Recommend me a good microscope?

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In summary, a good and reliable microscope for a Molecular Biology major might be the Digital Blue QX5. It is quite good and fun to use, has a good z-focus system, and is not too expensive.
  • #1
Nexus555
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I was wondering if someone would recommend me a good microscope? I am majoring in Molecular Biology, and would like a decent optical microscope for viewing cells and bacteria.

What is a good and reliable model that is not too expensive? I see a lot of microscopes on ebay for around $250-$350, but I am not sure of the quality and ease of finding replacement parts like bulbs and lenses.

A few things that I wouldn't mind is a high maginification, ability to view on computer/tv monitor (this may be a separate camera, but many of those ebay scopes are included) and so forth.

So if anyone could direct me to a reasonably priced microscope with the above mentioned in mind, I would appreciate it!
 
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  • #2
I have extensive experience with microscopes, including running a Core facility.

The only question you need to think about is "what do you want to do with the microscope"? Goof around? Do you need to acquire images? Do you want to do advanced techniques like phase contrast or fluorescence? These techniques require specialized equipment.

Personally, for a hobby microscope, you can do a lot worse than the Digital Blue QX5 (I think that's the lastest model). It's quite good and fun to use.

Moving up, I would look for a microscope with the following features:

1) A condenser. Essential.
2) Use of DIN standard lenses. You are not likely to find infinity-corrected systems for the price you are talking about. You can buy 160mm Zeiss lenses CHEAP on ebay, and these will outperform any of the lenses that come with a $300 scope.
3) Good z-focus system. Unfortunately, its hard to know what you are getting by looks alone.

Generally, the microscopes on ebay are crap. There are on-line companies that deal with used microscopes, you may have better luck finding something.

Other than that, talk to people on sci.techniques.microscopy, and the many, many hobbyist websites out there. You will not be lead astray- no one who uses a microscope would intentionally recommend something to give you a headache.
 
  • #3
Well it pretty much is for hobby purposes, but a good hobby microscope that I may be able to do some research or observations with.

I would like to be able to get a good glimpse of blood cells, pond water organisms, mold, algae, and yeasts.

One thing I was wanting it for is to view yeasts during fermentation. I brew beer (and cider, mead, etc.,) as another hobby usually during the summer when I'm not in school. I would like to take samples out of my brew during fermentation to look at the yeasts and also to maybe check and see if the batch is infected with bacteria, without the need of a taste test. Maybe from there I could even go further from observations to perhaps thinking stuff up and brewing in more of an arts and scientific means. (and perhaps poke around with different yeasts and try to specialize yeasts for certain temperatures or conditions; this is further down the road but definitely a possibily.)

Like I said, I am majoring in Molecular Biology. For right now, it will be a hobby scope. But I also would like a decent one as well. I hope this helps.
 
  • #4
To be able to visualize individual bacteria, you need a higher-end scope than $300 will get. However, you don't need a lot of fancy stuff- phase contrast will work well for you.

One possibility to think about, ask around the Department or the School- see if someone has mothballed a 70's era research scope.

Another possibility, around here anyways, is that every year upper-level med students sell their scopes to incoming students for Histology class or whatever- you may be able to try one out before buying it.
 
  • #5
Andy Resnick said:
To be able to visualize individual bacteria, you need a higher-end scope than $300 will get. However, you don't need a lot of fancy stuff- phase contrast will work well for you.
Andy is giving solid advice here. The scopes on eBay are mostly crap. If you were picking up something for a kid to dabble around with, they might be okay, but if you want to use it for anything else, those are not going to be very useful.

One possibility to think about, ask around the Department or the School- see if someone has mothballed a 70's era research scope.
An excellent suggestion. Every university I've ever attended/worked at has had a surplus distribution department of some sort that will sell off used equipment fairly cheaply (and furniture and ancient computers too). Microscopes might be hard to find, because if they work well enough, they often float from one start-up lab to another while folks are working on getting set up with newer equipment, but you might find something that needs little more than a new lamp and a thorough cleaning. You won't find microscopes with cameras that hook up to computers for what you're willing to pay, though, unless you get really lucky and someone has just upgraded an older teaching scope.

Another possibility, around here anyways, is that every year upper-level med students sell their scopes to incoming students for Histology class or whatever- you may be able to try one out before buying it.
That won't work everywhere...not all med student have to buy their scopes outright. On the other hand, the last bit of advice is pretty important. I wouldn't buy any scope sight-unseen. The only way to be sure you're getting something that will serve your purpose is to bring a slide with whatever specimen you're interested in using it to study and see if it works for you.
 

Related to Recommend me a good microscope?

1. What is the best microscope for beginners?

The best microscope for beginners will depend on what you plan to use it for. If you are interested in viewing biological samples, a compound light microscope would be a good choice. If you want to view larger specimens, a stereo microscope would be more suitable. It's important to consider your specific needs and do some research to find the best option for you.

2. How much should I spend on a good microscope?

The price of a good microscope can vary greatly depending on the type and features you are looking for. A basic compound light microscope for educational purposes can range from $100 to $500. If you need more advanced features or plan to use the microscope for research, you may need to spend up to $1000 or more.

3. What magnification power do I need for a good microscope?

The magnification power you need will depend on what you plan to view with the microscope. For general use, a magnification of 400x-600x should be sufficient. If you want to view smaller specimens, you may need a higher magnification of 1000x or more. It's also important to consider the quality of the optics and not just the magnification power.

4. Should I get a digital microscope or a traditional one?

This will depend on your personal preference and what you plan to use the microscope for. A digital microscope may be more convenient for capturing and storing images, while a traditional one may provide a better viewing experience. If you plan to use the microscope for research, a traditional one may be the better choice as it typically has higher magnification power and better optics.

5. What features should I look for in a good microscope?

The features you should look for will depend on your specific needs. Some important features to consider include the type of microscope (compound, stereo, etc.), magnification power, resolution, illumination, and the quality of the optics. You may also want to consider additional features such as a digital camera attachment or the ability to connect to a computer for image analysis.

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