The microscope is a particular optical device that allows you to explore the world on smaller scales, providing a decidedly powerful magnification. It is a product that many associates only with scientific use, but, over time, many people (even non-scientists) have started to buy it out of a pure hobby or out of curiosity. Biological microscopes are the best known and most used model, and we will refer to this typology, whether it is a device for beginners or experts.

But choosing a microscope, especially if you are just a beginner, can be very difficult, because there are many features to consider, and the types of microscope are just as numerous, each of which is suitable for a certain type of person.

In the market, there are many microscopes for sale, of the best brands or cheap, and making the most prudent choice before clicking the “buy” button could be a more complex thing than it seems.

In this buying guide, we will talk about the most important features and list of the best microscopes with the best value for money.

SaleRANK NO. 1
AmScope 120X-1200X 52-pcs Kids Beginner Microscope STEM Kit with Metal Body Microscope, Plastic Slides, LED Light and Carrying Box (M30-ABS-KT2-W),White
  • Beginner compound microscope provides high magnification for educational applications
  • Monocular viewing head with LED and mirror illumination and built-in color filter wheel
  • Forward-facing rotating turret provides 120x, 240x, 300x, 480x, 600x, and 1200x magnifications
  • Coaxial coarse focus has a rack-and-pinion focus mechanism on a durable and stain-resistant white metal frame
  • Comes with 52-piece accessory kit and hard-sided plastic ABS case
RANK NO. 2
Swift Compound Trinocular Microscope SW380T,40X-2500X Magnification,Siedentopf Head,Two-Layer Mechanical Stage,with Swiftcam 5 Megapixel Camera and Software Windows/Mac/Linux and USB 3.0 Cable
  • 4 DIN Achromatic objectives mounted in a revolving turret offer 6 magnification levels: 40X, 100X, 250X, 400X, 1000X, and 2500X
  • Professional Siedentopf head is fully rotatable for shared use and equipped with interchangeable wide-field 10X and 25X glass eyepieces fixed at an ergonomic 30 degree tilt to reduce neck strain, easily adjustable for different interpupillary distances without losing focus
  • A super sleek, multi-purpose compound microscope for viewing tiny details of specimen slides; Ultra-precise focusing system to make coarse and extremely fine; built for clinicians, high school and university science students, and enthusiastic hobbyists alike adjustments.
  • Trinocular head accepts an additional eyepiece and microscope camera attachments (not included) in order to view, livestream, record, and capture magnified specimen images
  • 5.0 Megapixel Swiftcam camera comes with user-friendly editing and processing software for Windows, Mac, and Linux. USB 3.0 connection for lightning-fast transfer speeds between camera and computer
RANK NO. 3
OMAX 40X-2000X LED Binocular Compound Lab Microscope w/ Double Layer Mechanical Stage + Blank Slides, Cover Slips, & Lens Cleaning Paper, M82ES-SC100-LP100
  • Total magnification: 40X-80X-100X-200X-400X-800X-1000X-2000X; Eyepieces: wide field WF10X and WF20X; Objectives: achromatic DIN 4X, 10X, 40X(S), 100X(S, Oil); Viewing head: 45 degrees inclined 360 degrees swiveling binocular; Sliding adjustable interpupillary distance: 2-3/16inch ~ 2-15/16inch(55~75mm); Ocular diopter adjustable on both eyetubes
  • Nosepiece: revolving quadruple; Stage: double layer X-Y mechanical stage with scales, size: 4-1/2inchx 4-15/16inch (115mm x 125mm), translation range: 2-13/16inch x 1-3/16inch (70mm x 30mm); Stage upward moving lock protects objectives and slides
  • Condenser: NA1.25 Abbe condenser with iris diaphragm; Illumination: transmitted (lower) LED light, intensity adjustable; Focus: Coaxial coarse and fine knobs on both sides
  • Full solid metal frame construction with stain resistant enamel finish; Power supply: AC/DC adapter, 7.5V/7.5W (UL approved) - Input: 100-240V; 100-piece blank glass slides with 100-piece cover slips and 50-sheet lens cleaning paper included
  • 5-year warranty against manufacturing defects
RANK NO. 4
100X-2000X Microscopes for Kids Students Adults, with Microscope Slides Set, Phone Adapter, Powerful Biological Microscopes for School Laboratory Home Education
  • [High Magnification] WF25X eyepiece alone or with 2X lens, cooperate 4x 10x 40x objective lenses, biological microscopes offers 6 magnification settings, 100X, 250X, 1000X, 200X, 500X, 2000X.
  • [Coarse and Fine Focus] Monocular Microscopes with solid metal frame and coarse/fine focusing knobs, ensures detail and precise focus adjustment, crate a image more clearer and sharper.
  • [Dual Illumination System] Top and bottom LED simultaneously brightfield, a 0.65 NA single-lens condenser with disc diaphragm, provide high-resolution color-corrected images.
  • [Complete Accessories] It comes with phone adapter, wire shutter, 10 operating accessories, 15pcs microscope slides set, carrying bag. Meet all your biological observation need.
  • [Practical Educational Tool] This 100X-2000X biological microscope is designed to help students/kids/adults/beginner/amateur scientist/hobbyists exploring the fantastic world of the life. It is ideal for school,laboratory or home teaching, one-on-one instruction.
RANK NO. 5
OMAX 40X-2500X Digital Lab Trinocular Compound LED Microscope with USB Digital Camera and Double Layer Mechanical Stage (M83EZ-C02)
  • Total magnification: 40X-100X-250X-400X-1000X-2500X; Eyepieces: wide field WF10X and WF25X; Objectives: achromatic DIN 4X, 10X, 40X(S), 100X(S, Oil); Viewing head: 45 degrees inclined 360 degrees swiveling trinocular
