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Microscopes enable you to marvel at the wonders of nature that the naked eye cannot see. Even the best microscopes are no longer limited to universities or laboratories with large budgets. They are widely available online at affordable prices.
To determine the price range you are interested in, you need to know what you will require from your microscope and what budget you have to work with.
Microscopes have opened many doors in science. They enable scientists to study cell structures and examine the smallest parts of plants, animals, and fungi. Some organisms are so small that they can only be seen through a microscope at magnifications ranging from 40x to 1000x.
Microscopes are also used in hospitals and clinics worldwide to magnify blood samples, allowing doctors and pathologists to see viruses and parasites attacking red blood cells.
Microscopes aren’t just for people in lab coats. They can be used by hobbyists and enthusiasts, insect and rock collectors, photographers, or to cultivate your child’s interest in science at home.
Microscope prices can vary depending on the manufacturer, quality, and various accompanying features, but the type of objective that comes with the microscope will account for most of the price difference. The most popular compound microscopes from some of the most well-known brands range in price from $900 to $1,200, although there are $100 beginner microscopes just above the toy level.
Unless it is a well-maintained used microscope, anything less than $150 is unlikely to be of sufficient quality. Avoid toy microscopes, which are typically made of plastic and lack DIN optics. They have low resolution and difficulty focusing.
Bright-field microscopes, commonly used in laboratories, cost around $500, but if you want phase contrast optics, you will pay at least $2,000. Here is a cost breakdown of the most popular microscopes from some well-known brands to give you an idea.
|40X-2500X LED Digital Binocular Compound Microscope||AmScope||40X-2500X||Achromatic||5MP||hobbyist||+-$374.99|
|Omax 40X-2500X LED Binocular Compound Microscope||Omax||40X-2500X||Achromatic||5MP||hobbyist||+-$375.99|
|Richter Optika UX-1 Binocular achromat Microscope||Richter Optika||40X-1000X||Achromatic||none||Basic lab and student||+-$789.00|
|1000x Microscope – OM139 Compound Laboratory Microscope||Omano||40X-1000X||Plan||5MP||University lab||+-$689.00|
|Leica DM300 LED Binocular Microscope||Lecia||40X-1000x||Achromatic||none||Enthusiasts still learning||+-$1,508.00|
|RB30 Biological Lab Microscope||Fein Optic||40X-1000X||Plan||none||Routine lab work||+-$2,040.00|
Unless you use specialized techniques that require specific chemicals or a home laboratory, the operating costs of a microscope are extremely low. Electricity, slides and cover glasses, cleaning solutions and chemicals for sample preparation, and slide making are all additional costs of owning a microscope. Fortunately, after the investment of a microscope, the costs are typically low.
Mounting medium is slightly more expensive than slides, but once purchased, a bottle of mounting medium will last for several years. You don’t need the product if you don’t want to make your own permanent slides. Permanent slides can be purchased from educational supply companies, and the prices can range from cheap to expensive. In any case, investing in a slide box is worthwhile so you have something to look at without having to prepare the slides yourself.
Purchasing a microscope can be a little confusing and overwhelming. If you’re purchasing a microscope for a child, you should probably go for a less expensive model. If you’re a photographer trying to capture digital images of the subjects you’re viewing, it makes sense to invest in a more expensive microscope with higher specifications. These small tips will assist you in narrowing down your options so that you can determine which microscope is best for you:
Your requirements will determine the type of microscope you need. Stereo microscopes are used to observe large or opaque specimens, while compound microscopes have a higher optical resolution and are used for examining small, transparent objects.
A stereo microscope is the way to go if you collect stamps, minerals, rocks, coins, trading cards, antiquities, insects, or other objects small enough to be placed directly on the stage. A compound microscope is used when examining samples such as bacteria, blood, or water creatures.
Low-cost toy microscopes cannot keep up with the demands of the more serious enthusiast. The optics have a lower resolution, and stability can also be a problem.
Resolution, stability, light intensity, and magnification are all essential considerations when choosing a microscope. It’s not all about magnification; without resolution, magnification is meaningless. The mechanical stage is also an important component of the microscope when viewing at high magnifications.
The cost of microscopes can vary depending on quality, features, and objectives. Low-cost options are available but not recommended due to the poor quality, but they can be ideal for kids. Additional operating costs like slides and cleaning solutions are also factors to consider, but the costs are generally low.
Featured Image Credit: Piqsels
Robert’s obsession with all things optical started early in life, when his optician father would bring home prototypes for Robert to play with. Nowadays, Robert is dedicated to helping others find the right optics for their needs. His hobbies include astronomy, astrophysics, and model building. Originally from Newark, NJ, he resides in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where the nighttime skies are filled with glittering stars.
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