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Suggestions for selecting the correct microscope.

  • 1.  Suggestions for selecting the correct microscope.

    Posted 05-25-2022 12:30
    I am looking for suggestions on digital microscopes and the best way to narrow down the choices to fit a lab's needs. Our lab currently has a stereoscope and I believe a digital microscope would have an immediate impact on our analysis capabilities. I was wondering if anyone has suggestions on brands/models that they have really enjoyed using and would recommend I take a look at? Our lab reviews a large variety of materials related to the natural gas industry so versatility is very important in the microscope we choose. I appreciate any and all feedback and look forward to networking with members of this society. 

    Thank you,
    Jack Dawson

    Jack Dawson
    Engineer I
    One Gas
    Topeka, KS
    (785) 215-5859
    Spring 2023 courses

  • 2.  RE: Suggestions for selecting the correct microscope.

    Posted 05-26-2022 02:12
    I would suggest looking at Hiro's and Keyence microscopes. Both are very good but our experience has been that the Hiro's is superior albeit you may get a larger price discount on a Keyence system

    Ramesh Kar
    Kars Advanced Materials Incorporated
    Anaheim CA
    (714) 527-7134

    Spring 2023 courses

  • 3.  RE: Suggestions for selecting the correct microscope.

    Posted 05-26-2022 06:03
    Edited by Phyllis Burris 05-26-2022 06:04
    My suggestion would be the Keyence Digital Microscope.  We have the VHX-7000 Series.  We have been extremely Pleased with its capabilities. 
    Phyllis Burris
    Metallurgical Technologist
    Schaeffler Group USA
    Fort Mill, SC
    (803) 802-4063


    Spring 2023 courses

  • 4.  RE: Suggestions for selecting the correct microscope.

    Posted 05-26-2022 09:05

    You really need to look at what you are doing. The latest digitals do amazing things in documentation, measuring and presentation but at a cost. Besides the $$$, digitals lose the depth perception that a good optical stereoscope has and in many cases the versatility of an optical in terms of sample size and quickness of use. 

    Don't give up your stereo system but add digital. I've had considerable success with the Keyence line. I progressed through 4 generations before I retired and my old lab has continued to the 5 and 6 generation with the 7000. 

    Joe Epperson, FASM
    Senior Metallurgist, retired
    Waldorf, MD

    Spring 2023 courses

  • 5.  RE: Suggestions for selecting the correct microscope.

    Posted 05-26-2022 11:20
    You really need to specify the type of samples and magnification range.

    Are you looking at fracture surfaces?  Metallographic cross-sections?

    Do you need EDOF? 2.5D surface data?  LIBS?  Wide area stitching?

    The list goes on and on and and on.......

    - Jim

    Jim Quinn, Dir. of Laboratories
    Materials Science and Chemical Engineering
    Stony Brook University
    Stony Brook NY

    Spring 2023 courses

  • 6.  RE: Suggestions for selecting the correct microscope.

    Posted 05-27-2022 00:57
    The other comments are excellent.  Before I retired we had purchased a Keyence.  It did a very good job on a variety of tasks.  It did not in my opinion replace a dedicated metallurgical microscope for metallography - the lighting was not truly co-axial as I recall.  Another issue was that the dedicated PC it came with, was not upgradeable, and that meant that it was not compatible with the corporate security software and there were network issues.  This was a real workflow problem as we then had to use "sneakernet", USB drives to cart our images and files around, rather than being able to access them from the network at our desks.  Optically it was adequate to excellent depending on the magnification and task.  Focus stacking for image depth of field was not always successful.  I'm sure that as sensors and computing horsepower have improved that these have gotten better.  Making changes to the optics was a lot of work to someone who was used to flipping another objective around or worst case unscrewing and replacing one.

    Nothing beats a true stereoscopic view for quick understanding of a fracture, and I am sure you weren't intending to get rid of the stereoscope.  That said, going digital even at the very low magnifications has its advantages.  And you can toss a digital camera into one of the eyepiece holes to document the view there.  Also worst case, hold a cell phone camera up to the eyepiece and snap a picture.

