What Microscope to Buy in 2021
So there are just a boatload of different microscopes out there and I'm going to help you figure out what is the right kind of microscope for you to buy for your specific situation.
Whether you're an educator, maybe you're a hobbyist, maybe you're a parent getting this for your kids, maybe even you're a professional. We'll figure out what is the right kind of microscope for you.
Digital or Traditional Microscope?
There are two real big categories of microscopes here so there are the digital microscopes and then there are the more traditional microscopes. The traditional microscopes are the kind where you have to take a slice-- a really thin slice-- of whatever your sample is. Let's say you want to look at your lizard, your living pet lizard under a microscope, maybe it could look cool. You'd end up having to slice off a little piece of its skin, put it on a microscope slide, put a cover slip on it, throw it in there and then, you know, do the buttons and dials just right. Then you look through the peepers and see your actual sample.
Traditional microscopes are kind of inconvenient to be honest. There are better options for versatile use these days and that would be these digital microscope. The differentiating factor here is that the digital microscopes have a camera built into them and they go and project it onto a screen of some sort. That screen could be your computer and so it's transmitting it over usb, or it could be a screen that's actually built into the microscopes themselves. Some of these even have an HDMI output so you can get full HD onto a big screen tv. So maybe you want to look at stuff with the rest of your family, have some fun family times, this one would do great for you.
Mobile Device Microscopes
There are also these mobile microscopes which attach on to the camera of your smartphone or tablet and they have a little lens in them and these actually work surprisingly well. These smartphone microscopes are going to be the cheapest option here coming in at under $20 USD these are great if you want to have a mobile experience. Maybe you just want to run around the house look at different kind of textures, you want to look at what your bed sheets look like, what kind of critters or dust mites you can find. Maybe you want to take it on a hike with you, you want to look at what cool leaves are out there, look at what the dirt looks like, what soils are like etc... These things are surprisingly good quality also in terms of the image that you get off of your your smartphone. There are a bajillion different models of these mobile microscopes, but I have scoured the internet to find the one that is the best and it is this one. This mobile microscope design is great because it's just not gimmicky. Some of these other ones either the zoom is really really high, but then they're kind of fragile and flimsy and it just doesn't work too well. This one is sort of all around the best microscope it does have a long-lasting built-in battery with an LED light in it. The battery ends up lasting for 72 hours straight. I did test that so if you end up using this for 72 hours you deserve an award. This is actually the microscope that we include in our Micro Safari Ecosystem Kit.
To be clear here, I'm not suggesting this microscope because we sell it. In fact, we sell it because this is the best microscope out of this category. So coming in under $20, it's a great value if you're just getting started or you want to get it for your kids it works great. I've had customers that have kids that have used this and they basically just pull it out of the package and figure out how to use it without any instructions. Kids are really savvy these days. Digital microscopes that have stands on them they work a lot better because when you're trying to focus on something microscopic, any little shake in the camera will be amplified on your final image.
That is a big downside with these smartphone microscopes, is that any minor handshake that you have will show up in the final thing. There are ones with stands that are pretty inexpensive that I found out there for $20 bucks or so and I can't really recommend these. They're very flimsy, the stands do not hold these very still. You can even maybe see the wiggle on the camera there so if you're trying to focus on a sample, it just doesn't end up working out very well. Honestly, the mobile microscopes at that price point are going to be way better for you.
What I can recommend is this pluggable USB microscope coming at $40. This thing is a pretty nice scope. It's really nice and solid and it does have of course USB so it goes and plugs into your computer and uh you know you are limited to a resolution of 1280 by 720 I believe just because of USB 2.0 can only get a certain amount of bandwidth out of it. But hey, it's a pretty good microscope for that and at the price point and a great value.
Moving up to these that have a screen on them, obviously the screen is pretty convenient. You don't need an auxiliary computer or whatever and here's the belle of the ball: This one right here, the Andonstar ADSM302, this microscope is just so nice. Such a breeze to use and it is just super versatile.
You can tell the build quality on it is super robust. It has two lights on it that you can actually maneuver around and have solidly stay in place. You'd be surprised at how helpful it is to have two lights that you can put in exactly the position you want. This also has an HDMI output so if you want to put this on a big screen TV, maybe it's family fun night, you wanted to have your whole family look at what your lizard skin looks like or something, maybe you found some cool bugs you want to look at, this thing works quite well and this is in fact the microscope that I end up using more than any of these other ones. This is my personal pick. It does come out to be $250, definitely hefty, but if you're willing to invest in something super solid I would go with this.
Additionally, there are also these other microscopes I have not shared yet. These are wireless, WIFI connected microscopes, so you'd connect this up to a computer or something over WIFI. I just can't recommend these. They end up being super finicky and even when you do get them to work well, they just don't really work how you'd want them to work, so invest that money in a nicer USB microscope. Basically, just having a physical cable is always going to give you a more reliable experience because the WIFI just kind of stutters.
Moving on to the traditional microscope, I have been pleasantly surprised with my Amscope microscope. You know, it's a very solid brand. They're very reliable, very trustworthy, and they have tons and tons of options. One of their basic, highly-rated microscopes will work well for you if you really want a traditional microscope. If you are set on looking at lake water, maybe you want to see water bears, or something like that, tardigrades, I know they're very, very popular right now. If you want to look at tardigrades you do need one of these traditional ones, because, when you're talking about samples that are that small, everything pretty much becomes mostly transparent, so trying to look at bacteria, you basically have to have this lighting set up with a traditional microscope where it shines light up through the sample and it illuminates it in just the right way so that it makes it as not transparent as possible. It's kind of like trying to look at a glass window, so you can sort of tell there's a window there, but you can't really see it too well. You can only kind of see the reflections of it and what not. I honestly end up not really using my traditional microscopes all that much though as it turns out. The majority of samples that are out there, that are cool to look at, you can look at very easily and much more conveniently with these other digital microscopes.
Next up, we have a beefy boy, that I'm not going to recommend to anyone because this is really like a professional grade microscope you'd find at like a hospital or something. If you're looking for one of those, you're probably also not watching this video, but this is the microscope I actually used to record all of our "Welcome to the Micro Safari" videos that you can check out on our YouTube channel.
I hope you found this helpful. Let us know what other topics you'd like us to help you with.