Buying the right microscope for the future scientist
Different types of specimens require different types of microscopes.
Microrganisms, especially bacteria and cells, require the higher magnifications of a compound microscope such as the Meade 9600 Biological Microscope or the excellent LOMO MULTISCOPE BMH4-BF microscope (best buy). These are the types of microscopes found in the typical college science or research lab and are the most used type of microscope in microbiology and medicine. They require you to use and prepare slides.
For a serious compound microscope, look for a model with both coarse and fine focus, built-in illumination, light control via an iris and condensor and a mechanical stage. If you need to keep the budget down and/or don't have access to power, a model with a mirror is acceptable, but insist on a model with a fine focus control. It is very difficult to use high powers on a microscope without a fine focus. A great choice in a budget microscope is the LOMO P-111 Modular Brightfield Microscope which can be upgraded at a later date with accessories, including a light.
Larger specimens such as twigs, rocks, leaves, flowers, gems, industrial parts and so on, don't require that much magnification, but you do need room under the microscope to accommodate these larger specimens. This calls for a stereo microscope. No slides needed here. Just place the specimen under the microscope and observe. Stereo microscopes are typically used in botany, ecology, geology, gemology and they also have many applications in industry for inspecting and working on machine and electronic parts. Stereo microscope provide upright and correct right to left images and are designed to allow the user to both observe and work on the specimen at the same time. For this reason, they are sometimes called dissecting microscopes. Great choices here include the LOMO SF-50 Stereo Microscope or a Celestron Dissecting Stereo Microscope.
These offer variable magnification and built-in lights. Inexpensive models are good choices for casual observation and they also make good starter microscopes for children because they are so easy to use, though they typically have no light and are fixed power only. Good choices here include the Meade Model 8300 Stereo Microscope - Stereoscopic Microscope or the Celestron Dissecting Microscope.
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