Build a stereo microscope from binoculars and a camera lens

Here’s an oldie but a goodie. [RunnerPack] stumbled upon an article from 2001 about building a stereo microscope from a pair of binoculars and a camera lens. With a ring light attached to the end of the camera lens, we couldn’t think of a better microscope for SMD work.

To mount the binoculars to the camera lens, [Giorgio Carboni] made a very nice adapter containing four prisms. These prisms are very carefully aligned and glued down with a little bit of epoxy. By using an 8×30 pair of binoculars and a 35-100 mm camera lens, [Giorgio] was able to get a magnification factor of 10-57x. With a macro lens this factor can be increased (a 28mm lens bumps it up to 71x, but a lot more light is needed).

The pedestal is just a few ground rods and ground steel rods, something that requires a bit of machining. Since 2001, though, a lot of tinkerers have 3D printers so it could be possible to build a more easily manufactured version of the focusing apparatus.

[RunnerPack] had a pair of binoculars and a camera lens handy and tried a mono version of this build. He says he was blown away, but unfortunately didn’t provide any pictures. If you decide to build this project, be sure to snap a few pics and send it in on the tip line.


  1. medix says:

    Killer idea, considering that old manual focus lenses are cheap on Ebay (especially the Tamron variety that’s shown in the above tutorial).

    Great build!

  2. andyh says:

    I might give this a go, I presume I could use mirrors as well as, or in place of the prisms.

    With that arangement, and modern compact binoculars set at a more comefortable angle, you would have a really handy and furthermore inexpensive setup.

    Time for some back of the envelope sketches I think.

    • RunnerPack says:

      I was also planning to use some FS mirrors for the periscopes (I got some nice ones from some old flatbed scanners).

      The “comfortable angle” thing was the first thing I thought of. I started trying to come up with a mirror arrangement that would let me angle the binocs while keeping the objective perpendicular to the stage. If you come up with something along these lines, please share!

  3. Ren says:

    Okay old binoculars, I’ve got plans for you!

  4. Whatnot says:

    I think the number of ways I’d fail if I tried this is quite impressively large, things would not be aligned, epoxy would be on the prism surfaces, and many other issues only a skilled writer or poet might think up beforehand.

    • I love your lack of confidence says:

      yes indeed. With such a lack of confidence you will make a nice worker drone, but not much else. Quit slacking on HaD and report to your boss for extra duty!

      • Whatnot says:

        Hey I’m speaking from experience that I don’t have a talent for precise builds.

        Also, what the hell are you on about with the worker drone nonsense? Some personal issue?

  5. Ther eare some other designs on that site too, this one is a bit simpler to make could perhaps be used with a zoom lens too?

  6. svofski says:

    It’s a very cool hack, but unlike HaD editors I can very easily imagine a better microscope for SMD work. They cost like $130 on ebay.

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