An alternative to microscopes
are surgical loupes. These are the type of loupes surgeons and dentists
use. There are quite a few brands available, but by far the best, and
the clearest and brightest, are the loupes made by Carl Zeiss. They are
available in a variety of powers (4.5x to 8x) and working distances.
of Zeiss Loupes are $1499 and they are available
directly from Zeiss. with a 30-day loan
OF THE AMSCOPE MICROSCOPE EQUIPMENT
by Les Schowe
Before I start this review I would like to make one point clear: Some
people like microscopes for engraving and some people do not like
microscopes for engraving, and all that is just fine. We are all different
people and we all have different opinions, abilities, and dis-abilities.
This review is for the people who have decided that they would like to use a
microscope for their engraving endevours and would like to find a lower cost
solution than the Meiji/Acrobat Stand setup. I do not want this review to
turn into a discussion about whether or not microscopes are useful in
One of the problems with getting new students started into engraving is
getting them past the cost of the equipment required to start an engraving
career. As such, I have been researching lower cost alternatives for some
of the equipment required for engraving. I have recently evaluated the
Amscope microscope equipment on the internet and I have even given them
several phone calls - nice people, by the way. One of my current students
took my suggestion and ordered the Amscope microscope components listed
below. Upon receipt of his order he brought all of the components to my
studio, we assembled everything and then evaluated the total setup. I am
not, and never have been, a fan of Chinese products but, I have to say, I
was very impressed and excited with this microscope setup. I can't speak
for their quality control (how good the next microscope might be) but
this specific microscope seemed to be every bit as
good (and maybe even better) as my own Meiji microscope - I was really very
Mind you, I am not an optics expert. I am not trying to evaluate this
microscope for its ability to allow me to split chromosomes, I am just
evaluating this equipment for engraving. A "Consumer Reports" evaluation
might find some problems with this microscope relative to a Meiji microscope
in the optics, but for engraving it was great, did the job, and, in my
opinion, is just as good as my Meiji.
Below are the web pointers to the Amscope catalog pages for the
components that I reviewed. Note that the prices for each component is at
the very bottom of the web page. It looks like the total price for
everything, excluding shipping, is about $700. Also Note that you can find
these products on ebay and you can save a little more money by ordering
there. (On their ebay adds, AmScope dose not give model numbers so you have
to figure out what is what before you order. It might be a good idea, if
you are going to try to order their equipment over ebay, to give them a call
to verify that this is what you are looking for).
Web Pointers to the components:
Barlow Lens for Microscope:
Microscope light ring:
By the way, here is the AmScopes home page:
note here. Do not try, as I did, to order the Amscope Microscope stand
for your Meiji microscope. They are not compatible, ie, they do not fit.
The Meiji requires the holder ring of the focusing rack to be 3.315". The
Amscope Microscope stand has a
holder ring diameter of 3".
Les Schowe firstname.lastname@example.org
Carl Zeiss OPMI1 Microscope
The scope Steve Lindsay uses
||Carl Zeiss Surgical OPMI 1
I've found the Zeiss OPMI 1 scopes to be the clearest optically, and
their smaller size is a plus. The optics in the Zeiss are as daylight.
The Zeiss OPMI 1 is more expensive, but if you plan to spend a lot of
your life looking through a scope, it is worth watching ebay for a few
months to find one in good shape. The Zeiss OPMI 1 bodies in good
shape seem to sell on ebay for around $2,000 to $3,000. From a dealer,
a used body is around $7,500. New, the OPMI scopes are out of reach
$20,000 from Zeiss
Left: Zeiss Surgical OPMI 1
A stereo microscope can be a great aid to the engraver who desires to engrave intricate designs. There are a variety of
brands of scopes that will work for engraving, including American Optical, Olympus, Meiji, Bausch & Lomb, Zeiss, Wild, and Nikon. The scope I favored for eighteen
years was a Bausch & Lomb. I'm currently using a Zeiss Surgical OPMI1.
Bausch & Lomb no longer makes scopes. I believe the company merged with Leica, or was bought out. It is still possible to
find B&L scopes. Sometimes nice scopes at reasonable prices can be found on
ebay.com. B&L made a nice boom stand, and finding a scope with the boom
stand would be ideal. B&L also made scopes with fixed power, however, they do not work well for engraving. Watch for the ones with variable zoom. $800 is probably
about the going rate for a B&L scope in good condition on ebay.
I believe Meiji microscopes have the same zoom power that the old B&Ls had: 7x through 45x, with 10x eyepieces that give
a 3.6" working distance. A .5x reducing objective can be added, which makes it 3.5x through 22.5x with the 10x eyepieces, and the working distance increases to 7.2".
I used a B&L scope without a reducing lens while engraving, but if more clearance was needed (i.e. sawing with a jeweler's saw under the scope), a reducing lens would
have doubled the distance and cut the power in half.
Zoom Information Tip The zoom of the Zeiss OPMI 1 doesn't "zoom" like most
other scopes. Instead, it has a separate fixed lens for each power. There are a total of 5 powers that are clicked through as you turn the dial on the side of the
scope. Fixed lenses are clearer and brighter than an adjustable zoom lens, which is also true with camera lenses.
If a traditional zoom scope is going out of focus when zoomed from one extreme to the other, this can sometimes be adjusted simply by setting the height at the point
that the eye pieces are setting in the eyepiece tubes. If you can pull an eyepiece up slightly and it will stay, try going through the zoom to see if it is better or
worse. It takes some trial and error, but sometimes this is all that is needed. If it does improve, take a look at how the eyepiece tubes are connected, and check to
see if they are adjustable in height. This way you can adjust the tube height instead of the eyepiece itself. Since the Zeiss OPMI1 uses a different lens for each
power, this tip won't work with it. The barrel mechanism in the body of OPMI1 scope holds each lens. These are adjustable independently of each other should you find
one power to be out of focus compared to the others.
Custom Boom Stand for a Zeiss OPMI1 Scope
The Zeiss OPMI1 scope I'm using did not come with a stand, and I ended up making my own. Below are pictures of it. I wanted it to be as
rigid as possible to prevent vibrations, and also to have a long reach for engraving items such as gun barrels. I'm sure the stand could be made with some revisions,
but if you build your own, the pictures might help to give you some ideas.