With advancements in technology and microscopy come the advent of digital microscopes- a new and better way to observe various specimens by capturing and recording it in real time, as well as measuring the specimen using a software, before editing, saving, and sharing the file.
This is because digital microscopes not only make use of optical systems and light microscopy techniques, but also incorporate digital technology with the use of pixels, CCD sensors, and a computer software.
All this makes it easier to study two and three dimensional images and videos of any specimen, making digital microscopes highly beneficial to students, hobbyists, scientists, and researchers in academic, commercial, and industrial fields.
Digital Microscopes Review
After careful research and practical testing, I managed to come up with this list of the best digital microscopes that are sure to meet your strict demands and requirements. Included in this list are digital compound microscopes and digital stereo microscopes.
I’ve listed down each microscope’s key features, specs, and components, as well as the top reasons on what makes them great, aka why you should buy them.
1. Omax 40x to 2500x full size lab digital LED microscope
First on this list is the Omax full size lab digital LED microscope with an impressive magnification range of 40x to 2500x. It’s a modified compound microscope, hence the high magnification, that allows you to study various types of translucent and opaque specimens.
It’s also technically a trinocular microscope, except the third eyepiece is fitted with a built in digital camera for capturing clear and high quality images and videos of the specimen being viewed.
This microscope is easy to use, versatile, features excellent optics and precise controls, and an overall smooth and stellar maneuverability that makes for the best possible specimen image quality that you need in a digital microscope.
2. AmScope 40x to 2500x LED lab digital microscope
My second best pick is the AmScope LED lab digital microscope, which is another impressive compound microscope that has a high magnification range of 40x to 2500x. This is not just a digital microscope, but a full set that comes with accessories and manuals.
It’s equipped with a binocular head that is inclined and swivels, a three dimensional double layered specimen stage plate, a variable magnification from the objective and ocular lenses, and fully brightness adjustable LED lighting.
This is a versatile microscope that can be used not only for home or casual use, but also for classroom teaching, clinical use, and laboratory applications, making it great for students, hobbyists, and professionals alike.
3. Celestron 40x to 2000x digital compound microscope
Taking the third spot is the Celestron digital compound microscope, which is a professional grade digital binocular microscope that is designed with a special trinocular adapter, so you can add a third eyepiece or a digital camera.
It comes in various styles and specs, and can even be purchased with an attachable smartphone adapter, so you can conveniently take images and videos of the specimen right through your mobile phone.
This microscope features interchangeable eyepieces in varying magnifications, four achromatic objective lenses, a durable all metal construction, a built in light source, condenser, and iris diaphragm, and of course, a high magnification range of 40x to 2000x.
4. Jiusion 40x to 1000x magnification endoscope
Ranking fourth is the Jiusion dual purpose microscope and endoscope, which has a magnification range of 40x to 1000x, impressive considering that it’s a tiny portable package. It’s an excellent choice for beginners and field explorers.
And since it functions as an endoscope, you can also use this microscope to dark areas and objects that you otherwise will have a hard time observing without the use of a more advanced microscope that costs thousands of dollars.
It’s compatible with a variety of devices, including desktops, laptops, tablets, and smartphones. And, it has a decent frame speed and focus range, as well as a somewhat refined focusing ability to get you the clearest images.
5. Plugable 250x USB 2.0 digital microscope with flexible arm
In fifth place is the Plugable USB digital microscope that features a flexible gooseneck arm for maximum mobility and specimen viewing range. It’s simple, easy to use, and highly functional, making it perfect for students and hobbyists alike.
As the brand name tells you, this is a plug and play microscope that you connect to your computer via a USB 2.0 output, so you can conveniently observe the specimen through your computer, as well as take snapshots.
It has a relatively low maximum magnification that tops at only 250x, but that’s still plenty enough to let you view various specimens such as rocks, coins, insects, parasites, and so on. This is a microscope that is great for classroom and field applications.
6. Opti-Tekscope 200x advanced CMOS digital microscope
If you are looking for a high definition yet cost effective digital microscope that you can use for a variety of purposes, the Opti-Tekscope advanced CMOS sensor digital microscope is an excellent option, especially since you can also use it as an endoscope.
It features a fully customizable brightness control, as well as macro and fine focusing capabilities. It’s also small and lightweight like a borescope, yet durable and high quality, as it is made of an aluminum frame.
With this digital microscope, you can study lots of specimens such as rocks, plants, insects, precious stones, and coins, or do basic electronic work like repairing or making circuit boards. This is a microscope that you can bring around anywhere, anytime.
7. Opti-Tekscope 200x true HD USB digital microscope
An affordable yet worthy alternative to expensive digital microscopes is the Opti-Tekscope true HD digital microscope, which comes up at less than a hundred dollars. It may be cheap and simple, but it’s still a smart investment that you’ll get plenty of uses out of.
What’s particularly great to use this on is for scrutinizing coins, precious stones and metals, jewelries, and vintage items, especially in order to assess their value. So, if you are a scientist and collector at heart, this is a great choice for you.
You can even use this microscope for basic engineering works like making circuit boards. It has a sturdy aluminum frame that is durable and lightweight, a wide specimen stage plate that lets you work with large objects, and various other great features.
