Optical microscopes – Buying guide & Comparison
If you are short on time and you just want to find the best optical microscope, this short paragraph should help you get just the model you may be in need of. According to our findings, the AmScope M100C-LED is the best option as it has a maximum optical magnification of 1000X and it is very easy to use. Whether you’re a beginner or a well-seasoned microscope user, you can significantly benefit from utilizing this model since it doesn’t require a lot of experience and does not raise too many technical difficulties to buyers. Besides, you needn’t worry about anything in terms of durability as the product features a frame constructed out of metal. The unit is portable, compact, and lightweight, which makes it one of the best choices when it comes to going out on the field and examining specimens where your services might be needed. In spite of the fact that it can be purchased for a reasonable price, the AmScope M100C-LED has glass achromatic objectives that minimize aberration and allow you to look at a clear picture. If the AmScope M100C-LED is unavailable, your second option should be the AmScope M150C/M150C-I.
Optical microscopes are handy and useful but don’t have the cutting-edge features of some modern compound units. However, they can certainly help when it comes to seeing the aspects of tissues, cells, and even bacteria, depending on their magnifying capabilities. Since we are aware that the broad diversity of products that are available in today’s market might be daunting for a prospective buyer, we have created a simplified guide that can hopefully assist you in selecting the right model for your needs.
One of the first questions you need to ask yourself is what you will be using the microscope for. In other words, you will have to look at the specimens that you will be examining rather frequently just to see whether you might benefit from using a 400X or 1000X model. Many optical microscopes these days come with magnification abilities ranging from 40X to 1000X and that’s mostly due to the fact that this feature makes them versatile and easy to use for various types of items that must be analyzed. This generally makes them more useful than digital microscopes and the low cost option of microscope kits.
How does a optical microscope work for seeing cells and bacteria? In order to study the cell structure and even look at the processes that are happening inside a cell, you will need a magnification of at least 400X. In most cases, bacteria can be seen at 1000X and above. If you aren’t interested in studying biological samples and maybe plan to use the microscope for analyzing coins, collectibles, and pieces of jewelry, you probably don’t need 1000X, and you’d be much better off with a light microscope.
It’s safe to say that you’re in the market for an optical microscope that manages to withstand the test of time. Otherwise, you wouldn’t spend your money on it. So, what makes the difference between a well-built unit and one that might not be durable in the long run? The short answer to this question would be the quality of construction. Models that have many parts made of metal or even the entire framework constructed just of metal are significantly more reliable and durable compared to their plastic counterparts. Plastic isn’t a good choice if you’re focused on extreme portability and plan to take the unit with you everywhere you go. Believe it or not, the heavier the microscope, the more superior the quality of its components.
Another factor you’ll have to look at is whether the product features optical parts made of glass or plastic. Once again, plastic is a no-go because it can deteriorate over time and can even modify its shape and eventually affect the clarity of the picture.
Ease of use
Another detail to take into account is your experience. Are you a first-time user or did you have your try at employing a microscope in the past? Although it might not look like a very important factor, ease of use is critical when it comes to creating a favorable user experience. Since there is practically no other way of knowing just how convenient one model can be compared to the next, it may be a good idea to check some consumer reviews. This way, you’ll find out what other people had to say about the performance of the product as well as whether it is intended for children and students or teachers and professional users.
Illumination, camera, and other features
There are very few optical microscopes out there that need a source of external light in order to do what they’ve been designed to do. As such, we couldn’t help noticing that most models these days come with light sources, whether they are halogen, LED, tungsten or fluorescent bulbs. Some are more efficient than others, but the fact of the matter is that LED is cheap and does its job wonderfully and even lasts for an impressive amount of time before you will need to change any bulb.
Optical microscopes aren’t typically designed to come with a camera and sometimes they might even lack a USB connectivity feature. However, we’ve seen that there are some models that lack eyepieces but come with a digital camera imager. If the product is a monocular microscope that does not come with a replaceable eyepiece, you won’t ever be able to use the unit without the assistance of a laptop or computer. If saving the images is what you’re after, there’s nothing stopping you from getting an optical microscope with camera as it comes with almost all other features provided by regular models. On the same note, you’ll have to check the optical microscope resolution to see if the camera is good enough and allows you to capture images with a decent quality. Who knows when you may want to publish a paper in a scientific journal?
