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What to Look for in a Research Microscope

Updated on April 13, 2015


Science fair projects often require the student to take an extra close look at an object in order to collect data. Sometimes the object is biological and sometimes it is inert. In order to get the best view of small details a quality research microscope is needed.

What Is a Research Microscope?

There are many different types of microscopes that you can choose between. Models will vary in terms of their magnification strength, the number of lenses, the type of eyepiece, the light source and the function of the microscope. When selecting a microscope to use for a science fair project your two main options are going to be a student microscope and a research microscope.

Microscopes that are defined or labeled as a student microscope are usually designed especially for kids and they will have features that will appeal to students, such as durable construction, easy to turn knobs and a low cost.

A research microscope, on the other hand, is usually going to be a higher end tool that offers students interested in research more features such as a USB connection for computer interfaces, stronger magnifications and water and oil immersion options and macro imaging options.

Features Offered by Research Microscopes

Zoom ratios – Most research microscopes are going to offer you a wide array of zoom ratios to choose between. The higher end models will offer you a zoom ratio up to about 16.4:1.


High resolution – Higher resolution is another feature that is offered by a research microscope, when compared to a student microscope. Higher resolutions are possible because of the higher quality lenses and because some research microscopes have digital enhancements.


Polarized light capabilities – This is a special feature offered by unique research microscopes which enable researchers to use polarizing light techniques.


Light filters – a variety of day and night light filters will help you to stabilize your image and to prevent lens flares and other distortions.

Larger fields of view – this features helps to expand the field of view so that larger images can be produced for data collection.

Attachment ports – This feature enables researchers to connect their research  microscope to a variety of electronic devices such as computers, projectors and digital imaging devices.

How to Select a Research Microscope


How to Select a Research Microscope

1.      Set a budget.

2.      Create a list of features that you need.

3.      Create a list of features that you want.

4.      Identify possible models that you can afford.

5.      Select models that has the most features that you need.

6.      Select the model to purchase that has the most features that you want.

Research Microscope Models

Selecting a research microscope will depend a great deal on the features that you need to collect data for your science fair projects.  Most research microscopes are designed for very specific applications. For example, there are medical research microscopes that enable you to produce water immersion images and that also provide you with a binocular eye piece for easier examination of small samples. There are also models of research microscopes that are designed for physical sciences such as geology and physics. These models offer special features such as polarized light, light filters and digital enhancements.

In addition to the special use features, many research models also offer add on components. These components include automated slide trays, digital imaging options, digital connectivity options and projection capabilities. When selecting a research microscope for your science fair project keep in mind that the more features that a model has the more it will cost.


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