Charles holds a Master’s degree in Physics Engineering (optics and photonics specialization), has been teaching physics at school for almost 15 years and recently has star read more
Last updated: November 11, 2022
The Optics is reader-supported. We may earn a commission through products purchased using links on this page. Learn more about our process here
What is a microscope that can fit your pocket? A pocket microscope! These miniature devices are microscopes in every sense of the word and are portable and lightweight enough to fit your pocket. Due to their small size, they are some of the best pocket microscopes are most versatile and useful tools you can have as a scientist or explorer. Most of the products, however, are just short of being disasters. They are cheap-looking ad give horrible performance. In this post, we will review five of the best options on the market right now for you not to make a mistake.
Since these microscopes are held in high regard, many manufacturers have decided to get on the trend and make their own pocket microscopes. And that’s why while compiling this list, we considered some very important factors to look at when purchasing such a microscope. These include the magnification, light source, power source, dimensions and weight. In the buying guide section of this article, we will review why these factors are so important.
Other features: 1 starter slide with cover slip & wrist strap, smartphone clip
Choosing a pocket microscope can be tricky because there are so many models on the market, and many of these do not offer the performance that you might desire. The Carson brand has managed to get the hang of creating these portable devices, and that is evident in the Carson MicroFlip. This is our top pick on this list.
It comes as a sleek, little microscope with surprisingly powerful performance. The magnification level is the best of all the options on this list as it offers you 100X to 250X magnification range. Therefore, you can see your samples clearly. Consiftrftrtrdering that this is a pocket microscope, this range is impressive indeed.
Another notable feature of the Carson MicroFlip is that it boasts of bright LED lights and a UV flashlight. Therefore, you can look through the microscope at all times of the day and in low-light conditions. With the specimen slide base, it is easier to check out any smaller specimens through the microscope.
Power is obtained via one AA battery. It also has the basic accessories that you need, like a cover slip, wrist wrap, and a slide. Perhaps the most impressive feature of this unit is that you can use it with a special adapter clip, thus making it usable with different smartphone digiscope. With this feature, you can easily take photos and share these photos.
What we liked: There is so much to like about this model. It comes with all the necessary accessories for use. It also comes with the adapter clip that lets you easily take and share photos of the specimens or samples that you are viewing.
What could be better: The Carson MicroFlip comes with plenty of good features, but the lack of a stage is rather disappointing. This makes it hard to view the tiniest details.
The value pick on this roundup is this excellent unit from Carson. Carson has made some of the best pocket microscopes on the market, and the Carson MicroBrite Plus is one of such devices. It boasts of a small, compact size that can easily fit your pocket. If you are an explorer, you will find it to be a very useful companion. While the magnification range of 60X to 120X is not as impressive as that found on our top pick, it is still very decent for a pocket microscope. Controlling the focus is easy because there is a barrel that lets you smoothly adjust the sample and see the image clearly.
The Carson MicroBrite Plus has an LED light that will help you to see your samples clearly. It is powered by an AA battery, which is easy to find at your local store and doesn’t add plenty of weight to the lightweight microscope. If you are a stamp collector, you will find that the LED light is excellent at showing things like watermarks.
Using a camera or smartphone, you can even take photos of whatever you are looking at through the microscope.
Another nice thing about this model is that it has a rubber eyepiece. This lets you to see through the microscope without plenty of strain to the eyes. There are no material that might irritate your skin or your eyes when you go up-close. For the price, this is an excellent option that will serve you well.
What we liked: The Carson MicroBrite Plus is battery-operated, which means that there are no pesky cables to get in the way. It also offers decent magnification for a microscope of its size.
What could be better: The Carson MicroBrite Plus is a cheap unit; therefore, it isn’t as durable or sturdy as some of the more expensive options on the market.
Other features: included pouch, case, bag, suitable for kids over 3 years old plastic optics
Are you looking for a cheap model but do not want to waste your money on options that will not last or give you the performance that you desire? Then look no further than the Levenhuk Zeno Cash ZC2. This unit is the budget model on this roundup. However, it manages to come with some features that you’ll certainly enjoy.
Right out of the box, the Levenhuk Zeno Cash ZC2 come with useful accessories like a pouch for carrying it on explorations. It comes in an attractive white body that will get kids interested in using it.
