A young person’s interest in science can be stifled by a lack of access to scientific apparatuses. If your idea of science is limited to worn-out textbooks with dated photographs, it’s hard to fully engage with subjects like chemistry, biology, or physics. That lack of interest as a youth often translates to a lack of interest as an adult.
But if you’re able to experience science in front of you, whether that’s an explosive demonstration in chemistry class or a dissection in biology, you can see how exciting science truly can be. Fortunately, advancements in technology have made accessing quality scientific equipment far less expensive than its ever been. One piece of equipment that’s sure to pique a young person’s interest in science is a digital microscope.
Digital microscopes replace the optical lenses in a traditional microscope with a digital camera that feeds an image to a monitor. Digital microscopes are typically inexpensive, compact, and convenient. That makes them great for a classroom setting or for college students.
There’s a lot that for hobbyists to appreciate in a digital microscope, too. If you’re studying a leaf or bug from your yard, the intricate circuitry of your computer, or making a detailed miniature, a digital microscope will help you easily transfer detailed images to your computer. Some even have WiFi capabilities, so you can seamlessly connect to your phone.
We’ve rounded up some of our favorite digital microscopes — these are suitable for students, teachers, hobbyists, or even professionals looking for an economical everyday tool.
1. Plugable USB Digital Microscope
The Plugable USB Digital Microscope is a good microscope for beginners and professionals alike. It’s user-friendly and has a wide range of functions. It comes with built-in lighting, a capacitive capture button and a stand. The capacitive capture button is one of this microscope’s most unique features. It initiates an image capture at just the slightest touch, without making you push a capture button. This helps you avoid offsetting an image. Plugable’s microscope has a focus range between 0x-250x and is compatible with Windows, macOS & OS X, Linux, Chrome, Android, and iOS. The flexible gooseneck stand and suction cup mount let you precisely measure and observe specimens.
Pros: High quality for the price point.
Cons: Hit or miss video recording resolution.
2. Celestron 5 MP Handheld Digital Microscope
The Celestron 5 MP Handheld Digital Microscope has a 20x to 200x focus range, and its five-megapixel sensor allows the high-resolution video and images to be captured. It is somewhat bulky compared with other options, and it requires power from the USB cable. However, it’s also sturdier and more balanced than some other picks. Ultimately, it’s a great option for a desk, rather than something you might take with you everywhere. Plus, the included software is a great tool for hobbyists or educators.
Pros: High-quality videos of specimens.
Cons: Celestron software is needed to use it on a Mac.
3. Jiusion Digital Microscope
The Jiusion Digital Microscope has a focus range between 10x to 250x and a magnification range between 40x to 1,000x. It also has eight built-in LED lights. The two knobs make it easy to adjust the focus and brightness. You can capture images with the microscope, and save those images to your device using the USB cable. The USB cable also has USB-C and micro-USB adapters.
Pros: Affordable value, includes software for viewing and measuring images.
Cons: Software does not work with iPhones.
4. SKYBASIC Wireless Digital Microscope
This compact microscope from SKYBASIC is a great option for hobbyists and students, and it has a variety of convenient features that make it great for everyday use. The listed range is that the zoom can vary between 50x and 1,000x digital zoom. This broad range allows for studying small images up close as well as details that are too small for the eye to perceive. Plus, built-in LED lights allow you to see clearly in less-than-optimal lighting conditions. Built-in WiFi and USB make it easy to transfer images.
Pros: Built-in LED lights for detailed viewing in any condition. Compact 5.3-inch body makes it easy to take on the go.
Cons: Listed maximum zoom of 1,000x is more than the unit is actually capable of.
5. SKYBASIC LCD Digital Microscope
Many of the options on this list depend on your computer’s monitor to display the microscope’s view, which is what makes this option special. This digital microscope from SKYBASIC has its own display screen to easily view images with or without a computer. There are also buttons on the screen, allowing you to easily take photos, videos, and modify settings from the menu. You can also easily connect to your computer to transfer photos and videos.
Pros: Unlike many of the other picks, this option has a 4.3-inch LED screen, so you can view the subject without using your computer. Built-in camera feature allows images to be saved directly to a memory card.
Cons: Does not zoom as much as the listing suggests.
6. Koolertron LCD Digital USB Microscope
Koolertron’s digital microscope has a 4.3-inch LCD screen, making it portable. Adding to that, its battery allows you to use use it with or without a computer, and the SD card slot allows you to save images to view later. If you decide you want want to view through your computer, you can easily do that using the included USB cable. You can even connect to HDMI, making it a great option for use in a classroom. A detachable and adjustable base is also included with the microscope.
Pros: HDMI and USB compatibility. Battery-power and built-in LCD screen make it portable when not using with a computer.
Cons: Does not provide as strong magnification as the listing suggests.
7. Pancellent Wireless Digital Microscope
This microscope from Pancellent is easy to take on the go, and it can easily connect to iPhones and Androids, as well as Windows or Apple computers. If you’re connecting via computer, you can easily use the USB cable. Connecting to your mobile device can be done through the microscope’s built-in WiFi capabilities. It can be used to take photos or video for reference, and adjustable LEDs allow for well-lit images every time.
Pros: Affordable and compact. Built-in WiFi and USB allow for easily connecting to smartphones and computers.
Cons: Like some of the other options, connecting to a device is required to view the images.
8. Bysameyee USB Digital Microscope
This compact and affordable digital microscope is easy to connect to your phone or computer via its variable USB adapter. It can connect through micro-USB, USB, and USB-C. That way, you can easily connect to laptops and Android phones. Eight adjustable LED lights make it easy to work in various light conditions, and the adjustable base and arm are helpful in viewing objects of differing sizes.
Pros: Sleek, compact design. The USB cable can connect to micro-USB and USB-C.
Cons: Measuring software is not compatible with Apple devices, although the device can still be used with iPhones or Apple computers.