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Best microscopes for students 2022

Close up of young woman looking through microscope in science laboratory with other students in the background.
(Image credit: Rido via Shutterstock)

Have you been searching for the best microscopes for students, but haven’t had much luck? With tons of options on the market, this is an easy position to find yourself in no matter whether you’re a student, parent, or an educator. Even if you’re looking for the most basic microscope, it can still be a challenge to find one that suits your needs. Keeping students in mind, Live Science has searched major retailers for the best models and compiled them here.

Microscopes are a great way to explore parts of the world that can’t be seen as you’re walking through the park or any other type of environment. They act as a second set of eyes, helping students explore things as small as cells.

Because microscopes can be complex machines, it’s important to do your research before picking one to purchase. There are two different types of microscopes: a simple microscope has one lens, while a compound has two ways to view objects on slides – an eyepiece and an objective. Both types are readily available at most major retailers, but serve different purposes when it comes to the types of projects students will need them for. The frame, optics, resolution, field of view, and lighting all matter when it comes to finding the right microscope – especially when it comes to projects that students will be completing.

You’ll also need to take into account who will be using the microscope, as younger children may not need as many features as an older student. To find options more suitable for elementary school age children, check out our list of the best microscopes for kids. They’ll probably also love one of the best chemistry sets too.

Best microscopes for students

National Geographic Ultimate Dual Microscope

(Image credit: National Geographic)

1. National Geographic Ultimate Dual Microscope

Best microscope for students overall.

Specifications

Age range: 8-12
Microscope type: Dual LED
Max magnification: 50X
Carrying case included?: No
Dimensions: 7.6 x 6 x 14.7 inches
Weight: 3.8 lbs

Reasons to buy

+
Lightweight
+
Includes box of prepared slides
+
Budget friendly

Reasons to avoid

-
Doesn’t come with a carrying case
-
Requires some adult assistance

The National Geographic Ultimate Dual Microscope is just the tool your aspiring scientist will need to start investigating the world around them. It includes everything students need to get an introduction into biology, including 35 pre-prepared slides, a storage box, tools for slide prep, a petri dish, and more. 

For those interested in live specimens, the kit also comes with brine shrimp eggs and a hatching station. LED lights assist users in being able to see objects on the slide clearly, along with glass lenses that can get 20X or 50X magnification levels. For those looking to find a microscope on a budget, this is a great option for beginners looking for an all-inclusive experience.


Swift SW380T Binocular Compound Microscope

(Image credit: Swift)

2. Swift SW380T Binocular Compound Microscope

Best premium microscope for students.

Specifications

Age range: 13+
Microscope type: LED Compound
Max magnification: 2500X
Carrying case included?: No
Dimensions: 13.4 x 9.5 x 17.7 inches
Weight: 12.9 lbs

Reasons to buy

+
Offers six different magnification levels
+
30 degree tilt to reduce neck strain
+
Upgraded for camera compatibility, but…

Reasons to avoid

-
…camera not included
-
Over $350

If you’re looking for a microscope that is perfect for students and advanced scientists alike, then the Swift SW380T is the microscope for you. It features four different DIN achromatic objectives, six different magnification levels (40X, 100X, 250X, 400X, 1000X, and 2500X), and an ultra-precise focusing system – ensuring that you’ll always be able to see what you need to. 

You won’t have to worry about straining your neck either, as this model has a 30 degree tilt. With a fully rotatable base, it’s easy to concentrate during projects. Along with the microscope, you will also get a 10X and 25X eyepiece, sample immersion oil, blue filter, dust cover, spare fuse, and user manual.


AmScope M150C-MS Compound Monocular Microscope

(Image credit: AmScope)

3. AmScope M150C-MS Compound Monocular Microscope

Best cheap microscope for students.