The specs are decent for a unit at this price. It offers 60X magnification, which is excellent and will help you in a broad range of applications, both at home and in the field. The 1.34 lbs weight makes it one of the heavier units on this roundup, but it is still portable and easy to carry around.
Part of the nice features that you’ll find on this model include the LED lights. The pair of LED lights and the UV light will help you to see details that you ordinarily might miss seeing under low light conditions. The model works with three LR43 batteries; therefore, you will use it for a long time before you need to change the power source.
What we liked: The nice magnification, LED and UV lights and the cheap price, makes the Levenhuk Zeno Cash ZC2 an excellent budget option out of all other models available on the market right now.
What could be better: While the LED lights are cool, they cannot be adjusted. It also comes with bulkier build than what you’d find in other options.
Other features: for any smartphone or handheld use, case and batteries included
The next option on this roundup is the Konus Konusclip. It is from Konus, a brand that is not as popular as some of the others on this list. Nevertheless, it is a high quality option that comes in a compact, lightweight design that you will find quite easy to use. It weighs just 0.255 pounds, which makes it excellent for carrying around with you.
The Konus Konusclip is powered by three AAA batteries, which makes for a unit that can be used for a long time before running out of juice. Overall, it is one of the most convenient to use. In addition, the Konus Konusclip comes with LED and UV lights that let you see the sample or specimen even better.
Digiscoping is easy with this model as it is the best for smartphones that we have used. You can clamp it to a smartphone and take photos and videos of the subject under observation. It usually gives you clear results.
What we liked: The ability to take photos and videos with the camera is really nice. It also comes in a compact, durable form that will last for a long time.
What could be better: Well, overall, it is excellent. However, the lights cannot be adjusted, which is a bummer. It is also geared toward beginners, and experts might not enjoy using it.
Other features: included pouch, case, bag, suitable for kids over 3 years old plastic optics, clip allows for attaching the microscope to a smartphone or tablet, lifetime warranty
The last option on this roundup is the Levenhuk Zeno Cash ZC4. It comes with plenty of useful features, but perhaps the best feature of the unit is that it comes with a lifetime warranty. Therefore, you can use it for a long time, and even when it needs to be repaired or replaced, you can do that at no extra costs.
The specs are decent as it offers 60X magnification. Thus, you can see your subjects quite clearly. To further aid you to see the subject clearly, the Levenhuk Zeno Cash ZC4 is fitted with LED and UV lights. It is the lightest on our roundup as it weighs just 0.1 pounds. There are useful accessories included like a clip for attaching it to a smartphone or other device. You also get a pouch and three batteries.
What we liked: The UV lights make it an excellent tool for checking bank notes for forgery. It is also a compact and lightweight unit.
What could be better: The durability of the Levenhuk Zeno Cash ZC4 is not really impressive.
Things to Consider
In the section above, we reviewed five of the best pocket microscopes on the market today. Since there are so many options available, it can be challenging finding the right model. That is why narrowing the list down to five comes in as a great help. If you aren’t sure about the options that we have reviewed and you want to strike out on your own in making a purchase, there are certain things that you have to know. In this buying guide section, we will discuss the important features to consider. We will also talk about some important information that you’ll need.
What is a Pocket Microscope?
Pocket microscopes are like regular microscopes in different ways. The major difference is the small size. As the name implies, pocket microscopes are small in size and are a portable type of microscope. They come at a relatively low price. Apart from the small size, other uses of pocket microscopes include the affordability and ease of use. These factors make them the microscopes of choice for explorers, amateur scientists, and children.
Pocket microscopes are awesome fun and will allow you to have a great time without having to spend a fortune on a regular microscope. These tools are more versatile than a magnifying glass and even have more magnification power. You can use them to check out antiques or other similar things. They also make for a great gift to a growing scientist who loves to explore and needs a portable magnifier.
Some of the common uses of these versatile devices include:
And so much more uses.
With all of these in mind, how then can you choose the best pocket microscope? Let’s now see.
How to choose a Pocket Microscope
The factors that affect the choice of pocket microscope are similar to those that you’ll consider when choosing a regular microscope. Not all microscopes are equal, so you must know the most important features. In fact, because pocket microscopes are small and easy to make, there are plenty of these options on the market. And sadly, most of the options available are of low quality, fragile and cheap. You must avoid these models. You must know all the features of the models available and this will help you to know the one that will meet your needs.
