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What Are The Primary Types of Microscopes?

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The microscope is used a variety of scientific fields for many different reasons. Some microscopes are best suited for biological applications, while others are better for the classroom or personal use.

At, we’re proud to be an industry leader in the distribution of microscopes, fiber optics, microscope bulbs, and task lighting. Whether you’re shopping for specific microscope kits or microscope parts, we’re confident you’ll find what you’re looking for in our online store.

Optical Microscopes

If you’re like most people, you’re probably already familiar with optical microscopes, also known as light microscopes. This kind of scope magnifies specimens through the use of specialized lenses and visible light. Optical microscopes can be divided into three main categories, including:

Compound Microscopes

Many schools and educational facilities use compound microscopes. This microscope works by illuminating the slide from underneath with a light bulb. The specimen placed on the slide is magnified by a series of lenses: one near the slide (known as the objective lens), and one near the top (known as the eyepiece). This creates a two-dimensional image that the viewer can adjust.

Compound microscopes are limited to a maximum magnification of roughly 2,000 times the specimen’s size. While theoretically, these microscopes can magnify at a higher level, the human eye and brain is not capable of processing such information.

Stereo Microscopes

A stereo microscope has two eyepieces instead of one. The main purpose of this microscope is to produce a three-dimensional image (which is where the two eyepieces come in handy). The specimen being observed is usually lit from above, rather than underneath. These microscopes are ideal for dissection, inspection, and circuit board work.

Stereo microscopes are fairly simple to use, making them great for amateur scientists and professionals alike. Due to their low magnification, you cannot see individual cells.

Confocal Microscopes

Confocal microscopes are in a league of their own. Instead of using a visible light source, these microscopes use a laser. The laser scans the specimen or sample with the help of a few scanning mirrors, which ultimately assembles the image in a computer and displays it on-screen. There is no need for eyepieces with this microscope.

A downside to these microscopes is that they can cost tens of thousands of dollars. Mostly used by research scientists and molecular biologists, these microscopes also allow you to create a three-dimensional image from a selected depth of the specimen that’s being observed. As a result, you get to see highly selective, detailed images.

Biological Microscopes

Biological microscopes are often optical microscopes, specifically designed to observe things like cells, tissues, and other biological specimens. At, we carry an impressive selection of biological microscopes to meet the needs of hobbyists, teachers, and science professionals. Some of our most popular microscopes include:

Meiji Techno MT4000 Series

If you’re shopping for a university-grade upright microscope, you’ll love the Meiji Techno MT4000 Series. Featuring new and improved plan optics, this microscope series offers a computer aided design, ergonomically positioned controls, and phase contrast observation modes. The Meiji Techno MT4000 Series is ideal for day-to-day use in the laboratory or university classroom.

Meiji Techno MT5000 Series

The Meiji Techno MT5000 Series biological microscope that can be used in any laboratory or classroom setting. With infinity corrected optics, halogen or LED Koehler illumination, and ergonomic inclination, you’ll love everything this microscope has to offer.

Whether you’re shopping for biological microscopes, gemological microscopes, or stereo microscopes, be sure to shop We also carry an impressive selection of illuminators, lab supplies, and more. If you have any questions about our optical supplies, reach out to our friendly staff today.