.
|My Zeiss microscope calibration
This is for use with 10x eypiece with graticule [calibrated with a 1mm scale]
|Objective||Magnification||1 division||10 divisions||100 divisions|
|3.2x||32x||32 microns||320 microns||3.2 mm|
NB: The 3.2x is rarely used [the Wild M5 would be better for low magnification].