Seth recently posted about some microscopic algae squeezed from sphagnum - namely Desmids. I was vaguely aware of these, and other water-borne micro stuff, but they were way beyond the reach of my old stereo microscope. Seeing these, along with having found a number of micro fungi this year that really need proper scrutiny, I decided it was time to invest in a compound microscope. The entry-level standard seems to be the Apex Practitioner model. As it happens, that was not available on Amazon and in any case I reckoned spending a little more might do me well for a few more years. The Practitioner is monocular, and I at least wanted a binocular model so that I could take snaps without having to fanny about putting an adaptor on/off. A trinocular version with camera mount would be even better.
So, I wanted a binocular/trinocular model with a full mechanical stage to move the subject x/y, course/fine focussing, and a led light source with control. After browsing Amazon and the internet, and mulling it over for a couple of days, I decided to spend some money and placed an order last night. It arrived at just after 11am today ....
I ended up going for a model that should do me well for a few years, and I went for a bundled version that included a microscope camera. This is the Swift SW380T: certainly not the best model available, but certainly more than good enough for what I need and seems to be sturdy and well built enough to feel like value for money. It has 4x, 10x & 40x objectives (and a 100x oil objective that I probably won't use), along with 10x and 25x eyepieces. I reckon the 40x, 100x & 400x I'll get with the 10x eyepiece will more than do, with 250x & 1000x available if I change the eyepiece.
The added bonus that I wasn't expecting is that the camera came with a calibration slide and the software allows for measuring. The camera software also includes some stacking process, whether it works well enough I'll have to see.
Of course today has been the worst day weather-wise for months - continual rain with some very heavy spells, so I'm not going anywhere to collect samples to play with but it came with some typical sample slides that were good enough to get a feel for it. The mechanical movements are smooth and precise, and so far feels like just the job. With a bit more use I need to get the balance right between the light source control and the diaphragm on the condenser. Hopefully the weather tomorrow will be more inviting.