    Paul Tibbals

    Spring 2023 courses

  • 7.  RE: Suggestions for selecting the correct microscope.

    Posted 05-27-2022 11:57
    I''ll add my reinforcement to what Joe Epperson and James Quinn said.  You really need to consider what you want to do and what you're looking at. If you're adding digital capability to your stereomicroscope, the capability of low magnification Keyence to tilt the microscope as well as the sample can give you a tremendous amount of flexibility in your imaging. The connectivity of Keyence has improved, but there still seems to be a lot of custom computing which can give your IT department fits if they are security minded. I've become very attached to our Nikon SMZ25 with controlled Z stepping and HDR. The ability to get quasi-confocal imaging with variable brightness across the field of view can be very appealing. I've been able to get amazing images of the half cylinder visible of polished stainless steel rods. It does have some polarization capabilities with transmission lighting. However, our microscope stand only allows a maximum 3 inch sample height. 

    Paul Tibbals' comments about the benefits of a good metallurgical microscope are also spot on. The advantages of bright field, dark field and reflected polarization are tremendous. Consider whether you want an inverted or upright microscope. If you only look at polished samples an inverted metallograph makes polished samples and any sample height a breeze. If you deal with polished to transparency rock slices, you'll need transmitted light and an upright scope may fit better.

    On the other hand, if you're looking at something to easily get digital images at higher magnification than a lens on your phone, and you're out in the boonies of the Bakken, it may be adequate to get a $200 digital scope that plugs into your laptop. It has lousy depth of focus, crummy resolution and minimal capabilities, but you can get quick, cheap magnified imaging out in the field. Though the very thought of using such a thing may make some microscopists cringe, if it adequately fits your needs consider it. Even if it fits only some of your needs, it's not much of an outlay. You might not need an air stabilized microscope setup if you're looking at drilling sludge next to a pump jack in the Badlands of North Dakota.


    Steven Axdal
    Staff Engineer
    St. Paul MN
    (651) 260-6013

    Spring 2023 courses

  • 8.  RE: Suggestions for selecting the correct microscope.

    Posted 05-27-2022 14:24
    VHF 950F is good for depth composition. Please ask Keyence sales person to give you a demo.

    Sanjay Kulkarni
    Materials Engineer
    Troy, MI

    Spring 2023 courses

  • 9.  RE: Suggestions for selecting the correct microscope.

    Posted 05-31-2022 13:00
    Hi Jack,
    Lots of good suggestions already, but at the end of the day it's the whole toolbox and not the individual tool that will help the most.
    If you are looking at flat surfaces, digital microscopes based on motorized zoom lenses give great images without necessarily good depth perception with lots of tools - understand the tools available, and consider what you need (Keyence/Hirox etc).  Beware the difference between on-screen magnification and optical magnification, the former can be misleading.  Also be aware of future upgrade path, as PC failure otherwise may turn the device into an expensive paper weight. However, if you have a stereo microscope this may compliment the need.  You can consider adding digital tools to optical microscopes as well, of course.
    Most companies will provide a demonstration - think about the things you do, get some samples ready, and do some real hands on testing!

    Michael Keeble
    BUEHLER,Buehler a Division of ITW
    Lake Bluff IL
    (847) 393-3645

    Spring 2023 courses

  • 10.  RE: Suggestions for selecting the correct microscope.

    Posted 06-03-2022 03:41

    Hi Jack 

    You may check Zeiss Microscope. Have a good experience with that. 

    Chirag Raval
    Thermal Spray Applications & Know How Technology Transfer

    Spring 2023 courses

  • 11.  RE: Suggestions for selecting the correct microscope.

    Posted 06-16-2022 09:59
    Dear Jack, usually you need a budget compensate with the technics requirements. In medium cost, we have a very good experience with German company Opto, they have a portable high performance microscopes. Of course in high range and high costs you have Zeiss company. These are our main providers in optic microscopes, that can integrate software for analysis and very high optical performance.

    Carlos Vergara
    metallurgical engineer (owner)
    Ingeniería y Servicios Solco SpA

    Spring 2023 courses