  • Sliding adjustable interpupillary distance: 2-3/16inch ~ 2-15/16inch(55~75mm); Ocular diopter adjustable on both eye tubes; Nosepiece: revolving quadruple; Stage: mechanical double layer size: 4-1/2inchx 4-15/16inch (115mm x 125mm); Stage x-y stroke (travel range): 2-13/16inch x 1-3/16inch (70mm x 30mm)
  • Condenser and diaphragm: NA1.25 Abbe condenser with iris diaphragm; Transmitted (lower) illuminator: LED light, intensity adjustable; Focus adjustment: Coaxial coarse and fine knobs on both sides; All metal mechanical components; Power supply: AC/DC adapter, 7.5V/7.5W (UL approved); - Input: 100-240V
  • Digital camera: - true color 640 x 480 pixels - 0.45X reduction lens to get larger field of view - Software compatible with Windows 2000/XP/Vista/7/8/10 and Mac OS - Capturing microscope images, recording live video, measuring lengths, angles, areas, editing images
  • 5-year warranty against manufacturing defects
SaleRANK NO. 6
TELMU Microscopes 40X-1000X Dual Cordless LED Illumination Lab Compound Monocular Microscope with Optical Glass Lenses & 10 Slides 
  • 【5 Magnification Setting 】 Rotatable objectives 4x, 10x, and 40x with eyepieces 10x, 25x giving optical microscope more magnification: 40x, 100x, 250x, 400x and 1000x.
  • 【Double Intensity Illmination(0.5W LED)】 The double light high power microscope has incident and transmitted LED light sources, which can see both opaque objects illuminated from above and translucent specimens illuminated from below. Can't use at the same time.(LED light source is powered by 3 1.5v AA batteries, excluding batteries).
  • 【High Class Material & Fine Focusing】Metal base and sturdy handle framework won’t make microscope shake. Adjustable hand wheel let the specimen stage lift to crate a image more clearer and sharper.
  • 【Sharing In Real Time】 Included cell phone adapter with eyepiece allows you to capture and record beauty all around you with smart phone. You can share pictures or videos with your families and friends in real-time.
  • 【Extra Free Gift】Come with a box of microscope sliders (4 prepared slides & 6 blank slides) which include sample about animal legs, onion, wood and cotton. Please contact us if you have any problem.
RANK NO. 7
AmScope SE306R-P-LED Forward-Mounted Binocular Stereo Microscope, WF10x Eyepieces, 20X and 40X Magnification, 2X and 4X Objectives, Upper and Lower LED Lighting, Reversible Black/White Stage Plate, Pillar Stand, 120V or Battery-Powered
  • Stereo microscope for home or classroom use enables students and hobbyists to inspect biological specimens, rocks, stamps, jewelry, and large specimens that require handing or manipulation
  • Forward-mounted binocular viewing head with pair of 10x widefield eyepieces, adjustable interpupillary distance, and 45-degree inclination to simplify viewing for young users
  • Interchangeable 2x and 4x objectives provide low magnification and longer focal length for inspecting large-scale specimens
  • Upper and lower illumination has LED light source to illuminate specimens
  • Frosted stage plate allows light to pass through from below with transparent specimens, reversible black and white stage plate provides contrast with light- and dark-colored specimens, and stage clips secure the specimen during viewing
RANK NO. 8
Swift Trinocular Compound Microscope SW350T,40X-2500X Magnification,Siedentopf Head,Research-Grade,Two-Layer Mechanical Stage,1.3mp Camera and Software Windows and Mac Compatible
  • 4 DIN Achromatic objectives mounted in a revolving turret offer 6 magnification levels: 40X, 100X, 250X, 400X, 1000X, 2500X.
  • Professional Siedentopf head is fully rotatable for shared use and equipped with interchangeable wide-field 10X and 25X glass eyepieces fixed at an ergonomic 30 degree tilt to reduce neck strain, easily adjustable for different interpupillary distances without losing focus.
  • The brilliant LED bulb transmits light through an Abbe condenser, illuminating slide specimens from below with adjustable brightness; the large surface area of the double-layered mechanical plate and secure slide holder optimize slides for viewing.
  • Trinocular head accepts additional eyepiece and microscope camera attachments in order to view, livestream, record, and capture magnified specimen images. A powerful multi-purpose compound microscope for viewing tiny details of specimen slides; excellent for clinicians, high school and university science students, and enthusiastic hobbyists alike.
  • 1.3MP camera comes with user-friendly editing and processing software for Mac OS X /Windows Vista, 7, 8, 10 (32 and 64 bit) offers advanced features including stitching, EDF and measurement.
RANK NO. 9
14MP HDMI Microscope Camera Remote Control Kit for Industry Lab PCB USB Output TF Card Video Recorder +180X C-Mount Lens + Big Stereo Stand +144 LED Light
  • 14 megapixel Panasonic sensor 1/2.3 inch; Model: Camera with HDMI USB2.0 two output
  • Transverse and vertical line: Support multi-color, 5 pcs of transverse lines/vertical lines, movable
  • Image resolution: 4320*3240 (for TF card) 1920 *1080 @ 60FPS(for TF card);1920x1080 (for USB)
  • Video format: MP4(for TF card) ; Image format: JPG; USB Video resolution: 1920 *1080 @ 30FPS
  • Parameter can't adjust for USB out, PC Support: WIN7/8/10/XP, MAC System, MAC user pls contact us to get the new measure software; this camera set is made up of separate items, if a part of them can't work well for you, pls do not return it directly, just feel free to contact us, we will help you solve probelms or send you replacement part, thank you.

