Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links and we earn a small commission when you make a purchase or take action after clicking these links.
The best microscopes are now available online!
Whether you’re buying it for your personal laboratory, for work, or just because you’re a biology enthusiast, a microscope is an essential tool to have. If you’re looking for the best microscope for the best value, here are our top picks that you can easily purchase online!
Table of contents
There are various factors that may sway your decision: price, purpose, features, and the type of person using the microscope. For example, biology enthusiasts on a budget may just want a no-frills microscope, photographers may be interested in taking digital images, and actual biologists will want a higher magnification.
Microscopes come generally in three types: compound, stereo, and digital. Compound microscopes are your traditional microscopes that use various lenses and is viewed through an eyepiece. Stereo microscopes can magnify and display a three-dimensional object. And digital microscopes can connect to a monitor, making it easier for those with sight problems to see the specimen without looking through an eyepiece.
So, take these into consideration when looking at our microscope reviews for the best models to buy online.
Best Microscope for Beginners and Students
Celestron CM 800 Compound Microscope
Price: $84.10; Highest Magnification: 800x
The Celestron CM 800 Compound Microscope is your standard no-frills model for amateurs, casual hobbyists, and students up to a high school level. At its price, it’s our pick for the best microscope for kids and the best value for lower-level use for those who want to get a feel of using a lab-grade microscope before deciding to invest in a much more advanced model.
Why You’ll Love It: It’s perfect for beginners and young students using it as a starting ground for their journey into biology and microbiology. It’s an all-metal model that includes 10 prepared slides. While it doesn’t have a built-in camera, it does have upper and lower LED lights installed to help illuminate your specimen.
It’s battery-powered, which means you can take it out for field use as long as you have the proper setup outdoors. And its metal clamps assure the user that it has an extra layer that can ensure proper usage.
Why You Might Not: Although it claims to be lab-grade, its magnification maxes at 800x. It’s great for basic magnification, but compared to the other models on our list that can reach three times that magnification, it’s not really the best lab-grade model here.
This model also doesn’t have a built-in camera, though you have the option to pay more by buying both the microscope and a basic smartphone adapter on Amazon.
Celestron S20 Portable Stereo Microscope
Price: $46.39; Highest Magnification: 20x
The best stereo microscope available online for beginners, the Celestron S20 is good for students and amateurs. For its price, it has great value for those who are looking for an introductory microscope that won’t break the bank. But for those looking for something a little more advanced, this may not be for you.
Why You’ll Love It: The two-eyepiece stereo microscope is user-friendly, making it great for beginners. It’s battery-powered and has a magnification at 20x – not the best, but still good for those just learning the basics of biology. It includes two sample specimens to help you adjust and learn using the model.
The model has a large viewing stage, great for viewing three-dimensional items that won’t fit into slides (e.g. rocks, insects, other 3D objects). It is also equipped with LED lights to help see. Overall, it’s pretty straightforward for those looking to learn the ropes of using a microscope.
Why You May Not: You won’t like this model if you’re into microbiology (its max magnification is at 20x) or are a professional in your field looking for advanced microscopes. It’s affordable, but it won’t get you much bang for your buck if you’re expecting it to zoom into uber microscopic levels.
Best Microscope for Professionals
Celestron 44314 FlipView Handheld LCD Microscope
Price: $179.99; Highest Magnification: 120x (up to 300x on PC)
The only handheld microscope on this list, the Celestron 44314 is not your average microscope. The ideal choice for those going outdoors (think: botanists, zoologists, microbiologists, schools that want to show students microbiology applied in real life), this model may be portable, but it isn’t necessarily pocketable.
Why You’ll Love It: The Celestron 44314 a very versatile model and is the best microscope for those who work outdoors rather than in labs. It rotates up to 270 degrees, giving the user the flexibility to use it outdoors. It can be used as a handheld device, used similar to the traditional microscope with its flip-out leg, or used outdoors with a metal stand.
It runs on a rechargeable lithium-ion battery and is able to capture high-definition images and videos while on the go. These media files can be stored on a micro SD card, making it compatible and easily transferrable to other devices.