8. Firefly 150x handheld polarizing digital microscope
Last but not the least, if you are in the market for a small and handheld pocket microscope, you might also want to consider the Firefly handheld polarizing digital microscope, which has a decent magnification of up to 150x for digital, and 50x for native.
It’s tiny, it’s lightweight, but it’s multifunctional. This digital microscope acts as a simple light microscope, a dermascope, and an endoscope all in one tiny package that fits on the palm of your hand.
Plus, it features twelve different polarizing settings in varying distinct levels of polarization, making it excellent for certain microscopy techniques such as digital epiluminescence microscopy. This is a state of the art microscope that won’t break the bank.
What to look for when buying a digital microscope
There are many different types of digital microscopes, all with different specs and features, and as such, it can be quite daunting to choose the right one that will give you the performance that you need.
So, in order to help you make the right decision on buying the best digital microscope for you, here are the most important factors that you need to consider before buying:
Why do you need it?
First things first, you need to ask yourself whether you even need a digital microscope in the first place, and how you will benefit from owning one. This means clearly knowing what a digital microscope is, and how it functions.
To put it simply, a digital microscope is just about any type of microscope that has a digital component in the form of a camera and a computer software. This allows you to conveniently and comfortably study various specimens, especially those that require long term observation.
This technology lets you capture and immortalize the fine details of the specimen under study, and more importantly, record the progress, life, and interactions of that specimen over a certain period of time.
Who will use it?
As with any type of microscope, digital microscopes can either be entry level, mid range, or high end. This affects not only the specifications and performance of the microscope, but its cost as well. So, you need to be clear on who will use the microscope, and what it will be used for.
Beginners and hobbyists will find great utility in even a simple entry level microscope. In fact, there are even kids’ microscopes designed especially for young students just starting to learn how to use a microscope.
On the other hand, if you are a researcher, scientist, engineer, or the like, a more advanced digital microscope may be the right investment for you, since this will allow you to use it for more complex and demanding applications.
What will you use it for?
There is no single type of digital microscope. In fact, just about any kind of microscope can be converted to digital, as long as it has a camera and can be connected to a computer software. That said, the most common digital microscopes are compound and stereo microscopes.
Low powered microscopes such as stereo or dissecting microscopes have a low magnification range of about 10 to 200x, and are most often used to study rocks, precious stones and metals, coins, and of course for dissecting living specimens.
And then there are high powered microscopes like the common compound microscope, which can reach up to 2000x in terms of magnification power. It’s a more suited type of microscope for studying living microorganisms, blood cells, liquids, and many others.
After figuring out what type and performance of a digital microscope you need, you also have to consider the specs and features that you want from your microscope. We’ve already mentioned the magnification, but you have to take into account that the camera can further increase this.
In fact, even with a low magnification microscope, you can further zoom in on the specimen image for up to a thousand times, depending on the quality and resolution of the camera. But, you also need a big and high quality display screen to fully appreciate this.
Another important factor is the lighting source and setup of the microscope. Most microscopes nowadays, digital or not, often make use of LED lights, since these are bright and energy efficient. But, other types include halogen, fluorescent, and tungsten light bulbs.
Since you’re looking for a digital microscope, it only goes to say that the most important thing you need to consider is the specs of the microscope’s camera. This includes the camera’s reliability, performance, memory, and most importantly, its resolution.
Of course, the higher the megapixels of the camera, the better the image resolution will be. But, the microscope will also be more expensive, the image files considerably larger, and you won’t even get to enjoy the high resolution if the display screen is crappy.
To give you an idea, most digital microscopes’ cameras range from 1.3 to 20 megapixels. If you don’t need or can’t afford a high end digital camera, it might be best to work with a lower megapixel camera, as long as the images are still considerably clear and crisp.
There is also the issue of how and how easily the digital microscope connects to your desktop, laptop, or any other device you’re using. There are various connection methods that give you different ranges of what you can and cannot do.
The most common mode of connection is via USB, since it allows you to transfer files, and also view them in real time through your computer screen, as well as measure the specimen, edit the image file, and send or save it via email.
Aside from this, there are several other connectivity options that you have. HDMI cables allow you to transfer high quality image and video files best, while WiFi connections will only require an internet connection rather than cables that eventually get tangled up.
Finally, you need to take into account what software the microscope is programmed with, since this will tell you what the software can do, as well as which devices the microscope will be compatible with.
The good news is that most microscope softwares give you the capability to view, capture, record, measure, edit, and share specimen images and videos. And, they are often compatible with most Windows devices.
These microscope softwares are also rapidly becoming compatible with Linux, and to a lesser extent, Mac OS devices. However, compatibility with iOS devices seems to remain a thing of the distant future.
The beauty of digital microscopes lies in the fact that you can not only record images and videos of any specimen you are observing, but share these images and videos to other people who would love to see what these specimens look like under a microscope.
This ability is tantamount to someone studying the specimen through the microscope himself, arming that person with the practical knowledge that comes with observing and studying the specimen, even without the resources of having his own microscope.
It’s not only time and resource saving, it also expands the learning experience of millions of people around the world, and fast tracks advancements in various fields in science and technology.
Personally, the best digital microscope that I’ve found is the Omax 40x to 2500x full size lab digital LED microscope. It may not be the most affordable option on this list, but it’s certainly the most impressive and offers the best performance.