|There are two basic types of microscopes: compound and stereo. Click on any of the following links to find out more! This page is printer-friendly.|
How to Select a Compound Microscope
| Finding just the right compound microscope really depends on your needs and preferences:
- Is standard 400x magnification okay, or do you need 1000x magnification to see greater cell detail? 400x is ideal for high school biology; 1000x is best for college microbiology.
- Do you want a mechanical stage for precise slide control? It's not necessary, but it makes viewing slides easier. 1000x microscopes should have a mechanical stage built in; you can add it to most other microscopes.
Whether you buy a microscope from us or from another company, keep these features in mind. They will help you decide on the best-quality microscope to meet your needs. (For a complete explanation of terminology, read this glossary of microscope terms.)
All of the microscopes that Home Science Tools sells have quality glass optics. (Plastic optics, like those in most toy microscopes, produce blurry images.) They also have sturdy metal frames and most have both coarse and fine focusing. These are standard features; we don't recommend settling for anything less!
400x Microscopes:Our Home microscope is the best choice for most families and schools; it gives you exceptional quality at a low price. Customers consistently rate it with five stars (you can read their reviews on the product page). This full-size compound microscope is easy to use and provides large, clear images that will meet your needs for high school biology. It has standard magnification levels of 40x, 100x, and 400x and lenses that are achromatic, parcentered, and parfocaled, meaning they prevent image color distortion and keep a slide in focus even when you change magnification levels. The Home microscope is pre-drilled for a mechanical stage if you decide to add one. (This provides more precise slide control.) The Home LED microscope has all the same features as the Home microscope along with a long-life LED bulb.
For a printable guide to the Home Microscope's features, click here.
If you're looking for something more specialized but still at a low price, the Home Advanced microscope has an adjustable 1.25 Abbe condenser and iris diaphragm to provide better image contrast.
Kids' Microscopes:It's important to get as good-quality optics as you can afford even for a beginner, so they don't get frustrated by bad views through their microscope! You can get glass optics and precision mechanics with at least intermediate for a comparable price to a cheaply-made toy microscope. Our Kids microscope and cordless Kids LED cordless microscope are lower-cost options for the elementary grades. They do have smaller optics and intermediate focus mechanisms which produce an image that is not quite as sharp as our better microscopes, but they're a very child-friendly option that will provide years of use. The LED lighting is brighter and cooler than tungsten or fluorescent, and the bulb should last 100,000 hours—a lifetime of normal use! We recommend these for ages 5-13, as the optics do not provide the clear detail necessary for some high school biology work.
Watch our Kids Microscope video to learn more about this great tool!
Or, for a printable guide to the Kids Microscope's features, click here.
1000x Microscopes:You'll be able to see greater specimen detail with a 1000x microscope, but in most cases you won't need it unless you're doing a microbiology course or using it in a laboratory.
Our Advanced microscope provides a 100x oil immersion lens and features like an adjustable iris diaphragm for excellent contrast control and an integral mechanical stage for precise slide scanning. You can order it with a binocular head for extra-comfortable viewing or with a dual head for simultaneous teacher/student use and for video/digital photography. Although this level of quality and features is not necessary for high school, these microscopes are great for those who have a strong interest in microbiology or for kids who want to pursue a career in medicine. They are college and laboratory quality. The Ultimate models have a lifetime warranty.
If you want the features of these ultimate microscopes at a more affordable price, we offer the Home 1000x microscope. The optics are very good, but do not quite measure up to the superb resolution and clarity of the Ultimate.
How to Select a Stereo Microscope or Dissecting Microscope
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|Stereo and dissecting microscopes are excellent tools for exploring natural wonders. Stereo microscopes are designed for viewing whole objects such as minerals, insects, stamps, and coins, although they can also be used to view slides. They have lower magnification power than compound microscopes, usually 20x or 30x. The two eyepieces of a stereo microscope provide greater depth perception than a compound microscope does, giving you a three-dimensional view.
The Dual Power microscopes also make great dissecting scopes. Available with lower 10/30x or higher 20/40xpower. Just turn the objective turret to change magnification. It has both top and bottom lighting and more room for specimens - the working distance is 65 mm with a 55 mm maximum specimen size on-stage. Its binocular head makes viewing extra-comfortable. Lifetime warranty.
If you're looking for a zoom stereo microscope, the 10x-40x Stereo Zoom microscope from National Optical is the best we've found. It provides magnification from 10 to 40x (and every point in between) just by rotating the objective turret. This model has both top and bottom lighting and a 80 mm working distance with 110 mm maximum specimen height. Its binocular head makes viewing extra-comfortable. Use for grade 7 and up. Lifetime warranty. We also carry a Digital Stereo Zoom microscope.
How to Select a Microscope for HomeschoolWe offer microscopes that are ideal for families and homeschools! We've added our own line of family and homeschool-friendly compound microscopes designed specifically to meet your needs in both quality and budget. The Home microscope has 40x, 100x, and 400x magnification and fine and coarse focusing. Its optics provide large, clear images. It uses extra-bright, cool fluorescent lighting for extended use or viewing of live specimens, and is pre-drilled for a mechanical stage to provide more precise control of slide movement. The quality optics and magnification on this and the others in the Home series will meet your needs through high school!
The Home 1000x microscope allows you to get a close-up view of cells without having to buy an expensive lab microscope. It has a oil-immersion 100x objective lens for 1000x magnification and a built-in mechanical stage for precise slide control. This is a good choice if you plan on studying microbiology.
The National Optical 131 microscope is also a good choice for families and homeschools. This full-size compound microscope is very comparable to the Home model, but has slightly better physical finish. It's easy to use and will meet your needs through high school. It has magnification levels of 40x, 100x, and 400x and standard tungsten lighting rather than brighter fluorescent lighting like the Home models. It's also pre-drilled for a mechanical stage if you decide to add one.
How to Select a Digital Microscope or Digital Camera
A digital microscope is a great tool for both group and individual microscopy. You can use it to save, edit, and share still and video images of specimens, making this a great microscope for a homeschool co-op or other classroom! Display the magnified images on your computer, project them onto a screen, and send them by e-mail. Imaging software lets you zoom, count cells, create reports, and more.
If you already have a regular microscope, we also offer digital cameras that have most of these special features.
Microscope SlidesFind an affordable set of prepared slides to use with your microscope, whether you're interested in anatomy, zoology, botany, or just want a starter set.
Check out our tips for making slides and doing other activities with your microscope.