How to Choose a Microscope

How to Choose a Microscope

Microscopes come in many shapes and sizes, and it’s hard to choose which one would be best for your needs. At C & A, we are product experts and are here to help you choose the right microscope!  

What Is the Difference Between a Stereo and Compound Microscope? 

There are a few different types of microscopes available on the market. First, let’s talk about the stereo microscope. A stereo microscope has lower magnification, ranging from 5x to 30x. There is typically a large gap between the stage and lenses that allow you to view unusual items that don’t usually fit on a microscope slide. These are best used for looking at coins, plant parts, sugar and salt, electronics, insects, rocks and other similarly sized objects. This microscope is best for beginners, engineers, jewelers or hobbyists. 

Another microscope available on the market is the compound microscopeThe magnification on these microscopes is higher than that of a stereo microscope, reaching a magnification of up to 1000x. These microscopes are used to look at even smaller specimens that are placed on a microscope slide: like bacteria, plants, animal cell parts and other microscopic samples. This is also an excellent microscope for beginner and intermediate-level users. You can typically find this type of microscope in histology, medical or food & beverage testing laboratories.  

The difference between the compound microscope and stereo microscope is using multiple objective lenses to obtain higher magnification and a condenser that focuses the light directly on the sample.  

Does Magnification Matter? 

Magnification on a microscope is essential, depending on what you plan to look at under your scope. However, once you reach 1000X or more magnification, it can become tricky to use. This is because any magnification over 1000X requires oil between the objective and the lens to get a clear image.  

What Can I Look at Under My Microscope? 

There are so many different things you can look at under your microscope! The options are endless, from prepared slides that offer hard-to-find specimens to bacteria and human tissue. Using plain glass slides and cover glass allows you to collect your samples and view them under the scope.  

Do I Need a Scope with A Mechanical Stage? 

Mechanical stages are not necessary for all microscope users. The mechanical stages help move the view of the specimen; for example, if you move the lens to view specific parts of a specimen, then a mechanical stage is needed. For most, however, microscope viewing is done using less magnification, and there is no need to move the stage to see the entire sample. 

What Are the Most Important Specifications for a Microscope? 

Microscopes come with a wide range of specifications, and depending on your needs, will help you choose the best microscope. Some specifications would be the difference between a monocular or binocular microscope. A monocular microscope has a singular eyepiece and is excellent for teaching environments because you can attach a digital camera. However, if you plan to use your microscope in a lab setting, a binocular microscope (with two eyepieces) would be a more comfortable option. The most complex type is a trinocular microscope. A trinocular microscope has, you guessed it, three eyepieces. The third eyepiece is typically used for a digital microscope camera. Trinocular microscopes are best used in teaching environments because instructors can display what they see on a screen.  

Finally, optics come in two options, glass and plastic. Glass optics are recommended to ensure a clear view compared to plastic optics, which lead to cloudier images regardless of the sample.  

What Accessories Do I need for My Microscope?  

There are additional items that can be added when purchasing a microscope.  

  • Lens paper is used for cleaning the eyepieces and objectives of a microscope. Using lens paper is the best option because it reduces the chances of scratching the glass.  
  • Digital microscope cameras are a perfect addition to any microscope. First, you can take pictures of specific elements on a slide. Second, it allows you to draw on a sample digitally. 
  • Immersion oil helps improve the resolution of sample images.  
  • Microscope covers are a great addition to a microscope because it keeps the device clean and dust-free between uses. 

C & A Scientific is a dedicated leader in improving the health and minds of people worldwide. We supply over 700 award-winning medical and STEM-inspired products to distributors and retailers looking for sensational customer service. Learn more about us and our story here.   

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