The Comparison Microscope: A Buyer’s Guide

A comparison microscope is one of the most important pieces of equipment used in forensic science, facilitating the comparison of two specimens side by side.

The comparison microscope is utilized in a variety of fields, from criminology to archaeology, as well as palaeontology. 

How Do They Work?

Comparison Microscopes utilize two compound light microscopes that sit next to each other, which therefore allows the user to view and observe both of the specimens that are viewable through a central eyepiece that simultaneously displays both of the images to allow for comparison. 

This image is then transferable to a digital screen, such as a computer monitor, or a television screen, or can be sent via the internet with the right equipment.

Why Are They So Useful?

Forensics is the primary use of the comparison microscope, which is a culmination of science and technology in order to help solve crimes, with the ability to provide factual evidence that can be linked to crimes to help solve the case.

Things such as bullet wounds, human or animal hair, or other marks can all be identified and compared using a compound microscope which allows for comparison between collected evidence and established samples.

Best Comparison Microscopes On The Market

For review, we’ve compiled some of the most popular comparison compound microscopes on the market, making it easier for you to compare and decide which microscope will benefit you most.

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EDITORS CHOICE

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BEST VALUE

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OUR TOP PICK

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The AmScope M150C is an excellent all-rounder option for those looking to purchase a compound comparison microscope, its entirely metal construction provides a feeling of sturdiness and reliability and also makes it easy to clean and maintain too. 

The M150C features five different levels of magnification, with the magnification ranging from 40X all the way to 1000X, which may not be especially high compared to other microscopes on the market, however it still provides a decent level of magnification suitable for usage.

Also featured is a built-in LED system, which helps illuminate the subject under the scope, making identification and observation easier.

This microscope is powered either by 3 AAA batteries, or an adaptor, which means that this microscope is portable, and therefore great for field work!

Pros

  • Sturdy construction
  • 5 different levels of magnification
  • 2 different options for power
  • Portable
  • Illumination via LED

Cons

  • Customers reported that no instructions were included, which may be confusing for first time users!
  • Magnification perhaps not as strong as other models on the market.

EDITORS CHOICE

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This offering from My First Lab is a great combination of affordability and quality, and is perfect for any first timers.

Included in this microscope kit is also a selection of accessories, including forceps, a petri dish, slides, and a plastic dropper, which is again great for people who are new to using microscopes.

It features 3 levels of magnification, at 40X, 100X, and 400X. So it is certainly not enough for professional applications, but will still be suitable for applications in an educational setting. 

The microscope features dual illumination, making visibility extremely easy, with one of the lights positioned above the slides to help provide light to the top, whereas the other light is positioned underneath the slide to provide some illumination from the underside.

It utilizes 3 AAA batteries for power, which also makes it suitable for field trips.

Pros

  • Convenient accessory kit
  • 3 levels of magnification
  • LED illumination

Cons

  • No wall adaptor, which makes it less powerful
  • Magnification not suitable for professional applications

BEST VALUE

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The Swift 380T is an extremely impressive piece of equipment, and oozes quality both in its construction, but also in its features too.

Perhaps one of the most impressive features are its dual eyepieces, with each eyepiece having a 10X and 25X magnification, it means that the 380T comes with six different levels of magnification, starting at 40X and reaching all the way to 2500X magnification, making it one of the most powerful microscopes on the market. 

The 380T also features a camera port, allowing you to photograph what you’re observing in order to be shared, and the easy-to-use adjustment knob makes focusing the dual microscopes incredibly simple and fast. 

Pros

  • Dual eyepieces for easy observation
  • Extremely powerful magnification
  • Added camera port makes it easy to share observations
  • Simple adjustment knob

Cons

  • Customers state that they wish the LED was slightly brighter.

RUNNER UP

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This microscope from OMAX is another great option for those looking for a high quality binocular compound microscope, its dual eyepieces make viewing and observing extremely easy, and means that it is easier to focus on what you’re viewing too.

This OMAX microscope utilizes four objective lenses, which allow for 8 different levels of magnification, however the magnification only reaches 2000X. 

The OMAX’s fine adjustment and coarse knobs make dialling in the focus really simple, however the microscope’s functionality is let down by the issue of being unable to change the objective lens with the slide in place.

However, other than that this microscope is still an excellent piece of equipment and would make a worthy addition to most labs.

Pros

  • Dual eyepieces for easy observation
  • 8 different levels of magnification
  • Simple to use and adjust.

Cons

  • Magnification isn’t comparable to its competitors
  • Let down by having to remove slides to adjust or swap lenses.

Buyer's Guide

Knowing what features to look for when purchasing a microscope can be somewhat confusing, which is why we’ve created this convenient buyer’s guide to help you discern what sort of features you’ll require from your new microscope!

The Comparison Microscope A Buyer’s Guide

Magnification Level

Perhaps one of the most important aspects of any microscope is the level of magnification that it offers!

Without a decent level of magnification you might be unable to see or observe what you’re aiming to whilst under the microscope.

Typically, at 400X magnification, you’ll be able to see some individual cells as well as bacteria at that level, and therefore is the absolute minimum magnification that you should aim for when purchasing a microscope.

If you want to observe better detail and some even smaller bacteria, then you’ll require a microscope with around 1000X magnification. 

Objectives

Objectives are the tool used to magnify the lenses for you, and are therefore an important thing to consider when purchasing a microscope, more objectives mean that you can see more.

The minimum objectives required are 4x, 10x, and then 40x, this is what a traditional set up will typically look like, and is suitable for a wide range of applications. 

Optic Quality

You may notice that some cheaper microscopes still offer similar magnification levels to the more premium offerings on the market.

So what’s the difference? Well the biggest difference will be the quality in the optics used on the microscope. If your microscope is cheap and has poor optic quality, it is likely that you’ll be unable to get a clear view through the lenses.

Typically the quality of the optic is what makes a microscope more expensive than others, and if you’re using your microscope on a professional or educational level, it’s perhaps best to invest in a higher quality microscope rather than skimping out too much. 

Illumination

Another necessity for a decent microscope is good quality illumination, all modern microscopes should have some form of illumination, however it’s important that you check reviews in order to ensure that the illumination on the microscope you plan on purchasing is of a high quality and is bright enough.

The most common forms of illumination are through either LEDs or fluorescent lighting, and generally appear on most microscopes.

Be sure to double check that your microscope features at least some form of illumination, as we highly advise against buying one without it!

Diaphragm

Compound microscopes should also feature a diaphragm, which allows you to control how much illumination you desire when observing a specimen.

These can come in the form of a disk, allowing you to operate it like a wheel with various sizing of apertures, which change the light upon rotation.

However, an iris diaphragm is the preferable option, providing a near infinite number of configurations.

In addition to this diaphragm, some microscopes will come with a dispenser too, which allows you to adjust exactly how the light reaches your specimen. 

Summary

Hopefully this guide has provided you with enough information on the features that you should be looking out for when purchasing a microscope, as well as some of the best microscopes available on the market currently, so that you can make an informed and confident decision when purchasing.

Jennifer Dawkins

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