April 4, 2018

Microscopes for micro minerals

I originally put these notes together specifically to address questions people might have when looking for a microscope to look at mineral crystals I am what is sometimes called a "micromounter" and use a stereo microscope almost daily to look at tiny mineral crystals. I have moved up through various instruments and now use an Olympus SZH10 as my regular scope. These microscopes offer a range of power from 10-30 typically (my Olympus gives me 7 to 70). The lowest power is what you will use most of the time. You won't be hindered if you don't have a power greater than 30 and will need a good illuminator even then. Power higher than 30 is only useful if your microscope has very good optics and you have a good illuminator. Do not sacrifice lower power in order to get higher power (by doing something like using 20x eyepieces.)

If you want to look at micro minerals, you do not want to buy one of the common biological microscopes intended for use at high magnifications with transmitted light. What you do want is a stereo microscope intended for use with reflected light. You want the kind of thing that is used for looking at bugs and flowers, or perhaps micro electronics.

Surplus microscopes from electronics manufacturers and research laboratories are just what you want to get your hands on. There are lots of things to consider when buying a used microscope, but in particular when buying a stereo microscope, insist that you be able to return it if it is not in proper optical alignment.

Feedback? Questions? Drop me a line!

Tom's Mineralogy Info / tom@mmto.org