Specifications

Age range: 13+
Microscope type: LED Achromatic Compound
Max magnification: 400X
Carrying case included?: No
Dimensions: 15 x 10.2 x 6.7 inches
Weight: 4.75 lbs

Reasons to buy

+
Under $150
+
360-degree rotation capability

Reasons to avoid

-
Not dual voltage

AmScope microscopes are known for being some of the best on the market for affordability and versatility. The M150-MS is a budget-friendly option for students that comes with many features, including a monocular viewing head that has a 45-degree vertical inclination and 360-degree rotation capability. Because the M150-MS model has a diascopic Brightfield illumination, light appears upwards through the slide rather than shining down on it. 

This allows darker images to show up better through the lens, making it easier to see what you’re examining. You’ll have three objective choices: 4X, 10X, and 40X. The package also comes with a widefield 10X eyepiece, two stage clips, and a dust cover.


AmScope B120C Siedentopf Binocular Compound Microscope

(Image credit: AmScope)

4. AmScope B120C Siedentopf Binocular Compound Microscope

Best microscope for biology students.

Specifications

Age range: 13+
Microscope type: LED Achromatic Compound
Max magnification: 2500X
Carrying case included?: No
Dimensions: 20.3 x 12.6 x 9.4 inches
Weight: 3.25 lbs

Reasons to buy

+
Under $300
+
Lightweight
+
Optics are clear and bright

Reasons to avoid

-
Does not come with slides
-
Manual not included

The AmScope B120C Siedentopf Microscope is recommended for clinicians on a budget and students in medical school or that are studying biology. It has all the features of a basic microscope, plus other necessary additions like a 1.25 NA Abbe condenser with an iris diagram and a 52-77 mm interpupillary adjustment – both of which can help provide a better quality experience. 

The double-layer mechanical stage helps to keep slides in their place, along with rotating them around to see all sides of the specimen. All in all, the kit comes with 4 DIN standard objectives (4X, 10X, 40XS, and 100XS), a 10X and 25X eyepiece, a blue color filter, one bottle of immersion oil, and a dust cover.


OMAX 40X-2500X Digital Lab Trinocular Compound LED Microscope

(Image credit: OMAX)

5. OMAX M83EZ-C02 40X-2500X Digital Lab Trinocular Compound LED Microscope

Best camera microscope for students.

Specifications

Age range: 13+
Microscope type: LED Trinocular Compound
Max magnification: 2500X
Carrying case included?: No
Dimensions: 9.1 x 7.1 x 14.1 inches
Weight: 8 lbs

Reasons to buy

+
Comes with a USB connecter to hook up to other technology
+
5-year warranty
+
Includes digital camera

Reasons to avoid

-
Expensive
-
Have to download software to use
-
Microscope slides sold separately

If you’re looking for a microscope that has more than the average features, the OMAX Digital Lab Trinocular Compound LED Microscope is an option for you. Although the microscope can be used without a computer, it does come with downloadable software so that you can connect it to outside technology – both Mac and Windows. This allows you to upload and share your findings. The digital camera produces true color 640 x 480 pixel images. 

With a magnification capability of up to 2500X and widefield eyepieces capable of WF10X or WF25X, you won’t have a problem seeing your specimens. It also features an inclined head (45 degrees) and a trinocular mount that can rotate 360 degrees.

Bailee Boggess McCoy is a freelance writer and editor with a focus on adoption, clinical research, geriatrics, psychology, culture, social work,  neuroscience and more. She has written for many health websites and publications, along with doing many ghostwriting projects and email campaigns. In addition to her work as a writer, she has worked as a researcher at an Alzheimer’s disease research facility with projects focusing on Black older adults and racial trauma. Her scientific research has been presented at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference and published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease and Associated Disorders. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Georgetown College in 2018. She also studied neurolinguistics and developmental psychology at the University of Oxford. By the end of 2021, she will have her Master's in Social Work degree. When she’s not writing or researching, she enjoys playing with her dog, trying new cuisines, reading, and traveling. She’s also a true crime enthusiast, passionate creative, and a lover of all things poetry.