Pros and cons of buying a microscope from China

Last updated on June 11th, 2020

After some months of web surfing, forums reading, annotations on How to choose a stereomicroscope, we have taken the decision to purchase an SZ stereomicroscope clone directly from a manufacturer in China and this experience has been partly negative. Not knowing the name of a reliable manufacturer in advance, we have based the choice on a comparative analysis of the information contained in the manufacturers web sites and, for a number of reasons, we have chosen this one: Cebon Instruments Co., Ltd.

Cebon Instruments Co., Ltd.

The Adventure

Throughout the whole phase of quotation and of choice of the components the attendant (Ms. Shelly) was kind and helpful, answering to all our questions – technical or not. Once completed the list of the components, we requested the final quote, we accepted it and then we did the bank transfer according to the instructions reported in the same.

From that moment the relations have deteriorated unexpectedly: Ms. Shelly became elusive in her answers, not providing any precise estimate on delivery times and saying that some goods were not available and that some prices needed to be revised (“some goods price you ordered has increased now”). Moreover, she was reviewing the cost of DHL shipping from “ABOUT USD 200” to “usd 500 or so”. In front of our complaints for such changed conditions occurring after the execution of our money transfer, Ms. Shelly stated that they would not increase prices on this order but only on future orders, and that she was going to dispatch the parcel.

So, after some weeks we have received the goods, but:

  • the stand we ordered (76mm Track Stand with coarse & fine focusing) is missing;
  • the Polarizer is missing;
  • the camera T-Mount adapter was there, but for a different mount and not for Canon EOS (Canon FD maybe?)
  • the Additional 2X Lens was optically wrong, not providing an even remotely acceptable image.

We pointed out such shortcomings and we are told that the stand that we’ve ordered was impossible to provide since the manufacturer had gone bankrupt; that the Polarizer was missing since “we don’t produce it now”; and that the Canon EOS T-Mount adapter was actually put in the parcel. After these answers we tried to insist and Ms. Shelly replied that “we have lose money for about usd 200 for this order, my boss will deduct from my salary, so pls consider at my side”, making us feeling almost guilty for our insistence! After further insistence, our contact person cut short by saying that “I have fired by our boss”.

Our contact person’s name still appears on their website, so it is not true that she has been fired; and it is probably not true that the manufacturer of the stand has gone bankrupt (there are dozens of manufacturers of similar stands in China, so that it would be easy find an alternative); as well as the fact that the polarizer is no more produced. Simply Cebon Instruments Co., Ltd. wanted to send to us a part of goods with a less total value than what we’ve paid, thus acting dishonestly, cowardly and without transparency.

All right, let’s see what has arrived…

At the end we have paid around 1,000 USD (~ 700 EUR) for the following kit:

Stereo Zoom True-Trinocular Head
0.67~4.5X magnification zoom
45° inclined
dioptric adjustment on both the eyepieces
WF10X22 Eyepieces + rubber Eyeguards
WF20X12 Eyepieces + rubber Eyeguards
WF10X22 Eyepiece with micrometric reticle
0.5X Auxiliary lens
2X Auxiliary lens
Photo tube
Photo eyepiece
Camera T-Mount Adapter

The main downside, as mentioned before, concerns the lack of the 76mm Track Stand with coarse & fine focusing. The simple stand that was provided has a very limited vertical range and has no fine focusing.

The optically unusable 2X Additional Lens has revealed a simple mounting defect: it was enough to unscrew the retention nut reversing the lens to gain a working 2X Additional Lens.

Overall, the system is optically acceptable and provides a three dimensional image with good contrast and sharpness even at the edges. Mechanically, however, the difference between this clone and the original (Olympus SZ4045) is very sensitive. But, moreover, we have paid for it nearly 1/5 than the original.



We are not able to draw some general conclusions on the purchasing of a stereomicroscope from China. Our previous experience of buying from China has always been positive, but it was only for low valued items bought through eBay. The present purchase, however, suffered from the fact that we did not use a secure channel such as eBay + Paypal, that could protect our purchase and force the seller to honor the terms of sale — which are non-negotiable in our opinion.

Based on our experience, we do not recommend purchasing directly from the single Chinese manufacturer, while we are in favor of purchasing through sites that offer a purchase protection system, assistance and feedback.

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For citation purposes

Agnoli G.L. & Rosa P. (2024) Pros and cons of buying a microscope from China, in: website. Interim version 27 May 2024, URL: