(Last updated: 9/09/2016)
One of my joys is to tinker with my microscope and to take pictures with it. My current microscope has slowly been upgraded since I combined it from two scopes I bought from UC Davis Bargain Barn and eBay. So pardon me for nerding out while introducing this piece!
It is a Zeiss Standard 16, circa 1970s. That puts it before the Infinity Corrected Optics era and it is compatible with any objectives designed with a 160mm or Royal Microscopal Society (RMS) tube length.
It came equipped with an older version of trinocular head. At the back is a toggle that direct the light into the eyepiece or the photo-tube. The phototube has a Canon Photomicro Unit F attached to it. Inside is another Nikon CFW 10x eyepiece to project the image onto the camera sensor. The Photomicro Unit F ends with a Canon FD mount and I connect a Sony A7ii using a NEX-FD adapter. It is almost parfocal with the objectives but not quite. To correct that I will need to file the tube short, which I don’t think I can pull off…
I changed out the eyepiece for a pair of Nikon CFWN 10x/20 wide-field eyepiece.
I also upgraded the light source from the original 10W Halogen to a LED light source that I got from eBay. Thus the color temperature from the light is now colder, but since I take pictures on a Sony A7ii as RAW files, that could be easily corrected. One caveat though is that because the LED has a noticeable flicker at 60Hz, both the screen and any pictures taken with a shutter speed of 1/60 or nearby would have noticeable bands. Also, the LED is really bright and thus even with a dimmer switch, I still need to put a neutral density filter to dampen the intensity.
The stage is an older model and instead of the familiar single stick controlling both X and Y movement, those two controls are split up. A bit slower to operate but works fine. Moreover, unlike the more modern stages, this one can turn and pivot, which makes it quite convenient to get the right angle for picture taking.
The heart of the microscope is the objectives. I now have a set of objectives that I really like and with which I take most of the pictures on this site:
- Olympus SPlan FL 2x/0.08
- Nikon Plan Apo 10x/0.4
- Zeiss Planapo 40x/1.0 Oil
- Zeiss Planapo 63/1.4 Oil
- Zeiss Planapo 100/1.3 Oil
It means that most of the time I need to use oil to capture images, but the quality I think makes it worthwhile. It is really noticeable how well the Planapo objectives perform comparing to the non-Planapo versions.
Special thanks to Mr. Carlos de la Cruz from the UC Davis Microscope Services for his friendship and invaluable advice for setting this up!
Here are the pieces of equipment that I used to have before each upgrade:
Olympus DPlan 10/0.25, Zeiss F40/0.65 and Zeiss F10/0.25
The original Halogen light source