When researching student microscopes, it does not imply that the microscope should resemble a toy that can barely be used to observe anything or only last for a short period of time. With the current line of brands in the market, many are likely to fall victims to purchasing poor quality microscopes, which are often aimed at younger kids.
It is therefore important to not only know the intended purpose of a microscope, but also the qualities of a good microscope before making any purchase, especially when it comes to high school students given that they are starting to learn about the more complex components of various organisms, tissues and cells among others.
Both high school and college students already have an idea of what a microscope is, the main parts of a microscope and the difference between a toy and a good quality microscope. However, with more brands and accessories entering the market, some may find it more difficult and confusing to make this determination.
Although there are many good quality microscope brands out there, going for already well established brands is always a good start to avoid poor quality microscopes.
In the event that one wishes to purchase from a less known brands, it is important to look at the features available and the price range. A microscope with great features should cost relatively more.
A poor quality microscope is likely to not only have many, seemingly exciting features, but also come at a cheaper price. As many prospective buyers have noticed when going through the assortment of brands online, most lesser known brands often appear "flashy" with bright colors and attractive features such as very high magnification as well as added accessories.
If such a microscope goes for a very cheap price ($80 or lower) then there is the likelihood that it is of poor quality.
For both high school students and college students, a good microscope is one with quality components and construction that lasts. Therefore, first one should look at whether the microscope has a well-built sturdy frame.
Standard microscopes are made of metallic alloys that will experience minimal fluctuation over time and ensure the stability of the entire microscope during use. In this case therefore, it's advisable to avoid microscopes made of plastic.
Although the lenses are just a part of the whole package, they are the most important component of a good microscope. A microscope with a great metallic frame, good illumination and a high quality mechanical stage would still be a worthless microscope if it has poor quality lenses/optics. For this reason, it is important to go for standard objectives which can easily be replaced in case of damage.
Currently, the "DIN" or "JIS" are the most common international standard objective lenses. By getting a microscope that comes with these lenses, it is possible to replace them with lenses from most of the microscopes in the world. Otherwise, it would be difficult, and even more expensive to find a replacement in the event of damages.
With regards to the lenses, the other important thing to consider is whether the objectives are at least achromatic. Achromatic lenses are color corrected, which means that they are superior to simple lenses when it comes to multi-color, white light imaging. They are also free of spherical aberration and therefore provide better on-axis performance at larger aperture. These lenses will provide good service to students and hobbyists alike.
Field of View and Resolution
For both college and high school students, it is advisable to go for a microscope with a wide-field eyepiece. These are typically ones with a larger lens opening. Wide-field eyepieces are beneficial for users because it's easier to position the eyes in order to see into the eyepiece. On the other hand, it is important to ensure that the microscope comes with objectives that will provide good resolution, and thus sharper details.
Most microscopes today rarely use mirrors and therefore come with a built in light source. There are different types of lighting systems, including tungsten, fluorescent, LED and Halogen. While some present more benefits than others, it is worth noting that different systems are also used for different purposes. For instance, halogen bulbs are often used in medical and research microscopes. They are therefore preferred in medical and lab microscopes. LED bulbs can also serve the same purpose, but provide more benefits as compared to the rest.
Compared to tungsten, LED bulbs consume very little power and last for a very long time. Some of the LED student microscope are also cordless, which means that they are rechargeable, allowing for the microscope to be taken out in to the field. It is therefore important to have a good understanding of the intended purposes of a microscope so as to make the right purchase.
Although high school students and college students may use the same microscopes, they have different needs, which means that they are likely to go for different microscopes based on build and features. Whereas high schools students are still in the introduction phase, college students will require more professional microscopes depending on their field of study.
While high school students may be satisfied with a standard 400x magnification microscope, a biology college student may require a microscope with 1000x plus magnification to view greater cell details.
Therefore, high school students will be satisfied with such microscopes as Brunel SP27 or Brunel SP27D microscopes. These are versatile instruments that come with rechargeable LED illumination, a four position turret with x4, x10, x40 and x100(oil) achromatic objectives and a full mechanical stage. As such, it will meet the needs of most high school students.
For a college student, the AmScope M500B-MS will be the ideal instrument particularly for medical students. With up to eight levels of magnification (40x, 80x, 100x, 200x, 400x, 800x, 1000x and 2000x) and excellent resolution, this device would provide the best services for medical and biological college students who need to observe finer details of given specimens.
Both high schools and college students will love digital microscopes.
There are microscopes that come with a camera or a tablet LCD camera for viewing live images. A good example of these microscopes is the AmScope B490B-3M. This is a full size professional microscope that comes equipped with a professional 3MP digital camera, making it easier to use especially during demonstrations.
With digital microscopes, users have the opportunity to capture and save live images and videos, which can be easily shared with others.
These microscopes also come with software that allow for editing and measurements among other manipulations thereby increasing functionalities when connected to the PC. With digital microscopes, a microscope with built-in camera is good given that the parts cannot be easily removed. However, it is advisable to get a microscope with a detached camera. This is particularly important given that it may be necessary to remove and replace or upgrade the camera over time. Here, having a detached camera would make this easy.
For more about digital options read here.
Microscope accessories are parts that can be
added or attached to make it more useful (increase functionalities of the
microscope). There are many accessories in the market and therefore it is
important that those purchased are original and of good quality to avoid
damaging other parts of the microscope.
Microscope accessories include:
On the other hand, students may get entire kits that come composed of glass slides, cover slips, oils and stains. For some students, this is better than buying single, specific accessories.
More on Microscope Accessories here.
For High School:
Amscope Student Widefield Compound Microscope
Omax 40X-2000X Lab LED Binocular Compound Microscope Promotion Set.
Omax 40X-2000X Digital Compound Microscope with Built-in 3.0MP USB Camera and Double Layer Mechanical Stage
Omax 40X-2000X Digital Lab LED Binocular Compound Microscope with Built-in 1.3MP USB Camera and Double Layer Mechanical Stage
See Microscope Experiments for kids to add to your homeschool curriculum or for fun! or What looks Cool under a Microscope?
Check out Microscopes for Young Kids/homeschoolers as well
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