Any microscopy enthusiast and professional researcher knows the value of a binocular microscope. It’s an important optical imaging tool that should be present in every science classroom, research laboratory, and industrial facility.
After all, binocular microscopes are convenient yet highly functional devices that let us see things that are too small to be seen by the naked eye, making them really important in various disciplines and industries, including biology, chemistry, and medicine.
There are also lots of different types of binocular microscopes out there, but the most common ones are compound microscopes and stereo microscopes. Take a look at this review and buying guide of the best binocular microscopes.
Here are the popular binocular microscopes, or more specifically, binocular compound and stereo microscopes, that I was able to find after hours of research and testing. Read on to find out about their different features, specifications, and functions.
These are mostly made by leading microscope brands, AmScope and Omax, and are guaranteed to be high performing, reliable, and durable. You’ll also find options for analog and digital microscopes on this list.
1. Omax lab LED binocular compound microscope
My first pick is the Omax lab LED binocular compound microscope, which is Amazon’s number one bestseller when it comes to binocular microscopes, and is also awarded as the best compound microscope in 2018.
It’s built with an all metal construction that is heavy duty and durable, and features a high magnification range of up to 2000x. It also has a binocular viewing head that can rotate a full 360 degrees, making it great for sharing or working with a partner.
Other amazing features include a quadruple revolving nosepiece, a scaled and double layered mechanical specimen stage, an Abbe condenser and iris diaphragm, coarse and fine focus knobs, and achromatic objective lenses.
2. AmScope B120C-E1 binocular compound microscope
The next best thing is the AmScope B120C-E1 siedentopf binocular compound microscope, which is a digital compound microscope that comes with its own 1.3MP camera and software that is compatible with most devices.
Its selling point, aside from the camera attachment, is a high magnification of up to 2500x, as well as a three dimensional specimen stage plate that offers a better range of motion when adjusting the specimen as you observe it through the eyepiece.
Plus, it makes use of widefield eyepieces in variable magnifications, features coaxial fine and coarse focus knobs, and enables you to measure, edit, and stitch specimen images using the microscope camera software.
3. Omax digital binocular compound microscope
Ranking third is the Omax digital binocular biological compound microscope, which is highly similar to the AmScope B120C-E1 in that it has a magnification range of 40x to 2000x, as well as a digital camera and software.
In terms of the microscope itself, the AmScope performs better, and I prefer the LED lights over the halogen bulb that this Omax microscope uses, but when it comes to the camera, the Omax does better, since it features a 3MP digital camera.
It also comes with color filters, a dual layered mechanical stage, coaxial focusing knobs, an Abbe condenser and iris diaphragm, and achromatic objective lenses. It’s a great option for home labs, classrooms, and research facilities.
4. AmScope B490B binocular compound microscope
Next up is the AmScope B490B binocular compound microscope, which features high resolution optics from its widefield eyepieces and anti-mold objective lenses. It’s made of an industrial grade metal frame that is strong, stable, and durable.
It also features eight magnification levels ranging from 40x to 2000x, giving you plenty of range in viewing minute details of any specimen. It also features a three dimensional specimen stage plate that can be adjusted quickly and easily.
Plus, it has a built in Abbe condenser and iris diaphragm, tension controlled coarse and fine focus knobs, a 360 degree swivel head, and various other components that make for a sturdy framework and precise optics.
5. Omax lab 2000x binocular compound microscope
Another excellent binocular compound microscope by Omax is the Omax lab 2000x, which is largely similar to the AmScope B120C-E1, except for the lower magnification capacity of 2000x, as compared to the AmScope’s 2500x maximum magnification.
Having said that, it’s still more than adequate magnification that enables you to view various specimens, such as microorganisms, plants, insects, bateria, pond water, fungi, protozoa, and pretty much anything else that can be viewed with a compound microscope.
It also makes use of achromatic objective lenses housed in its quadruple revolving nosepiece, and features a dual layer mechanical stage plate that is designed with measuring scales. This microscope’s main frame even boasts of stain and scratch resistant finishing.
6. AmScope SE306R-AZ-E2 binocular stereo microscope
If you are looking for a digital stereo microscope that features a reversible black and white specimen stage plate you can use to observe different specimens in high and low contrast, the AmScope SE306R-AZ-E2 is a great and affordable option.
It features a 2.0 megapixel digital camera that lets you capture and record images and videos of the specimen under the microscope in real time, and connects to a computer software via a USB output to view, edit, measure, save, and share the image or video.
Moreover, it also features both an upper and lower illumination system provided by bright halogen bulbs. The only downside is that it has a low magnification range with a maximum of only 80x, but that’s already considerably high for a stereo microscope.
7. Llutico siedentopf binocular compound microscope
Going back to compound microscopes, you might also want to try the Llutico siedentopf binocular compound microscope. It’s a digital compound microscope with a 3 megapixel camera and an impressive magnification of up to 2000x.
While it may not be as popular as an Omax or AmScope microscope, it surely doesn’t skimp on any of the important specs and features. It features a light yet durable aluminum body frame, an adjustable hand wheel for the specimen stage, and all the complete accessories you’ll need.
The high resolution camera is also guaranteed to let you take sharp, crisp, and clear images of whatever specimen you are observing under the microscope, and it’s also equipped with a reduction lens to give you a wider viewing field.
