Top positive review
21 people found this helpful
Good value for the money - works on Linux
on January 23, 2013
For the low price of this item, I thought it was worth trying. After having had the item for a few days, here is what I have discovered:
First, let's be clear about 20x-200x: It is really 20x (and a bit more) AND 200x - there is NO continuous zoom from 20x to 200x. Focusing is by a combination of adjusting the distance from the object being viewed, and the focus wheel on the microscope. By adjusting distance and focus, it is possible to get a range of magnification around 20X; turning the focus wheel more or less completely in one direction gives 200x, but nothing in between. Pictures at both 20X and 200X are reasonably sharp and detailed. Be aware that at 200X the depth of field is very shallow, and so works best with flat objects; this is not a defect in the microscope, as reduced depth of field with increased magnification is common to all microscopes. The focusing ring on the microscope works smoothly, and once focused holds focus. However, focusing with the somewaht flimsy stand provided is a little tricky as the adjusting the focus also tends to move the microscope. With care, however, good focus can be accomplished.
The stand provided is barely adequate - it will work, but it is finicky, difficult to tighten, and does not stay tightened. Also, although the microscope will focus out to a distance of about 9 inches, the stand is frequently useless for this; the microscope can be tilted horizontal to view "sideways, but this does not work for all objects. I built my own stand and this has made the microscope much more useful. The ability to focus from a distance of 9 inches gives a field of view of about 1-3/4 by 1-1/4 inches which can be quite useful for viewing objects (or parts of objects) around this size.
The end of the microscope (see picture) has a clear plastic "cone" (see product picture); in some cases this cone interferes with getting close to an object to focus. Although the cone is glued on, the glue on my unit was fairly weak, and with careful prying I was able to remove the cone. This exposes the lens to potential damage, so if you do this be aware of this possibility.
The LED lights on the unit are quite useful, as is the ability to have a high and low setting. With some items however, the LED lights create glare and wash out details on the object, even at the low light setting. In these cases it is useful to be able to turn the LEDs off and use an alternate light source.
There is a button on the microscope for snapping pictures, but I do not see much point in this - pushing the button shakes the microscope and disturbs focus. It is much better to use software to take a picture, and this works well.
When I received the microscope, I plugged it into my Ubuntu 12.04 Linux system and it worked immediately. I tried it with both Cheese and Camorama - Camorama works best because it allows you to adjust color, hue, contrast, etc. for best picture. I was only able to get 640x480 pixel pictures, although these were not bad.
I also tried using the microscope with Windows 7, as follows:
- connect microscope, wait for drive to install
- insert CDROM that came with the unit
- run DrvSetup.exe (note - be patient, takes a long time and nothing seems to be happening)
- run Setup.exe
With Win7 I was able to get 1600x1200 resolution.
Considering the cost of this item, I consider it a worthwhile purchase. If you expect to get a super high quality microscope for $25 you will be disappointed. If you expect to get a basic low power hobby microscope then you can have a lot of fun with this microscope. I would not hesitate to give this as gift to an inquisitive child