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SUMMARY: dissecting scopes

Leon Avery leon at EATWORMS.SWMED.EDU
Fri Aug 26 08:42:13 EST 1994

I apologize for taking so long to produce this summary.  I wanted to
get prices for the scopes that people recommended, and that took some

My first question was whether one could buy used M5As.  Bob Barstead
and Mike Gruidl answered that one:

    Vermont Optechs
    RR 1 Box 1848
    Prindle Road 
    Charlotte, VT 05445
    (802) 425-2040

The second question was for recommendations for new scopes.  The table
shows the results: a + for every person who recommended that scope.
I've also thrown in a few others for comparison.

price	make			model		recommendations

 $1000	Oriental Scientific	SM1		+
	Olympus			SZ40/45		+
	Zeiss			SV6		+
 $2975	Wild/Leica		M3C		++
 $3000	Wild			M5A (used)
 $3189	Wild/Leica		M3Z		++
 $4878	Wild/Leica		M8		++++
 $5496	Wild/Leica		M3ZPlan
 $5500	Wild			M5A (1990)
 $5798	Nikon			SMZ-U		+++
$12978	Wild/Leica		M10

The Wild prices might be low.  My sales rep gave me a price list and
assembly charts, showing all the ways to put together a Wild scope.
It was really complicated and I'm not sure I included everything
needed to make a working microscope.  

Wild is clearly the market leader among worm folk, with the M8 in
front by a short head.  No one recommended the M10, but it was clearly
the dissecting scope everyone would have liked most to see in their
Christmas stockings.  The Nikon SMZ-U made a strong showing.  Zeiss,
surprisingly, was almost invisible, although several people said
they'd heard rumors or more about excellent cheap Zeiss scopes on the

It was generally felt that the M3Z is almost as good optically as the
M5A.  I'm not sure exactly what config M3Z the people were thinking
of.  (In addition to the two who put it at the top of their lists,
several had it second.)  I included the M3ZPlan because we tried one
out a while back, and I think it's closest in the current Wild line to
the M5A.  I've included in the price low inclination binocs.  The Plan
objective is a humongous thing and raises the height of the oculars
2-3 inches.  Short people in the lab found it really uncomfortable.
So I think the low binocs are essential.  One of those hidden costs.

The man at Vermont Optechs (I've forgotten his name) was loquacious
and informative.  The M5A was discontinued, as I understand it, not
because anyone was dissatisfied with it, but because it takes a lot of
labor to make, and with labor costs in Mitteleuropa rising, it wasn't
competitive with the new zooms.  (Which is supported by the table
above.)  Apparently everyone loves zooms, which makes me an oddball,
because I hate them.

Wild tried to reduce labor costs by setting up a joint venture to make
M5As in China, but it broke down.  Worse, the Chinese had the plans by
then, and, not being signatory to the Geneva Conventions, they
starting producing M5A clones and selling them dirt cheap.  That's the
origin of the SM1.  If you haven't seen an SM1, think of an M5A with
crummy optics and parts that don't always fit.  I don't want to run it
down too much: we have two, which we use for picking worms for
electrophysiology.  David Fitch even recommends it for serious worm
work, but it has to be said, he's on his own there.

So what are we going to do?  Used M5As look like the best deal to me,
M8s if we have to buy new.

Responses came from the following:

Thomas Burglin			BURGLIN at Frodo.MGH.Harvard.EDU
Ann Sluder			asluder at zookeeper.zoo.uga.edu
Patrick Phillips		patrick at wbar.uta.edu
Dave Fitch			fitch at acf2.NYU.EDU
Mike Gruidl/Karen Bennett	gruidl at medsci.mbp.missouri.edu
Leslie Delong			SternM_Lab at QuickMail.Yale.edu
Ian Caldicott			ian at dauerdigs.biosci.missouri.edu
Eric Lambie			Eric.J.Lambie at Dartmouth.EDU
Bob Barstead			barsteadr at cpu1.omrf.uokhsc.edu
David Waring			dwaring at fred.fhcrc.org
Cori Bargmann			cori at itsa.ucsf.EDU
Craig Hunter			hunter at cgl.ucsf.edu
Erik Jorgensen			Jorgensen at bioscience.utah.edu
Ikue Mori			imoriscb at mbox.nc.kyushu-u.ac.jp
Shawn Lockery/Bruce Bowerman	shawn at chinook.uoregon.edu

Leon Avery					   (214) 648-2420 (office)
Department of Biochemistry			            -2768 (lab)
University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center             -8856 (fax)
5323 Harry Hines Blvd				   leon at eatworms.swmed.edu
Dallas, TX  75235-9038

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