Pocket microscopes are small, portable microscopes which have a number of uses for both the hobbyist and the professional. Whether you’re planning on using your mini microscope for fun with the kids or a more sophisticated activity, it’s important to understand what to look for and what to avoid.
Selecting a microscope can be difficult, especially with the myriad of different models out there, that’s why we’ve tested and reviewed the most accessible and best selling pocket models to make your life a little easier.
What is a pocket microscope?
A pocket microscope is a miniature microscope designed to fit easily into your pocket for portable use. Although many are advertised as pocket microscopes, many are not actually small enough to fit into a pocket. However, their small size makes them incredibly useful and convenient.
These mini microscopes are composed of a small body, a light at one end and the eyepiece at the other. Certain models also come with a very handy stage to place and position specimens while you observe them. Some models don’t come with a stage, in which case you simply hold it over the item and adjust it accordingly until it’s within view.
Due to these portable microscopes being small it’s very common in cheap models to see images reversed. This is due to a lack of space for components such as mirrors which adjust the image. For this reason, it’s essential you take the time to read the product description.
What are pocket microscopes used for?
They have many uses and due to their small size are the only true portable microscope. Due to their relative low cost they are often purchased by parents for their children and can be used for fun learning activities without the need to invest on more expensive types of microscopes. Additionally they are a fantastic gift to any science enthusiast.
Other common uses include:
- Entomology (the study of insects)
- Coin collecting
- And many other interesting activities!
How to Choose the Best Pocket Microscope
When searching for one of these types of microscopes one of the most important things to be aware of is that not all models are equal. In fact as these microscopes are small and easy to manufacturer there is a huge amount of low quality, fragile and very cheap models that should be avoided at all costs. It’s also important to know about the different features available, as that way you know which one will suit your requirements, these include:
LED Pocket Microscope – microscopes that utilize a light-emitting diode (LED) are superior to ones that user older types of illumination as they are far brighter and last much longer. Today there are numerous models offering LED lighting and the best part is that they will save you a lot of time and money replacing batteries all the time.
Magnification – when choosing a portable microscope you’ll want to give a bit of thought to the magnification. There are a diverse amount of microscopes offering very different ranges of magnification, including low magnifications of 20x, 30x, or 40x and more powerful options such as 60x and 100x.
If you’re just buying your microscope for a bit of fun or for young children, then a low magnification should be fine, however if you’re going to be carrying out more professional activities such as studying insects or circuit board inspection you will want a higher magnification.
Top Rated Portable Microscopes
Pocket Microscope 100x
Carson Micromax Pocket Microscope 100x Review
This is the number one best-selling pocket microscope on Amazon and in our view is the best option as it has all the features you would possibly ever need. It is ideal for scientists, amateurs and students that can use this pocket microscope for a wide variety of applications.
This pocket microscope 100x is highly portable and was made for travelling. The compact design means it easily fits anywhere and can be taken almost anywhere. With a weight of just 1.2 ounces it can very easily be tucked into a wallet or bag.
The Carson microscope is equipped with a LED light source for optimum illumination of the subject, allowing for maximum detail and close up examination.
It also comes fitted with a rubber eyepiece, making examining specimens less of a strain for the user. There’s no hard materials that may start to irritate your skin or eyes whenever you need to examine the object in more depth.
The Carson is operated using batteries, so no nuisance wires will get in your way. It needs three AAA batteries to power it, which are not included, or alternatively, three 3 SG3 button cell batteries on the LED model, which are included.
Regardless of the small size, it does pack some hefty magnification, ranging from 60x to 100x, allowing observers to examine a wide range of very small specimens in a good amount of detail.
For the price the Carson Micromax is incredibly durable and robust. However, in the long term it may become worn, especially for those who give it lots of work, therefore, a protective carry case may come in useful and increase its lifespan.
As is typical with pocket microscopes, it does not come with a stage, making it a challenge to maintain focus of a specimen. As a result, it may be a challenge to view tiny details if it can’t be kept still.
Although small in size, the Carson Micromax doesn’t lack in great features:
- Built-in light source (LED models available)
- Magnification from 60x to 100x
- Focus control
- Rubberized eyepiece
- Battery powered
LED Pocket Microscope
KingMas Mini LED UV Light Review
An LED microscope is perfect if you don’t want to keep changing batteries and want more light power. LED powered microscopes are brighter and much more efficient.
LED microscopes were previously reserved for the most expensive types of microscopes, but today a lot of models come fitted with LED illumination. The KingMas LED microscope is what we would recommend based on its price point, ease of use and the illumination it provides.
Some other great features include:
- Magnification of up to 60x (although a few customers have noted that they don’t believe it reaches this magnification)
- Metal and plastic body that is sturdier than it looks
- Clear image with good optics
- Long-lasting LED illumination
This is a tiny microscope, so it’s very small for a pocket microscope even. The tiny size could be a benefit for those looking for a microscope for biological and crop work outdoors.
Even for less than $10, it’s more cost effective than many jewelers’ loupes and gives off more light and provides better detail.
The KingMas also comes equipped with UV light, making it appropriate for specific activities including jewelry and currency examination.
- Black faux leather pouch.
- Batteries included.
- Adjustable Loupe.
- Carson MicroMax Pocket Microscope
- Price: $
- Magnification: 60X-100X
- Light source: Built-in LED light
- Other Features: Power and zoom controls, lightweiht, 3 SG3 Button Cell Batteries (Included)
- 420 Scope Handheld Microscope
- Price: $
- Magnification: 60-100X
- Light Source: 8 White Light LED
- Other Features: Handheld, LED lighting
- UV Light Pocket Microscope
- Price: $$
- Magnification: 60X
- Light Source: LED UV Light
- Other Features: Adjustable loupe model and UV light, ideal for jewellers
- Newcomdigi Light Pocket Microscope
- Price: $
- Magnification: 200-240X
- Light Source: LED UV Light
- Other Features: Pocket sized, rubber eyepiece patch for added comfort