Once upon a time microscopes were available only at the laboratories of schools, research organizations and criminology departments. We could not carry on experiments or observations beyond that area.
But as time progressed, these instruments became more and more available to the public. In recent years USB microscopes have been in vogue due to its portable quality and affordable price range. So here are some of the best USB microscopes on the market right now for your convenience!
Our Best Pick
Our best is the OMAX Digital Biological Compound Binocular Microscope which is costly but offers a wide magnification range up to 2000x with a 3MP camera. It has adjustable LED lights and has a software compatible with both Mac and Windows
Our Budget Pick
This is one of the cheapest USB microscopes but its software can work on all the major operating systems and has a magnification up to 250x. LED halo lights, flexible arm, portability and white stage with measurements have made it our budget pick.
Table of Contents
Quick Comparison: Top 8 Best USB Microscopes
1. OMAX Digital Biological Compound Binocular Microscope
Zoom in as much as you want with this compound binocular microscope from OMAX! Since the brand itself is built by former engineers, we cannot expect any less than top-notch quality and functionality from their products.
This one has a crazy magnification range with a variety of levels from 40x to as high as 2000x! Imagine what discoveries you can come across by placing the experimental specimen under these lenses.
If the surrounding is too dark to make those discoveries, take the help of LED lamp lights with adjustable intensities. There will be light from under the provided stage so that you can figure out the minuscule structural designs on any translucent or transparent specimen. You can replace these lights by yourself any time if they stop working.
The base comes with a palm rest area to help you continue the research comfortably. The lenses are made of high-quality optical glass and help in getting all the subject details with high-resolution images. A 3MP USB digital imaging system is included with which you can take screenshots as well as record live videos on the computer.
They included a software which can work on multiple operating systems including Mac and various versions of Windows such as XP, Vista, 7, 8 and 10. Since this is one of the best USB microscopes currently in the market, it comes at a pretty high price.
2. Plugable USB2.0 Digital Microscope
This mini microscope is pretty handy as you can assemble and disassemble it anytime with ease. So it is a pretty good option for people who love going to places and observe minuscule creatures or objects. It will fit right in and will not take up too much of space in the bag.
It comes with a long flexible arm which you can bend forward as much as you want. You need to put up the microscope on one end and attach the suction cup on the other. Then put the cup on the provided white board and place the specimen on it. Due to this setup, you can examine the sample from varying distances making the whole experiment more thorough.
There are measurement marks on the white observation board so that you can make quick calculations. LED halo light is embedded around the lens and you can adjust its brightness as you prefer. To avoid reflective glares from the sample and to ensure even light distribution, the lamp uses a diffuser.
The microscope itself contains a lense of 2 Megapixels and can zoom in the specimen up to 250 times. Given its cheap price range, that is a pretty impressive range and resolution. Just touch or tap on the camera sign on top of the microscope to take screenshots.
You can view the magnified images on the computer or laptop screen using their software which you will need to download. This software is compatible with a number of operating systems including Windows, Mac OSX, Linux, Chrome and Android. With this software, you can also adjust various camera settings for better viewing.
3. Learning Resources Zoomy 2.0 Handheld Digital Microscope
For all the little scientists out there, Learning Resources has brought the colorful microscopes called Zoomy. Here instead of a conventional structure, the whole thing is made to look like a giant ball of vibrant color - blue, green or purple. This makes the kids more interested in trying it out and unravel the inconspicuous mysteries of many objects around them.
The price is kept pretty low compared to other microscopes on our list, which means the features are also a little bit toned down than others. The camera resolution can go as high as 1600x1200 pixels, which is, in fact, a moderate amount. Also, the magnification offered is 54 times at maximum and that is about 35 times less than the best in the market.
Nevertheless, it makes a great learning instrument for the kids and is good enough to amaze their young minds constantly. All they need to do is place the camera end on the desired specimen and view the images on computer or laptop. The teenagers can also record videos here to use in any project presentation.
Although, for this, the software needs to be downloaded first which is compatible with Mac and Windows XP, Vista, 7, 8 and 10. To adjust the focus, they need to just touch around the top area. There are eight LED lights included so that they can continue their little researches even in the dark.
4. Carson eFlex USB Digital Microscope
Much similar to the Plugable one, this microscope also comes with a measurement base and a flexible stand. Its company Carson has been making optic products for more than 25 years which makes them a pretty reliable source for such instruments.
You can see objects under it with 75 to 300 times magnification if you own a monitor 21 inches or bigger in size. This magnification range became possible by combining a high powered zoom along with the optical system.
The software for doing so is available on their website to download and can work on both Mac OS and Windows operating systems. For Windows, it needs to be a version of XP, Vista, 7, 8, 8.1 or 10. Rotate the dark grey knob in the middle to get a proper focus and find the sharpest possible image.
If you are mesmerized by these magnified views, store them on your device by clicking either the top touch button of the microscope or the camera button on the software. It can be used with both USB 2.0 and 3.0 ports. Once you plug it in and open the software, the monitor should start showing the image.
