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Opinions on converting a Leica Wild M400 Macroscope to a bench scope?

I have a chance to purchase a Leica Wild M400 Macroscope at a very good price, for less than any other bench scope I could buy new from Stuller, Rio, or Gesswein. I’ve been in need of a bench scope for awhile now, and getting something that would allow me to also take photographs would be a nice perk.

But I was wondering if anyone has experience with the M400, and could tell me if they found it suitable for working under, especially stone setting and engraving? I am currently trying to track down a boom arm to make sure I’ll be able to convert it for bench use before buying it, but I’m also wondering if I’m going to end up putting a bunch of work into something that will under-perform compared to some of the other scopes I could get that are made specifically for bench work, as the main advantage of the M400 is that I will also be able to use it for photography.

Thanks

Hello Eric,
…and welcome to Ganoksin Orchid! I don’t have an M400, but I did look up the specs and pics on it. It does 5.8X to 35X according to what I read and this should be fine for a bench scope. Mine goes to about 7X at the lowest and this works out fine for me. I assume you have a head that is not straight thru, but angled…the straight thru head would likely put you too far above your work to perform well. One of the angled heads will put your head looking down at the work about 45 degrees in front of you (without the scope) and this works out about right. I see an attachment for this scope on ebay now for $99 and it is 76mm in diameter. If you can snag this or get another like it, you can mate the scope to a boom stand. I have a typical “T” stand, but the spring loaded ones are nice and not very expensive (~$125), but the only ones I see have an 85mm hole, so you might need some kind of adapter to fit your scope, possibly something easily made from 5mm thick material. The Leica optics should be very good, so I don’t see a downside here if the price is reasonable. Be aware that both new and used zoom heads are available from about $50 on up (I even have a B&L here which I could sell you), so unless you just want the special photo capability and/or premium optics, you could probably get away cheaper on the head. I have not heard of a vintage or new stereo head that did not produce a quality image for jewelry work. Also give some thought to how you would attach a ring light if you want that for illumination. I am currently using a couple of swing arm lamps, which are perfectly adequate, but the ring light is a nice upgrade and convenience. I hope this helps! -royjohn

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Hello,
Thank you for the reply. It gave me a lot of information to look into, and I’ve learned a lot about microscopes lately.

One of the things I discovered is that the M400 is not a true “binocular microscope”, it does not produce a 3-D image, but rather it was one of the first microscopes that was able to produce the same image for the camera as for the observers eyes, but the trade-off for that was that your left and right eye see the same flat image.

So while, theoretically I could probably make it work, I would much rather use the money to buy a true binocular microscope, since it will mostly be for stone setting.

Thanks again, it was very helpful!

Eric

Hello Eric,
Thanks for your kind words…I did not realize that the M400 did not produce a true stereo image. Certainly you want that, it is one of the great things about a stereo microscope! I can still remember my first looks through one…it’s a magical image, like looking down into a deep well or one of these Florida fresh water springs. With the older AO and B & L scopes and the new imports, there are a lot of choices. There are also the typical boomstands and the swing arm stands, so a lot of choices. You might want to look at one that will allow easy use of a ring light illuminator. Let us know what you end up with. -royjohn