Riko Microscope

Riko Microscope

The RIKO Microscope was made in Japan from the 1950’s to the late 1970’s. This miniature microscope, standing just 8″ in height, was a popular children’s toy when I received mine as a birthday gift over 40 years ago.

The RIKO Microscope (1970's)

RIKO Microscope

My version of the RIKO Microscope featured a zoom range of 100x – 750x; the product of the selected objective lens and a powerful eye-piece that boasted 10x-15x amplification. The subject could be illuminated by an adjustable mirror that reflected light onto the slide or by a small lamp powered by two AA batteries, which were concealed in the base of the scope.

RIKO Microscope 100x - 750x Zoom

RIKO Microscope | Objective lenses and eye-piece

During storage, the scope was protected by a black, plastic box that contained a polystyrene cut-out to store the microscope, glass slides and the RIKO Microscope instruction booklet.

Supplied with the RIKO Microscope was a glass slide, pre-loaded and sealed with silverberry scaly hair, also known as Elaeagnus commutata.

A microscopic slide of silverberry scaly hair

RIKO Microscope | Silverberry scaly hair

Just how difficult would it be to capture good images of silverberry scaly hair with an educational toy, approaching half a century in age?

– Very difficult.

By using a smartphone camera pressed against the microscope’s eye piece, it was possible to capture these photographs of silverberry scaly hair at a magnification of 100x – 150x.

 

These images reflect what is seen through the eye piece of the RIKO Microscope at that magnification. The images are soft and there is chromatic aberration in abundance. Increasing magnification only makes matters worse.

The old photographer’s adage springs to mind:

the lens has far more to do with final image quality than the camera itself.

Still, I am pleased that I had the opportunity to photograph and document the RIKO Microscope itself and have a go at capturing these microscopic beauties.


Image of silverberry scaly hair obtained with a Celestron Digital Microscope Imager.

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