Great postwar models
During the Second World War, the Olympus microscope and camera factory was relocated to an area of scenic beauty in Nagano prefecture in order to avoid damage from the war. The move was not a temporary relocation, but was planned as the construction of a new, regionally located factory for the long term.
In the postwar chaos, Olympus faced many problems. The company encountered various difficulties with “monozukuri” manufacturing at the Ina plant in Nagano prefecture that had taken over the role of the Hatagaya plant at the company's headquarters, which had been damaged during the war.
Olympus drew on its characteristic fortitude and hungry spirit to resolve these problems and relied on its prewar models to achieve a new start at the Ina site. The strong performance by the microscope business today can be attributed to the ongoing strong determination of the company.
The G Series was the standout brand from Olympus after the Second World War. The revamped Showa GK was launched in 1946, 1 year after the war ended.
The Showa GK featured a monocular fixed head, a simple helicoid focusing mechanism that moved the condenser up and down, and a revolving stage. There is a story repeatedly told as the story of “Eri silkworms and castor oil plants”, which describes the serious state that the Ina plant faced at the time. Valuable blueprints and tools had been destroyed during the war and the development technicians and the Ina plant technicians faced a host of problems. The company was sure to face serious consequences if the manufacture and launch of the Showa GK were delayed. There was a plan to use the expansive grounds of the Ina plant to grow the castor-oil plant (a food source for silkworms) and then raise Eri silkworms (a wild silkworm species), so that it could at least be able to generate some revenues as a side business in an emergency situation. The castor-oil plants were actually planted, but luckily, they did not have to raise the silkworms.
The GC model—based on the GK microscope body—was launched in 1947.
Total magnification ranged between 50x and 1500x. The GC was widely used at universities, hospitals, and research laboratories for general medical or biological applications, as well as at teaching laboratories for practical sessions. The GC featured the same revolving stage as the GK and could be used with a binocular head.
DF Biological Microscope (1957)
The DF Biological Microscope—launched in 1957—was the successor to the Homare UCE, which was the most advanced Olympus model in its time. The DF had a number of features that made it stand out from conventional microscopes:
· First microscope to feature an external light source
Olympus changed from using a mirror to illuminate the specimen to the attachment of a light source. This development ensured sufficient light for high-magnification observations.
· Mechanical stage capable of up-down movement
With the conventional method of focusing by moving the microscope head up and down, it was not possible to attach heavy items such as cameras to the microscope head. To solve this, Olympus developed a method to move the stage up and down in order to focus the image. This also meant that the user did not need to adjust their eye position.
· Inclined microscope head
By inclining the microscope head, users were able to make observations in a more natural position. They could also use a combination of monocular and binocular viewing.
Trinocular lens barrels were then produced to allow the use of a binocular head with a phototube. A camera was attached to this tube, the specimen observed through the binocular head, and the image framed in the photography equipment. The image was then focused in the focus mirror on the phototube side and recorded.
Three microscope head options were therefore available according to the application or objective: monocular, binocular, or trinocular.
E microscope body (1958)
The E microscope body (the main body that forms the core of the microscope) was released in 1958 as the successor to the G Series (GK, GB, GC) that had enjoyed a good reputation after the war.
The E microscope body could be used with various combinations of microscope head, stage, or lighting modules. It featured freely interchangeable eyepiece and objective lenses. The E model was a groundbreaking microscope designed for use in all types of research applications. The freely interchangeable modular design was underpinned by excellent mechanical precision and optical performance.
The E microscope body was the jewel in the crown for the Olympus portfolio and drew rave reviews for its excellent performance and ease of use. This concept of a modular and systematic design was subsequently used in the BH Series.
F microscope body (1960)
The F microscope body was released in 1960.
Based on the E model, the F microscope body featured improved fine motion sensitivity in the focusing mechanism (up to 0.0005mm) and easier focusing at high magnifications.
The E and F models were developed further in 1963.
The light source, which had previously been mounted at the front and in an inclined position, was built into the mirror body. This was the first ever microscope with an built –in light source.
Photomax (LB) Premier Universal Microscope (1966)
Released in 1966, the Photomax (LB) was the flagship microscope of the postwar period. This model had a fully automated photographic device, a color temperature adjustment function for color photography, and an ideal color illumination system all built into the microscope.
Mounting of a standard unit on the main body allowed users to select from three types of microscopes designed for biological, metallographic, and polarization microscopy. Every type of specimen could be observed using accessories such as fluorescent, dark field, and phase contrast microscopy.
For photographic needs, an auto-winding 35mm camera was offered, as well as devices for large-format 4x5 film, Polaroid Land, Mamiya roll film, and dry plates. To take pictures, users simply focused on the specimen through the binocular section, as they no longer needed to deal with the framing work. The photographer looked through the field of view eyepiece to take pictures according to the size of the film used. With fully automatic exposure control and fully adjustable color-temperature correction, the model allowed taking photographs for a variety of purposes.