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In the words of Robert Hooke, “By the help of microscopes, there is nothing so small as to escape our inquiry; hence there is a newly visible world discovered to the understanding.”

Compound microscopes are one of the handiest equipment to scientists in the modern era, especially when dealing with things neither the hands nor eyes can handle. They have a higher magnification than the stereo microscope and deal with smaller substances.

The device is useful in diverse fields of work such as immigration, cytotechnology, Medical and Clinical Laboratory Technology, police detectives, and many more.

This article aims at enlightening you about compound microscopes. You’ll find our review of the best compound microscope for your profession invaluable. Also, we’ve provided answers to some of the most-asked questions about this device.

What is a Compound Microscope?

As the name implies, a compound microscope is the type of microscope that utilizes more than one lens to magnify and resolve images of samples. Another name for this device is a light microscope. It is a general name covering microscopes that use more than one lens.

The purpose of a compound microscope is to view samples that are minute and near impossible to observe with the naked eyes. Unlike the best stereo microscope, the working distance of a compound microscope is much smaller. You have to place these samples on a piece of glass known as a slide to view underneath the scope.

As a result, a compound microscope has high magnification, usually between 40x to 1000x. You can determine the maximum magnification of a compound microscope by multiplying the objective lens’ magnification by that of the eyepiece. The image seen from a compound microscope is two-dimensional.

What Are The Parts of a Compound Microscope?

Knowing the parts of a compound microscope will help you quickly differentiate it from others. The components are as follows:

  1. Eyepiece: This forms part of the head. It is where you glance through to see your specimen. The eyepiece can be monocular, binocular, or trinocular. It holds one of the lenses responsible for magnification.
  2. Revolving Nosepiece: The nosepiece holds the objective lenses, which could be as many as four in numbers. The nosepiece is usually rotatable for convenience in switching to the objective lens that you desire. Each objective lens would have a unique magnification, such as 4x, 10x, 40x, and 100x. Most manufacturers would etch the magnifying power of each lens on them and further differentiate with colors.
  3. The stage and clips:This is the platform where you would drop your slide. Some possess clips to hold the sample steady. The clips are often at the side of the platform, and you only have to snap them back to lock on the specimen glass.
  4. Stage controls:These are knobs that you have to turn to position the stage properly to make your specimen visible under the scope. They come as a pair, with each moving the stage in opposite directions. You should also know that their positioning on a compound microscope often varies.
  5. Focus knobs:They help in adjusting the focus of the scope. By implication, they allow the image you would see to appear blur or sharp. They can be differentiated in terms of size. The fine knob is always smaller than larger.
  6. Condenser adjustment:The knob moves the condenser upward or downward to determine the degree of light focusing on the specimen.
  7. Iris Diaphragm: This appears below the stage. The purpose of this part is to regulate the amount of light available to illuminate the specimen. There are threedifferent types you can find in a compound microscope. The Abbe condenser is most common, being an example of an achromatic condenser. Other types are the aplanatic and the compound achromatic condenser.

5 Best Compound Microscope Reviews

1.    OMAX M82ES-SC100-LP100 Binocular Compound Microscope

The OMAX M82ES-SC100-LP100 Binocular Compound Microscope will leave you with little to desire from a microscope. You can’t help but notice the rugged metal frame with few plastic parts. These features ensure that components are durable.

There are four different objective lenses to choose from with a maximum magnification of 100X. Also, there are two options of 10X and 20X for the wide-field eyepieces. You won’t have to worry about the distance between your pupils as there is room to adjust the interpupillary range.

Besides, you can counterbalance the variations between your eyes using the ocular diopter adjustment knob.

Interestingly, the microscope head is fully rotatable. That means you can pick a convenient posture, and the inclination is 45 degrees, so you won’t have to strain your neck.

Thanks to the NA1.25 Abbe condenser, the light concentration of the apparatus is superb. LED light with adjustable intensity illuminates the sample from beneath. Using the coarse and fine knobs, you can achieve your desired focus with ease.

Lastly, the equipment comes ready to use with several unoccupied slide glasses, cover slips, and cleaning papers for the lens.


