How Do They Rank? Simple Microscopes vs Compound Microscopes

Traditionally, if you see a microscope, you know you are in a lab or classroom. This item of lab equipment is synonymous with scientific research. While microscopes are available in many formats, let’s review simple and compound microscopes.

Simple Microscopes

These are basic microscopes consisting of an eyepiece and an objective connected by a focal tube. If a focus is available, it simply moves the objective or the eyepiece up and down to lengthen the focal tube. Simple microscopes may contain a reticle (used to verify the size of objects).

  • Lower cost, ranging from $150-1500
  • Easy to use
  • Image quality may not be the best
  • With one focal point, every scope usually has only one magnification range. To magnify in a different range, a different eyepiece or objective must be used
  • “Plug and Play” USB microscopes (a camera with lenses attached) fall into this category and require a computer
  • Portable digital microscope cameras (digital camera with attachment lenses) are also simple microscopes and handy for field use

Compound Microscopes

These are advanced microscopes containing multiple lenses. The first set of lenses (objective) collects light from the sample. A separate set of ocular lenses focus the light into the eye or camera. The light passes through one lens at a time, producing a two-dimensional image.

  • Compound microscopes are considered standard for laboratory uses
  • Improved numerical aperture with multiple lenses
  • Reduced chromatic aberration
  • Adjustable magnification through exchangeable objective lenses
  • Advanced illumination possible
  • Magnification is stepped to offer a range of magnifications
  • The objective, which normally produces a curved image, is the most important part of the microscope; three major types of objectives are achromatic, fluorite, and apochromatic
  • At higher power magnification, compound microscopes use Immersion Oil, which has the same refractive index as glass but in a viscous liquid
  • Compound microscopes are priced in the range from under $100 to many thousands of dollars

View our selection of microscopes.

1 Comment on "How Do They Rank? Simple Microscopes vs Compound Microscopes"

  1. Microscopes-India | June 13, 2022 at 8:11 am | Reply

    This digital microscope appeals to me. I have a microscope as well, but it is not digital. In any case, the quality is excellent. I’ll do everything I can to help you, and I’ll tell all of my friends about your blog.

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