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, some are not actually small enough to fit into a pocket. However, their small size makes them incredibly useful and convenient still.
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.
They are usually powered by replaceable batteries. Due to these portable microscopes being small it’s very common in cheap models to see a revered image. This is due to a lack of space for components such as mirrors which adjust the image that you would see in standard microscopes. For this reason, it’s essential you take the time to get acquainted with the product range and make sure you get the best value for your money.
What are pocket microscopes used for?
They have many uses and due to their small size are the only truly portable type of microscope. Their relatively low cost, ease of use and portability is usually appealing to the amateur scientists and young explorers; often purchased by parents for their children.
They’re great for fun learning activities without the need to invest in more expensive types of microscopes. They are a more powerful alternative to using a magnifying glass and suitable for use when appraising antiques or checking the stitching on textiles. Overall they make a fantastic gift for any budding science enthusiast who wants to work in the field.
Common uses include:
- Entomology (the study of insects)
- Coin collecting
- Computer Technicians
- And many many more!
How to Choose the Best Pocket Microscope
When searching for a microscope that’s small and portable 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 the 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 and the characteristics of the models, as that way you know which one will suit your requirements, these include:
Lighting – Microscopes that utilize a light-emitting diode (LED) are superior to ones that use older types of illumination as they are far brighter and last much longer. Today there are numerous models offering LED lighting so you can see what you are looking at.
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.
Zoom – Sometimes when looking closely at a sample, it’s easy to get lost and not know what you are looking at. With a zoom feature you just have to zoom out again to get your bearings and so this feature is preferable.
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.
Our Top Picks
Carson 60X-75X MicroMax
Magnification: Zoomable 60x-75x
Size: 1.25 x 3.25 x 0.75 inches
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 is highly portable and was made for traveling. 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 are 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 just three SG3 button cell batteries to power it.
Regardless of the small size, it does pack some hefty magnification, ranging from 60x to 75x, 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 the focus of a specimen. As a result, it may be a challenge to view tiny details if it can’t be kept still.
KINGMAS Mini 60x Microscope
Size: 1.45 x 1.37 x 0.59 inches
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 Mini 60x 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
- A handy faux leather carry pouch
This is a tiny microscope; in fact, it’s even very small for a pocket microscope. The tiny size could be a benefit for those looking for a microscope for biological and crop work outdoors.It also comes equipped with UV light, making it appropriate for specific activities including jewelry and currency examination.
Educational Insights GeoSafari Pocket Scope
Magnification: 8x – 30x
Size: 5.1 x 8.4 x 3.2 inches
This pocket scope you’ll find is not as strong as your other pocket microscopes when it comes to magnification and is more of a toy; it also doubles up as a short-range 8x telescope too. It’s quite inexpensive and would no doubt make a good stocking filler for the adventurous kid.
It’s a great size and telescopic, so it’s easy to store away in a bag, pants pocket or an inner pocket on a coat or blazer. In fact is has a clip similar to what you would see on a pen so that you can clip it onto to your top and have it to hand whilst they’re out on their pretend safari or even for spying on the neighbors (would not recommend the latter).
It’s sleek and ergonomic in design but overall not entirely functional for somebody who is really interested in getting up close and personal with bugs, plants, minerals and other materials nor is it sufficient for professional use.
Aomekie Universal Clip Pocket Microscope
Magnification: 60x – 100x
Size: 5.1 x 8.4 x 3.2 inches
Some casual microscope fans often opt into purchasing a USB microscope to use for their personal hobbies or work and they are certainly a great choice, but this pocket clip-on microscope is also a great alternative.
So it comes with a clip, you can then put it over the camera on your smartphone and it’s surprisingly powerful with a max 100x zoom. The images are displayed on your phone screen which if you want; you can then take a screenshot to show others, it’s fantastic for sharing your hobbies on social media.
You can also use the microscope without the phone too if you prefer and it just functions more or less the same as the Carson pocket microscope in the first review. It’s not just for smartphones either, you can clip this scope onto any smart device, but however, we found that you’ll need to remove the case if you have one or the picture may not come out right.
It’s a little bit finicky with the positioning of the lens when trying to get a clear picture, but it just takes a little bit of getting the hang of placing the lens directly over the object you are trying to view and it really does give some nice, clear close-ups.