Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

I want to buy a microscrope Need help picking one!

  1. Nov 20, 2012 #1
    Hey everyone,

    I do not know much about Microscopes, but am looking at buying one.

    I am a Neuroscience (and physics but thats not important) major, and starting to do all kinds of research.

    For my own personal research, and also research done at school with insects, DNA, cells, and whatever, I want to get a really good microscope that will serve me well as I further my education in neuroscience and microbiology.

    So, here are some I am looking at. I was hoping major you can tell me the limitations of some of the ones I list below here. Maybe tell me important things to look for. I don't want a crappy one.

    This one is cheap and has LCD, but I have a feeling it wont cut it for serious stuff?

    There is this one, that seems more advanced:

    This one seems pretty costly for my first microscope. What do you think?

    I think the best deal is this one...??


    Or...if all these are no good, maybe you can recommend a good one for a research student?
    Last edited: Nov 20, 2012
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 20, 2012 #2


    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    Have you asked your professor?
  4. Nov 21, 2012 #3
    The second one will be useless for anything on the cellular level. It's just a dissecting scope.
  5. Nov 21, 2012 #4

    Andy Resnick

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Education Advisor

    What is your experience using microscopes? If you have never used a microscope, I strongly recommend the Digital Blue QX3 or QX5 (depending on your budget), which appear similar to the Celestron LCD Digital Biological Microscope. I recommend these for beginners since they are cheap, easy to use, and when your skill exceeds the performance of these, you won't mind so much since you didn't spend a lot of money in the first place. The goal for the beginner is to have fun using the instrument and in the process, gain experience.

    If you can, try and get some experience on research-level scopes around your lab; you'll learn what is important (a good focus stage, good condenser lighting, etc) and what is not important (magnification). The ones you listed all suffer from the same deficiencies: inexpensive lenses and inexpensive sample stages. Of the two, the sample stage will limit your ability to operate at even moderate magnifications due to vibrations and inability to fine focus.

    Once you are ready to spend a moderate amount of money on a scope, in all honesty I recommend getting a used one (used lenses, also), since you will be able to get a higher-performing instrument within your budget.
  6. Nov 22, 2012 #5
    Thank you very much Andy, appreciate that!

    I have some experience with them. I use to have one a while back, a very nice basic one.

    My budget is max $500 (I know thats not a lot), maybe a little more, but $500 is where I want to be right now.

    With that budget, what should I be looking at?

    Here is a site I have ordered from before and like them. They have sale, so hopefully I get a good one with my small $500 budget.

    Any good ones you see? Or what would you recommend?



    Thanks again!
  7. Nov 23, 2012 #6

    Andy Resnick

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Education Advisor

    I don't endorse any particular brand, but given your budget, you should be able to get a microscope that you can use for several years before you outgrow it. I recommend a basic binocular compound microscope unless there is a particular reason you are interested in a stereomicroscope.

    Of the (new) instruments that I found in your price range, they all seem to be the same- manufactured in china/india, with whatever company (Amscope, Celestron, etc.) putting their label on the assembled instrument.

    First, I recommend trying one before buying, if possible. Otherwise, here are a few thoughts:

    I like LED illumination over halogen- less power, lasts longer, etc. Don't bother with a trinocular head- if you want to use a camera, you can go through the eyepieces. There seems to be two main body styles: keep in mind there are many suppliers for these, I am using these sites *only* for the images.

    http://www.amscope.com/Picture-B490-1 [Broken]
    http://www.amscope.com/Picture-B520-1 [Broken]

    Of the two, I think the bottom style is more stable, but in all honesty it could be a style issue, not a mechanical stability issue. There are also lots of ways to reduce vibration coupling from the room- a 1/4" thick sheet of soft rubber, a sandpit (seriously!), etc.

    The objective lenses should be (and probably are) DIN standard (160mm tube length), as opposed to infinity-corrected. This will give you more flexibility to upgrade your lenses when you are ready.

    Go for it!

    Edit: I forgot to mention, it's probably worth $10 to get some prepared slides. That way, you'll be able to start using the scope immediately.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 6, 2017
  8. Nov 24, 2012 #7
    Thank you very much for this great info. I think I have made my mind up. Also, I am going to pick up a eyepiece cam.

    Really good idea getting some slides so I can use it right away. Thanks again Andy.

    Last edited by a moderator: May 6, 2017
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook