8 Best Microscopes | April 2017

8 Best Microscopes | April 2017
Best Mid-Range
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Best High-End
★★★★★
Best Inexpensive
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We spent 29 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top choices for this wiki. Whether you have a young, budding scientist in the family with an interest in magnification, or you're a professional researcher or teacher looking for a tool to enhance your trade, our selection of microscopes, ranked by special features, magnification power, and price, should include the perfect model for your requirements. Skip to the best microscope on Amazon.
8
The AmScope M158C-E compound monocular comes standard with plain stage and bright-field illumination, which allows subjects to absorb light for better viewing. Its USB outputs make connection to a projector or computer easy.
  • traditional slide clips
  • interchangeable eyepieces
  • camera is very low-resolution
Brand AmScope
Model M158C-E
Weight 5.6 pounds
Rating 4.0 / 5.0
7
The Celestron InfiniView is a basic imaging unit with a 5-element IR cut-glass lens and a modest 4x-160x magnification. It comes with portable capture software, and can snap decent 5 megapixel photos of whatever is under scrutiny.
  • full-color lcd screen
  • ideal for classroom or home use
  • computer program can be buggy
Brand Celestron
Model 44361
Weight 2.5 pounds
Rating 4.0 / 5.0
6
The AmScope T490B Compound boasts a powerful 40x-1,600x wide-field magnification. A C-mount adapter and a 3-D, two-layer mechanical stage are also included, making this a reasonable choice for use in both the lab and the field.
  • good quality photos and videos
  • simul-focal trinocular head
  • led lighting would improve it
Brand AmScope
Model T490B
Weight 17.8 pounds
Rating 4.0 / 5.0
5
The Dino-Lite Pro is a handheld digital device that has a built-in measurement function, and uses DinoCapture 2.0 software for Windows, or DinoXcope for Macs. This is a great choice for field work or crime scene investigation.
  • 200x continuous magnification
  • clear color resolution
  • sturdy hardware in small package
Brand Dino Lite
Model AM413T
Weight 12.8 ounces
Rating 4.0 / 5.0
4
The Omax 40X-2000X is an LED digital binocular biochemical compound device, perfect for use in labs or teaching settings. It comes equipped with a 3 megapixel camera that streams HD video directly to a laptop, as well as four achromatic objectives, and excellent lenses.
  • high-intensity led illumination
  • bottom lighting for optimal viewing
  • mac and pc compatible software
Brand OMAX
Model pending
Weight 13.8 pounds
Rating 3.9 / 5.0
3
The Aven Cyclops Digital comes with a handy remote control, and uses a 4x objective to produce up to 534x magnification. It's perfect for presentations or for field applications, and can view areas ranging from 1 to 9.5 inches across.
  • illuminated by 30 led lights
  • great optional accessories
  • record and streams real-time video
Brand Aven
Model 26700-400
Weight 4.7 pounds
Rating 4.0 / 5.0
2
The Omax LP-50 40x-2000x Lab Binocular features a double-layer X-Y mechanical stage with scales and a revolving quadruple nosepiece. It also includes an NA1.25 Abbe condenser with an iris diaphragm, allowing for excellent focus.
  • powerful 2000x magnification
  • built-in led lighting
  • solid metal frame
Brand OMAX
Model CS-M82ES-SC100-LP50
Weight 9.2 pounds
Rating 4.7 / 5.0
1
The AmScope SM-4TZ-144A is a professional apparatus that consists of trinocular stereo zoom technology, as well as a double-arm boom stand. If you need to study a large sample that requires minimal handling, choose this unit.
  • illuminated 90x magnification
  • high-quality four-zone led ring
  • barlow lens increases detail
Brand AmScope
Model SM-4TZ-144A
Weight 61.1 pounds
Rating 4.9 / 5.0

Buyer's Guide

Two Magnifiers Are Better Than One

It's probably safe to assume that, at some point in your life, you've used a magnifying glass.

Perhaps you have fond memories of your grandmother struggling to read the small print in her newspaper and reaching for this handy handheld device. Or, maybe you wear those simple reading glasses from the pharmacy.

Then again, maybe you just burned a lot of insects by magnifying the sun.

Whatever your exposure to magnification, the principal applied here is more or less identical to the principal applied in the building of any standard microscope.

You may notice that there are two sets of magnifiers on a microscope.

The first is the objective lens, which is the little tube that points directly at your specimen closest to the stage where the slide is laid. The second is the eyepiece, a longer tube used to further magnify the image coming up through the objective.

There are usually multiple pieces of glass in both the objective and eyepiece, each meant to refine your image to perfection by the time it reaches the final, most important lens: your eye (or a digital image sensor).

Put Your Decision Under, Well, A Microscope

What began as a brilliant but essentially simple invention has advanced at incredible rates, bolstered first by glass cutting and lens-making refinements, and recently by advances in image capturing technology.

So, with all the available bells and whistles, which microscope do you need?

Let me get this out of the way: You don't need an electron microscope. If you did, you wouldn't be researching microscopes online, you'd be arguing over the potential benefits of such a purchase with your fellow PhDs as you built your own evil laboratory cut deep into a mountain in the uncharted territories of northern Russia.

But that still leaves you with a ton of options.

The easy question? What are you going to look at? That ought to tell you how much magnification you're going to need, which will narrow the field significantly.

The most important question (in my opinion)? How do you want to view your specimen? Binocular microscopes are my preference because I find it more comfortable using both eyes. You might want one eye on your specimen and the other on the notes you're taking. Monocular, then, is right for you.

There's also the question of preservation, and the better imaging specs you can get, the longer it will be before your microscope starts to feel obsolete. These images are the best way to share your findings with colleagues or students, and if they can be captured sharply, or even shown live on a monitor–well, let's just say they won't need a microscope to see the smile on your face.

Finally, there's the question of what's around the corner. Since one of the most expensive part of any microscope is the assembly of finely cut and ground glass elements, removing one or two of those could cut costs. Some of these glass elements exist to bend and straighten light that gets curved during magnification.

So, the advent of the curved image sensor, which Sony's camera R&D departments have patented, would remove the need to straighten out your light. That could both cut down on cost and increase image clarity.

Centuries of Refinement

In the late 16th century, a pair of Dutch spectacle makers came up with a crude compound microscope with an internal lens at each end. Its magnification was minimal and its images were blurry, but it was the start of something very important.

While magnification had been around for centuries at this point, it was in the combining of lenses that the evolution of the microscope began. These are what we refer to today as compound microscopes because the magnifying power of each glass element is compounded by the next.

The combination and positioning of the glass elements was refined over the centuries, as were the methods for cutting and polishing the glass. This resulted in higher and higher degrees of magnification, and, one can assume, an ever increasing fear of germs (I kid, of course. Germs weren't even suggested until Pasteur's work in the 1860s).

Now, with the advents of LED lighting and smaller camera technology, the need for higher quality optics is giving way to the power of CMOS camera sensors.

In time, the lens elements will likely simplify, or come to resemble camera lenses even more than they do now. But today's combination of sensor and lens technology makes for the highest powered microscopes we could imagine, enlarging our perspective daily.



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Last updated on April 25 2017 by Daniel Imperiale

Daniel is a writer, actor, and director living in Los Angeles, CA. He spent a large portion of his 20s roaming the country in search of new experiences, taking on odd jobs in the strangest places, studying at incredible schools, and making art with empathy and curiosity.