LOMO Biolam Microscope

Views from today….

Following on from Andy’s earlier post from today (Darwin Walk and Biolam microscope)….

Lichfield Cathedral in the background…

3 hrs in…looking forward to lunch at Mable’s Cafe… Tweedledee and Tweedledumb taking a short break…(I’m not saying which, is which !)

Andy back at ours checking out my cheek cells ! You can see the photos he has just taken through the eye lens still on his phone…

My picture taken with an iPhone6 held up to the 10x eyepiece and 10x objective (plus 1.5x binoviewer).

Damian’s views in his Lomo Biolam microscope

Damian used his renovated Lomo Biolam microscope to view the small organisms we found in our recent trip to Branston water park and cheek cells we collected from his mouth and stained with H&E staining on 2/2/2018.

Andy and Damian

Cheek cells x20 objective

Cheek cells x40 objective

X90 objective. All these images taken afocally from one side of the binoviewer on the Lomo, using hand-held Samsung S7 phone through x10 ocular and objective mentioned. There is also 1.5x multiplication effect from the binoviewer.

Therefore the magnification on image below with x90 objective = 10 x 90 x 1.5 = 1350 x. Contrast and brightness tweaked in the image editor on the Samsung S7 phone – no other processing:

The following photos are all with x10 objective, otherwise as above. They are of organisms from Branston water park:

The following picture shows Damian taking pictures through the ocular using the a ocal imaging technique of holding his camera up to the ocular.

LOMO Biolam Microscope restoration.

As you’ll have gathered, Andy got me an old LOMO Biolam microscope for Christmas. Included in the sale were an assortment of extras ‘upgrades’ (all in their own wooden boxes) to the original base unit (most I don’t think have ever been used), including a binocular head with a pair of x7 and x10 eyepieces.

Being 41 years old, it needed some TLC – the main issue being the infamous ‘Russian Tank Grease’ originally used!

You can tell it’s age as the serial number contains it’s year of manufacture – just like Takahashi do, so the ’77’ is 1977.

This instrument is still a ‘LOMO’ version, later, it was also made and marketed under the Zenith brand (we used their cameras at art college!)

Over time, this grease has solidified (think your bonfire toffee apples), so most things that were supposed to move were either very stiff or just plain stuck.

Not being very ‘DIY’, I’ve spent the last few weeks tentatively stripping it down and soaking various parts in white spirit and WD40.


Andy came round just after Christmas and we had ‘first light’ – this image is of a Lilly Ovary, iPhone 6 held up to the 10x eyepiece in the Binocular attachment (adds 1.5x mag) and a 20x objective (so 300x)

It was pretty tricky to achieve focus as the main (coarse focuser) was lumpy and the fine focus unit inoperable….

The microscope (thankfully) turned out to be pretty easy to take apart.

Below, the main/coarse focus unit (after spending a week in a bath of white spirit). Brushed clean with my old tooth brush and re-greased with a modern silicon alternative.


Image below – bottom of the ‘stage base’ – the bit where you place your slide (‘rotating stage’ also stuck!) This shows the silver-grey fine focuser mounted on the side.

Most of the microscope is cast metal and brass. The only plastic part was this strip of gearing for the condenser (the unit that focuses the light source onto the slide/specimen). The two screws though caught me out – the top being countersunk and the lower a pan-head!

The brass is ‘pre-polished’….

Below images (x2) – back of same ‘stage’ part….

…..and with gearing removed….

The biggest issue was the fine focuser. The actual unit is self contained, like the inside of a watch and ‘runs- dry’ – so no grease. Whilst it worked on it’s own, I could not get the fine focus to work once everything was reassembled…

The large metal pin (above) sits in that circular recess shown below in the middle of that brass piece. Inside the main cavity sits the fine focuser which mates to the fine focus gearing/knob just seen in the shadow right at the back.

It turned out that the brass part (with circular recess) is supposed to freely move up and down with a turn of the fine focuser…

….the movement dampened by a large spring that sits inside this circular recess on the other side (top). The spring is held in place under tension by the serial number ‘date’ cover shown earlier.


Once we had worked out how this works Andy………. hit it…… (carefully) with a hammer….(!!!) after judisious use of WD40. That freed the brass dovetail allowing cleaning, polishing and re-greasing…

41 years of grease (finally) removed !

Amazing what a bit of Brass can do!

Once all back together everything finally worked!


Andy headed off and I finished polishing up the chrome objective head and attaching the X/Y upgrade to the stage.

Later in the evening I popped over to Andy’s to try the microscope out. I still have the condenser upgrade to sort (Russian tank grease again) and then sort an LED / Halogen illuminator to replace the 15w bulb version (itself an upgrade over the supplied mirror).


Andy’s calibration slide – each line is 0.01mm apart.


The moon….?


ET’s hand !




Second first light for Damian’s LOMO Biolam microscope

Following renovation – excellent results!

Commercial stained slides of fungi (Aspergillus and Saprolegnia) & pond water organism (Desmid) – Bresser Mikrocam 9.0 camera using 23mm eyepiece adapter in eyepiece of binoviewer on LOMO Biolam microscope (binoviewer adds 1.5x magnification to this microscope).

Andy & Damian

10x objective – calibration slide – each division = 0.01mm:

Aspergillus – 20x objective (Aspergillus is a genus consisting of a few hundred mould species found in various climates worldwide. Aspergillus was first catalogued in 1729 by the Italian priest and biologist Pier Antonio Micheli. Viewing the fungi under a microscope, Micheli was reminded of the shape of an aspergillum, from Latin spargere, and named the genus accordingly [Wikipedia]):

Saprolegnia – 10x objective – see fruiting body and mycellum below (Saprolegnia is a genus of water moulds often called “cotton moulds” because of the characteristic white or grey fibrous patches they form [Wikipedia]):

Desmid x40 objective (a single-celled freshwater alga which appears to be composed of two rigid cells with a shared nucleus. The presence of desmids is usually an indicator of unpolluted water [Wikipedia]):

Renovating LOMO Biolam microscope 21/1/2018

Continuing from yesterday, Damian and I unbound the dovetail on the fine focus mechanism from its saddle plate – we have found that the fine focus on this microscope locks up as the grease dries and it takes a lot of work to sort it out. It is also possible to easily break some vital bits and – as we did – through away bits accidently – some like a curved springy washer might look broken – golden rule – be gentle and also don’t through anything away even if it looks broken when you are renovating instruments like this!

Andy & Damian


Renovating LOMO Biolam microscope – Damian and Andy

Damian bought around his Christmas present – his LOMO Biolam microscope – to my house this afternoon. He has done brilliantly renovating this machine and soon it will produce fantastic microscopic images. It is all metal and brass – gorgeous focusing mechanism inside like a clock!

Today, we had to dismantle the focus knob and mechanism to remove dried out grease which was preventing the mechanism from turning and also to do similar job on the rotating stage which wasn’t rotating! The latter had warped slightly over time and tended to bind. We produced some Heath Robinson hand made plastic washer of appropriate size and this prevented the binding – Damian is hoping to replace this in time with a purpose made washer.

Pictures from the renovation work today below.