Used Microscopes for the Amateur
J. Gregory McHone, PhD, CPG
9 Dexters Lane
Grand Manan, NB E5G 3A6, Canada

How long might a microscope remain in good condition, ready for use, and desired by its owner? We microscope fans are luckier than hobby or vocation users of some other technical instruments. We don't have something "better" coming out every few months to covet or make what we have obsolete (unlike cameras, or computers, or cell phones etc.). A good microscope made in the latter part of the last century is about as satisfying and useful as a good new one, at least for simple observations, and a good microscope will never become obsolete.


A very fine used microscope can now be had for a tiny fraction of its new price, and at less cost than a lower quality new scope that will never be as satisfying to use or last as long. Even if an older scope needs to be cleaned up and some parts replaced, the huge assortment of major-brand used microscope accessories, parts, and pieces now available will only be getting greater, cheaper, and more accessible with time (and not just on eBay but also from dealers). Assuming normal, gentle use of a good microscope with an honored name, its lenses will not delaminate, connections will not become loose, gears will not break, and relatively few surfaces will show wear (which is only its badge of honor anyway). And if someday you want a different lens or part, most likely you can find it and even afford it.


Far into the future, the same will be true for most examples of the well known brands that populated our schools and labs in past decades. I certainly foresee no end to this good luck in my lifetime, and I plan to be using my scopes another 40 years, at least!  But -- I have an Olympus BH-2 and a Wild M5, both models high in quality, made in large numbers, and then surplussed by many (not all) of their original company owners. I know an owner of a Leitz Dialux who has used it regularly for 38 years, yet it continues to give him the same fine views and smooth operation as when it was new. And, parts for it remain relatively abundant. What might be the long term prospects for smaller volume brands? Rule #1 is there is no substitute for quality, and #2 might be that the bigger the brand, the easier it will be for your grandchildren to add accessories! The long term prospects for unknown name scopes? There aren't any.


People new to microscopy might not realize that this situation is quite different from many other hobbies that need technical instruments. So we will need to repeat this same advice, and also that it is a great time it is to start or renew this avocation!

 - J. G. McHone

*Message #43757 "Second tier" brands (was: Advice on buying a microscope) Apr 27, 2008

The tread splits off the thread Re: Advice on buying a microscope with

Message #43735 That starts with Message 43643 Advice on buying a microscope April 21, 2008