About 3 years ago, my employer bought a binocular microscope from “Amscope”. It has a 1X objective lens and two pairs of wide-field oculars, 10X and 20X. The microscope head is mounted on a boom arm, cantilevered out from a weighted base.
We have used the 10X magnification almost exclusively. I recall only two or three times when I popped in the 20X oculars, to get a closer inspection of a potential problem after locating it under 10X magnification. If I could change any feature of the optical system, I’d ask for a wider field of view, or possibly greater depth of focus. Even those would be “convenience” or “wishlist” requests, not really a shortcoming of the instrument we have. One thing I WOULD like to have is a diffused lighting source, rather than the single-point illuminator.
You definitely want an extended boom-arm stand, or possibly an articulated arm. An articulated arm would let you fold the microscope up out of the way when not being used, but I wouldn’t put out a lot of money for an articulated arm until I was convinced it doesn’t have problems with vibration or jiggles.
I don’t know what the working distance (from the objective lens to the target workpiece) is, but there is adequate clearance for my fumbly fingers, small tools, meter probes, soldering iron, etc.
A photographer may be critical of our microscope’s optical performance but I have no complaints. Focus seems to be flat across the field of view, I haven’t noticed any geometric distortions, nor have I seen any color fringes or halos around sharp edges. Of course, my super-annuated, tri-focaled eyeballs may not notice such things unless they are very severe.
I believe the company’s bottom-line cost was right at US$200, after shipping charges (the thing weighs at least 10 lbs (4.5 kilos)!) and a new-customer discount. Amscope offers several hundred models, with various combinations of magnification, stand styles, illuminators, CCD camera mounts, etc. I have also noticed several vendors offering microscopes with very similar appearance to Amscope’s products. I don’t know if these are identical instruments with different marketing nameplates, or different performance grades of the same design, or significantly different designs in similar enclosures. And, of course, there are the “usual suspects” offering used/surplus/pre-owned equipment.