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The surprise microscope – Micros Lotus MCX51

Chance put the Lotus MCX51, made by the Austrian manufacturer Micros, into our hands, and we couldn’t resist taking a close look at every individual part of it. In addition, we were of course also interested in finding out whether it is possible to produce worthwhile photographic documentations with a laboratory microscope of this price class.

  

The Lotus MCX51 is a very favourably priced (the ECO version with trinocular head costs around € 1,100) infinity-type laboratory microscope with a phototube and LED illumination.  The design is very appealing, it is well built, and at first glance we were unable to find a single workmanship defect with our model. The microscope is made from a mixture of metal and plastic. For our taste, a little too much plastic has been used on the trinocular head, which does not give the impression that this is a high-quality instrument, as is the case with significantly more expensive branded products. The quality of the coating is different from that of branded products. However, these differences are in most cases only evident when the instrument is disassembled.

In the course of our series of tests, we removed the microscope stage in order to examine it in detail. It was obvious that corners had been cut in the mechanical assembly of the stage structure. The stage has no gear wheel; instead it only has a rubber toothed belt. The drive is thus somewhat spongy, but when working with the instrument we had no problems with it. Regrettably, the stage only has one specimen holder for one slide.

The rotating nosepiece has space for four lenses. For our tests we used the flat infinity lenses 4x/10x/40x without phase contrast.

 

Since we had already removed the microscope’s sample stage, we took the opportunity to take a closer look at the condenser. It illuminates the image field evenly with no hotspots or blotches. A phase contrast condenser is also offered as an option.

    

But now let's turn to what actually interests us: photographic documentation.  We attached a Canon EOS 650D  to the Lotus MCX51 using the TUSTB and our LM digital DSLRCT adapter. To get straight to the point: the optical properties of the instrument are very good. It can easily hold its own in comparison with branded microscopes costing up to € 3,000. For microscopes in this price segment this is not always the case. Quite often, the quality of the photograph taken differs significantly from the image that is seen through the eyepiece – the colours are dull, and towards the edges the photograph becomes blurred. Not so with the Lotus MCX51! It is exceptionally well suited for digital photomicrography. The instrument features a high degree of planarity, contrast and focus.

 The internal diameter of the eyepiece is an atypical 26.7 mm. By using an adapter sleeve, the tube can be reduced to 23.2 mm. Instead, however, we would prefer a large tube with an internal diameter of 30 mm for the use of wide field eyepieces with field numbers of 20 or 22.  This would make it very easy to use eyepieces from other manufacturers and would ensure a more convenient image field.

The use of modern LED illumination offers a stable voltage as a result of which there are no light fluctuations (visible as a striped pattern) when taking the photographs. In addition, LED fluorescence lighting is also available.

The Lotus MCX51 is very light, which means that it is susceptible to vibrations. For this reason, it should be set up on a stable base (fixed table, etc.), so that footfall sound, for example, cannot be transmitted. This can become problematic, especially at large magnifications (over 400x) and/or when using oil immersions.

In comparison to higher priced branded microscopes, there are also fewer accessories available for this instrument. For our tests we used the WF 10x18 eyepieces with a diameter of 23.2 mm. This produced a smaller image field than that of top microscopes with 30 mm eyepiece tubes.

Conclusion: The Lotus MCX51, manufactured by Micros Austria, is an entry-level laboratory microscope that does not need to fear comparison with expensive branded microscopes in terms of optical performance. Admittedly, differences are evident in both workmanship and finish. However, is certainly a sensible alternative to older laboratory microscopes with a finite optical system. 21.06.2013


Photography

Fitting the microscope to digital single-lens reflex (DSLR), system or C-mount cameras is easy with our LM digital SLR adapters, which feature a plan achromatic optical system. Our products make it possible to capture top-quality microscope images. To help you select the adapter that is right for your camera, we have set up an online configurator on our website. You can also email us – ideally with attached photographs of your microscope.

Modern DSLR and system cameras offer the latest technology and are generally very well suited for microscopy applications. Most of them can be controlled remotely via PC/Mac. Because of their high sales volumes, they offer an excellent price/performance ratio compared to special-purpose microscope cameras.

Features of top DSLR and system cameras:
- Large, powerful full-frame sensors (36 x 24 mm)
- Sensor resolution of 50 megapixels
- High light sensitivity (ISO 100,000+)
- Extensive dynamic range (up to 14 aperture stops/f-stops)
- Short exposure times (1/8000 second):
- Full/Ultra HD (4k) video function
- Live video capture on external monitors in ultra HD quality

In most cases, these cameras are significantly more powerful than microscope cameras with smaller sensors (1/2" or 2/3"). On our website you will find our current camera recommendations and a camera ranking which is specifically tailored to microscopy applications.
 

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