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How Do I Choose the Best Binocular Microscope?

Three paramecia are seen under a microscope.
A woman using a binocular microscope.
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  • Written By: Patti Kate
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 24 August 2014
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When selecting a binocular microscope, consider the purpose you will be using it for. Some binocular microscopes are high powered, while others offer a less powerful magnification. Price will vary according to the quality of the components, so this is another factor to consider. If the binocular microscope is for a high school student, a basic model would probably be suitable. College or medical students may require a more advanced model.

Choose a binocular microscope with an adjustable tilting head. This will allow you greater freedom to view specimens at various angles. Be sure the components are high quality and well constructed. Easy maintenance also is important to consider. Keep in mind that many binocular microscopes come with accessories, such as an extra light or optional tracking stand, for which you may have to pay extra.

If the binocular microscope is intended for a hobbyist, you might want to consider a model that is capable of producing three-dimensional (3D) images. This is typically known as a stereo microscope, which will allow you to view your specimens in greater depth. This is a good feature to have if you plan on viewing rocks, plants, and large insects. A stereo 3D binocular microscope is also a fine choice for jewelers or gemstone experts. Additionally, you'll want to choose a binocular microscope that has a wide field of view if you plan on viewing larger specimens.

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Be aware that if you plan on using your microscope for dissecting, a basic binocular model may not be sufficient. You might require the stereo binocular microscope's three-dimensional capabilities for dissecting your specimens. Stereo microscopes are specifically designed for easy manipulation of objects, while the binocular microscopes are made for basic viewing.

Lighting is very important when selecting an ideal microscope. Illumination can be adjusted easily in some models, while others are fixed. It's important to test the microscope before making your decision. If your specimens appear shadowy or not fully illuminated, choose another model.

Don't overlook the construction of the microscope's housing. It's important that it is made to keep air and moisture out, to avoid damage to the delicate components. If you are uncertain whether the microscope is designed to resist moisture, inquire before you buy it.

Quality binocular microscopes can be expensive, so comparison shop for the best deal. If possible, obtain several price quotes from various microscope manufacturers. Request a brochure and compare the features of different microscope models.

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