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D-Hutt 04-30-2012 10:40 PM

USB Microscope?
I'm thinking about getting a microscope to look at yeast with, and was hoping for something around 1000x that I could hook up to my computer and take decent res images and maybe even video.

It'd also need to be something I can use to do fun experiments with with my son like scaring him into washing his hands.

I found one from Amscope: http://store.amscope.com/m500-p.html

Anyone have any experiences with this model? Other recommendations?

Andrew5329 05-01-2012 01:10 AM

The thing that jumps out at me reading those specs is that they don't tell you the resolution except to say that it's high (I'm not referring to the pixels, but the minimum distance at which you can distinguish two objects as separate). This is rather concerning because resolution is typically a selling point for a company to say, "ours is better".

Resolution is the critical factor because while you can easily use a lens to magnify the image 1,000x, unless it's high quality equipment you wont really see anything distinguishable through it.

An entry level microscope (with no 1,000X lens) suitable for a College Freshmen bio Lab costs about $400-$500. The site claims it's worth $440 but is willing to sell it for $215?

It might be legit, but unless you can get word back from the company telling you the exact resolution I wouldn't buy it.

That all said, the Camera hookup isnt all that special or super costly so that shouldn't be an issue, just be careful of the above, because resolution is the difference between a $500 microscope and a $5,000 dollar one.

D-Hutt 05-01-2012 01:34 AM

Good thoughts. I actually know nothing about microscopes. What's a decent "entry level" like you stated?

Andrew5329 05-01-2012 01:54 AM


Originally Posted by D-Hutt (Post 4044758)
Good thoughts. I actually know nothing about microscopes. What's a decent "entry level" like you stated?

That's a really difficult question to answer, as it's super subjective. I've personally never gone out and personally purchased a microscope, my experiance with them is in relation to the Labwork I do as an Undergrad in Biology.

But, to see bacteria as anything more than specs you pretty much need the 1,000X magnification and strong resolution.

Yeast can be anywhere between 4-40 micrometers long depending on the species, while bacteria are .1-1 micrometers long depending on the species.

That's an Image of baking yeast at 400X, they're small but visible
The same image at 1000X

The yeast look more or less the same, but looking at human (or other multicellular Eukaryote) cells at 1,000X is pretty cool as you can see the structures of the organelles.

Basically you need to do some serious research and decide exactly what is an appropriate cost/performance balance for your needs.

david_42 05-01-2012 01:57 AM

American Science and Surplus has a fairly nice one with a screen and USB port. 14473 CELESTRON 400X LCD MICROSCOPE $209.95 Digital zoom brings it up to 1600X

Microscope eyepieces always made my eyes burn.

D-Hutt 05-01-2012 12:51 PM

Have you used that one, david? The resolution is high enough to see everything clearly?

Andrew - thanks for the direction. I'll start doing some research. It's been a looong time since I used a microscope in school.

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