Buying Your First Microscope
(A concise but definitive guide)

Mol Smith. UK
December 2017


This is the first chapter of a book produced by us at Mic-UK - ( buy in UK ) - ( buy in USA ) to provide a complete guide to choosing and buying a first microscope. The book itself has far more information to assist beginners of all ages to set up and use the microscope properly and get them started on a rewarding and informative hobby. There is still time to purchase a microscope for yourself or as a gift for someone as a Christmas present (today: 13th Dec. 2017), and our online microscopy shop, owned and managed by our sponsors is a friendly and helpful place to start looking. Below are the first 28 pages, although I have presented the contents for the whole 94 page book, in case you wish to purchase it. I have also presented a few microscopes you could buy from our  sponsors, if you live in the UK - Brunel Microscopes. I would personally recommend this small family business even if they were not our sponsors, as their service is 100% reliable and their customer service is second to none!

And if you are in a rush and have a very low budget, check out this refurbished used microscope available right now. A great starter instrument at a rock bottom price.

This microscope looks as microscopes should and is an ideal starter instrument for microscopists of all ages. Objectives x4, x10 and x40 giving a magnification range of x40 to x400 with the x10 wide field eyepiece included. Slide clips with aperture disc lighting control. Mirror illumination and separate coarse and fine focus controls.

WSM08 Monocular Microscope

Total Price: £50.00 / Euro 56.00 (Excluding VAT at 20%)         BUY    



First Microscopes - recommended by Mol Smith to UK buyers.
Note: these have been selected by me on price... the lowest.
You might find it worthwhile, if your budget is higher, to explore
more advanced microscopes at Brunel here.

Brunel DM1 Stereomicroscope
(for the very young possibly, mol)

This instrument is a good introduction to low cost, low power microscopy. It is a well constructed, full size, professional standard, monocular microscope. Working on the same principle as a stereomicroscope, the DM1 has been recommended by the Royal Microscopical Society as an ideal instrument for primary and secondary schools. Produces an erect non reversing image x20. With the use of alternative eyepieces, the magnification range may be extended from x10 to x40.


The DM1 has a pillar coarse focus, rack/pinion fine focus, and clutch adjustment. A micrometer eyepiece can be used for measurement. Working distance 80mm. Reversible black and white stage plate. Suitable for photography. Weight 1.3 kg.


   Price DM1 £51.67  Buy here...     ex. Vat.  
You will find the DM1 in the linked list.


Brunel SP13 Dual Light Microscope
A universal microscope for junior scientists (of all ages!)

The SP13 Dual Light microscope is exclusive to Brunel Microscopes and is an ideal microscope for the young enquiring mind without having many of the constraints of a standard biological microscope. The laws of light physics dictates that it is not possible to manipulate or dissect whole objects with a biological microscope because of the closeness of the objectives to the specimen, the fact that images are inverted and that usually whole objects are not transparent so that the transmitted light does not get through. However by having a light shining down onto the microscope stage from just behind the objectives the SP13 can look at the surface of whole objects when using the two lowest magnifications (x40 and x100). The x400 magnification has the objective just too close to the specimen for the top light to get in.

In summary:

         Using the top light whole objects (such as the butterfly shown below) can be examined at x40 and x100.  Using the bottom light microscope slides can be examined at x40, x100 and x400.

The flexible top light attaches to the microscope by the ‘USB’ type plug at the base of the rear, this turns the light on. The dual light system avoids always having to make (or buy) slide preparations and opens a much wider world of microscopic exploration.

The SP13 is a modern design instrument with a very convenient carrying handle built into the microscope body, and its technical specification has many of the features of more expensive microscopes in our range. The optical parts are the most important feature with the x10 widefield eyepiece matched with Royal Microscopical Standard (RMS) screw thread achromatic objectives - x4 x10 and x40 giving a magnification range of x40 to x400 which is extended by the additional x25 eyepiece from x100 to x1000.

Focus is by coaxial coarse and fine controls which move the microscope stage. Beneath the stage is a rotating ring of apertures and filters. There are two spring loaded stage clips to secure microscope slides.  There is a safety stop that can be set to prevent the stage rising too far and making contact with the objectives and in addition the x40 objective has a further safety feature with the front lens being spring loaded which allows this element to retreat into its housing on contact with a slide. The objectives are parfocal which means only minimal movement of the fine focus control is needed as the magnification options are changed.

Depending on the general colour and texture of whole objects being examined it can be advantageous to cover the stage with white paper which assists with reflecting the top lighting. The microscope comes complete with a basic starters kit of  already prepared slides and plain slides and coverslips for making your own preparations.

   Price SP13   - £71.67 + vat BUY HERE    

Brunel SP30/40 Series
For the mature student or semi-professional, or serious hobyist starting out.

The Brunel SP30/40 series has recently undergone a style improvement, giving the instruments a very modern appearance. They are high power microscopes with a robust high quality design and finished to an excellent standard. The impressive specification of this range is considered ideal for the advanced student or professional. Standard features of the series are: Quadruple nosepiece turret. The eyetube units, monocular and binocular, are inclined and fully rotatable through 360 degrees. Rack and pinion coarse and fine focus mechanism.

In addition to the standard halogen illumination the series is also available with LED lighting making the microscopes truly portable. The 240 volt  LED lighting system is supported by internal rechargeable batteries, and the recharging plug transformer is supplied. An overnight charge will allow a full 8 hours use with rheostat brightness control. The SP30/40 microscopes are normally connected to a mains electricity supply. This automatically charges the the internal batteries making the instrument ready for portable use at any time. An excellent innovation.

All models have a full substage which includes an Abbe condenser with an independent focus control (N.A. 1.25), iris diaphragm and filter carrier. DIN standard parfocal objectives. The high power objectives have retractable front lenses for slide safety. Focus stop. Inbuilt illumination with a 20 watt quartz halogen rheostat  controlled lighting system. The monocular and binocular versions are available with a very effective multiple LED lighting system. This enables the microscope to be used away from an electricity supply  for up to 40 hours from one charge.

SP30 Monocular

Monocular. x10 widefield eyepiece. DIN standard objectives x4. x10, x40, x100 (oil). Magnification range x40 - x1000. Full substage condenser. Inbuilt 240 volts halogen illumination or LED depending on choice. Mechanical stage. Extremely good value for money.

SP30 Price £212.50  + vat             BUY HERE     

SP40B - Binocular and SP40          BUY HERE     
- Trinocular

Binocular or Trinocular head (depending on choice) with interocular and dioptric adjustment. DIN standard achromatic objectives x4, x10, x40 x100(oil). x10 eyepieces. Mechanical stage with double vernier scales. Coaxial coarse and fine focus controls. Focus safety stop. Focusing substage condenser with iris diaphragm and filter carrier. In built rheostat controlled illumination with field lens. A modern style instrument with a very good specification for the price. Available with LED illumination. Magnification range x40 - x1000.

SP40B Price £319.16  + vat            BUY HERE    

SP40T Price £343.33 + vat              BUY HERE     

Above: SP40


 Above: SP30



Microscopy UK Front Page
Micscape Magazine
Article Library

© Microscopy UK or their contributors.

Published in the December 2017 edition of Micscape.
Please report any Web problems or offer general comments to the
Micscape Editor .

Micscape is the on-line monthly magazine of the Microscopy UK web site at Microscopy-UK


All internally-linked material is copyright of Ltd and the authors and contributors of Micscape Magazine. Ltd is a company in the UK
created to protect the rights of Micscape Magazine Authors and the material published on this web site. External links have copyright elsewhere.