Microscopes

Microscopes are magnifying optical instruments used to study objects that are too small to view with the naked human eye, instead placed in a slide to be viewed through the microscope. Microscopes are able to magnify objects to hundreds or thousands of times their original size, allowing the user to make detailed observations. You can find out more in our microscopes guide.

Key Types of Microscope

  • Optical Microscopes: These are the most common type of microscope. Optical microscopes work by using light and a lens or series of lenses to magnify a sample. It can be as simple as a single lens working as a magnifying glass, or a compound microscope where a system of lenses increases the magnification to a higher resolution.
  • USB digital microscopes are compact, portable and can plug directly into your laptop or PC. They do not feature eyepieces, but display the image onscreen for you. These are ideal for image capture and many come with their own bespoke software.
  • Electron Microscopes use beams of electrons and electron lenses to produce an image of the sample that is being magnified. Electron microscopes have a far greater resolution and can show greater magnification than an optical microscope. Electron microscopes can be further split down into the SEM (Scanning Electron Microscopes) and TEM (Transmission Electron Microscopes). SEMs return a 3D image in black and white, while TEMs return a 2D view.

Who uses microscopes?

While microscopes were initially predominantly used for chemical and medical applications, their uses are now incredibly broad and span numerous fields. They are used in forensic science, geology, botany, pharmaceuticals, and quality control applications among many others.

Medicine and other biological careers, such as biochemistry, biophysics, forensic science and microbiology, are perhaps the most expected fields to use microscopes. Microscopes in these fields can be used to study a plethora of objects and samples, such as cell specimens, clothing fibres and other evidence, and much more.

Geoscientists use microscopes in a similar vein as biologists, in that they are often used to study rock, flora, soils or water samples, allowing for a detailed analysis. Jewellers and gemologists also use microscopes to study the purity and authenticity of stones, metals and gems.


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RS Stock No. 471-8828
BrandRS PRO
£396.73
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20X - - - Halogen - - - 6.6kg 180 x 295mm 180mm 295mm - -
RS Stock No. 913-2513
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£284.06
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5 → 200X 30fps 1280 x 1024 pixel Yes LED USB Yes Internal Rechargeable 88g 142 x 36mm 36mm 142mm - Type G - British 3-pin
RS Stock No. 471-8834
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£514.58
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RS Stock No. 528-5290
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£43.03
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40X - - Yes - - Yes AA 30g 150 x 25 x 25mm - 150mm - -
RS Stock No. 395-395
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£50.35
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RS Stock No. 913-2487
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£299.29
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5 → 200X 30fps 1280 x 1024 pixel Yes LED USB Yes Internal Rechargeable 88g 142 x 36mm 36mm 142mm - Type C - European Plug
RS Stock No. 913-2529
BrandRS PRO
£308.06
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500 → 600X 30fps 1280 x 1024 pixel Yes LED USB Yes Internal Rechargeable 88g 142 x 36mm 36mm 142mm - Type G - British 3-pin
RS Stock No. 506-4245
BrandRS PRO
£49.36
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40X - - - - - - - 20g 13 x 120mm 13mm 125mm - -
RS Stock No. 913-2478
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£278.85
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5 → 200X 30fps 1280 x 1024 pixel Yes LED USB Yes Internal Rechargeable 88g 142 x 36mm 36mm 142mm - Type C - European Plug
RS Stock No. 913-2522
BrandRS PRO
£284.06
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5 → 200X 30fps 1280 x 1024 pixel Yes LED USB Yes Internal Rechargeable 88g 142 x 36mm 36mm 142mm - Type G - British 3-pin
RS Stock No. 913-2519
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£237.16
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5 → 200X 30fps 1280 x 1024 pixel Yes LED USB Yes Internal Rechargeable 88g 142 x 36mm 36mm 142mm - Type G - British 3-pin
RS Stock No. 913-2493
BrandRS PRO
£270.54
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500 → 600X 30fps 1280 x 1024 pixel Yes LED USB Yes Internal Rechargeable 88g 142 x 36mm 36mm 142mm - Type C - European Plug
RS Stock No. 913-2525
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£294.78
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10 → 160X 30fps 1280 x 1024 pixel Yes LED USB Yes Internal Rechargeable 88g 142 x 36mm 36mm 142mm - Type G - British 3-pin
RS Stock No. 913-2480
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£221.09
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50 → 200X 30fps 1280 x 1024 pixel Yes LED USB Yes Internal Rechargeable 88g 142 x 36mm 36mm 142mm - Type C - European Plug
RS Stock No. 913-2484
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£267.86
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10 → 160X 30fps 1280 x 1024 pixel Yes LED USB Yes Internal Rechargeable 88g 142 x 36mm 36mm 142mm - Type C - European Plug
RS Stock No. 126-1724
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£302.66
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5 → 200X 15fps 1280 x 1024 pixel Yes LED Wi-Fi - Li-ion 88g 36 x 142mm 36mm 142mm - USB
RS Stock No. 161-3611
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£388.59
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5 → 200X 15 fps, 30fps 1280 x 1024 pixels Yes LED - Yes Li-Ion 88g 36 x 142mm 36mm 142mm MICFIUVWP Type C - European Plug
RS Stock No. 161-3614
BrandRS PRO
£399.75
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5 → 200X 15 fps, 30fps 1280 x 1024 pixels Yes LED - Yes Li-Ion 88g 36 x 142mm 36mm 142mm MICFIUVWP Type G - British 3-pin
RS Stock No. 196-4079
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£224.94
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RS Stock No. 161-3612
BrandRS PRO
£309.72
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5 → 200X - 5M pixels Yes LED - Yes Li-Ion - 36 x 75mm 36mm 75mm MICFIP Type G - British 3-pin