12 February, 2014

Supereyes B008 USB Microscope

Well, I did it. I finally got a USB microscope. It was the last big thing I bought in 2013, and I bought it because there was a shop that had it on display and I could see how well it worked.
It's a Supereyes B008 microscope.Specs are: 2592 x 1944 resolution (5 MP) and claimed 500x magnification (doesn't really mean anything, since they calculate it using monitor size). Supereyes is a company that specialises in USB microscopes and boroscopes, so their products should be better than, say a USB microscope from eBay or Amazon that's really a webcam with the lens turned around. From their website, Supereyes' A series seems to be auto-focus and B seems to be their average microscopes.

Build Quality/Design
The body is made of metal! It has a transparent window that shows you the current magnification, through a scale that moves inside. It's not very easy to read. It came with a velcro cable wrap and gold-plated USB plug, so they seem to pay attention to detail.

The zoom is controlled with the knurled knob at the top of the microscope. The cable passes through the centre of this knob. One reviewer said this might wear the cable. The knob takes many turns to zoom through the whole range, so it's a bit troublesome.

The stand was sold separately, but it's VERY important. Especially since its rack and pinion design is similar to a "real" microscope stand, which lets you easily move it closer or further. One of the reviews for another microscope on Amazon said its ball and socket stand was hard to focus.

 This is the front of the microscope. The lens looks a bit exposed. The body has 2 prongs, at the 5 and 10 o'clock positions in this picture, that prevent the lens from hitting a surface. It has 4 LEDs.

These pictures were taken using the microscope itself, by placing it above a mirror. The lighting is a bit harsh, and causes "hot spots" on shiny surfaces. Maybe I should cut out a diffuser for it.

One of the reviews said its software was slow to update in real time. Ideally, microscopes should have 2 modes - a low-resolution fast one for positioning, and a full-resolution slow one for taking pictures. I'm glad to say, for me, the software was fast. But taking pictures is VERY slow. It takes at least 3 seconds after pressing the shutter to take a picture, by which time the microscope would surely have moved if it was being handheld, making the stand necessary. Videos don't seem to work - the quality doesn't change and framerate remains at 5 FPS no matter what settings I use.

Test Pictures
In this picture, the short markings are 0.5 mm and the long markings are 1 mm apart.

I took a picture of a diamond. I realised that, although it looks perfect to the naked eye, it's full of tiny marks! This diamond is supposed to be VVS, so the marks are supposed to be invisible under 10x magnification. I'm not sure if these marks were present when the diamond was graded.

I also took a picture of the diamond's serial number. That's what it looks like! It's just engraved on the surface of the girdle. Won't it get rubbed off easily? Note: this isn't the best picture of the serial number. I'm deliberately obscuring it. The actual picture is clear enough to easily read the serial number.

Image Quality
Ok, this is the real measure of the microscope. Firstly, it's clearly able to zoom in more than any of my cameras, or in fact any camera I've seen. It's able to resolve details my camera can't.

I have to say the image quality isn't very good. There's a lot of chromatic aberration, as you can see from the pictures. The top left corner always seems out of focus (see the ruler picture). Could the lens be out of alignment? Pictures also don't seem very sharp, even when in focus.

To be fair to this microscope, microscopy isn't something you can just pick up subjects for. The microscope pictures we're used to seeing have had hours of preparation and tens, possibly hundreds of rejected pictures before this. We're just too used to phone cameras and being able to pull out a camera and take a picture of whatever we like, expecting a sharp, clear image. I think if I spent more time preparing, I'd have a better idea of this microscope's capabilities.

Oh, when you zoom out to the minimum magnification, everything further than ~30 cm away is in focus, so you can actually use this as a webcam!

It's available on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Supereyes-B008-Microscope-Endoscope-Magnifier/dp/B0066H7H1Q/

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for this review of the product, Aaron. It's a great help to my decision concerning it.