Top Rated Microscopes – Ratings & Comparison in 2017
These days, microscopes have many uses in various fields of science and other domains. The market is overflowing with models, and it can be hard to find exactly what you are looking for. This website will help you with finding the best microscope for what you have in mind, whether you’re interested in getting one for viewing bacteria, parasites, or any other types of tiny organisms.
To make sure that we tailor our content to your requirements, we’ve gone through a lot of information with regard to the best microscope brands, some of which have a long history with building lenses and other optical products. One of the first things you must do before starting to prospect the market is to determine your purpose and decide what you want to use the unit for. Some might be interested in getting a model for high school use, whereas others may desire to purchase a new one for the lab they work in or to use on the site of a criminal scene. Buyers who may want to stick to their budget may want to look for a handheld device or just the best inexpensive microscope. Whatever the case, we’d like to point out that you’ll be able to choose wisely once you go over the articles we’ve prepared for you.
Since you ought to correlate your requirements with the features of the product you want to spend your money on, we recommend referring to some of the best microscope reviews. Whether the owner feedback is favorable or not, the fact of the matter is that other microscope users can help you make up your mind efficiently. Owners may range from high school teachers to forensic specialists and even veterinarians, so it may be a good idea to go through several ratings to see what these professionals had to say about the performance of the model you might want to get, as well.
How to choose the best microscope
To make it easier to choose just the model you might be looking for, we’ve put together a comprehensive guide that will take you through all the steps you need to pay attention to in order to get the best value for the money and eventually become the owner of a fully functional microscope. Keep reading if you want to know all there’s to learn about these kinds of devices.
Although the uses of a microscope are many, most models can be split up into two broad categories. High-power options are designed to offer a higher amount of detail compared to their low-power counterparts. While high-power models can be found in laboratories and other science-related places, they’re also very popular among kids as they can allow them to have a peek at the microscopic life of bacteria and other microorganisms. The most notable advantage of choosing a high-power, full-size unit instead of a low-power one consists of the fact that you’ll be able to use higher magnification settings.
Depending on the model you will be selecting, it can take you up to 1000X and thus let you glance at the cellular environment and even differentiate one bacteria species from another. It might be worth noting that, in order for high-power microscopes to be able to display the image accurately, they need a light source right under the specimen. The light will then go through the glass, smear or any other tissue that might be under analysis and so you’ll be able to see what you’re looking at.
Low-power models are more affordable and convenient compared to their high-power counterparts, but they come with a limited set of features and will let you look at larger things. These products are intended for lifetime collectors such as people who like to look at coins, stamps, insects and parts of insects, as well as soil and sand crystals. Although their performance is slightly diminished, these products still make good choices for individuals who work in small practices. For example, since they do a great job at displaying crystals of any sort, they can be used successfully for performing a microscopic examination of urine sediment. A low-power or stereo microscope is not necessarily the best dissecting microscope, but it can be used for such a task.
Stereo microscopes can have different kinds of powers. For example, some have two individual powers, thus allowing users to select either the 10X or the 30X magnification, or the 20X or 30X magnification. Other products are single power, which means that you won’t be able to zoom in or zoom out. Low-power zoom microscopes can allow you to choose anything between 10X to 40X.
Optical vs. Digital
If you aren’t necessarily tech-savvy or don’t plan to save images of the microscopic organisms that you’ll likely analyze with the help of your unit, perhaps you’d benefit from selecting the best optical microscope. Optical versions have been around ever since the 17th century, and many of these somewhat traditional products rely on natural light sources instead of artificial ones. Since their design is slightly older, it’s slowly but inevitably becoming obsolete, as most people have become interested in connecting the device to a computer and saving the pictures thereof.
By contrast, the best digital microscope can be attached to the USB port of a laptop or computer, thus allowing you to save images as you focus on various areas of the smear. Although many compact options are available even when it comes to digital models, it should be underlined that, the more portable the microscope, the less amount of freedom you’ll be able to benefit from with regard to the magnification and adjustable settings it might come with.
