Best compound microscope


The first compound microscope dates to around 1590, but it wasn’t used for scientific studies. It was only in the mid-17th century that Antony Van Leeuwenhoek realized the potential and started making discoveries.

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Which compound microscope is best?

Anybody who is into science has probably thought about getting a microscope. But with so many different types available, it can be overwhelming to decide on the right model. 

You’ll need a compound microscope if you want to look at samples or specimens under a slide. It’s the best way to look at things that can’t be seen with the naked eye. If you’re in the market for a new compound microscope, take a look at the excellent Swift Compound Trinocular Microscope.

What to know before you buy a compound microscope

Magnification power

It becomes apparent where the name microscope comes from when you understand how it’s constructed. To bring invisible samples to life, the microscope uses the magnification of the eyepieces and the magnification of the objectives (the lenses on the inside). The magnification power of the two components is compounded so that you can clearly see samples. Simply put: the higher the compounded magnification, the more organisms you can view.


Stereo microscopes are used to view samples that are too big for slides, like rocks or skin. To look at those, natural light will usually be sufficient. But when you are looking at things that are near an atomic level, you’re going to need some help. Consider the condition under which you will use the microscope, and make sure that your chosen model has some built-in illumination available.


A compound microscope is best to view slides of blood or water samples, bacteria or incredibly small organic matter. The best samples will also have a certain translucency to them, which will make viewing them under lights much easier. But you have to consider what the microscope will be used for. For beginners, you’re probably not going to need the strongest model available. If you need to do some lab work, however, a starter microscope simply won’t do.

What to look for in a quality compound microscope

Optical quality

The eyepieces and the objectives combined will produce the magnified image that you look at. The quality of these individual components is, however, directly linked to the optical quality of your view. For eyepieces, the wider it is, the more you will see. A good quality objective lens will be an achromatic lens. These lenses compensate for the light refraction of different colors to produce a more natural image.

Different illumination will affect your viewing

Illumination is important for viewing samples and you should definitely get a microscope that has a light inside. But you must be aware that there are different kinds of lights, and each will have an effect on your sample. Most entry-level compound microscopes will use a tungsten bulb or a light-emitting diode (LED) ring. A good quality compound microscope should come standard with a halogen bulb or fluorescent lighting.

Connectivity and viewing samples on a monitor

Looking through a microscope to discover a whole new world is exciting, but it is much better when you can show others. Some compound microscopes will be equipped with a camera so that you can connect them to a monitor. A good quality compound microscope will have a Bluetooth or Wi-Fi connection as well so that you can print images or share them through mobile devices.

How much you can expect to spend on a compound microscope

The average price of a compound microscope is determined by the functions and the maker. An entry-level microscope or a model for kids retails for $80-$100. Intermediate microscopes sell for around $250, while lab-quality compound microscopes can cost you $400-$600.

Compound microscope FAQ

Should you get a monocular or binocular microscope?

A. That will primarily depend on who the microscope is for. Children and beginners find it easier to view samples through one eyepiece (monocular) and they are often cheaper. The quality of a binocular microscope is much better, but it does cost more.

Can you add a camera if it doesn’t have one?

A. Yes, you can, but you’ll need to buy a microscope CamAdapter kit (CAS39) together with the correct step ring for your camera.

What’s the best compound microscope to buy?

Top compound microscope

Swift Compound Trinocular Microscope

Swift Compound Trinocular Microscope

What you need to know: This is a great microscope with powerful lenses to view the tiniest of details.

What you’ll love: This high-powered microscope offers six levels of magnification up to 2,500 times. The Siedentopf head can rotate a full 360 degrees and comes with interchangeable wide-field 10 times and 25 times glass eyepieces. To view samples on a monitor, it has a 5-megapixel camera that is compatible with both Windows and Mac computers. As a bonus, the microscope ships with 100 pre-cleaned blank slides.

What you should consider: It might be a bit expensive for beginners.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top compound microscope for the money

AmScope M150C-PS25 Compound Monocular Microscope

AmScope M150C-PS25 Compound Monocular Microscope

What you need to know: This is a perfect monocular microscope for budding scientists.

What you’ll love: By having only one eyepiece, this microscope is best for those who are only starting out in looking at samples. The set does come with two interchangeable eyepieces, so you are in control of the magnification. The head is at a fixed 45 degrees and can rotate a full 360 degrees. It comes with three different DIN achromatic full-glass objectives that are best for color-correcting.

What you should consider: It doesn’t come with a camera, and there are no attachments available.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

OMAX Binocular Compound Lab Microscope

OMAX Binocular Compound Lab Microscope

What you need to know: This is a complete package to view almost any sample you can find.

What you’ll love: If you are looking for a robust microscope, this model is perfect. It comes with a huge range of objectives and eyepieces to give you a magnification range of 40 times to 2,000 times. Shipping with two eyepieces, it provides a wide-view 10 times and 20 times magnification. The viewing head is at a fixed 45 degrees, which can be rotated a full 360 degrees. For lighting, illumination is provided by an intensity adjustable light-emitting diode (LED).

What you should consider: This microscope is classified as a compact model, so it doesn’t come with a camera or attachments.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon


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Charlie Fripp writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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