What to get for a microscope?

Scott Coutts scott.coutts at med.monash.edu.au
Sun Jun 8 20:45:21 EST 2003

Hi Harry,

Harry wrote:
> Scott,
> Thank you for all the suggestions and input. I am willing to spend up to
> $1000 ( less is better )
> There is one in the following link for $640
> http://www.medicalresourceusa.com/?page=shop/micro_browse&category_id=ebbd78b97e7c9351a5df01451ef03b81
> Is it a good quality one by your definition?

I havent heard of that brand, but it's certainly not sold as a 'toy'. 
But even in professional microscopes, there's a lot of variation in 
quality (we even have some brand new Carl Zeiss microscopes which are 
really really bad!). Anyhow, i think that scope will probably be OK for 
you and your kids at this stage. The main problem with cheaper scopes 
(in my opinion) is overall and edge-to-edge sharpness. Often, you'll 
have a scope that, when you look at a field, will be sharp in a smallish 
spot in the centre, and the rest will get more and more out of focus 
towards the edge of the field. Often as you scroll across a your 
specimin it looks as though the image is moving along a concave surface 
- it can make you feel sea sick!

Also, you might consider a disecting microscope. If you're not familiar 
with them, then dont worry about the name - it's not as bad as it sounds 
(: They're just scopes that have lower overall magnification and a 
bigger space for you to put samples. Essentially, they're for looking at 
'big' things. So you can put whole plants, rocks, pieces of wood or 
whatever you want to look at under the lens without disturbing it. They 
will usually have magnifications from 10x to 40x. Afterall, you probably 
wont have that much cause to use, say, 1000x magnification - it's too 
much to see a lot of things. There's two at the bottom of the page that 
you linked to above (the last and second last on the page).

> The one with USB port is in a local "toy" store...
> I can not imagine how much a REAL one with USB port will cost me!  I am
> located in Northern Virginia close to DC area. I am hesitated to get an used
> one because of not knowing what kind of research it was used previously...

I'd rather a second-hand one rather than the USB one - I dont know what 
the USB one is like, but it is almost certainly going to be worse than 
the microscope you provided the link for. Why are you worried about what 
it was used for previously? Do you mean that you're worried that it 
could be contaminated with something? I'd rather good-quality second 
hand scope that a cheaper brand-new one, unless you can try them out to 
make sure they're good.

The only benefit of the USB is that you can keep pictures of what you 
see. But if you're really keen, you can buy an inexpensive adaptor to 
put your camera on a normal binocular microscope to take pics (:


More information about the Microbio mailing list

Send comments to us at biosci-help [At] net.bio.net