Simple units have just one lens that can be used to magnify an object to a certain extent. These aren’t good choices if you’re interested in seeing the tissue in-depth. The best compound microscope relies on two types of lenses, one of which is the eyepiece and the other is the objective lens. While monocular models have a single eyepiece, binocular units have two, and three can be found in the best trinocular microscope.
The most important component in a microscope is the objective. Whether you have just one or can use multiple because the product you’ve chosen doesn’t allow you to customize the magnification, the objective is by far the crucial part in such a product. While most objectives are either refractive or reflective, the terminology might be less important for the regular Joe. However, the benefits of each should be pointed out, so you’re informed and know what to expect from one or the other.
Refractive models typically provide higher-quality images because they have been coated with an anti-reflection layer, which, in a nutshell, translates into an overall light throughput. Reflective objectives make use of a mirror-based design, but the main difference between the two is the fact that the light reflects on metal parts instead of glass ones, as it does with refractive objectives. What this basically means is that the light efficiency of reflective units is greater when compared to the one of refractive units.
Ease of use and convenience
Finally, it might be worth underlining that some microscopes are simply easier to use compared to others. As such, various models have been designed so that they can be taken on the road and used on the scene. For example, choosing the best handheld microscope can allow you to benefit from a series of advantages. However, the product may sacrifice a lot in terms of image quality and the magnification you might be able to utilize. In most cases, handheld options don’t allow owners to adjust the magnification in accordance with their momentary needs. Instead, the vast majority of such microscopes come with a fixed magnification of 200X, 220X, or 230X. Nevertheless, since they are so compact and lightweight, these units can be of help when examining the site of a crime scene.
Types of microscopes
Since there are many kinds of models to choose from these days, we’ve decided to describe each and every one of them as best as possible, so that you know what you will be spending your cents on. In addition, we’ve included a short description of the category so that you’re able to understand the benefits and sometimes, even the disadvantages of these types. Whether you’re looking for an optical or digital unit, you’ll find all there’s to know about the category you’re interested in below. As a bonus, we’ve also included the top recommended product for each category, so you can check out its specifications and features right on this page.
Best digital microscope
The main reason you may feel tempted to choose a digital model instead of a traditional one is that they offer a plethora of advantages. For example, most digital microscopes include a camera or a small LCD that you can utilize to look at the image directly, without having to bother to use an eyepiece. What’s more, many of these products actually come with complimentary software that you can utilize in order to download the images to your computer.
It goes without saying that, with expensive models such as the ones manufactured by world-known brands such as Leica or Zeiss, you may need to invest some money in updating the software, at least from time to time. In spite of the fact that they cannot be found in all stores or online retailers’ websites, there are some models that come with detachable cameras. Even though it may be harder to see why this is an advantage that cannot be denied. Should the camera break, you won’t have to purchase the entire microscope unit. Instead, you’ll be able to replace it.
The OMAX is unique, and there’s no doubt about it. Although some might think that it’s not necessarily the most affordable model in the line, the fact of the matter is that the investment will pay off in the end, if you choose this OMAX unit.
For one, the magnification ranges from 40X to 2500X depending on the objectives you will be using. In addition, since this is a trinocular LED microscope, it comes both with two eyepieces and a 14-pixel camera that can be connected to a laptop or computer via USB. In short, the OMAX is the top recommended choice for labs.
As previously discussed in the intro of the article, the owner feedback matters a great deal when it comes to selecting the right microscope for your purpose and needs.
That’s why we’ve also referred to some of the buyer reviews garnered by the OMAX over time. It seems that most people have nothing but good things to say about the product, given that the camera software is outstanding and allows for smooth recording. Actually, there are individuals who say that they failed to find the same camera quality in models that are priced a little under two thousand dollars.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($559.99)
Best dissecting microscope
There are many differences between a compound microscope and one intended for dissecting. One of the first which comes to mind consists of the fact that the magnification of compound options goes up to 1000X, and more whereas the magnification of dissecting units is limited and can go up to 70X or less. The use of both also differs, in that compound models can be utilized with great results for visualizing cells and other very small structures whereas dissecting versions require a considerably larger space for specimens such as pollen, insects, body parts, and others. This much space is important for the person using the microscope as he or she will be able to manipulate the piece while glancing through the eyepiece.