8. AmScope SM-4B binocular stereo microscope
Another option for a stereo microscope by AmScope is the AmScope SM-4-B binocular stereo microscope. It has a lower magnification of only up to 45x, as compared to the AmScope SE306R-AZ-E2’s maximum of 80x, but it has a special feature that makes it a great choice.
I’m talking about the double boom arm that this microscope is engineered with. This is rare for a binocular stereo microscope, and is quite expensive. But, it’s also extremely useful, especially since it gives you a much bigger and wider working range to work on large specimens.
This allows you to work on various microscopy projects, including engineering and electronics activities such as repairing circuit boards. Its binocular viewing head even features an adjustable interpupillary distance. Read also: Observing yeast under the microscope.
9. Omax digital LED binocular compound microscope
Here is another option for a digital binocular compound microscope. The Omax digital LED binocular compound microscope is a high magnification microscope that comes with a built in 1.3 megapixel camera, and is compatible even with Mac devices.
It makes use of professional grade and high quality optical glass lenses, and features a vertically inclined viewing head that rotates a full 360 degrees, so it’s easy and comfortable to use, and is great for sharing.
Its digital camera is able to capture and record high quality and high resolution images and videos of specimens, and connects to a computer software that is readily compatible to both Windows and Mac devices.
10. AmScope B490B-3M binocular compound microscope
Finally, we have the AmScope B490B-3M binocular compound microscope, another compound light microscope with an impressive magnification range, high resolution optics, bright field illumination, and a 3 megapixel camera.
In terms of specs, features, and functionality, it’s essentially the same as the AmScope B490B, except this is a digital version that comes with a digital camera and software. Comparing the two in terms of practicality, the B490B seems better, hence the higher ranking.
However, this is still a great choice, especially if what you want is a digital binocular compound microscope, since its camera is high resolution and comes with a reduction lens to give you a wider field of view.
Binocular Microscope Buyer’s Guide
As I’ve mentioned earlier, there are many different types of binocular microscopes, especially since the term binocular microscope doesn’t really refer to a specific type of microscope, rather, only the type of viewing head that the microscope is built with.
As such, there are many different things you need to take into account when choosing a binocular microscope. These include the type of microscope, its magnification capability, illumination source, and some other factors that must be considered.
Type of Binocular microscope
While almost any type of optical microscope can be binocular, oftentimes, people refer to compound microscopes and stereo microscopes when talking about a binocular microscope. You need to consider whether this is what you have in mind as well.
Compound microscopes have a higher magnification and can be used to image various specimens, but stereo microscopes have the capacity to accommodate larger specimens, and can be used for specimens that need to be manipulated, such as during dissection.
Furthermore, it’s also wise to consider whether you want a simple microscope, or a digital model that is fitted with a camera. A built in camera is best if you have a trinocular microscope, since a detachable one on a binocular microscope is too burdensome.
The next thing that you need to take into account, which is directly related to the type of binocular microscope, is its magnification power. Obviously, compound microscopes will have a significantly higher magnification than stereo microscopes, but there are still nuances.
The magnification level you need largely depends on what sorts of specimens you commonly work with. Take note that while higher magnifications will enable you to see smaller details, it doesn’t automatically assure that the clarity and resolution of the image will also be great.
The average magnification range of a binocular compound microscope is around 500x, with many promising up to 2000x or higher. Meanwhile, for binocular stereo microscopes, this is usually around 50x to 100x.
Another important consideration is the illumination system of the microscope. Does it make use of transmitted or reflected light? How about incidental or ambient lighting? Does it employ LED, halogen, tungsten, or fluorescent light bulbs?
All these will affect how the specimen image is produced, which translates to what you can see through the eyepiece. Moreover, do you need a microscope with a light source at the top, bottom, or side? This is important to factor in as well.
The type and design of the light source will influence how bright and evenly illuminated the specimen will be, as well as your energy and power consumption. LED light bulbs are the best option, but you’ll still find lots of microscopes featuring other types of light bulbs.
Apart from the type of microscope, as well as its magnification and illumination, there are other essential factors to consider, including the focusing capacity of the microscope, the adjustability of the microscope stand and specimen stage, and the contrast offered by the diaphragm.
And then there are also concerns regarding how portable the microscope is, which is important if you don’t have a fixed workstation to permanently set up the microscope in. Finally, the cost of the microscope must also be taken into account.
Entry level microscopes will give you the versatility and usability that you need in order to explore and learn without breaking the bank, but a high end microscope is important if you want to achieve the performance that professional applications require.
Read also: Best microscope for kids
A binocular microscope is an essential optical imaging device for any student, hobbyist, and professional partaking in microscopy, regardless of what field or industry you are in. The beauty of binocular microscopes is that they are versatile, easy to use, convenient, and affordable.
Choosing the best binocular microscope really depends on what you want to get out of it, and where you plan on using it on. But, if we are talking about a multifunctional and high performance all around binocular microscope, here is my best recommendation:
The Omax lab LED binocular compound microscope is a heavy duty, high powered, and fully functional binocular compound microscope that’s a bestseller and award winner. It has an impressive magnification of up to 2000x, among many other excellent features.