Folge Micro_Tech_Lab auf Facebook Folge Micro_Tech_Lab auf Twitter change language  change language  change language  change language  355

Microscope recommendations for successful high-quality photographic and video work                                                         

Buying a microscope is a daunting task. While the instrument should be of high quality, the cost usually has to fit within a set budget. On top of that, it is becoming increasingly difficult to keep track of the extensive range of products on the market and even harder to get an overview of what’s available in the first place. The number of microscope manufacturers is large, and each of them offers several different instruments.

The brief guide we have developed should help you gain a broad overview of what’s available on the market. Our list is based on our own personal experience and is not in any way intended to be exhaustive.

Generally, we tend to recommend branded microscopes (Nikon, Zeiss, Olympus, Leica, etc.), which can be purchased new or used, depending on the available budget and field of application. The market for used microscopes is huge and with a little patience and effort it is possible to acquire top-quality instruments at very reasonable prices.

Photographic documentation using laboratory microscopes:

There are a few things that should be taken into consideration when purchasing a microscope that will be used for photographic documentation: The most important of these is the microscope’s optical system, which ideally should be infinity-corrected. In this type of optical system, the image is fully corrected in the photo tube of the microscope. 

Microscopes with finite optical systems are less suitable for creating photographic work and video sequences. Depending on the make and model, the objective lenses of microscopes with a finite optical system display various image aberrations, which are corrected in the eyepiece of the microscope. Therefore, these aberrations are not noticeable when viewed with the naked eye. As each type of microscope has a different image aberration, it is impossible to provide adapter solutions with the relevant correctors. For this reason, the microscope’s image aberrations may show up on the photographs and video sequences. Accordingly, the recording quality of microscopes with finite optical systems ranges from perfect to inadequate. The only way to find out is by trial and error.

If you are planning to use the microscope for photographic documentation on a regular basis, we recommend investing in an instrument featuring a trinocular head (photo tube) with C-mount connection (ideally with an optical factor of 1x).  If the microscope does not have a photo tube, it is always possible to mount a camera to one of the two eyepiece tubes. The image quality of this solution is equally good as that produced when attaching the camera to the photo tube. However, you can only use one eyepiece if you choose this option. 

The quality of the microscope lenses is probably the most important factor in the success of any photomicrograph. As a minimum requirement, so-called plan achromats should be used. More highly corrected and much more expensive objective lenses like plan fluorites or plan apochromats are intended for research and scientific purposes. Although they offer some advantages, they are not strictly required for standard applications.

Depending on the area of use, affordable contrast applications such as dark field, phase contrast and polarisation are available. Ideally, the necessary accessories can be inserted in a separate interchangeable condenser or into the condenser’s filter slot.

Photographic documentation using stereo microscopes:

Normal stereo microscopes have two separate optical paths (Greenough principle) and are therefore designed for visual observation through the eyepieces. The three-dimensional image is created by the human brain, which combines the information received from both eyes into a single image. When a camera is attached to a stereo microscope, only one of the two optical paths can be used. As a result, it is not possible to obtain a three-dimensional image of the specimen, and the image quality is poorer than in laboratory microscopes, which is also partly due to the beam orientation in the peripheral areas of the lens.

Telescope style (Abbe principle) stereo microscopes are more expensive, but much better suited for photomicrography. 

In this group of microscopes, too, the quality of the microscope lenses used is a key factor affecting the quality of the image taken. A manually adjustable iris diaphragm is also a plus.

Our LM macroscopes and LM photo microscopes are interesting alternatives to traditional stereo microscopes because they feature a central optical path and have been developed specifically for photography applications.

1) Entry-level microscopes

Manual microscopes for standard requirements at an attractive price.

a) Laboratory microscopes

The microscopes should have plan objective lenses and an infinity-corrected optical system.

The following microscopy methods should be possible:
Laboratory microscopes Laboratory microscopes
Zeiss Axiolab Leica DM750
Zeiss Axio Lab.A1 Leica DME
Zeiss Axio Lab.A1 FL-LED Leica DMLS
Zeiss Axio Lab.A1 MAT Leica DM LM
Zeiss Axio Lab.A1 Pol Leica DMLB
Zeiss Axioplan Leica DM1000 LED
Zeiss Axiostar Leica DM1000
Zeiss Primo Star Leica DM750M
Zeiss Primo Star iLed Nikon Eclipse E100
Zeiss Primovert invers Nikon Eclipse 50i
Zeiss Axiostar plus FL Nikon Eclipse 55i Led
Zeiss Axiostar plus Nikon Eclipse E200
Leica DM500 Nikon Eclipse TS100 invers
Leica DM EP Nikon Eclipse TS2
Olympus CKX31/CKX41 invers Nikon Eclipse MA100 und MA200
Olympus CX 21 / CX31 / CX41  
Olympus CX40  

b) Stereomicroscopes

These microscopes are based on the Greenough principle and feature a zoom of approximately 7x, thus yielding an effective magnification of up to 100x.