Since there is no need for adjustable magnification, most dissecting microscopes come with just one objective lens and two eyepieces. The light source is unique as well, in that it should be located above the specimen that should be visualized at a microscopic level. If the light were to pass through the sample, the operator would have a hard time distinguishing the structure of the organism that is being dissected.
This AmScope model is among the best we’ve found for dissecting, as it gives owners more than enough space to manipulate both small and large items. What’s more, the appliances for which this unit can be used are practically infinite, given that the AmScope makes a wonderful choice for dental practices and even electricians as they can repair circuit boards with the help of this product.
As for the light source, the LED bulb that comes with this microscope makes it easy for buyers to select the brightness intensity given that it features four separate zones which can be customized in accordance with the task that has to be completed.
One of the neat things about the AmScope dissecting microscope is that it allows owners to do what they’re supposed to without feeling any strain on their necks. The double arm boom stand features 20-inch arms as well as a 17-inch pillar which makes it possible for owners to position the head of the microscope in the right position. In short, the AmScope is efficient and reasonably priced, and it’s one of the best units to get for less than six hundred dollars.Buy from Amazon.com for ($529.98)
Best handheld microscope
As mentioned in the buying guide, handheld models are significantly different from standard microscopes, in that they are considerably more compact and lightweight and come with a set of limited features. It’s practically impossible for manufacturing brands to make handheld options capable of the same excellent performance of full-size units, mostly because the hardware inside these products can’t be shrunk so that they offer the same magnification advantages.
However, handheld microscopes do provide a number of benefits, which are mainly based on the fact that they’re so portable and easy to use. Most units in the line come with software which allows owners to connect them to a computer or even a tablet or mobile device that they can use to visualize the subject. In most cases, there is no eyepiece to speak of; therefore, the user cannot glance directly at the specimen. Even so, the efficiency of the camera that the item has been equipped with is superior to the human eyesight.
Dino-Lite Handheld Digital
When it comes to portability nothing beats the Dino-Lite USB-capable microscope. While the magnification range of this option varies from 10X to 50X and a 220X can be used, as well, this brand has shown prospective buyers that a smaller size can’t be correlated with any less performance.
The Dino-Lite can be bought in several versions, but we’ve noticed that the best one seems to be the one that comes equipped with a 5-megapixel camera thanks to which the resolution of the image is higher and therefore, more detailed. Saving images is easy as the device supports various formats, ranging from PNG to JPG.
What’s more, the software that comes along with the Dino-Lite is very helpful when it comes to the adjustments one can perform in order to get the best picture. As such, owners can choose from the many settings that are available, such as MicroTouch, Polarization, Enhanced Depth of Field, and Measurement. Many people say that the Dino-Lite is one of the most education products they’ve stumbled upon while doing their research, in spite of the fact that the most cutting-edge version can be bought for a somewhat higher price.Buy from Amazon.com for ($995)
Best compound microscope
Compound microscopes are everywhere these days as they are the most common type that’s being used in schools and labs all over the world. All compound models have two sets of lenses, which consist of an eyepiece and an objective lens. Since the viewing heads can differ from one model to the next, most of the ones we’ve come across have been categorized into monocular, binocular, and trinocular, depending on the number of eyepieces that can be found in a unit.
The benefits of using such a microscope are countless, but the primary one that comes to mind is the fact that it’s simple and convenient. It’s somewhat smaller compared to other alternatives and can be stored efficiently, whether you plan to use it in the comfort of your own home or in a lab. Additionally, thanks to the number of lenses they come with, these models can be used with a wide array of specimens.
