Nikon SMZ-10 Stereo Microscope for engraving?

Greetings folks.

Boy did I score today…

Went to an estate sale, and picked up (among other things) a Nikon
SMZ-10 stereo microscope. (it’s actually a trinocular, but that’s the
easy part.)

I’ve already got one of Otto Frei’s Chinese Meiji clones on an
acrobat stand for engraving. Unfortunately, the SMZ has a smaller
body diameter, and the switch for the trinoc is in the back, so it
doesn’t quite fit the mount right. I’ll have to machine up a new
bracket to go on the end of the acrobat.

My question is mainly does anybody know anything about the SMZ-10
for engraving? It’s got a slightly smaller zoom range than the Meiji
clone, and the ultimate power isn’t quite as high. (40x as opposed to
50x) Believe it or not, I actually do use 50x every so often. The
main improvement is that it holds focus as it zooms, and it has Nikon
optics, as opposed to off-brand Chinese. The price was right, so I
grabbed first, asked questions later.

So now I’m asking questions. Anybody used one? Opinions? Should I go
through the hassle of making a new bracket to mount it? I actually
really like the Chinese clone, so I don’t want to end up
frankensteining my acrobat rig to finish off with a less useful

I’ve looked on the web, and mostly I find auction listings for them,
rather than any real info.


Hello Brian,

I guess one of the main spec you would be concerned about is the
working distance. I used Nikon SMZ-10 and other newer versions for a
long time in my ex-job (was a neuroscientist for 13 years) in
microdissection. After I switched my carrier I bought one of the
SMZ-series microscope for engraving, but soon realized that its
working distance was not sufficiently long. So I ended up selling it
and bought a BM-1 microscope from MEIJI TECHNO. BM-1 allows working
distance of 170mm at the magnification of x10, and that is sufficient
for my stuff. The working distance of Nikon SMZ series ranges
depending on the model, and I cannot remenber off-hand the exact
value for SMZ-10, but I bet it should be something between 70 mm and
115mm. I also have to add that my experience in engraving is much
limited compared to my ex-job, and that I only use the Japanese
traditional type of engraving tools (Wa-bori) which may require
longer working space.

I can’t compare the visibility of both types of microscopes at the
same magnification of x40 (BM-1 is only for x10), but my gut feeling
is BM-1 is practically sufficient at least at x10.

Hope that helps…

Best wishes

Alberic, I have a Nikon SMZ10 I have been using for about 8 or 9
years. I also have the acrobat stand and YES it is worth a little
retooling to make it fit. I use mine for bead and brightcut on
diamonds down to.5 mm as well as setting large stones in bezels and
prongs. I also cut wax with my scope. Don’t know what you paid for
yours but google it and check out the new price. I found them new on
the web for (if memory serves me correct) between $6,000 and $7,000.
I made it fit my acrobat by replacing the fitting screws in the
collar with longer screws. The best thing about it is that like you
said it keeps focus when you zoom and the 50x makes a .5 mm diamond
look like a dinner plate.You don’t have instant access to the trinoc
switch but I found I never use it anyway. I did remove the head rest
but have since ground it down and made it usable as well… The scope
tends to set a little above the ring and at a slight angle which I
find much more comfortable at that angle… If you decide you don’t
want to keep it let me know…

Frank Goss

Hi Frank:

Since the main reason for fabbing up a new adaptor ring is to give
me access to the trinoc switch in the back, it occurs to me that I
can fake it long enough to get a good idea of whether or not I like
it, without needing to mess with the trinoc.

Thanks for the help.

I’ll let you (all) know how it turns out.