  • Four achromatic objective lenses
  • Dual eyepiece options
  • Robust metallic construction
  • Swiveling head
  • Comes with good accessories


  • Occasional obstruction of screws
  • Limited stage range

2.    Swift SW380T Trinocular Compound Microscope

When it comes to style and functionality, the Swift SW380T Trinocular Compound Microscope is the one to beat. The apparatus has a trinocular viewing to allow for a third eyepiece. Even better, you can fix a microscope camera for live feeds of pictures and video recordings of a magnified specimen.

The gadget has a total magnification of 2500X. Both wide-view eyepieces of 10X and 25X in collaboration with four DIN Achromatic objectives give you six different magnification levels.

For comfort, the head is 360 degrees rotatable to allow you to achieve a choice position for work. Another brilliance of this apparatus is the ease of adjusting the interpupillary range without altering your focus.

Furthermore, the device utilizes an NA 1.25 Abbe condenser with an iris diaphragm to ensure even light intensity on the specimen. Plus it comes with good accessories such as a blue filter, sample immersion oil, and a spare fuse.


  • High magnification of 2500X
  • Supports microscope camera
  • Sleek design
  • Rotating microscope head
  • Adjustable ocular diopter


  • No case for components

3.    Swift SW380T Trinocular Compound Microscope

If you are familiar with the Swift SW380T Trinocular Compound Microscope, this one gives you a much better experience.

The Swift SW380T Trinocular Compound Microscope gives you all the freedom to do as you wish with what you see. You don’t have to stare through eyepieces for a long time anymore. The apparatus comes with an 18Mp swiftcam camera with an installation CD for your computer. Hence, all you have to do is to set up the microscope and have an expounded viewing on your computer screen. Capture images, edit, live stream, and project to your class as you wish. That’s the freedom at its peak.

The microscope head is fully rotating, but there’ll be no errors as you can lock it in whichever position suits you. Providing illumination is a 1W LED light with adjustable brightness. The quadruple rotating nosepiece allows you to select which of the objective lenses is active in a matter of seconds. Also, the mechanical stage has clamps to hold your slides in place.


  • Up to 2500X magnification
  • 18Mp Swiftcam Camera
  • Connectivity option to PC
  • Quadruple revolving nosepiece
  • Mechanical stage with clips


  • No dark field

4.    OMAX 40X-2500X Lab Compound Microscope

The OMAX 40X-2500X Lab Compound Microscope ticks the right boxes for a lab microscope. Magnifying is its business, and it excels with a magnification power up 2500X. There is a provision of two eyepieces (10X and 25X) to match the quadruple objective lenses. These lenses are set on a rotatable nosepiece.

The viewing head has a preset angle of 45 degrees, perfect to avoid straining your neck when viewing. The focusing knob is easy to use. You can lock the knob to prevent tampering or when you wish to change location.

The experience heightens when you fix the 14Mp camera to the camera port. Using its installation CD, everything you can see appears on the screen of your computer. Just imagine the things you can do. Capture photographs, take measurements, angles, video cover, project images directly to an audience, and much more.

There would be no hassle cleaning up this device after use. The double-layered mechanical sage is stain-resistant. Also, using 3W LED lighting, the illumination is topnotch. A simple wipe would get it back to its clean look. Moreover, the product comes with a 5-years warranty for manufacturing defects. You won’t be making a blind purchase after all.


  • Sturdy metallic construction
  • Stain-resistant stage
  • Easy-to-change LED bulb
  • Adjustable diopter and interpupillary distance
  • Five years warranty


  • It doesn’t comes with slides

5.    AmScope M150C-PS25 Compound Monocular Microscope

The AmScope M150C-PS25 Compound Monocular Microscope is perfect for children and adults alike. The collection of 25 different prepared slides gets them set to begin their adventure into the microscopic realm.

The nosepiece houses its three objective lenses of 4x, 10x, and 40x. Each lens is glass and able to correct the color of images. The device engages a rotatable monocular head with replaceable eyepieces of 10x and 25x to give a maximum magnification of 1000x.

