Today, what do almost all new microscopes have in common? (Don’t say lenses)

OK, here’s a clue:

They are made in

  1. Fiji
  2. Antarctica
  3. China

If you chose A or B, may I suggest classes in geography, history and current events. Of course its China – in one way or another (parts and components are often ordered from China and then assembled in another country).  Unfortunately, this has led to a reduction in quality as Chinese factories copy each other, some using less expensive parts. Scopes may seem identical, but look closely. It’s easier to detect with Compound scopes, harder with Stereos.  However, when you take them apart and look at the internal parts, you will be able to tell the difference.  These differences begin with quality but ultimately extend to support for the product. Thankfully, there are still good options. For example, Accu-Scope is manufactured in China. However, they have strict Quality Control for the products in the USA.  In fact, many parts and components are improved upon in the USA. Accu-Scope also provides parts support to keep your microscope running for years to come.

(Note: Even Nikon, Leica, Olympus, and Zeiss microscopes are made in China. These brands manufacture many of their student grade and entry level stereo microscopes there, although Leica’s higher-end products are made in Germany. While Meiji produces most of its microscopes in Japan, some parts and models are Chinese.  Labomed is the only manufacturer that produces 100% of its product outside of China.)

House/Catalog Brands

One thing you definitely want to avoid are “House Brand” private labeled microscopes. Many websites order directly from China and just slap their name on it. This presents a number of problems:

  • You end up overpaying since they have a captured audience (the “brand” is only available in one spot) 
  • There is usually no quality control 
  • You only have one company to turn to for support 
  • These companies rarely stock or have access to parts 
  • The factories that produce these microscopes frequently change the internal parts based on material availability or cost.

How do you know if it is a house/catalog brand?  Here are some examples, but there are many more!

House:  Omano, Richter Optica, Steindroff

Catalogue:  Laxco, Flinn, VWR Vistavision

Avoiding the House/Catalog

The best way to avoid House/Catalog brands is to simply ask an expert or do some simple research. If the brand you are considering does not have a separate manufacturer website and manufacturer contact, it is likely a House Brand. For example, at Microscope Central one of the brands we carry is Labomed.  Labomed is an independent worldwide manufacturer with headquarters in California and their own website  By simply checking their website, you can determine if a scope is produced by a reputable manufacturer.

What Does It All Mean?

Bottom line - when you are considering a microscope purchase, find out who manufactures it.  With just a little research you can determine whether it is a recognized name brand.   You’ll get better quality and support and avoid problems down the road.