If you are not sure what microscope to choose you have a few options.
You can read and learn, or try to use other peoples knowledge.
First, you have to decide what work you intent do with it.
Then you contact the company who lists many different microscopes and explain right from the beginning your purpose for the product.
If you are lucky, you may get an altruistic person who will give you some ideas. I would suggest contacting at least two companies, just to verify if you are getting some common answers.
Never forget, that as in many other areas of buying, you only get what you pay for.
The higher the magnification you require, the more distortion you will get, unless you go for top quality brand name products. But again, in some instance, with low power microscopes, even a less costly unit will give you satisfaction.
If we want to save some funds, we may find decent reconditioned microscopes, mainly because microscopes sold years ago were mostly brand names and one can buy a sound, good quality reconditioned microscope for a fraction of a new one of the same brand today.
Do not forget to compare only apples to apples. Never mix your apples with oranges.
A 10 year old Carl Zeiss or Leitz may cost you the same or more as a new generic product.
But with a reconditioned name brand you may get a great working tank with a lifespan exceeding ours.
If you surf the Internet and go site to site, you may find many similar looking generic products with different names and brands. Under the word Generic I picture microscopes manufactured in China, India and basically manufacturers who exist for only a few years and do not have the history of the best brand name products
But, like the whole world, all is changing and as you know very well, yesterdays Japanese underdogs like Olympus and Nikon are today in the same class with Leica, Carl Zeiss and leave some old brand names biting their lips.
The simplest and most straight forward choice is in Stereo microscopes. Known also as dissecting microscopes. Their heads are used in Operating microscopes and Microtones. Because we are dealing with low magnifications, the distortions are not so great and there is a huge choice of different manufacturers and product lines to completely satisfy a wide scale of buyers.
From basic models of Stereo microscopes with transmitted & incident illumination stands, with fixed or turret nosepieces with two magnifications for few hundred dollars you go to more sophisticated lines of modular microscopes. There you can build up scopes with different Zoom features, multimedia attachments, illuminations, all meant to supply one thing. Fulfill your task! Never forget that purpose and try not to buy one with all whistles and gadgets. You may get overkill. With one exception only. Trinocular head, which is with today’s technology valuable interface to your computer, camera or one of them, which you may purchase years from now. The head in the Stereo microscope is the most important and costly part.
The Compound microscope family is the most known and largest one. From simple monocular unit through binoculars, you have to decide in choice of Bright Field, Phase Contrast, Dark Field (almost forgotten, but alive and kicking again in live blood analysis).
Also Polarizing microscopes, Fluorescent and many other specialized units.
In compound microscope the total magnification of the microscope should be approximately 400x to maximum 1000x the objective aperture, according to Ernst Abbe, (the range of "useful magnification"). With the exception of Special Hematology in labs or hospitals and Live blood analysis research, anything more the 1000X is nonsense. You can successfully view specimen under more then 1000X with the best (most expensive) objectives only. If some company sells or advertises cheap scopes with magnifications of 1200X or more, they are selling a dream.
Some techniques like Bright Field microscopy are quite straight forward and we can use many different makes and models to get some results. The more light interference you do the better quality unit you need. Dark field and Phase Contrast microscopes are sold in generic models also, but the results are less then adequate. It is a Phase, but it needs a genius to make something out of it. Same goes for Dark Field and so. Fortunately, so far only the best guys have the guts to manufacture Fluorescent or Confocal microscopes.
As for the attachments (beside Trinocular for multimedia), buy only what you need.
I saw scopes from the best manufacturers collecting dust or with a line-up, only because the buyer purchased a costly toy. Toys for boys? As far as I am concerned, only one person can sit in front of one scope. And it may have a Bright Field, Dark field, Phase, Fluorescent attachments and Fontana De Trevi built-in, only one individual can perform one task at one time.
Beside the point that so many features are found on the most upscale units for which you will pay the same price as for several scopes. The salespeople just love it.
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