About manipulators for patch clamp: I too have had bad luck with
Narishige water-filled hydraulics. Oil-filled have always worked better
for me, but the new hydraulic from Newport seem better. For small cells
that cannot be picked up from the bottom of the dish, I would consider
spending the extra money and getting a good piezoelectric manipulator or
a Newport 3D mechanical manipulator with all 3 drives motorized.
And watch out for mounting any manipulator separate from the microscope
stage; there is alot of relative movement between manipulator and
microscope, especially on an air table. Best to mount directly to the
microscope in a way that allows free X-Y movement of the stage relative
to the electrode.