Every feature of the AmScope PZ300T-5M is impressive, from the magnification capabilities to the quality of the objectives, camera, and software. It’s worth mentioning that this product is a polarizing compound microscope, which means that it is best suited for applications such as toxicology, forensics, pharmacology, and others.
The AmScope comes with Brightfield illumination which is rather popular among scientists and pathologists who’d like to see in-depth the amount of damage caused by a pathogen or any kind of trauma. This unit is equipped with a 5-megapixel camera that does the trick for when you’ve discovered an interesting area that you’d like to save and include in an official document or just preserve in your image archive.
In spite of the fact that most people tend to think that spending over three thousand dollars on a microscope is downright counterproductive, we couldn’t help noticing that the owner feedback of this model seems to revolve around the fact that it is actually affordable for the features it comes with. One buyer emphasizes that the sturdiness of the construction is impressive and that, in spite of the rugged build, the microscope manages to weigh in at about twenty-eight pounds. This characteristic makes it easy to take from one room to the next.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($3233.51)
Best stereo microscope
Stereo microscopes somewhat resemble the dissecting models we’ve talked about earlier on. In fact, since the terminology is so confusing, some stereo microscopes may actually be used for dissecting, given that they are binoculars and rely on the light that is reflected on the surface of the object instead of using the one that’s being transmitted through the specimen. These days, these kinds of units are being used in a broad range of fields such as forensic engineering, microsurgery, and even the manufacturing industry, with many products proving their worth especially when an inspector has to perform a quality control.
During recent years, stereo versions have been equipped with CCD camera pickups that allow them to display the image on a monitor to which they have been connected beforehand. Many of the cameras included in these models are cutting-edge, in that they can even offer 3D images.
While the price point of a microscope might be less important if you’re looking for quality, it’s still worth mentioning that this AmScope model manages to be one of the most financially accessible options in the line and comes with all the features you may have ever wanted in a stereo microscope.
The product actually includes a boom-arm stand as well as LED lighting, which makes it considerably easier for the user to focus on the area that needs to be examined on the specimen, without bothering to move the microscope around until the light source is right above the area of interest.
The AmScope has proven to be useful under many circumstances, given that we came across many reviews written by engineers and engineering students who were in the need of a good microscope for soldering components or repairing circuit boards. While some argue that the instructions provided by the manufacturing brand could have been more straightforward, most owners have reported that they’ve found them to be reasonably useful as operating the microscope is not a nuisance and everything works as it should.
Plus, the 9-inch working distance allowed by the AmScope is a net advantage as it gives owners all the room they may need for using a hot air gun or soldering iron.Buy from Amazon.com for ($189.98)
Best optical microscope
Optical microscopes evolved a lot ever since the 17th century when they were first invented. These days, the lens system might be a lot more complicated to explain if it weren’t for the simple structure of such a microscope. If you’re wondering what you can see with the help of a light microscope, we’ll put your mind at ease. As long as you’re focused on getting images of microscopic aspects of specimens, you can have a glance at the cell structure, organization, or the basic cell design of most tissues.
In most cases, the maximum magnification of such a model is 2000X. There are several exceptions to this rule, but increasing the magnification capability by up to 500X still doesn’t make a difference if what you’re trying to see is very small organelles. Plus, the insides of viruses and other small pathogens remains a mystery unless you use an electron microscope.
If you’ve been looking for a unit that seems to be perfectly suited for a practice or any sort of professional laboratory, perhaps it is high time to check out the specs of the VanGuard 1220CM-BP.
The product features excellent 20-watt halogen illumination and magnification abilities of 4X, 10X, 40X, and 100X. It’s crucial to emphasize that the VanGuard is an immersion method and therefore requires the use of a special oil each time you may want to look at a smear or specimen. A dust cover, two eyecups, a spare fuse, as well as a spare 20-watt lamp are all included in the kit.
Whether the price point of this microscope is off-putting or not, it’s up to you to decide if you want to invest in a high-quality well-built microscope intended for use in clinics and medical practices. If you don’t require characteristics such as a 360-degree viewing angle, perhaps you’d be better off with a rather limited alternative.