Buying Guide to Select the Best Microscope

Before diving into the illustration of the main factor to evaluate in choosing a microscope, or its magnifications, we must make an important clarification: we will deal here only with biological microscopes, also called scientific microscopes. This is the type of microscope dedicated to observation at the cellular level; therefore, they are instruments with a high number of magnifications and backlit.

Magnifications

First, we need to consider the total magnifications of a microscope, which are obviously very important to allow us to observe exactly what we want to observe. If we want to go down to the cellular level, we need at least 400 magnifications, but if what we need is a microscope for microbiological studies (at university level), we will have to go down to 1000 magnifications.

There are not many models that enlarge more than a thousand times, but among the high-end ones for private use, you can find someone who reaches up to 2000 enlargements.
Among the technical specifications of a microscope, you will always find the minimum and maximum magnifications of which it is capable: it can go from 20 minimum to 2000 maximum, but most of the models on the market have a range from 40 to 1000 magnifications.

Eyepieces and Objectives

The total magnifications of a microscope are given by the magnifications of the eyepiece and those of the objective. The eyepiece is the tubular part of the microscope on which the eye rests to observe the slide and can be single, double, or triple. The objective is instead, the lens that is pointed towards the sample to be observed. The vast majority of eyepieces have ten magnifications, but a second 15 or 20 magnification eyepiece can also be found in some high-end microscopes. The goals, however, are usually more than one. Single-lens microscopes are very rare and very “basic.” The most common combination is that of 10, 40, and 100 magnification objectives, but in the models with four objectives, the one with four enlargements is added.

