10 Considerations When Buying A Microscope
- Make a list of your needs, including any specific/unique requirements to direct your search. Keep in mind that most microscopes are highly configurable – almost any microscope can accept a camera, and you can change some parts/components on the microscope.
- Establish a comfortable budget range to help identify a group of realistic microscope options. We offer a wide selection at various price points, and of course quality.
- Determine which type of microscope (compound or stereo) you need. Stereo microscopes are used for viewing anything you can fit under them (coins, insects, stamps, etc). There are various types of compound microscopes - routine biological, metallurgical, fluorescence, etc. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Many times we have helped guide a customer who was about to order the wrong scope for their application/needs.
- Review the current landscape when it comes to Brands. In the past, Leica, Nikon, Olympus and Zeiss were the ones that mattered.They are still the premier manufacturers, however the market has exploded with an endless number of brands, some that offer quality products built to last, others that don’t. Make sure the brand you choose supports its products and offers replacement parts. This will require some research, however it will save you headaches in the long run. If you are not sure how to identify a good brand, just ask us!
- Pay attention to the details. Microscopes are highly configurable. There are different heads, objectives, stages, eyepieces, and stands. When comparing microscopes, make sure you are comparing apples to apples. Look out for differences like forward-facing vs reversed nosepieces, rackless vs traditional mechanical stages, and halogen vs LED illumination.
- Almost all microscopes are now manufactured in China. Find out which brands just slap their name on mass-produced products, and try to avoid these if possible – you won’t receive great support with these brands if/when you need it.
- Take all reviews with a grain of salt. Most of the time, reviews are written by hobbyists with little experience using an instrument. All they know is that it works and they can see their specimen, so sure “it’s great”. Additionally, people generally write reviews within a week of receiving their product – not really a good indicator of how a product holds up over time. There are also endless blog posts/review sites that have incentives to say nice things.
- Never justify purchasing a low quality microscope based on a warranty. Remember, you are responsible for round trip shipping for a repair, and there can be long wait times that disrupt your work.
- Beware of the tricks. We have seen all the tactics other companies use to deceive customers - quoting lower quality objectives without the customer’s knowledge, quoting 3rd party components and passing them off as original, or knowingly leaving out a critical component in order to lower the overall cost of a bid.
- Beware of knock-offs! Essentially all microscopes are made in China today and the factories copy each other. You can have two scopes that appear to be identical in a picture, but they are not. This is more the case for stereo microscopes but applies to compound scopes as well.
Wherever you are in the buying process, Microscope Central is here to help.
Call 800-219-1451 (ask for Scott) or email email@example.com