On the other hand, if you’ve been searching for the best clinical unit that offers outstanding brightness and unparalleled accuracy, the VanGuard might prove to be the perfect option. Keep in mind that its preferred use is diagnostics.Click to see the price on Amazon!
Best trinocular microscope
The reason trinocular alternatives are so popular among scientists and amateurs is that they come with two eyepieces as well as a camera that comes along with the base unit. Some cameras are detachable and can be replaced if they break down at some point or the other, whereas others can’t be changed by the user.
The fact of the matter is that most of these cams are extraordinary when it comes to capturing the microscopic images because they have been designed for this task exactly. Therefore, the amount of detail you’ll be able to visualize with the help of the cameras featured by trinocular microscope is far greater than the one you’d get from using a regular photo or video camera. What’s more, most of these products are designed by the same company that manufactures the lenses in the microscope.
For example, if you were to buy a trinocular with lenses and a cam made by Leica, you’d probably have nothing to worry about as this brand is world-known for manufacturing high-quality optics.
If you’ve been searching for a high-end trinocular model, then this is the one to get. The AmScope T690C-PL-10M comes equipped with pretty much everything you’ll require in order to have a peek at the cell structure of tissues you might be interested in examining.
Moreover, the quality and resolution of the camera that comes along with the two eyepieces is downright impressive. The 10-megapixel cam can be connected to a computer with the help of the USB 2.0 output, therefore allowing you to take pictures using the image capture and editing software that’s also part of the deal with this model.
The magnification of this microscope is truly outstanding, given that you can use anything from 40X to 2500X, depending on the organelles you may want to have a look at. Besides, you won’t have any trouble distinguishing the components of the specimens from one another as the AmScope has Brightfield illumination which makes it possible for the light to go through the smear, thus highlighting the area you’re focusing on.
As for the owner feedback, a buyer has reported that the many uses for this microscope make it a deal that’s hard to say no to, especially as the camera can also be used with other microscopes in the lab.Buy from Amazon.com for ($939.98)
Best microscope kit
Microscope kits are typically intended for the use of students, children, and hobbyists. In most cases, microbiologists, pathologists, engineers, and any other professionals who might need a microscope at some point or the other already have extra parts they can utilize with a unit. However, these kits also make excellent choices for labs in high schools and colleges, where students may not know the works of operating a microscope yet.
The most significant advantage of choosing a kit instead of a separate microscope is that it comes with a broad variety of accessories that can help you explain how such a device functions and how it can be employed. Generally, the magnification capabilities of such an option are somewhat limited, but some will offer you a degree of customization between 40X up to 600X and even more. Often times, the microscope comes along with a variable number of glass slides, light diffusers, tweezers, or other pieces of equipment you may require.
The AmScope Student is an optical glass monocular microscope that has all the features of a well-designed functional unit, without being overly complicated as it doesn’t raise any difficulties for users who aren’t tech-savvy. The magnification of the product can be customized between 40X and 1000X, which is impressive for a model in this line.
While the LED illumination system might be less impressive compared to the ones featured by the professional units we’ve showcased earlier on, the fact of the matter is that it does get the job done and allows students and children accurately see what’s going on on the slide.
Moreover, if you’re buying this microscope as a present for a young relative, you’ll be getting more than enough value given that the product comes along with a book titled The World of the Microscope, which can ease up the learning curve of any microscope aficionado. In fact, from what we’ve gathered by going through the customer ratings regarding the performance and quality of the AmScope model, it seems that it’s by far one of the best choices for beginners of all ages. Operating the unit isn’t difficult, and the product is made with sturdy parts, which means that it will withstand the test of time.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($84.5)
Best microscope brands
In spite of the fact that there are few manufacturers of microscopes in the United States, this brand has proven that it’s more than capable of building top-notch products intended for amateur and professional microscope users alike. Compared to several European and Asian manufacturers, AmScope is relatively new on the market given that it was created in 1996. However, all of the products are in complete accordance with the quality control standards that are currently being used in North America. Besides, some of the components in AmScope microscopes are designed and constructed by the same technicians who work for Leica, Nikon, Zeiss, and other reputable brands.
