July 3rd, 2011

Mad scientist

Not such a bargain...

Letter I sent to a scientific equipment supplier on Friday

Dear Sir,

Recently I ordered one of your Dissection Microscopes, catalogue xxxxx, and thought that should I give you some feedback on it.

Briefly, I was somewhat disappointed; having previously used binocular and monocular dissecting microscopes which had large prismatic optics and gave very bright images with good depth of field, I was expecting this to be a similar device, although possibly with poorer build quality. The picture in your catalogue gives the impression that the objective lens is comparatively large; unfortunately the reality is rather different.

Despite its appearance, the actual objective is fairly small, about 7mm diameter, and I believe that it uses mirrors rather than a prism to get the 45 degree inclination for the eyepiece. As a result the image is dim and depth of field is very poor, and a few specks of dust are visible on the mirrors.

I don’t want to return it; we got what we ordered, and it is just about good enough to keep as a backup. However, I’d classify its performance as more typical of a toy than a serious instrument. If you continue to sell them I would suggest indicating this in some way, to avoid disappointing others.

I'm not going to ask them to take it back because it would probably cost at least £10 in postage etc. and it only cost £19.95 in the first place, but I'll be interested in seeing their response, if any. Most of their other stuff is pretty good, it occurs to me that this may have slipped past their quality control people without anyone noticing that it simply isn't very good.

Obvious lesson from this is that sometimes you get what you pay for.