[ Skip the details and just show me the best ones ]

Before buying a microscope there are a few basic features you should look at. This simple buyer guide explains how to choose your first microscope. We’ve also listed our Top 5 Microscopes for kids, students, enthusiasts and advanced users.


Skip the details and just show me the best ones


Should I Choose a Low Power or High Power Microscope?

This is perhaps the most important question when buying a microscope. Basically there are two types of microscopes: high power and low power. 

High power microscopes, also known as compound microscopes, have magnifications of up to 1000x. You would use a high power microscope for looking at very tiny things like bacteria, blood cells, life in pond water, cells and insect legs. 

High power microscopes are significantly more popular. They are also recommended for children, hobbyists and general use as one can see the truly “invisible” things with them. There are many more activities that one can do with a high power microscope and high power observations are arguably more exciting. High power microscopes are usually the types used in schools and universities. The most common magnification of these microscopes is 400x which is enough for use in nearly any application.

Low power microscopes, also called “Stereo” or “Dissecting” microscopes, are used to look at larger things like a bee, a fly, fabric weaves, coins, rocks, stamps, soil or electrical components. Low power microscopes normally magnify at 10x to 50x and have two eye-pieces. This allows a “stereo” or 3 dimensional image that will have depth. The Konus 20-32x Microscope for example is an excellent choice as a low-power microscope. It is dual-occular, sturdy, LED illuminated and offers a supreme optical quality for its very affordable price.

What is the Best Light Source?

Having a good light source is important as it will allow you to see specimens more clearly, notice more detail and enjoy a higher quality image.

Some entry level microscopes use a mirror for illumination. These will require you to use the microscope where there is enough light around (either indoors or outdoors). Most microscopes these days have a built-in light source. Common types are tungsten, fluorescent, halogen bulb and LED. Fluorescent bulb systems are more expensive than tungsten systems but they are also brighter and heat up less.

LED (Light Emitting Diode) is the latest technology and has many advantages. It consumes very little power yet provides a cool bright light like a Fluorescent. LED microscopes can also be used with batteries. This makes the LED microscope a cordless device that can be taken and used anywhere. A very convenient feature!

What is a Digital Microscope?

Digital microscopes may be compound or stereo microscopes that enable you to capture still images, as well as video images. These images can be displayed on your computer monitor, TV or any other external screen. Some digital microscopes come with a built-in LCD screen. These allow you to see your images instantly on the screen as well as share them with others. A microscope with an LCD screen is a great choice for the classroom or for sharing the educational experience with others.


What is the Best Microscope for a Child?

If you are shopping for a child, DO NOT purchase a plastic toy microscope. They will do nothing but frustrate you and/or your child. Unfortunately most children “microscopes” sold in retail shops today are no more than useless toys.

A good quality entry level microscope will sell for anywhere between $100 to $300. There are some excellent models on the market and you’ll be surprised how sharp and clear their images will actually be. These are microscopes both you and your child can easily use, learn and enjoy together.

As mentioned before, high power microscopes are usually more interesting for kids due to the greater number of activities they can do with them. Also note that young children struggle to focus down binocular eyepieces (stereo microscopes). This is because their eyes are not far enough apart yet to use both eyepieces. For young children, ages 6 to 12, we recommend getting either a high power mono microscope such as the Celestron 40-600x or a good quality digital microscope such as the Veho Discovery 400x Deluxe.


Our Best 5 All-Around Microscopes for 2016


Celestron 40-600x Biological Microscope Kit
– This is a great entry level high power microscope suitable for kids (ages 6-12) and young enthusiasts. Features 40x to 600x. It also comes with a number of specimens and accessories in the box to get you exploring right away. Good optical quality and build at a very affordable price. $179 inc. free delivery.


Veho Discovery Deluxe 200X USB Microscope
– A compact yet very powerful handheld digital microscope. Includes a 1.3MP camera that takes video and still images and shows them on your computer (Windows/Mac compatible). It has a 20x to 200x magnification so good to use for any application. A fun gadget for the whole family to enjoy! $199 inc. free delivery.


Konus 20/32x Stereoscopic Microscope
– Our recommended high quality stereo/dissecting microscope. Perfect for watching crystals, minerals, coins, plant life and microchips. Features a dual-ocular design that is easy and comfortable to use. Battery operated LED illumination. Clear, sharp optics at an affordable price. $265 inc. free delivery.


Celestron LCD Digital Microscope II with Camera
– Our best selling digital microscope. This is an advanced level digital microscope by Celestron with a built in LCD screen. 40x/100x/400x magnifications and up to 1600x with digital zoom. Bright LED illumination. 5 Mb camera. Provides razor sharp images and vivid colours. Easy to use and great for teaching or sharing the beautiful views with others. $625 inc. free delivery.


Carson MS-160 Professional Biological Microscope
– This high-end microscope by Carson has a binocular viewing capability and provides enhanced depth of field. It is a heavy duty high performance microscope yet easy to use. Multiple settings for 64x, 160x, 640x, and 1600x magnifications. Sturdy metal stage. Bright LED illumination. Our #1 pick for both hobbyists and professionals. Currently discounted and available at $695 inc. free delivery.


[ Show me all the other microscopes ]


By .

Posted on by
Posted in Blog by Adam Murray, Procular.

28 Responses to "How to Choose a Microscope (Australia / NZ)"

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  • Why Procular
  • Why Procular
  • Why Procular
  • “Why