This company has also been around for a fairly decent amount of time, and most of the microscopes developed by Omax are often times compared to the ones created by AmScope. For one, the price points of both are somewhat similar, even though we’ve noticed that Omax units tend to be a bit more expensive. The quality of the optics involved in the construction of the units is virtually the same, but since most Omax options are destined for professional or semi-professional users, the brand’s models might require a bit of time spent on learning how to operate a microscope.
Celestron has a good deal of experience when it comes to manufacturing telescopes and microscopes. The basis of the company was set in the 1950s, which means that the engineers working for the brand have had enough time by now to perfect the technologies and innovations that are currently being used in Celestron products. Other popular items built by this company include spotting scopes, monoculars, binoculars, and optical tubes. The name of the manufacturer suggests that, when it comes to studying astronomy, Celestron products are the best, as they have been fitted with excellent optics components.
Carl Zeiss is one of the oldest and most reputable brands in the industry of manufacturing top-notch microscopes, and that doesn’t come as a surprise considering that the basis of this company was set in the middle of the 19th century. Although initially, Zeiss products were mostly popular in European countries, the brand has managed to penetrate the U.S. market because it has redefined the world of optics and is currently appreciated by most microbiologists and pathologist all over the world. These days, Zeiss has an impressive portfolio, with excellent products designed in the area of industrial metrology, spectroscopy, medical technology, and even entertainment, what with the recently developed ExoLens for smartphones.
Europeans must have been very passionate about investigating the underworld of life as Leica is also a European manufacturing brand that usually has people raving about the quality of its units. These days, the brand has redefined itself as there are now four independent companies that function with the same logo. Under the same name, Leica manufactures photo cameras, microsystems, biosystems, and geosystems, thus trying to tailor these products to the needs of the modern user. Some of the most critically acclaimed microscopes designed by Leica include digital units, surgical devices, confocal models, as well as super-resolution imaging solutions.
Everyone’s heard about Nikon at some point or the other, and that’s mostly due to the fact that Canon and Nikon have been at it for years with regard to which brand manufactures the best photo cameras. Few people are aware of the fact that Nikon also creates precision equipment, imaging systems, as well as measuring instruments and 3D metrology systems. The variety of microscope solutions offered by this company is absolutely baffling since it manufactures anything from super-resolution and polarizing options to inverted and multi-purpose zoom microscopes. Nikon accessories and imaging software are available, as well.
Microscope facts you should know
Who invented the microscope?
It’s difficult to tell exactly who created this innovation for the first time, and this is mostly due to the fact that the microscope, as we know it, was mostly perfected in the 20th century. If it were for us to point out the creator of the first compound microscope, we’d have to refer to some Dutch history. At the end of the 16th century, Zacharias Jansen and his father, Hans, created a set of lenses that managed to magnify the world significantly, particularly when compared to the magnifying systems that were being used at that time. The first prototype invented by Jansen and his father had a magnification of 3X to 9X.
When was the microscope invented?
The real microscope, or rather, the one that’s similar to what we use on a regular basis nowadays was created in the late 17th century also by a Dutch scientist by the name of Anton van Leeuwenhoek. What made this kind of imaging system unique was the fact that it was able to magnify up to 270X whereas most of the models created at that time were capable of a magnification up to 50X.
Which microscope should I buy?
Even though we’ve addressed this topic before, it’s still worth noting that, before investing your money in a microscope, you should look at your needs, preferences, and requirements. If you’re a prior user of a microscope, you probably know what to look for in such a device. If, however, you have little to no experience when it comes to picking the right unit, try to understand how much time you have available for using a microscope and whether it should be destined for beginners and even children. If you are an amateur, stick to models that are easy to use. After all, there’s nothing stopping you from selling them to other people later on, so that you upgrade to high-end alternatives that are capable of exploring the tiniest parts of the world around you.