Stereo Microscopes to BUY and to AVOID


Elite Cafe Member
Jan 9, 2008
Cordoba - Argentina
FROM SAM - Keep in mind the following: Premium microscopes use optical glass and not window glass. At first you might not notice much of a difference between a premium scope and a cheap Chinese knockoff because your eyes can overcome small defects, but you can get eye strain and headaches as a result. After long hours of use is where you will notice the difference between a quality microscope and a poor one. Optics are no place to cut corners. My advice: save your money and get a quality microscope. / ~Sam

Hi all!

I am pasting here my reference for microscopes. This guys at Absolute Clarity really knows about them.
Hope this reference can bring som light on microscope isues!

Best regards,

Stereo Microscopes to BUY and to AVOID

Stereo Microscopes to BUY and to AVOID

Absolute Clarity & Calibration, LLC is in the business of optical sales, service, repair, refurbish and calibration. We service and repair all makes and models from the early 1900’s to present day production. ACC is qualified to judge the quality of a microscope because we know them from the inside out!
When we refurbish a stereo microscope, the optics are removed, all mechanical assemblies are vapor phase degreased, optics cleaned and reassembled, mechanical assemblies are relubricated with synthetics and the scope is stereoscopically realigned. We can help you choose or avoid scopes based on our extensive service and repair experience. Before purchasing a used scope, be sure to use our diagnostic procedures for evaluation.

In our opinion -- Buy them if you can! (used or new)
¨ Buy – Genuine Meiji new or old EMZ series, EMT series and EMX series. Be careful of look alikes such as the ScienscopeTM EM or XTL series. All genuine Meiji models will have the Meiji name and symbol on them.
¨ Buy - B & L (Bausch & Lomb), Cambridge Instruments, American Optical (AO) or AO Spencer & Leica older models Stereo1, Stereo2, SZ-3, SZ-4, SZ-5, SZ-7. These can almost always be refurbished to like new condition. But be advised that parts are no longer available for AO.
¨ Buy - Nikon older models SMZ-1, SMZ-1B, SMZ-2, SMZ-2B, SMZ-2T, SMZ-10, SMZ-U
¨ Buy - Genuine Olympus microscopes. Be careful of look alikes such as the Scienscope TM Model CO-SZ300, SZ400, SZ500, SZ600. Genuine Olympus microscopes will have the Olympus name on them and use genuine Olympus GSWH10x/22 eyepieces.
¨ Buy - any genuine Zeiss (not the Fisher Price toy looking one), Leitz, Wild (not the tan model) or Aus Jena scopes if they are reasonably priced and the controls move smoothly.
¨ Buy - Unitron ZSB (not LSB model).
¨ Buy - Swift especially the newer zoom and turret models.
REMEMBER --- Before purchasing a used scope, be sure to use the diagnostic procedures on the back of our brochure for evaluation.

A good used scope is better than a mediocre new one!!

Over the years ACC has repaired and serviced all of the following makes and models. The reasons to avoid these have become obvious to us through years of experience. Even though we still service these models*, we can help prospective buyers to understand the limitations and problems associated with these models. If you own one of these scopes already, we may be able to improve the performance but we cannot improve the equipment beyond the limitations of quality in optical and mechanical assemblies.
* The exceptions to this rule are ScienscopeTM and the Russian and some Chinese zoom models. In most cases, these are not worth repairing or servicing. We would be willing to take your junk in trade and for a credit on any one of our refurbished or new Meiji model scopes.

In our opinion -- Avoid them “NO MATTER HOW LOW THEY GO!” with their prices.
Please understand that our aim is to educate and inform the end users of optical equipment. An educated shopper will not be an easy mark for the dealers of fancy junk with a lot of bells and whistles or unrefurbished used equipment with potential problems. Our expert advice is always free of charge. Call if you have questions.
Even though the seemingly great features and unbelievable low cost may tempt you, do not get stuck with one of these listed below. The resale mark up is often too tempting for unknowledgeable vendors to turn down, so these low quality or non-durable scopes are widely circulated.

