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Microscopy Buyer's Guide

Eleven questions to ask when buying a microscope

by Lab Manager
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Lab Manager's 2020 Microscopy Buyer's Guide

11 Questions to Ask When Buying a Microscope

Optical (light) microscopes use light and lenses to magnify specimens, and scanning electron microscopes (SEM) scan the surface of the specimen with a beam of electrons to produce an image. SEMs offer greater depth of focus and resolving power than optical microscopes, however optical microscopes are easier to use. Technique selection is highly dependent on the nature of the sample and application.


  1. What types of specimens are you examining?
  2. Is a polarizing or non-polarizing microscope required?
  3. Are there attachments available to adapt the microscope for different applications?
  4. What degree of accuracy is required?
  5. What is your budget? What does the service/warranty package include?


  1. What types of specimens are you examining?
  2. What is the finest resolution you wish to achieve?
  3. How many users are there? Are they trained? Are you willing to invest in training?
  4. What speed do you require? A desktop model may present images faster than a floor model.
  5. What ergonomic features are available?
  6. What consumables are required and how much do they cost?

Resource Guide

Ergonomic microscopes can adjust exactly to a user’s body, maximizing comfort and improving workflow. Download the resource guide to learn more about the advantages of ergonomic microscopes.

Safety Tip

Working with a microscope often necessitates sitting in the same position for several hours at a time. Back, neck, shoulder, and arm pain can occur with improper ergonomics. When purchasing a microscope, look for ergonomic options such as an ergonomic headpiece that allows the user to change height and inclination. When setting up the microscope, consider seat height. Position it as close as possible to the edge of the table, and ensure the operator is able to move and reposition themselves while working.