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 Post subject: Buying my first microscope
PostPosted: Tue Mar 23, 2021 5:05 am 
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Joined: Fri Mar 19, 2021 4:55 am
Posts: 2
After reading the forum, I came across this post by LaShawn from 2006:

Once again I can’t stress enough or repeat myself enough over and over

You will be better off buying the best top of the line in all of your equipment instead of buying cheap low budget equipment in the hopes that later on down the road you will replace it and upgrade it with better equipment.

As far as a Microscope well that will be by far one of your most expensive pieces of equipment except for buying a full set of master color grading diamonds.

This microscope will last you a complete lifetime so buy all of the additional parts and pieces with it now so in case they change style or design you might not be able to buy a doubling lens, polarizing filters and such.

You also need to look into the future as to what you and your equipment will be doing.

If you plan to be a gemologist and or maybe become a gemological appraiser then I would seriously suggest you buy a trinocular microscope, as you will definitely grow into it in no time at all.

That advice still sounds good to me, 15 years later. As a result I have been researching trinocular microscopes, and I have settled on the Leica S9i which is available from Kassoy here:

My question is what optional extras should I purchase? Due to the items being shipped internationally I would prefer to order the microscope and the optional extras at the same time. The optional extras listed are:

Magnification Doubler - 2x Objective Lens $736.00
LED Ring Light for Microscope $175.00
Secondary LED Light Source $99.95
Replacement Overhead Lamp $135.00
Kassoy Inclusion Pointer $65.00
Replacement Wire Stoneholder $42.95
Ring Holder $75.00
Replacement Iris Diaphragm $76.95
5 pack of Bulbs for GMK400BASE $29.95
Individual Bulb for GMK400BASE $6.50
Leica Supplementary Lens 0.5x $452.00
Leica Supplementary Lens 0.63x $537.00
Leica Supplementary Lens 0.75x $537.00
Leica Supplementary Lens 1.6x $736.00
Leica Lens Shield $58.00

I am aware that the use I will put the microscope to will determine the optional extras I will require. As I am only starting my studies all I can say is that I intend to finish the GIA Diamonds and Diamond Grading course and then move on to the Coloured Stones course. I have no idea where I will branch out to after that.

Thank you for your advice and input. I look forward to reading your recommendations and learning from them.

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 Post subject: Re: Buying my first microscope
PostPosted: Tue Mar 23, 2021 5:47 pm 
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Joined: Mon Apr 02, 2012 9:31 pm
Posts: 3722
Location: North Carolina
Just as a first thought, if you want a microscope that you're going to use for decades it'd probably be best to get a trinocular model rather than one with an integrated camera. Optics age like wine (or at least cheese) while cameras age like milk, and having one built into a microscope is basically planned obsolescence. I suspect if the camera were to die it would probably be possible to shuck the shell off and hook something else up but it'd be guaranteed to be a hacky solution at best.

With no offense to LaShawn I wouldn't go to his posts in particular for information about microscopes in our archives, since we've had quite a few members who are serious microscope enthusiasts. If you dig around a bit there have been quite a few threads about trying to assemble the very best optics for the least money.

What Kassoy is selling here is essentially a Chinese-made copy of the GIA's Gemolite VII/X. I've tried out a similar Chinese base, though likely not from the same maker--it wasn't bad at all but they had changed the design around a bit, presumably to be simpler or cheaper to make. The Gemolite VII and X bases were themselves made in China (at least the important bits) but it would be pretty hard to track down the original manufacturer at this point, if they are even still making them. Way back some members had luck ordering either the exact same base or a very good copy direct from a company called CHLight, but that was over a decade ago now--point is, at this point you can be pretty sure if you get one of these from China it will be a copy of the Gemolite but with some details cheapened which might shorten its lifespan or make it more annoying to use.

If I had to buy new my first choice would be a Gempro by Jeff Wildman. I've actually never used one but they have a very good reputation, his pricing is reasonable and they seem nicely built. Runners up might be a Meiji (they're not too expensive, well built with solid-but-not-mindblowing optics) or maybe even a Motic (very economical, the bases are quite decent and many labs are using them now, though I'd replace the head with a better one). Eickhorst would feature somewhere on this list too, though I'd buy the gemolite "upgrade" version and install my own focus mount and head to save a ton of money. I have heard earlier models had a few issues but they've since ironed it out, and there are quite a few happy owners.

Realistically, though, I'd buy used (and I don't say that just because I sell used gemscopes, but because that's how I've assembled my own scopes with fairly top-end optics). With a 5k+ budget, a little research and some patience you can either get a similar or better final product with a ton of money left over or a fairly mind-blowing scope if you managed to spend it all.


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 Post subject: Re: Buying my first microscope
PostPosted: Tue Mar 30, 2021 6:50 am 
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Joined: Tue Dec 01, 2020 10:16 pm
Posts: 54
Location: Canada
I definitely agree with Stephen that you wouldn't want a microscope with a camera that's built right into it. The one I bought was from Amscope a little while ago and they're still selling it but I made sure that it's a trinocular microscope that I can add / update the camera any time I want. For the first little while I'm just using a pretty cheap one as it's going to mainly be for my customers to see what I see in the microscope but I plan to get a better one so I can take some pictures and then build up a library of different/interesting inclusions in stones I'd be coming across.

The attachments you'd want to look at getting are going to be based on what you plan on using it for in the end. Personally I always recommend getting extra bulbs and fuses for them so that you always have one on hand rather than having to wait until one gets shipped to you. Other than that I bought a few different barlow lenses so I can get some different magnification levels on mine but that's it, everything else you need is pretty much in the microscope for the courses you're looking at taking for now and then you can always buy/get other add ons later if you need them.

Good luck and post if you have other questions.

Soon to be FCGmA, MVP, CAP-CJA, Owner, and already a computer nerd

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 Post subject: Re: Buying my first microscope
PostPosted: Wed Mar 31, 2021 4:27 pm 
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Joined: Mon Feb 11, 2019 6:31 pm
Posts: 30
Location: Canada
I actually bought my first new microscope this year and chose a leica s9D which is the same scope with a trinocular port instead of the integrated cam. i've been busy enough with work that i haven't really explored the photomicroscopy that i had hoped but will get there eventually.
as for accessories, i bought the 5 pack of bulbs, a ring holder, the cold-light source fibre attachment and i sprung for a set of 16x oculars just for a little more magnification which i haven't really used a whole lot either.
at the end of the day i am very happy with the scope and the extras i purchase but easily could have survived without the extra oculars.

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