¨ Avoid - Any and all ScienscopeTM models. The optics and mechanical assemblies on the older models are seriously downgraded from the Meiji original that they were copied from. The latest ScienscopeTM model appears to be an attempt to copy the Olympus SZ-30 and SZ-40 binocular and trinocular models, but our testing and viewing indicated distortion and an out-of-focus hazy condition around the entire field of view in both eyes. These problems were also clearly evident through the trinocular (photography) port. There were many poor image quality issues with these units. Spend just slightly more and buy a quality scope.
¨ Avoid - Leica SZ-6, GZ-6, all new Leica GZ models sometimes marketed under the GIA name. The flat cam design fails to provide accurate tracking left to right. The gears also fail after a very short period of use.
¨ Avoid - GIA Gemscope. They are based on the Leica SZ-6 or GZ-6 body (nearly all the new GIA scopes are). These Leica SZ and GZ scopes have earned their poor reputation.
¨ Avoid - Any B & L, Cambridge or Leica stereo scopes with eyepieces that cannot be removed. These are “student scopes” and cannot be fully adjusted. They also tend to wear prematurely.
¨ Avoid - Unitron LSB and Trinocular models. These are no longer made and are not easily refurbished or realigned.
¨ Avoid - New Nikon SMZ series. Overpriced for what the assemblies consist of. Internal workings have been cheapened in the new designs. Cleanings are nearly impossible to do inexpensively.
¨ Avoid- Russian Scopes! – any and all Russian made scope models marketed under the name of Mikon, Lomo, Geck and MBS. We have attempted to refurbish and adjust scopes as new as 1 & 2 year old models with no success due to the following reasons:
¨ Many assemblies and subassemblies are press fit together and cannot be repaired.
¨ Optical adjustments are not possible on most models. If magnification left to right, focus or alignment goes out from wear or being knocked, in most cases the scope will not be repairable or adjustable.
¨ (Russian, Leica, GIA scopes) Internal workings are over simplified from German, Japanese and older US models. Over simplification means poor optical tracking between left & right side optics. Often they have different magnification Left to Right. Premature deterioration of wear surfaces and unstable alignment are the inevitable result of poorly machined surfaces. Once worn out, they cannot be fixed from our experience.
¨ Avoid Motic, Gemoro, Mark IV, Mark V Scopes, Tasco, Parco, Bushnell, Lomo and Geck brand names. Avoid AccuScope, LW Scientific, Aven and most of the other Chinese microscope resale companies. They allow a very large margin of optical and mechanical system “errors” (i.e. magnification, alignment).
¨ Avoid scopes without a representative who will back their product personally unless you get a real good deal on an auction table. Always check these scopes using ACC’s diagnostic procedures to evaluate before purchasing.

We encourage people to learn for themselves how microscopes work and how to determine if their scope has internal problems from the start. We provide this information on the back of our informational brochure which is available free of charge.
We encourage pre-scheduling for demonstrations and educational sessions. Please call ahead of time to make sure that we are not on the road performing field service or scheduled fully in the lab.

109 Main Street v Terryville, CT 06786
Phone (860) 583-0502 v FAX (860) 314-1851

The following steps are critical in evaluating the extent of repair that your microscope needs. Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions or concerns.

Observe for contamination:

1. Remove both eyepieces and with your head approximately 10 inches away, look for haziness on the glass elements as you look down the eyepiece tubes.

2. Remove the head from the stand.

3. Pick up the scope head and aim the eyepiece tubes towards a light source. Put your eye up to the objective lens on the bottom of the scope.

4. While slowly rotating the zoom, look for haze, hairs, crystals and oil contamination. As you rotate the zoom, each side of each of the internal optical elements surfaces will come into focus one at a time.

Proper User Set-up for Stereozoom Binocular Microscopes

1. Set cross-line target on stage. Best results are achieved with 0.0006" cross-line reticle of
30 mm diameter. Focus and center cross-line image at highest magnification setting.
(If no glass cross-line is available try making your own cross-line with a very fine pen.) It
may become obvious to you that your eyes must strain in order to focus on the center of
the very fine cross-line. Continue with the rest of this procedure.

* This eye strain effect may be the cause of user complaints and can be corrected by a LASER alignment performed at ACC’s facility.

2. If your microscope has dual diopter adjusters (one on each eyepiece tube) they should
both be set at the zero mark or line. If there is only one diopter adjuster, please see line #3.

3. Focus at highest magnification using the stand focus knob. “Best focus” preference
should be given to the fixed eyepiece side (usually under the right eyepiece). Do not
move the stand focus knob from here on.