Stereomikroskop Stereomikroskop
Zeiss Stemi 2000 Olympus SZ11
Zeiss Stemi 2000C Olympus SZ40
Zeiss Stemi 2000C für KS Elispot Olympus SZ60
Zeiss Stemi 2000 CS Olympus SZ61/SZ51
Zeiss Stemi 508 Nikon SMZ460
Leica A60 S Nikon SMZ 645 - 660
Leica M50 Nikon SMZ745
Leica M60 Nikon SMZ745T
Leica M80 Nikon SMZ1000
Leica GZ6 Nikon SMZ800
Leica S4 Nikon SMZ4450
Leica S4 E Nikon SMZ800N
Leica S6 Nikon SMZ 2T
Leica S6 D Nikon SMZ 10
Leica S6 E Wild M3
Leica 6T Wild M5
Leica 6E Wild M7

2) Microscopes for more sophisticated requirements

Instruments for more sophisticated applications. Depending on the configuration, additional modules and objective lenses used, there is some crossover between group 2 (microscopes for more sophisticated requirements) and group 3 (top-grade microscopes).  It is not always possible to make a clear distinction because many microscopes of this class can be turned into top-grade instruments by upgrading them.

a) Laboratory microscopes

The microscopes should have infinity-corrected plan objective lenses.

The following microscopy methods should be possible:

b) Stereomicroscopes

Laboratory microscopes Laboratory microscopes
Zeiss Axiolab.A1 Leica DM IL (Invers)
Zeiss Axioskop Leica LS2
Zeiss Axioskop 2 MOT Leica LB2
Zeiss Axioplan 2 Imaging Leica 2500 M
Zeiss Axioskop 2 Plus Leica 2500 P
Zeiss Axioskop 2 FS Plus Leica 2000
Zeiss Axioskop 20 Leica DM4000 B LED
Zeiss Axioskop 40 Leica DM IL LED
Zeiss Axioskop 40 A Pol Leica DM2500 M
Zeiss Axioskop 40 FL Leica DM2500 P
Zeiss Axioskop 40 Pol Leica DM2000/ DM 2000 LED
Zeiss Axioskop 50 Leica DM2700
Zeiss Axiotech  Leica DM2700 M
Zeiss Axiovert Leica DM2700 P
Zeiss Axiovert 10 invers Leitz DMRB/E
Zeiss Axiovert 35 invers Leica DM IL Led (Invers)
Zeiss Axiovert 100 invers Leica DMI 5000 M (Invers)
Zeiss Axiovert S100 invers Olympus AX70
Zeiss Axiovert 100A invers Olympus BX40 / BX50
Zeiss Axiovert 135 invers Olympus BX45
Zeiss Axio Scope Olympus BX43
Zeiss Axio Scope.A1/ .A1 Pol/ .A1 Vario Olympus BX46
Zeiss Axiovert 200 invers Olympus BX51 / BX61
Zeiss Axiovert 200 mit Apo Tome invers Olympus BX52
Zeiss Axiophot OlympusIX50 / IX70
Zeiss Axioplan Olympus IX51 / IX71 / IX 81 invers
Zeiss Axio Examiner Olympus IX53
Zeiss Axio Examiner.A1 Olympus CKX53
Zeiss Axio Examiner.D1 Nikon Eclipse E400
Zeiss Axio Examiner.Z1 Nikon Eclpise E600
Zeiss Axio Imager 2
Zeiss Axio Imager Vario
Nikon Eclipse E80
Zeiss Axio Imager.A1 Nikon TE 300 invers
Zeiss Axio Imager.A2 Nikon TE 200 invers
Zeiss Axio Imager.D1 Nikon Eclipse L150
Reichert-Jung ME3 Nikon Eclipse L200
  Nikon Eclipse ME 600 C

These microscopes are based on the telescope principle (Abbe) and feature a zoom of approximately 15x, thus yielding an effective magnification of up to 200x. The lens objectives used are apo lenses.

Stereomicroscope Stereomicroscope
Leica M80 Zeiss Stemi SV6
Leica M165C Zeiss Stemi SV8
Leica M125 Zeiss Stemi SV11/ SV11 Apo
Leica MS5 Zeiss Axio Zoom V16
Leica MS6 Olympus SZX2
Leica MZ6 Olympus SZX7
Leica MZ7 Olympus SZX9
Leica MZ7.5 Olympus SZX16
Leica MZ8 Olympus SZX10
Leica MZ9 Olympus SZX12
Leica MZ9.5 Olympus SZX7
Leica MZ12.5 Olympus SZH 10
Leica S7.5 Wild M8
Huvitz HSZ ZB700 Wild M10
Nikon SMZ1500  

3) Top-grade microscopes

Motorised microscopes and/or microscopes with special research and scientific features for working on difficult specialist tasks.

a) Laboratory microscopes

Instruments belonging to this group mostly feature a heavy, solid stand that is firm in all positions to avoid movement and vibration while working. In addition, the stand usually has a lot of space for additional modules.

