Microscope systems

Hi All, I have been contemplating the purchase of a microscope system
to do work under such as the Meiji Microscope in the Rio Grande
catalog. That is the only choice I have seen, are there other
sources and choices that anyone can recommend? What features should
I look for such as specifications and accessories? I would like to
use it for setting and engraving. Also, does anyone know about the
binocular type magnifiers worn by surgeons?

Thanks, Marta

I have the Meiji microscope, halogen lights and stand. I bought them
from GRS about 10 years ago. I am very happy with the zoom range,
optics, and most importantly, the large working distance between the
objective lens and the item that I am working on. It makes setting
much easier, as well as carving fine detail into both wax and metal.
Once you get used to it, you’ll wonder how you got along with out it.

Rick Hamilton

Marta, The Meiji is a great investment! I’ve had mine for about three
years and use it every day. It’s nice to be able to see the pieces
you’re working on! After 23 years at the bench, my eyes are not what
they used to be with the magnifying visor. If you do purchase the
Meiji, must accessories are the halogen lights and the head rest.
[These could be standard features since I bought mine]. Check out
Harris Discount Supply. Harris is a dental supply house that has some
nice equipment. Bought a bench vacuum system from them. I have seen
bench microscopes in their catalog. Best regards, Bob Staley B.Staley,
Goldsmiths Precision Laser Welding @B_Staley_Goldsmiths

Marta, I have been using a binocular loupe, made by Keeler Optical,
for about 10 months now, and I really like it. It was originally
designed for dental surgery, has a working focal distance of about
12", at 5.5X. I have used a microscope in the past and the Meiji is
a great scope. I went with the binocular loupe because the microscope
does not automatically focus as you move the work beneath it. Every
time you move the piece you’re setting, you must refocus the scope.
With the binocular loupe, you automatically refocus simply my moving
your head slightly. This soon becomes an unconscious action, just
like your eyes normally refocus. I constantly check my work from all

The other disadvantage to the scope is that almost all microscopes
look straight down onto the work. My eyes, however, look at a 45
degree angle with my hand and tool above my line of sight. I had a
hard time seeing what I was doing under the scope, because my hands
and tools were always in the way. Some people are able to adjust
their working posture to accommodate this, but I couldn’t.

The disadvantage of the binocular loupe is it’s power. 5.5X
magnification is about all you can ever expect to have. Anything
more, and the depth of field becomes so small that it is hard to
focus using your head. A fixed stand, like a microscope, is steadier.
For flat engraving, I prefer the microscope. For stonesetting, and I
set a lot of bezels, I like the binocular loupe.

You will make your choice based upon the type of work that you do.
They cost about the same. Unless you decide to add the video feature
to the Meiji…

If you want to check out the Keeler loupe, let me know and I’ll get a
phone number, model number, etc., for you.

Doug Zaruba

Marta: I haven’t seen the Rio catalog but I am somewhat familiar with
stereo microscope setups. Many of them are made to set up on a swing
arm system, so finding a stereo microscope equipped that way
shouldn’t be difficult. (I assume that’s what the Rio/Mejii system
looks like) You would need to have some idea of what power or power
range you wanted to work in and, of course, the zoom heads are very
nice, but not essential, to have. I have seen binocular eyeglasses
in the Edmund catalog, but they were only about 3.5x. While most
optics are probably good enough for your purposes, a critical
variable may be field width. My gemological microscope, an old but
very nice B&L zoom gives about a one inch wide field at 10x if I
remember right. If you are going to set under this thing, you want
to be able to see all the prongs on a fair sized stone at once, I
would think. My guess is that five to ten power is about what you
would use most. That way you would see detail superbly but not run
into problems with no depth of focus or with vibration and you
wouldn’t need to drive yourself crazy seeing too much. I saw some
microscopes at www.jewelrysupply.com last night and I believe at
least one had a stand like what I’m thinking of. There are some
surplus outlets for optics on the net and there is always the dreaded
ebay. I would look around for a used model before I dropped big
bucks if finances are an issue. I got my head ten years ago, used,
for $350. There are lots of these things coming out of old aircraft
inspection plants, etc. Spencer, B&L, Nikon, Minolta, Reichert,
Kruss are some names to look for, but I doubt you are going to find
any real dogs in such equipment. It is too much precision stuff for
idiots to be making it, especially if it is an older model.


Hi Doug: Read your post about the Keeler binocular loupe. I’m sure
there are a few of us, myself included, who would appreciate it if
you would post a source for those if you have it. I have tried the
Meiji, but my situation sounds a lot like yours. By the way, how
much of an investment is the binocular loupe, if you don’t mind my

David L. Huffman

American Optic, Baush & lomb, Lieca and Ziess are a better buy for
the Money and you could find some of these with Used Machinery
Dealers. These come off some of the machine shops who use this for
comparison or Die Making.

The newer ones are Olympus, Nikon, etc., that you may not find. Meiji
is the cheapest Japanese microscope that is better than buying a
Taiwan, China or East European Microscope.

I have just recommended the makes as per our observation I hope this
helps you.


Hi Gang,

  I have been using a binocular loupe, made by Keeler Optical, for
about 10 months now, and I really like it. It was originally
designed for dental surgery, has a working focal distance of about
12", at 5.5X.  

Here’s another source for binocular magnifiers: MSC
(www.mscdirect.com). They have most types of magnifiers from linen
testers to video microscopes. They list 5 different styles of
binocular magnifiers similar to the type used by dentists & MDs.
Prices for these 2 to 3 power, 11 & 16 inch working distance, run
from $212.00 to $237.00.

They also list 4 binocular clip ons that go from 1 3/4 to 3 1/2
magnification for $18 - $20.00. These have a working distance of 14
to 4 inches. They only weigh 2 oz & are a delight to use. I’ve been
using a pair for over 5 years.

They attach to your glasses by a hook over the bridge and a spring
wire under each of the lenses. The magnifying lense is 1inch by 3
inches & is located about 2 inches in front of your glasses when in
use. They work well with bi & trifocals.

I’ve not used the MSC site so I don’t know if they have pictures or
not. If they have a way to seach by item number, the item numbers
aRe: 06533210 ($18 mag) & 04240768 for the $237 mag).


David and all, I looked into a pair of loupes from a company called "
oroscoptic research" I had them come to my shop and tried on several
different pairs. The problem I found was the field of vision was way
out of wack. I couldn’t see working with these all day. I tried on a
range from 2.5x to 4.6x Obviously the one great benefit I did find
from the loupes was the fact that I could sit straight up in my chair
without leaning over to see my work. I have also tried the microscope
system and I would chose a microscope over a set of loupes any day…
Just my opinion… But hey if you or anyone would like to have a demo
on these loupes get in touch with http://www.orascoptic.com/ They are
very nice people and they will have a rep come to your shop so you can
demo these things in your working enviroment. Hope this helps. Marc
Williams http://marccogold.com/

Marc, The loupes you tried are Galilean type not the prism type that
Doug and I are referring to. There is no comparison between them. The
Galilean type are like a stronger Optivisor with all the spherical
aberration and minimal depth of field that you get in a high
magnification Optivisor. To quote from the Ziess website"In Prism
Loupes, as magnification increases, optical quality remains
excellent, unlike Galilean loupes, which exhibit optical aberrations
at magnifications higher than 3x. Even at magnifications of 5x or 6x,
the prism loupe image is completely flat and sharp from edge to
edge." If you decide to look at binocular loupes again find a
manufacturer of prism type loupes to try out. Most of them will
either have a salesman come by or send you a set to try out.

James Binnion Metal Arts

Member of the Better Business Bureau