Lens Quality

As with all optical instruments, the quality of the lenses and optical units of a microscope is of fundamental importance in determining their performance. There are many elements that come into play, and we will try to mention only the main aspects that those who want to make “serious” use of the microscope should take into account.

The Materials

The materials in which the microscope lenses are made are the most important thing to evaluate. In fact, there are many very low cost microscopes on the market, which we can consider toys or little more, equipped with plastic lenses: these not only allow a smaller number of magnifications, but they greatly compromise the sharpness and quality of what you can to observe. Anyone who needs a microscope for study or to cultivate their scientific interest will necessarily have to choose a model with glass optics.

Correction of Aberrations

However, it is not enough to have glass lenses to have a high-quality microscope: it is also important that the glass and the lens construction, in particular, are such as to correct the optical aberrations that inevitably form when light passes through different lenses and different chambers air. The two main aberrations to be corrected are:

Chromatic aberration: colored halos form at the edges of the image
Spherical aberration: the edges or center of the image are blurred
Chromatic aberration microscope

Chromatic Aberration

For the correction of the chromatic aberration, low refraction and low dispersion glass lenses are needed, which better convey the light beam without disuniting it in the different frequencies, thus generating colored halos.

There are three types of optics designed for color correction: achromatic objectives, fluorite objectives (also called semi-apochromatic), and apochromatic objectives. Among these, achromatic lenses are those that correct less distortions and have an affordable cost, while apochromatic lenses correct all distortions and have a very high price. Fluorite lenses represent a good compromise between correction and cost.

Spherical Aberration

For the correction of the spherical aberration, which is particularly accentuated with apochromatic lenses and is particularly annoying for cellular photography, a so-called planar lens is necessary, which “flattens” the focus of the image and therefore allows a homogeneous focus.
Of course, there are objectives that correct both distortions: they are called plan achromatic if the achromatic lenses are combined with the planar objective and plan apochromatic if the lenses combined with the planar objective are apochromatic.

Electronics

Secondly, it is clear that today a microscope can integrate information technologies that were once unthinkable so that the possibilities of observation are now expanded. Buying a microscope today means having more options than ever before; let’s see what these are.

LCD Microscope

Some models replace the classic eyepiece with an LCD display: this, therefore, allows you to observe the samples without having to stoop over the microscope and to capture photos and videos of the observed sample. Microscope LCD Images can be saved to a local memory or downloaded via USB connection. On the other hand, electronic image processing can introduce a level of uncertainty in the observation of details. The LCD microscope allows the observation of more than one person at the same time; for this, it can be an excellent educational choice: a parent who wants to follow their children in their first microscopic observations can do it very easily with a microscope of this type.

PC Microscope

Several modern models can be connected directly to the computer and thus become accessible as a system peripheral. The connection is normally made via USB cable, and there is a built-in microscope camera that allows the transmission of the image directly on the computer screen (and from here, if desired, to a projector or TV). “Classic” observation is always possible since the optical eyepiece is always present.

Connected Microscope

A PCA cheaper variant is the inclusion in the microscope equipment of a special eyepiece for computers: in these cases, these are “normal” microscopes on which, however, an eyepiece with a camera can be connected to the computer. If the microscope is trinocular, that is, it has three eyepieces, it is possible to attach the camera to the eyepiece on the top and continue the first-person observation through the binocular.
Microscopes of this type are particularly convenient for teaching since they allow sharing the observed sample with a very large number of people.

Pure Microscope

The possibility of choosing a “pure” microscope is of course always open: those who have home study needs that do not require the “sharing” of what they are observing nor the shooting of videos and photos will be very well with an “old-fashioned” microscope, “without PC eyepieces and without LCD display.

Lighting

For the observation of biological or microbiological samples, it is necessary that these are prepared so as to be transparent or translucent, and above all, they must be backlit: it is not possible to observe an opaque body, such as a coin or a pebble with a biological microscope. The illumination of the sample is, therefore, of fundamental importance for the functioning of the microscope.