Why You Might Not: It’s portable compared to most microscopes, but it isn’t pocketable. Reviews say that it is much easier to carry around than traditional microscopes, but there are much smaller alternatives on the market.
Best Digital Microscope
Dino-Lite AM4113T Digital Microscope
Price: $399; Highest Magnification: 220x
The smallest microscope on this list, the Dino-Lite AM4113T is a USB digital microscope. USB microscopes require a second device to display its magnification, and this model is compatible with Windows, Android, and Mac OS devices. Here’s why this is our best USB microscope pick.
Why You’ll Love It: Out of all the microscope models on our list, this is the most convenient, compact, and lightweight microscope on our list. It’s not the cheapest, but that’s what you get when you’re paying for a quality microscope shrunk down to a convenient hand-held size. Perfect for those on the go or those dealing with specimens that may not be able to fit under a traditional microscope model.
Get your images and videos instantly into your device (you’ll need to download software onto your device for it to work). It’s equipped with eight LED lights and a 1.3-megapixel sensor, giving you well-lit and clear images. It also provides convenient measurements in the unit of your choice, including measurements for non-straight lines.
Why You Might Not: For its size, some may be put-off for its price. This may not be the ideal model for casual hobbyists and amateurs who don’t have almost $400 to spend.
Also, while handheld microscopes can provide precision, for best results, you will need to purchase a stand to keep it steady. A test tube clamp will do, but you may still need to carry other equipment if you want to keep it still during use.
Celestron 44341 LCD Digital Microscope II
Price: $215.96; Highest Magnification: 1600x
Considered Amazon’s Choice for a digital microscope, the Celestron 44341 is our top pick for the best digital microscope. The lower half of the microscope may look like your typical model, but instead of an eyepiece, you get a built-in 5-megapixel digital camera containing a 1GB micro SD card (you can replace this with a larger card) to record your specimens.
Why You’ll Love It: Despite being cheaper than some of the other models on this list, the Celestron 44341 has much more powerful magnification. It’s great for professionals and is much more convenient than the traditional method of looking into eyepieces.
The microscope has LED illumination in its upper and lower levels. The built-in camera can attach itself to larger screens (the model comes with an AC adapter), Overall, it’s a powerful microscope perfect for those serious about research and laboratory work.
Why You May Not: It’s not the most expensive, but not everyone (e.g. high schools, amateurs, and enthusiasts) may have a couple of hundred dollars to spend on a microscope. And, compared to the other microscopes on this list, this will be the most difficult to move around due to its weighty build of 1.6 kilograms.
Price: $359.99; Highest Magnification: 2500x
The most powerful microscope on this list, the Swift SW380T offers the highest magnification level at 2500x max, so you can bet that this type of microscope provides the best resolution. It’s research-grade, making it the best choice for high-level research for college students or higher and hobbyists who know how to handle a microscope model with such high caliber.
Why You’ll Love It: A powerful microscope, it has objective lenses starting at 4x and going as far as 2500. It has two eyepieces that are ergonomically designed to avoid neck strain, but it’s also built-in with the ability to attach a camera to make it a digital microscope used for scientific purposes or macro photography.
Its impressive display also includes an LED bulb controlled with a dimmer wheel, helping you get just the right amount of light onto your specimen.
Why You Might Not: Unfortunately, this microscope does not have it all. It doesn’t have an LCD nor does it include a camera. So, if you want to use its camera ports, you will have to buy your own device compatible with it. It’s also one of the more expensive microscopes, so while it may be one of the best microscopes on this list, it’s far from affordable for many people.
Which of These Best Microscopes Are You Getting?
If you’re a beginner, amateur, or a high school student and below, you may want to choose value and more basic models on this list. Though these microscopes only provide the basics, they’re a great launching point to help you understand and appreciate what goes on in the laboratory. Once you’ve decided to pursue a full-time career in science, then you can decide to buy a much more advanced microscope model.
For clinicians, biologists, researchers, and other professionals, it’s best to invest in quality, as buying cheaper basic models may not provide the function and features you need to do your research.