Simplifying the Microscope Buying Process

Purchasing a microscope may seem complicated, but understanding a few key concepts can simplify the process. Microscopes can be grouped under two major categories: stereo and compound microscopes. The differences are based on optical design and application, and the main features of each are shown below.

Compound Microscopes

  • Optical system comprised of objective (primary) and eyepiece (secondary) magnifications
  • Single light path produces two-dimensional image
  • High magnification (40x to 1,000x)
  • Short working distance
  • Upright configuration for viewing prepared slides; inverted design for viewing culture vessels
  • Also called optical or light microscopes

Stereo Microscopes

  • Available in fixed magnification and zoom versions
  • Independent right and left light paths
  • Three-dimensional image (stereoscopic)
  • Low magnification (2x to 300x)
  • Longer working distance
  • Designed for viewing larger “macro” objects (insects, plants, etc.)
  • Also called dissecting microscopes

Digital Microscope Capabilities

When you determine the right microscope category for your application, consider whether a digital camera or digital microscope system is right for you. Features of these increasingly popular integrated systems include:

  • Built-in camera for image capture
  • Touchscreen or integrated screen
  • Multiple users can view samples simultaneously
  • Send output to external monitors for training and teaching
  • Connections via Wi-Fi and Bluetooth
  • Cloud-based image storage and sharing options

Other Key Considerations

Consider these details and options when making your purchasing decision.

  • Illumination source: LED, halogen and others
  • Contrast technique: brightfield, phase contrast, darkfield, polarization or fluorescence
  • Lens/Objectives: achromat, plan achromat or plan fluor optics
  • Customization
  • Ergonomics
  • Price
Contact your Fisher Scientific Sales Representative if you need help navigating the microscope buying process.