OK, I take back what I blogged a couple of hours ago… you really can get some excellent images of styli out of the Intel QX3+ microscope.
The increased intensity of the separate side lights greatly decreases image noise and improves the clarity – you can clearly pick out the edges of the diamond.
Here is my setup…
It’s pretty rudimentary. The microscope is raised up on a couple of cookbooks (got to find some use for them!), two cheap IKEA desk lamps are placed level with the microscope stage, a blob of blu-tack is used to hold the stylus at the desired angle – et voila! You can see how good the images are in the first snapshot – and that was taken with my underwhelming Samsung smart-ish-phone (a topic for another day perhaps).
Here are a couple of those images in higher quality. Both were taken after cleaning the styli with a microfibre cloth (it’s surprising how many tiny lumps of crud get on there), and both are taken looking along the cantilever as the record itself “sees” it.
Below is a Goldring Elektra (which I think is a re-badged Nagaoka C51M MkII-E – my suspicions were raised by the “Made in Japan” mark on the back of the cartridge)…
Next is an Ortofon Super OM10…
To be honest, after looking at four different styli under these lights, I was hard pressed to tell them apart, and I couldn’t see any damage or wear once they had been cleaned. These are styli that are either of unknown history, or have been clumsily cared for by myself – I have been known to drop the arm from time to time (haven’t we all…)!
Each one is supposedly an elliptical, but I find it hard to pick out clearly the flats that are cut into the stylus, perhaps just a little sign of it in the hard line where the illumination stops.
Perhaps an experienced eye can see more.
But I do think that the pictures are beautiful, even at 200x magnification you can see the precision with which even these relatively cheap styli are made.