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Old 08-28-2012, 06:34 PM   #1
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Default I'm Interested in a Microscope

I've been trying to justify purchasing a microscope for a long time, and this might just be the justification I'm looking for. I just need a recommendation on the specs (zoom, style, etc).

Here's what I'm looking at right now: http://www.amazon.com/My-First-Lab-D...dp/B000NOU54O/

Here's the story:

I racked one of my brews last night and the sample I tasted hit me as a bit sour. Totally unexpected for the recipe and it had me concerned. I was out of the house last week (honeymoon) and figure that the basement temperature just got too hot. WLP007 at higher temperatures does produce a more sour flavor. Still...maybe there's some Lactobacillus afoot in my brew, and I'd love to see it. The scientific interest is too much for me to pass up here.

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Old 08-28-2012, 06:44 PM   #2
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I think 400x is the minimum for observing yeast. Bacteria are smaller. I'm not sure how much. I think 400x would still be useful but higher magnifications sure would be helpful. I think I've heard binocular styles are better. I've been thinking about a microscope also. I keep wondering if surplus lab grade units are available anywhere.

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Old 08-28-2012, 06:58 PM   #3
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I spend a lot of time on a microscope- The glass is the most important thing-great glass= great imagine, binocular styles are better but unless you need to spend a great deal of time looking monocular works fine (hold your hand over your other eye to reduce fatigue). I do think it is possible to see the various yeasties and bacteria at lower than 100X, check here
http://sciencebrewer.com/2011/07/20/...date-bacteria/

I just got a hemocytometer and really was cool and plan to ranch and freeze soon. You might wanna check ebay for something used because who knows how good those objectives/ocular are from that amazon source. Now what to do with the 3 old microscope bodies I have....

Good luck,
Dan B.

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Old 08-28-2012, 07:04 PM   #4
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A microscope is one of those things which requires that it be well made in order for it to really be useful. As a rule of thumb I'd say anything costing less than about $1500 new would turn out to be a piece of junk - a splendid example of the old saw that the bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotton.

Obviously, you don't want to spend $1500 so this is where jeepinjeepin's recommendation comes in. See if you can find a good used microscope. There are lots of ways to screw up a microscope, of course, but optics don't wear out by passing a lot of light through them so if the thing hasn't been dropped off the bench or had corrosive acid poured over it it should perform perfectly well.

As for magnification: for yeast counting 40 - 60x is fine. For being able to distinguish various yeast strains and identify bacteria 400x should suffice. If higher magnification is desired then one gets into oil immersion which is a real pain. Yes, you can buy microscopes advertising 1000X but without oil you get what is called 'empty magnification'. A yeast cell looks bigger but it's a big blur.

To really see into yeast cells phase contrast is needed (this involves a special condenser and set of lenses but can often be retrofitted to a garden variety bright field scope).

I guess I'm saying money spent on a First Lab Duo Scope would be money wasted.

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Old 08-28-2012, 07:16 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ajdelange
As for magnification: for yeast counting 40 - 60x is fine. For being able to distinguish various yeast strains and identify bacteria 400x should suffice.
Thanks. I wasn't sure about it. I knew I had heard the 400x number. Glad to hear that is the upper end needed.
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Old 08-28-2012, 09:38 PM   #6
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I just found a half dozen or so on Craigslist near me at $300-500. One was even a Nikon SC with 1000x oil immersion lens. I do not have a disposable $500 though.

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Old 08-29-2012, 01:55 AM   #7
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Just checked ebay..... plenty of AO Spencer, Fisher, Swift, Leitz and Wesco (I never used Wesco) for $100 or less.

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Old 08-29-2012, 02:17 AM   #8
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I bought a scope off ebay and have been having a lot of fun with it. Lots more info, with lots of pics, here. Cheers!

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Old 09-09-2012, 01:33 AM   #9
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I respect A.J's insight a lot, but I don't agree that a brewer's microscope has to cost $1500.

What we are using the microscpope would be:
- cell counting
- looking at yeast in general
- identifying haze
- possibly identifying contaminants

The latter is tricky since once there are enough bacteria so you see them in a sample your beer should have a significant off flavor already.

A few years back I bought a up to 1000x (100X oil immersion objective and 10x eyepiece) monocular student microscope new for $160 from Cynmar and I'm happy with it.

at 1000x yeast look like this:



Sure, the pic may have been better with a $1500 scope, but that doesn't detract from its usefulness.

These days I generally count yeast from cell-phone photos like this. The image is blurred on the edges b/c I just held the phone camera to the eyepiece. This is not how I see the cells when I look through the microscope.

I do cell counts with ImageJ:



Kai

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Old 09-09-2012, 02:25 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kaiser View Post
I do cell counts with ImageJ:
Hmmm... just downloaded. Very cool. I've mounted a cam into my microscope eyepiece, so pics and video are easy. Don't know why I didn't thing to look for counting software. Thanks!
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