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
100X-2000X Microscopes for Kids Students Adults, with Microscope Slides Set,...
  • [High Magnification] WF25X eyepiece alone or with 2X lens, cooperate 4x 10x 40x objective lenses, biological microscopes offers 6...
  • [Coarse and Fine Focus] Monocular Microscopes with solid metal frame and coarse/fine focusing knobs, ensures detail and precise...
  • [Dual Illumination System] Top and bottom LED simultaneously brightfield, a 0.65 NA single-lens condenser with disc diaphragm,...
  • [Complete Accessories] It comes with phone adapter, wire shutter, 10 operating accessories, 15pcs microscope slides set, carrying...
  • [Practical Educational Tool] This 100X-2000X biological microscope is designed to help students/kids/adults/beginner/amateur...
SaleRANK NO. 2
AmScope 120X-1200X 52-pcs Kids Beginner Microscope STEM Kit with Metal Body...
  • Beginner compound microscope provides high magnification for educational applications
  • Monocular viewing head with LED and mirror illumination and built-in color filter wheel. Field View: Widefield, Stage:...
  • 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. 3
AmScope B120C Siedentopf Binocular Compound Microscope, 40X-2500X Magnification,...
  • Compound microscope provides high magnification for biological use and educational applications
  • Siedentopf binocular head with pairs of 10x widefield and 25x widefield eyepieces with 53 to 77mm inter-pupillary adjustment,...
  • Forward-facing nosepiece with 4x, 10x, 40xS (spring), and 100xS (spring, oil) DIN achromatic objectives that provide color...
  • Brightfield, LED illumination, and 1.25 NA Abbe condenser with iris diaphragm for clear examination and light control
  • Double-layer mechanical stage, with 1.0mm stage divisions, locks slide into place and provides precise slide manipulation along...
SaleRANK NO. 4
Swift Trinocular Compound Microscope SW350T,40X-2500X Magnification,Siedentopf...
  • 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...
  • The brilliant LED bulb transmits light through an Abbe condenser, illuminating slide specimens from below with adjustable...
  • Trinocular head accepts additional eyepiece and microscope camera attachments in order to view, livestream, record, and capture...
  • 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...
RANK NO. 5
SWIFT Stellar 1 Pro-T Research-Grade Infinity Corrected Compound Microscope,...
  • Flat-field clear Infinity-corrected optical system. The four wide-band and fully multi-coating Infinity Plan objectives provide...
  • Ergonomic and user-friendly design reduces strain on the user. The Siedentopf head, easily adjustable for different interpupillary...
  • Highly energy efficient and LED illumination has a low power consumption and is compatible with a Type-C plug from a portable...
  • The built-in "quick start guide" system assists the user to find the focus point easily and also to adjust the right aperture...
  • This microscope is covered by an industry-leading 8-year warranty for mechanical parts. Further instruction videos and manuals can...
RANK NO. 6
OMAX 40X-2500X Digital Lab Trinocular Compound LED Microscope with USB Digital...
  • Total magnification: 40X-100X-250X-400X-1000X-2500X; Eyepieces: wide field WF10X and WF25X; Objectives: achromatic DIN 4X, 10X,...
  • Sliding adjustable interpupillary distance: 2-3/16inch ~ 2-15/16inch(55~75mm); Ocular diopter adjustable on both eye tubes;...
  • Condenser and diaphragm: NA1.25 Abbe condenser with iris diaphragm; Transmitted (lower) illuminator: LED light, intensity...
  • Digital camera: - true color 640 x 480 pixels - 0.45X reduction lens to get larger field of view - Software compatible with...
  • 5-year warranty against manufacturing defects
SaleRANK NO. 7
AmScope M150C-I 40X-1000X All-Metal Optical Glass Lenses Cordless LED Student...
  • This is an ideal microscope for home school or for students in elementary to high school to learn sciences
  • 360 degree rotatable monocular head offers five magnification settings 40X, 100X, 250X, 400X & 1000X
  • Widefield all optical glass elements includes single lens condenser with disc diaphragm
  • Sturdy all metal framework. Power Supply - 110 V
  • LED illumination system uses either an outlet (adapter included) or three AA batteries (or re-chargeable batteries)
SaleRANK NO. 8
TOMLOV DM11 LCD Digital Microscope with 2000X Dual Lens(Digital & Microbial...
  • Multi-purpose Lenses For Versatile Uses - Creatively equipped with digital lens and microbial lens, this new model DM11 is...
  • 7’’ IPS 1080P Display For Great Clarity - Premium IPS screen in conjunction with 12 megapixels ultra focusing camera sensor...
  • Supports PC View - Offers better and larger view with images of the specimen projected on a computer monitor. No extra software...
  • Allows Photographing And Recording Video - You can capture images and record video and save them on the SD card(Included),...
  • This microscope comes with two slides, you may also make glass slides by yourself, slides must be thin and transparent
RANK NO. 9
SWIFT Microscope SW150,Compound Student Microscope,40X-1000X,Monocular...
  • 🔬 PRIMARY INTRODUCTION: Swift Compound Student Microscope is designed to introduce students from elementary schools through...
  • 🔬 MAGNIFICATION on this compound microscope SWIFT: Available settings of 40X, 100X, 250X, 400X, and 1000X are offered to you...
  • 🔬 LED + DUAL ILLUMINATION: This system of this SWIFT microscope allows you to examine both transparent and solid specimens.Cool...
  • 🔬 Eyepiece camera comes with user-friendly editing and processing software for Mac OS X /Windows Vista, 7, 8, 10 (32 and 64...
  • 🔬 SLEEK DESIGN for FIELD EXPERIMENTS: The metal carrying handle and base, together with cordless capability, makes this Swift...

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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