Top optical microscope reviews in 2018
The best optical microscopes are showcased below. We’ve gone through many user reviews to try to estimate the quality of build of these models and ultimately, we have created a short selection of the most critically acclaimed products in the line. Check it out below.
Since the magnification capabilities of this model range from 40X to 1000X and can be customized in accordance with five different settings, it goes without saying that you won’t have any trouble looking at bacterial and tissue samples of any nature. Besides, it’s worth noting that AmScope is one of the best optical microscope manufacturers in spite of the fact that it is rather new compared to Leica and other European corporate giants.
The M100C-LED is a monocular alternative that seems to be worth its weight in gold given that, although it has a framework made of metal, it’s lightweight and compact enough to carry from one place to the next. If you’re a forensic specialist, and you’d like to have a look at samples where your job takes you, perhaps the AmScope M100C-LED is just the unit you need.
After all, the value of this option is even greater if we were to look at the ways the illumination can be powered because one can either use AC with the help of the provided adapter or rely on just three batteries.
This AmScope model ensures portability. It has plug transformer for the indoor but also features built-in AA batteries so that it can be used during field trips.
The optical elements are all glass for great image quality. The achromatic objectives coupled with the widefield eyepieces offer five levels of magnification and crystal-clear images.
It has a sturdy full metal body as well as mechanical components. The metal components in a microscope give it endurance, precision, and stability. It can last for years and rids you of a shaky, blurry focus caused by faulty plastic.
The unit integrates efficient lighting. With built in LED illumination and a single lens condenser the microscope fulfills the essential conditions for examining the slides.
It holds the slides firmly in place for precise inspection by using the clips attached to the plain stage.
Unfortunately, the LED light doesn’t have a dimmer. This could cause problems for those with sensitive eyesight.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($69)
The AmScope M150C/M150C-I is yet another monocular unit that does the trick under most circumstances. It’s technically considered a student microscope, but its performance goes well beyond educational purposes as it features a versatile magnification that can be adjusted from 40X to 1000X depending on what you’re examining.
Besides, the model has a LED illumination system that might be found in many other products in the line these days. However, the value offered by the AmScope M150C/M150C-I seems to superior when compared to some of its competitors considering that the model costs under ninety dollars and comes with a plethora of useful characteristics.
The product can be used either as an outlet microscope or using three AA batteries which can be rechargeable or not, depending on the one you own. As is the case with the formerly described option, this one features optics made of glass and a framework constructed primarily out of metal.
On the one hand, the glass detail makes the difference with regard to the quality of the images you’ll be glancing on. On the other hand, the metal framework considerably adds to the overall item durability. Since it has garnered over one hundred favorable Amazon reviews, the AmScope M150C/M150C-I is most likely worth checking out.
The quality of the glass optics is excellent, much above what people usually expect from a low budget microscope. The scope provides five levels of magnification. It also features single lens condenser with disc diaphragm.
The stable stage has side clips for the slides and has been treated with a stain resistant finish. If you spill the slides or Petri dishes you can clean it up easily.
It comes with a built-in adjustable illumination system. Dimmable LED lights are essential in modern microscopes and you need them to get a clear, detailed image of your specimens.
The scope has a full metal frame with stain resistant enamel finish and metal mechanical components. For a stout, long-lasting and precise instrument, take this trait into consideration.
It shows versatility, giving you a choice when you need to power it up. You can use the outlet, standard batteries or rechargeable batteries.
Customers would have preferred a movable stage on this model.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($84.98)
Optical microscopes come in various shapes and sizes, but some are intended for experienced users whereas others are designed for students and children. This product seems to be destined for younger users, but since its capabilities are more than satisfactory, it can even be compared to professional alternatives.
Just like other units in the same line, the M162C can magnify specimens from 40X to 1000X. There is a difference between the illumination system of this model and various others we’ve checked out the specs of during our research. The AmScope M162C features two LED light sources: one at the bottom and the other at the top of the microscope.
Of course, the M162C does have a series of limitations which are mostly related to the fact that it does not come with a camera and so the images cannot be captured and transferred to a computer or laptop.