The built-in LED lights can be adjusted to get the perfect brightness or be completely turned off in case you already have enough light in the surrounding. For accurate calculations, you can use the white graduated base where scales of inches and centimeters are given.
5. Celestron Handheld Digital Microscope Pro
Celestron has been building microscopes, telescopes and more high-tech optical instruments for more than 50 years! Living up to that legacy, this USB microscope has proved itself to be among the best with top-notch quality and features.
There is a sensor with a 5MP resolution to help you capture the sharpest images with high resolution. You can also record videos of the specimen with this and save them directly on your device. These videos will be shot in the VGA format and at the speed of 30 FPS.
A 4 feet long USB cord is provided so that you can place it at a considerable distance from the laptop. Install the required software from CD on your Mac or Windows operated device to see the magnified specimen. Magnification power ranges from 20x to 200x which uses the 5-element infrared reducing glass lens.
There is a button for taking screenshots or videos on the cord, as well as a barrel wheel to adjust lens focus. For further convenience, there is a stage included with metal clips on sides to keep any flat specimen fixed in place. Its calibration ruler also allows you to measure things correctly. Its stand can be adjusted and locked for steady viewing.
6. Dino-Lite USB Handheld Digital Microscope
Dino-Lite is the most proficient at building microscope and other digital zooming devices due to its experience in this market of more than a decade. This microscope is a member of their Edge series which features a magnification range of 10x to 220x.
It has an advanced sensor of 5 megapixels for allowing high resolution. Moreover, due to its trigger sensor called MicroTouch, you can take screenshots with just a touch. There is a built-in adjustable polarizer which helps you reduce glare effectively on reflective surfaces for clearer pictures.
For all of this to work, however, you need to install their provided software which is compatible with Windows, Mac, Android and iOS. This software allows you to view the magnified images in fullscreen mode which can help in classroom presentations.
There you can check the current magnification level from AMR or Automatic Magnification Reading. Also, extended depth of field feature allows you to automatically save multiple shots of the same magnified view at varying focus levels with just one click! You can also record videos here in WMV, FLV or SWF formats.
7. AmScope M620C-E1 Digital Compound Monocular Microscope
This one is manufactured by United Scope under their brand AmScope and can offer you images zoomed in 40 to 2500 times. This magnification range allows you to see the incredible details of any specimen. It is meant for medical labs where optical instruments of professional quality are a necessity to observe cellular structures.
Compared to such a high magnification capability, its camera has a pretty low resolution of just 1.3 megapixels. Apart from that, it has a lot of notable and helpful features like its monocular head can be used with either a 10x widefield eyepiece or a 25x one. The head also allows 360-degree rotation and is anti-mold to maintain good optics in highly humid regions.
The rotating nosepiece allows four kinds of DIN achromatic glass objective lenses in 4x, 10x, 40xS and 100xS. Because of these options, you can view the image with precise color corrections.
You can also shed light on the specimen with its diascopic Brightfield illumination feature. The LEDs allow bright and cool light to pass through a transparent or translucent specimen. Use their software which works on Windows, Linux and Mac.
8. XCSOURCE 3D Digital Zoom Microscope
This microscope offers a pretty impressive magnification range of 20 to 800 times but its clarity is not always on point. It can produce pretty grainy or blurred images even at high magnification levels. The companion software is provided and it works only on Windows XP, Vista and 7.
The knob placed on it also seems to be pretty stiff at times and thus often fails to produce the desired sharp images. A snap button and a zoom button are also located around it which seem very tiny but can be used easily to store screenshots of the magnified pictures.
You can click photos or record videos with resolution up to 2 megapixels. The pictures are saved in JPEG format and the videos in AVI. Eight white LED lights are included which can be controlled via the USB switch. A stand and a calibration ruler are provided for further convenience.
Types of USB Microscopes
The best USB microscopes in the market mainly belong to two broad categories -
These are the ones which offer a high magnification power which helps you observe tiny particles or organisms. Cells, bacteria, blood cells, planktons and similar specimens can be brought under such lenses. Microscopes like this are used for professional or academic purposes.
USB microscopes with low power range are limited to showing magnified images of a bit larger things. They can be used to observe parts of an insect, minuscule imprints on a coin, weaves of fabric, sand grains on beach etc. If you have never used a microscope before, you should go for these since they are easier to use and put less strain on eyes.
Which one to buy?
For studying various scientific subjects like chemistry and biology, microscopes can boost up the students’ interest exponentially. Once the students see for themselves how precise the cellular structure is on each being or how one element combines with the other in a reaction, they will start being ten times more attentive in each class. So high power microscopes are the best for them.
Microscopes are absolutely necessary for the medical field to make breakthrough discoveries and continue critical researches on the delicate specimen. Here, the professionals need to use high power microscopes with interchangeable eyepieces for versatile observation. The stage or base should be large to make room for the samples.
For the hobbyists, they can buy whichever they prefer. But since it is just an interest, going for the ones with less price and lower power makes more sense.
There are a variety of handy USB microscopes on the market right now and each of them serves a particular purpose. Find out which one of them can help you the most to reach your goal and discover exciting details of miscellaneous objects.