Using LED illumination and a 0.65NA single-lens condenser, the images are crystal clear. The stage is plain and possesses stage clips to hold slides in place. Thankfully, it has a sturdy metal build for utmost durability.


  • Easy to use
  • Comes with prepared slides
  • Comes with stage clips
  • Sharp images
  • Sturdy and durable


  • No computer attachment

Maintenance Tips for Compound Microscope

Knowing the purpose a compound microscope serves, it is crucial to keep it in good condition always. Observing the following steps will ensure the longevity and functionality of your compound microscope.

  1. Handle it with care: Lift the microscope from the base, holding its arm. Also, resist the temptation to raise it by the eyepiece holder. Handling at that point can cause it to misalign with the objectives.
  2. Do not leave it on when it is not in use.
  3. Cover it after use to prevent dust from settling on its lenses and other intricate parts.
  4. Use only recommended materials to clean it. Avoid using solvents by all means.
  5. After using immersion oil, ensure that it doesn’t remain on the condenser after use. Wipe clean with a lens cleaner
  6. In case you need to replace the bulb, ensure you replace it with the suitable one to avoid arbitrary results while using the microscope.
  7. Avoid loosening screws at any point different from those needed to assemble them.
  8. Take the microscope to an expert should you notice any problem with its functioning. Never attempt to repair it yourself so that you won’t aggravate the condition.

How to Select the Best Compound Microscope

There are several factors to consider before purchasing the best compound microscope.

1.    Type of condenser used

Condensers affect the quality of image you would see because they affect the illumination of the specimen. The Abbe condenser is the most preferred of the varieties available. It allows for better adjustments than the other kinds. Even then, it comes in ratings, from 0.2 to 1.3. So, when choosing, ensure you did not choose a compound microscope with a condenser that is less than 0.5 rating.

2.    Total Magnification

Depending on your needs, you should be good with a magnification of 1000x. Binocular compound microscopes do offer higher magnifications. The level of magnification you need depends on the application.

3.    Type of microscope head

How comfortable are you with seeing through an eye? Well, there is an option of the binocular and trinocular. It all depends on your preference. Even though the two have two eyepieces, you should go for trinocular if you need to use a camera with your microscope. However, a trinocular may not be as comfortable as a binocular, particularly when viewing for a long period.

4.    Comfort

This is vital, especially when you would be sighting for long. Most jobs require you to spend a long time making meaning of what you see. Hence, choose a microscope with an eyepiece that can be tilted more than 30 degrees above the horizontal plane.

5.    Quality of construction

You want something that would be durable, so go for those with most parts as metals. Check the quality of the finish to make sure it won’t rust easily.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1.    Can a compound microscope see an atom?

No, a compound microscope cannot see an atom. Atoms are still the most diminutive substances known to man, and you can only view them under an electron microscope.

2.    Can compound microscopes see cells?

Yes, compound microscopes can see cells and their more substantial components. The diameter of a cell, either plant or animal, is usually between 0.1 to 100 μm. The best compound microscopes can see as low as 0.2 μm. That means you can see most cells using a compound microscope. For anything smaller, you will need an electron microscope.

3.    What cannot be seen with a light microscope?

Well, you can’t view anything smaller than 0.2μm under the light microscope. Examples include cell walls, proteins, lipids, and atoms.

4.    How do I know when I need a compound microscope?

Although every microscope is for magnification, each type has its limits. You’ll need a compound microscope when you’re dealing with substances that you can’t see under a stereomicroscope.

5.    What is the difference between a compound and stereo microscope?

A compound microscope has a higher magnification than a stereo microscope. Besides, the image of a compound microscope is 2D, whereas that of a stereo microscope is 3D.

Bottom Line

The components of compound microscopes are delicate, and you would want to keep that in mind. Adequate maintenance is crucial to the accurate results and longevity of your compound microscope.

Besides, ensure you know what you want to use a compound microscope for before buying it. Don’t buy a compound microscope for the purpose of viewing an atom. Buy it when you need to view a specimen that is not smaller than 0.2 μm.

While also stocking for one, ensure you go for the one with a warranty. Although not all the best compound microscopes are backed by a warranty, getting one with a warranty is an assurance of quality.

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