The Type of Lamp

“Mirror” microscopes are no longer available on the market, that is, those that use the refraction of an external light beam to backlight the samples. With what we are about to explain, it will also be clear why: it is much easier to finely control the light beam if it comes from an integrated and controlled source. Modern microscopes, therefore, use an integrated lamp and a light beam control system.

Microscope Filters

There are basically two types of lamps that can be found on a microscope: halogen lamps or LED lamps. The first type of lamps have a higher electrical consumption and generate more heat, while the second type lamps have a much lower energy consumption and heatless. In both cases, the generated light must be white, and any change in color, which can be used in some cases to improve the photographic quality of the observation or to better distinguish some samples, occurs through the use of special colored and treated filters.

Intensity Adjustment

A good microscope should offer the possibility to adjust the intensity of the light beam, regardless of the type of lamp mounted. In fact, depending on the sample we want to observe, we may need less or greater brightness, depending on the density and opacity of the sample itself or even just to better observe some details by changing the light intensity during the observation.

The Condenser

The condenser is a system of lenses whose task is to convey the light in a light beam that hits the sample at the right angle and then reaches the target to reach the eye. The condenser must also be adjustable; that is, it must be possible to modify the incidence of the light beam in order to hit and perfectly illuminate any sample. Since the condenser is an optical system, it is also subject to the same aberrations that can be generated in a lens; for this reason, also the lenses of a condenser can be corrected. There are basically three types of capacitor that can be found:

Chromatic capacitors: the cheapest and simplest, most of them are of the Abbe type, with only two lenses. These capacitors do not provide for any aberration correction

Planar capacitors: these capacitors correct spherical aberration
Achromatic condensers: these condensers correct chromatic aberration and usually also spherical aberration

Power

The lamp can be powered in three ways: by the battery, from the network or via USB cable. It clearly depends on what type of microscope it is: “pure” microscopes are in many cases battery-powered, those with LCD power supply and those from PC through the USB cable connected to the computer.

Table

To complete the overview of the fundamental parts of a microscope, we must necessarily also talk about the translating table. This is the support on which the slide with the preparation to be observed rests and is fixed, and this can also have a greater or lesser level of sophistication.

In the case of cheaper microscopes, the table is equipped with two simple clips that hold the slide in place, and any movement of the sample, to observe another portion, must take place by hand in a very imprecise and often too abrupt manner.

Translating Table Microscope

A good microscope, on the other hand, has a mechanical table, also called a cross table, with a translator to attach the slide to two mechanical screws for moving the slide in the four directions and a reference graduated scale.

The Diaphragm

The table has an opening through which the light beam generated by the lamp, and the condenser below passes. This opening in the less sophisticated microscope models is a simple hole, but in more complex models, it can be equipped with a diaphragm: this comes into play when it is necessary to reduce or widen the light beam coming from the condenser. It must be said, however, that the simpler condensers, the Abbe or the chromatic ones, often have an integrated diaphragm.

Accessories

Finally, a microscope can have a more or less rich accessory kit, depending on whether it is an instrument intended for people who are already experts in microscopy, who will therefore not need a package full of preparations and instruments to start, or a product intended to beginners, especially children, who therefore provides everything needed to learn how to use the microscope.

Microscope Kit

Here are the most common accessories that you can find supplied with a microscope:

Getting started: not to be confused with the instruction booklet, the guide is intended for beginners and/or children who are about to learn to use the microscope.

Ready-to-use preparations: beginner microscopes are always accompanied by some slides already prepared and ready to be observed.

Empty slides: they are supplied to many microscopes, both for beginners and experts.

Preparation tools: a kit of tweezers, pipettes, scalpels, vials, Petri dishes, etc. it is found in almost all beginner microscopes.

Samples to prepare: microscopes for beginners and children are always accompanied by microorganisms to prepare and observe.

Interchangeable eyepieces: in the medium-high range microscopes, you can find two or three eyepieces with different magnifications.

Lens covers: the good models have covers to protect the eyepieces from dust.

Filters: microscopes for experts also have a series of colored and treated filters, in some cases integrated into the microscope itself, which modify the light spectrum emitted by the lamp. They are useful for particular types of observation and for photography.

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