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Best light microscopes – 2020 Reviews & comparison

Last Updated: 22.02.20


Top Light Microscopes Reviewed & Buying guide


If you need a quick answer regarding the best light microscope on the market, we have you covered. We took the time required to go through reviews, one by one, so that we can find those models that are going to offer the most quality and features for your buck. Because buying a light microscope is not an easy task, the data we’ve gathered could provide a great deal of help when deciding on which model you should invest your hard earned money in. One model that combines quality with the enhanced user experience is the Plugable USB Digital, which has an impressive magnification power so you can see even the smallest detail of the specimens on your slides, it’s easy to use and lightweight. Additionally, it has a flexible arm for adjustability, and it can connect to pretty much any operating system. If you also require an alternative, the Opti-Tekscope True High can prove itself worthy of your time.



Comparison table


The Good
The Bad



While getting the best compound light microscope can be quite an adventure these days, you might come across a plethora of models that are efficient, convenient, and affordable. Instead of looking the wrong way, perhaps you might have to reexamine your requirements and expectations and see whether they fit with the features of such units. Light microscopes are easy to use, portable, and don’t usually raise a lot of technical difficulties even to first-time users. That is why they are the best alternative to optical microscopes and enthusiasts love them so much. If you want to find the right one for your needs, all you have to do is keep on reading.

best light microscope 2000 1


Due to their small size and rather limited capabilities, these kinds of microscopes can’t come with extraordinary optics. As such, you’ll come to see that most models feature maximum magnifications up to 300X. Very few units are capable of magnifying specimens up to 800X, but that only happens when the product is bulkier, and therefore, the manufacturing engineers have more room that they can take advantage of to fit larger, high-quality components into the microscope.

There is no right or wrong when it comes to choosing the best light microscope magnification because you have to consider the pieces that you will be examining beforehand. Thus, you must ask yourself this: are you interested in looking at smears or biological samples or are you more prone to using your microscope to look at coins, larger pieces of tissue, or jewelry items?


Light source

In most cases, light microscopes come with either one large LED bulb or feature several smaller ones. Although there are some units that might lack a light source, this characteristic seems to be rather mandatory these days as you won’t have to go through a lot of trouble in order to look at a specimen when the light in the lab or room might be less satisfactory. Since typically most of these microscopes come with lights, there is only one detail to take into account.

Are the bulbs easy to change or not? Also, can the brightness be adjusted? Sometimes you might see less detail because you have no control over the brightness of the LED bulb. With regard to whether or not the lights can be changed easily, you’ll have to check some of the user reviews as very few manufacturers include this information in the product description. In a worst case scenario, you can get on the phone with customer support and see what they have to say about this.



Light microscopes are compact, low-power versions of the compound ones you might see in a cellular biology or pathology lab. Subsequently, all of these models are small and portable and can be taken from one place to the other, depending on where you have to examine a specimen. On the one hand, this is advantageous, but on the other, you won’t be able to benefit from all the image quality perks offered by full-size, compound microscopes.

When it comes to the design of the product, you need to ask yourself how much room you will need in order to maneuver the specimens. If you plan to look at static items such as coins and jewelry, perhaps a typical model is the perfect option. However, if you want to move the sample so that you’re able to look at every angle or side of it, perhaps you’re better off with a dissecting microscope.



In many cases, light microscopes can’t be used for glancing directly at the sample, because they don’t come with the typical eye pieces that can be found in larger options. In that case, you’ll have to rely on the services of an integrated camera so that you’re able to look at the image using your laptop’s or personal computer’s display.

The camera resolution matters a great deal because the higher it is, the more detail you’ll see on the picture. It’s difficult to say what the best light microscope resolution is, and that’s mostly due to the fact that there are so many out there. Nevertheless, based on the info that we have gathered, one of your core purposes should be selecting a model of which the resolution is at least 4 megapixels. It goes without saying that there are models that are more affordable and that perhaps feature less impressive cameras. If you’re buying a simple microscope for your kids, then you don’t need to bother with getting a high resolution.



5 Best Light Microscopes (Reviews) in 2020


The best light microscopes are showcased below. We’ve taken the time to estimate the value offered for the cost of these models and have checked the consumer reviews to see whether or not they are worth every cent. From what we’ve gathered, these are the top rated choices in the line. If you still haven’t made up your mind, it wouldn’t hurt if you gave them a chance.



1. Plugable USB 2.0 Digital Microscope with Flexible Arm Observation Stand


3.Plugable USB 2.0 Digital MicroscopeThe Plugable is one of the most cost-efficient options out there given that it can often be bought for less than forty dollars. While a low price can usually be correlated with low quality, this rule does not apply in this case.

The fact of the matter is that the Plugable unit is highly recommended for people who are looking for a small and portable dissecting microscope and hardly know which one they should select. The flexible arm observation stand gives more than enough room for examining all sorts of samples.

The only feature that separates it from other models we’ve analyzed is the camera, of which the resolution is just 2 megapixels. If you aren’t particularly picky with regard to the quality of the images you’ll be capturing on your laptop or computer, the Plugable might be a good choice after all, especially as it features a maximum magnification of 250X.

Another characteristic that makes the difference between this microscope and others we’ve showcased earlier on is the fact that it features four LED lights. The brightness of these tiny bulbs can be customized in order to offer the correct illumination you may need at some point or the other.



Buy from for ($39.95)





2. Opti Tekscope Digital USB Microscope Camera True High Definition Macro


4.BEST Digital USB Microscope- 2.0MPSome light microscopes don’t come cheap, but that’s not the case with the Opti-TekScope OT-V1 given that it can be bought for an affordable price and comes with pretty much all the functionalities you might want to get in such a device.