The following microscopy methods should be possible:

Labormikroskop Labormikroskop
Zeiss Axio Examen Zeiss Axio Observer.D1 Mid Range
Zeiss Axio Imager 2 Zeiss Axio Observer.D1 TIRF 3
Zeiss Axio Imager.A1m Zeiss Axio Observer.Z1
Zeiss Axio Imager.A2m Zeiss Axio Observer.Z1 Cell Observer
Zeiss Axio Imager.D1m Zeiss Axio Observer.Z1 Cell Observer SD
Zeiss Axio Imager.M1 Zeiss Axio Observer.Z1 TIRF 3
Zeiss Axio Imager.M2 Zeiss Axio Observer.Z1 High End
Zeiss Axio Imager.M2m Zeiss Axio Observer.Z1m ACR
Zeiss Axio Imager.Z1 Zeiss Axio Imager
Zeiss Axio Imager.Z1m Zeiss Axioskop 2 FS MOT
Zeiss Axio Imager.Z2m Zeiss Axioskop 2 MOT Plus
Zeiss Axiovert.A1 Zeiss Axiotech vario
Zeiss Axiovert 135M invers Nikon Eclipse NiE
Zeiss Axiovert 200M invers Nikon Eclipse LV-N
Zeiss Axiovert 200M für Auflicht-Floureszenz + Apo Tome invers Leica DM5000
Zeiss Axiovert 200M MAT invers Leica DM6000
Zeiss Axiovert 200M MAT invers Leica DMI5000 invers
Zeiss Axiovert 405M invers Leica DM IRE2 invers
Zeiss Axio Observer Leica DMi8 invers
Zeiss Axio Observer.A1 Leica DMI6000B invers
Zeiss Axio Observer.A1 Entry Leica FS4000
Zeiss Axio Observer.D1 Leica LMD6500
Zeiss Axio Observer.D1 + Apo Tome Leica LMD7000
Zeiss Axio Observer.D1 Entry Olympus BX53/ BX63
Zeiss Axiotron 2 Olympus IX73 / IX 83 invers

b) Stereomicroscopes

These microscopes are based on the telescope principle (Abbe) and feature a zoom of approximately 25x, thus yielding an effective magnification of up to 200x. The lens objectives used are apo lenses.

Stereomicroscopes Stereomicrosopes
Zeiss SteREO Discovery.V12 Leica M205 FA
Zeiss SteREO Discovery.V8 Leica MZ16
Zeiss SteREO Discovery.V20 Leica MZ16 Apo
Leica M125 Leica MZ16 FA
Leica M165C Leica MZ Apo
Leica M165 Nikon SMZ1270i
Leica M165 FL Nikon SMZ25
Leica M205A Nikon SMZ18
Leica M205C Olympus SZX16


4) Macroscopes

Makroskope Makroskope
Leica M420 Leica S8 Apo
LM Makroskop 16x Olympus MVX10
LM Makroskop 32x  
LM Fotomikroskop  


update: 02.06.2016

New LM Digital Adapter for: Nikon Z9 / Sony Alpha 1 / Sony FX3 Cinema Line / Sony Alpha 9 II (ILCE-9M2) / Sony Alpha 9 / Nikon D6 / Sony Alpha 7R IV / Canon EOS R5 / Sony Alpha 7S II / Sony Alpha 7R III / Canon EOS R6 / Nikon Z6 / Nikon Z6II / Sony Alpha 7R II / Nikon Z7 / Nikon Z7II / Canon EOS R / Canon EOS Ra (Astro) / Nikon Z5 / Sony Alpha 7C / Canon EOS RP / Sony Alpha 7S / Canon EOS 1D X Mark III / Nikon Z50 / Nikon D850 / Canon EOS 1D X Mark II / Nikon D780 / Sony Alpha 7III / Nikon D5 / Sony Alpha 6600 / Sony Alpha 6400 / Sony Alpha 6100 / Sony ZV-E10 / Canon EOS 1D X / Nikon D4s / Olympus OM-D E-M5 III / Canon EOS 90D / Canon EOS 5D Mark IV / Nikon D4 / Nikon D750 / Canon EOS 6D Mark II / Fujifilm X-T4 / Fujifilm X-T3 / Sony Alpha 6300 / Sony Alpha 6500 / Nikon D500 / Nikon D810 / Nikon D800 / Canon EOS M6 Mark II / Nikon D800E / Nikon Df /