Reply To: Microscopes for Cleaning and Photographing Fossils

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Jack Kallmeyer

I can only address cleaning as I don’t use a microscope for photography (macro lenses only).

A stereoscope with step-wise or variable power is the best for cleaning small specimens.  Larger specimens can be worked on using a ring light with a magnifying lens in the center.  The key is you want both of your hands free to manipulate and work on the specimen. The most versatile stereoscope would be one mounted on a boom stand.  This type of mount allows the most range of motion both vertically and horizontally.  A stand with the microscope mounted on a post is next best as that allows a bigger vertical range of motion than a fixed base type scope.

I find I do most of my cleaning with 10x magnification.  Sometimes I use 15x or 20x but not very often.

When doing cleaning where water is involved, some microscopes allow an additional glass splatter guard that can be mounted below the objective lens.

Stereoscopes can be very expensive when purchased new especially if they are big name brands like Nikon, Canon, Leica, Bausch & Lomb.  Good used ones can be had for less money but be sure to check it out first as repairs are expensive.  Reasonably priced new stereoscopes of lesser known brands can be had for $300.  Always make sure the optics are good and there is no distortion (view a straight line grid to be sure all lines remain parallel).