As is the case with the Plugable model we were mentioning above, this one features a 2-megapixel camera that does the trick under most circumstances and even more so if you’re a coin collector or hobbyist. The model can be used with excellent results if you’re trying to teach your kids several things about the microscopic world around them.

Just like other models in the same line, the Opti-TekScope OT-V1has eight LED lights with customizable brightness so you can adjust it depending on the light you have available in the room or the specimen you may want to try to analyze.

The neat thing about this easy-to-use alternative is that it is designed much like a dissecting microscope in that you have more than enough room to handle the sample. The product can be used both for capturing still images and for recording video. Reviewers have reported that they’ve had the chance to look at many samples ranging from hairs to bugs thanks to this microscope.



Buy from for ($77.95)





3. Celestron 44308 5 MP Handheld Digital Microscope Pro


One highlight that every user is going to appreciate is the 5MP sensor which allows you to capture detailed, high-resolution images and even videos of whatever you are analyzing under its light. The glass lens is also highly appreciated because it guarantees sharp images under any circumstances.

The shutter speed is adjustable, and so is the magnification power. You can choose from a low-powered one of 20X, or you can go up to 200X. The low one is ideal for 3D specimens. It also comes with a USB 2.0 cable, which takes maneuverability to new heights, especially when it comes to analyzing large surfaces.

It is compatible with all Mac and Windows Vista or 10 devices, and if you have a better screen, like the ones on a Surface product, you can also increase the resolution and the magnification of the tool. All of these premium features make it a capable teaching device for a science class.



Buy from for ($88.64)





4. Dino-Lite Digital Microscope AM3111 USB 2.0


2.Dino-Lite Digital MicroscopeWhile it is slightly less affordable than other alternatives we’ve seen during our research, the fact of the matter is that the Dino-Lite AM-311S is worth every cent. As is the case with the formerly described Horizons Tec unit, this one can be powered via any USB port.

The illumination consists of eight LED bulbs but there is no information regarding whether or not the brightness of this light source can be customized depending on the circumstance or not. Even so, the Dino-Lite proves its worth in a myriad of domains, which range from biology to education and jewelry making. Another area where using the Dino-Lite might come in handy is veterinary medicine, as it doesn’t require a good deal of effort to look at the skin, ears, and even the eyes of pets.

As for the magnification, the microscope can be customized in such a way so that the focus is adjustable depending on the specimen you are trying to analyze the structure of.

One can choose between 10X and 50X and even go up to 200X, if the piece that is being examined requires a greater amount of detail. The only drawback that we’ve discovered about the Dino-Lite AM-311S is that it does not come with a measuring function.



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5. Carson eFlex LED USB Digital Microscope with Flexible Stand and Base


This is a powerful USB digital microscope, that takes advantage of the 75x to 300x useful magnification. It also rocks an adjustable LED lighting knob for more sensitive tasks, and an easy to use focus knob for stubborn slides that always seem to elude your adjustments.

The included flexible neck stand will let you see the fine details of pieces of any size, and with the suction cup adapter that is hidden underneath it, you can attach the product to any smooth surface. Or you could just use the graduated base it comes with.

If you want to capture an image or a close-up video, you can do that with just the push of a button, a thing that transforms it into the ideal tool for kids and kindergartners. No batteries are required, and the machine is compatible with Windows and Mac operating systems so that you can transition between the two with ease.



Buy from for ($41.99)





Unavailable products


Horizons Tec Digital


1.Horizons Tec Digital Microscope USBIt’s no wonder that the Horizons Tec Digital is one of the top favorite microscopes of hobbyists and professional users alike. Firstly, this product is one of the most affordable USB units in the line. It’s easy to use and convenient and thanks to being lightweight, it can be taken from one place to the other. This model is powered by using the USB port on any computer and laptop.

The same port can be used for transferring and visualizing the data that is being captured by the 5-megapixel camera the microscope comes equipped with. The light source consists of eight individual LED bulbs of which the brightness can be customized.

The maximum magnification capabilities of the Horizons Tec option can go up to 300X, so you’ll be more than capable of having a peek at coins, pieces of jewelry, and even biologic samples. The software is included in the price of the model, which makes it even more cost-efficient. In addition, you’ll also be getting a professional stand as well as fifty slides and one hundred cover glasses.

The individuals who have purchased the Horizons Tec Digital have nothing but good things to say about it as they describe it as a fun digital microscope for kids and grown-ups.





Jingou Portable USB Digital


5.Portable USB Digital MicroscopeFinally, if you truly are looking for the cheapest USB microscope ever to have been invented, perhaps it’s high time to give a shot to this model. Based on the info we’ve gathered, it seems that it is typically priced under thirty dollars, which is an absolutely incredible cost for the functionalities it comes with. The stand is included in the package, which even makes the unit more convenient as one does not have to hold the microscope in one’s hand all the time.

The maximum camera resolution of this unit is 2 megapixels. Otherwise said, you’ll be able to capture images using the standard 640 by 480 res or use the higher one, 1600 by 1200. The magnification of this product can be adjusted from 20X to 800X, which is a feature that seems rather impressive when compared to the magnifying capabilities of other options. Considering that the metal stand featured on this model is adjustable, it goes without saying that you will not have any issues glancing at larger or smaller items.

Unfortunately, the package does not include any slides, which means that you will have to buy them separately. Since this can be interpreted as an extra expense, perhaps you’d like to assess whether getting this model is indeed cost-efficient for you or not.




1) Light Microscope – Definition, Uses & Parts

2) Why do we use a light microscope?

3) What are the characteristics of a light microscope?

4) How to Use a Light Microscope



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Ioana Moldovan

Ioana’s professional experience in the optics field has helped her understand the value of passing her knowledge forward. Her curious personality helps her gather useful information for her readers and her goal is to make technical information fun and accessible to everyone.

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