How to Pick a Pocket Microscope

Is that a microscope in your pocket or are you just happy to see us?

Man using pocket microscope.
There’s a whole world of things you’ve never seen before—but you could with a pocket microscope.Getty Images

The credit for inventing the first microscope probably goes to a father-son duo in Middelburg, Holland circa 1590. Hans and Zacharias Janssen’s scope consisted of three sliding tubes with lenses on either end that enabled three to ten times the magnification of the naked eye. Though separated by centuries, that clever, kinda-collapsible tool shared some magnificent (sorry) features with today’s pocket microscopes.

Carson MicroBrite Plus LED Lighted Pocket Microscope

Available On Its Own or As a Multipack

This instrument has an aspheric lens for distortion-free images.Carson

The first consideration when shopping for a pocket microscope is obviously portability, since the whole idea is to slide that bad boy in your pocket before you head out into the woods or get started on a hobby that requires zooming in on tiny details. Look for an instrument that folds or fits into a small pouch to protect any protruding bits.

Carson MicroFlip 100x-250x LED and UV Lighted Pocket Microscope with Flip Down Slide Base and Smartphone Digiscoping Clip

Powerful Magnification Range

This option easily couples with your iOS or Android device for image sharing.Carson

A good pocket microscope doesn’t need a ginormous range for magnification. You probably aren’t mounting slides on the trail, so the tool is more like a dissecting microscope—designed to magnify portions of 3D objects like bugs or plant parts. At 100x magnification, you can expect to see plant cells and maybe even some animal cells. Entomologists recommend just 20x to 30x magnification for identifying insects in the field.

Wireless Digital Microscope Handheld USB HD Inspection Camera with Stand Compatible with iPhone, iPad, Samsung Galaxy, Android, Mac, Windows Computer 50x-1000x Magnification
This scope with built-in wifi also takes pictures and video.T TAKMLY

No matter how you use your pocket microscope, you’ll probably want to share your zoomed-in view with other people. Look for an easy-to-use design so you can pass your scope to friends on the trail—and options for connecting the scope with your phone or laptop to save photos for sharing out across your social media.

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