4. If you have a fixed eyepiece -- Looking through the fixed eyepiece side check focus of the cross-line target image at lowest zoom magnification setting. The fixed eyepiece image should still be clear. If not, the scope needs other adjustments.

5. Focus the other eyepiece also at lowest magnification using the adjustable diopter
collar under the eyepiece itself (usually under the left eyepiece). Again, do not use
the stand focus knob. If dual diopters are available - each eyepiece should be
adjusted for best focus individually. Using a jewelers screwdriver, now set each diopter
adjuster to its zero mark. This will ensure that you will always be able to quickly reset
your scope to your best parfocal setting very quickly and easily even if other people use it.

6. Scope should now stay focused when going from high to low magnification
as long as the stand focus was set at highest magnification, and eyepieces were
focused correctly (and matched) at lowest magnification setting.

7. Recheck by setting scope at highest magnification, focus image using the stand knob then go to the lowest magnification. Both images should be clear. Use this procedure before starting your work under the microscope at the beginning of each day or after someone else has adjusted your microscope.

** Once this procedure has been completed, the diopter adjuster(s) should not be moved.

When discussing the shelf life of Twinkies, the limiting factor is the life of the shelf.


Jun 17, 2016

Is the AmScope brand any good? Are there any models to stay away from that are made by them?
I am a fairly new engraver and I currently use optivisors and I have been having a hard time staying in focus with them so I'm looking to upgrade.


~ Elite 1000 Member ~
May 10, 2013
Laredo, Texas
Staying in Focus doesn't necessarily get better with a microscope you're able to see closer but depending on the curvature of your items focus is always an issue. As far as amscope I can't complain I've had one for years and still going strong, but I'm excited about the a60 at an upcoming advanced grs class. Its a good start up scope. I bought directly from them, because there are knockoffs. But your mileage will vary. Guns, Knives & More

Eugene Carkoski

Elite Cafe Member
Jun 24, 2012
Omaha, Ne.
i have an amscope and it works , i bought a camera for it, it could not do the job and they returned my money, they are a good starter scope


New Member
Jul 2, 2016
Thank you for this much interesting list of which stereo microscopes to buy and which to avoid.

I'm looking for one for electronic repairs (e.g. transplant the memory chips from USB flash drives) and I'm looking to purchase a second hand microscope. In my country, I could find two from renowned brands.

1) an Olympus SZ3060 for ~60 USD.
The price seems me very attractive, but this microscope comes without the supporting foot.
From the instructions, magnification seems being 4x :
The seller writes that the lenses are easy to clean on this model.

2) a WILD M1B for ~ 330 USD.
The seller writes "objective and eyes 10x", but I read at several places that the magnification for this model can be set to 7x and 14x.
The instrument is described as revised.
I could see on some auction site in my country that such instrument was sold for ~185 USD some months ago and there was only one bidder.
I assume this buyer made a great deal, as there is currently one M1B to sell on eBay for 637,50 USD.

I'm myself a land surveyor and have worked in the past with Wild (later Leica) theodolites.
Wild had a very strong reputation, at least for theodolites, and yes, they were great.
I believe the WILD M1B microscope was produced in between 1977 and 1986, although I'm not totally sure.
This makes me hesitate as parts may be difficult/impossible to find.
On the counterpart, this microscope is probably rock solid.

Meiji microscopes are also amongst ones in which I would be interested, but second hand ones seem difficult to find in my country.
Their lighting looks great (e.g. this video ).

As I'm totally new to microscopes, I would appreciate your opinion if any of these is a good deal, which one would you advise me and why ?

Thank you very much for your help.


Sep 12, 2016
Baton Rouge, LA
Would love a 2016 update on this microscope guide! I am curious about the Amscope brand as well due to the low cost.
Last edited:


Jun 12, 2017
55°55′00″ N. 38°00′00″ E
... Avoid- Russian Scopes! – any and all Russian made scope models marketed under the name of Mikon, Lomo, Geck and MBS....

Tiny mistake:

In the USSR and then in Russia the microscopes suitable for an engraving, only "Lytkarinsky optical plant" under the name of MBS-10 made.
Microscopes of allegedly Russian production under all other brands actually become in China

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