Even so, the product comes with a bundle consisting of many introductory materials, extras, consumables, and slide-preparation tools. Otherwise said, you won’t have to purchase these separately as you would if you were to buy another monocular compound microscope. Buyers report that they enjoy the dual light system of this product.
You’ll have great value for the price. The sturdy metal frame, fine and coarse focus and 10 pieces slide kit are above the expectations you’d normally have for the price range.
The monocular is equipped with good quality glass optics. It relies on two eyepieces of 10x and 25x magnification and provides image zoom that goes from 40x to 1000x.
For using the top and bottom LED lighting you can power the instrument with AA batteries or the AC adapter, both included in the pack.
Brightness adjustability and double source are features that make the microscope well adapted for more than one type of investigation. Using top and bottom light facilitates the study of translucent bodies and opaque items.
It offers the versatility you need. Owners can extend their use from homeschooling to school labs, various tests or having fun while discovering nature.
The lack of a mechanical stage makes it more difficult to work with.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($69.98)
National Optical 131-CLED
There are several noticeable differences between the models we’ve showcased earlier on and the National Optical 131-CLED unit.
For one, this monocular microscope can be used by people who aren’t interested in looking at bacterial smears. Its magnification capabilities are somewhat limited compared to the ones of the previously described options, but the product does the trick if what you want is take advantage of a high-quality magnification ranging from 40X to 400X. The National Optical 131-CLED is a reliable alternative if you’re focused on purchasing a durable microscope that withstands the test of time.
As is the case with many other units that take the cake when it comes to durability, the 131-CLED features a metal frame that makes it possible for users to avoid extra expenses which would have been triggered by all sorts of mishaps caused by a less well-built microscope.
Unfortunately, since this is a rather typical optical microscope, it does not feature a camera and therefore, it does not give buyers the convenience of being able to capture the images that they might need to store in a computer or laptop. As such, this unit might be less recommended for individuals who plan to use the pictures in scientific papers and other types of publications.
It has a monocular viewing head and a 360 degrees rotation capability. It’s a smart feature that allows the user to turn the view for better understanding and share it with the people around.
The optics are outstanding, with objectives that characterize as DIN achromatic, parfocal and parcentered. In other words, they are standardized, offer a color correction to enhanced images, keep the image centered and focused while adjusting and changing magnification.
The instrument provides quality lighting for the examinations. The brightfield, LED illumination, provides cool light that can be managed through the disc diaphragm. It is the common way of working with translucent and transparent specimens.
It’s a good tool for speed focus. The separate knobs for coarse and fine focus and the clips securing the slide will increase your efficiency.
If you’re on a restricted budget, you could consider the prospect of buying it halfheartedly.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($376.99)
In some respects, the AmScope M150C-E-A resembles the M150C we’ve talked previously. However, there are several reasons for which you should consider this option. In spite of the fact that it is a tad less affordable compared to its basic counterpart, the M150C-E-A proves its worth thanks to the fact that it comes with a digital camera USB imager.
What this means is that, although the product is designed as a monocular compound microscope, it can be used either with or without its camera capabilities. In other words, if you are not focused on the idea of storing the images on your laptop, you can safely analyze them beforehand and then decide whether they are worthy enough to be saved.
This model can be powered by AC or batteries, depending on where your adventures might take you. What’s more, the maximum magnification provided by this unit is 1000X, which may prove to be useful at some point or the other, according to the specimens you may want to examine.
The software that can be utilized for viewing or capturing the images or video files comes along with the base unit, and it is mostly compatible with various Windows operating systems.
Basically designed for students, it has the necessary magnifications to see macro structures as well as tiny details thanks to the magnification that ranges from 40x to 1000x.
The microscope is well built, featuring full optical glass elements and all metal framework. Listing the construction materials is often the simplest way to determine if the scope is worth the money.
Besides the traditional method, the designers implemented a digital solution. Instead of using the monocular head for direct examination, you can replace the eyepiece with a USB digital camera.
With the help of the user-friendly software, you can capture still images and videos of your slides.
To provide users with a portable instrument, the design carries the option of powering from the wall plug or by using standard or rechargeable batteries.
It’s a bit difficult to take pictures with it as it has a short cord.
It is only compatible with a Windows software.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($179.99)