When choosing a pocket microscope, you have to consider the lighting. Some of the options on the market emit an LED, and they are better than the ones that use old, outdated types of illumination. From our use and reviews from users, these microscopes are much brighter to use and will last for a longer time. Therefore, check out if the pocket microscope you are choosing comes with LED lighting.
Magnification is one of the most important features to consider, after all, it determines how closely you can see the targeted object. You must therefore focus on this factor. There are plenty of options on the market, and they give plenty of magnification options, ranging from 20X to up to 100X.
Additionally, when choosing a microscope and thinking of the magnification capabilities, you should focus on the native optical magnification of the microscope, instead of the digital magnification. Why? Well, although many of the makers on the market are gearing their products toward making options that give excellent still and moving images, digital magnification does not yet have the quality that you get from optical magnification.
Sometimes, from our observation, digital magnification can be really bad and you cannot even see whatever is being viewed. In our opinion, the best options often come with a magnification of at least 200X. Our top choice, the Carson MicroFlip, has a magnification of up to 250X.
If the microscope you are buying is mainly for fun or leisure or for your kids, then you might not need to get a model with a high level of magnification. Models such as the Levenhuk Zeno Cash ZC2 with its 60X magnification should be sufficient. But if it is for more professional activities, then you’ll need a higher magnification level.
The zoom feature is another important consideration when choosing a pocket microscope. When you are looking at something, say, for example a sample, it is easy to lose your bearing and not know where you are looking at. Well, this is where the zoom feature comes in very handy. It allows you to zoom out and get your position on the specimen or sample.
Just as in the professional and larger microscopes, resolution is very important in a pocket microscope. The higher the value of resolution, the better use you’ll get from it. From our research and testing, we discovered that some models come with different resolutions depending on whether you are looking at stills or moving images. Some more sophisticated units can make videos, and the resolution is different. That is not surprising since making a video will require that you use more parts of the microscope. If you can afford it, and you are using it for professional things, then we recommend that the resolution of the portable microscope is at least 2 MP. When it is like that, you will not have a hard time knowing what you are looking at. Furthermore, options with such resolution values are cheaper than others.
Size and Weight
The main reason why a pocket microscope is so popular is the size and weight. You must consider a unit that will be portable and easy to handle. Some of the benefits that you get from a pocket microscope cannot be achieved with a larger and heavier model.
The lighter and smaller the unit is, the easier it would be for you to take it around with you wherever you go. So, if you are often on the go, you should consider the size and the weight. Another benefit of considering the size and weight is that you will likely not require making any modification of the examined sample.
The options that we have considered on our roundup come in a small and portable size. For example, the Levenhuk Zeno Cash ZC4 has a weight of just 0.1 pounds which makes it very easy to carry around with you.
Ease of Use and Convenience
Another factor that you must keep in mind as you make a buying choice is the ease of using the product. Some of the models on the market, like those on our roundup, are easy to customize and use without having to check through any settings. Others, on the other hand, are not so easy to use. Therefore, you should consider this factor. One way to know how easy the unit is to use is by checking out the reviews of those that have used it. You can find this via online retailers and reviews such as those in this post.
The convenience of the unit also includes the speed at which you can check through the eyepiece and see whatever is happening on your sample or whatever you are looking through. Some of the models come with features that enhance your convenience, for example LED lights that give you more brightness. In fact, some come with adjustable brightness levels. For example, the Konus Konusclip, Carson MicroBrite Plus, and the other options that we reviewed come with LED lights.
Now, this depends on the model as not all the units on the market come with software or similar things.
Number of Lenses
An important consideration is the number of lenses that you’ll find on the model. You can look for a pocket microscope that has dual lenses. By using this feature, the microscope will offer you focus-free magnification change.
The microscope needs to be powered before it can work. Thus, you should consider the power source of the unit before making a purchase. Some come with battery power, while others are electrically powered. The Carson MicroFlip, for example is powered by one AA battery.
As with any other product on the market, pocket microscopes come in a variety of prices. Therefore, you must look for a unit that lies within your budget and will still give you excellent performance.
Despite your best efforts at maintenance and care, your microscope can still develop faults. This is where a warranty comes in. You should look for models that offer good warranty periods and terms that will save you money on repairs or replacements. The Levenhuk Zeno Cash ZC4 offers the best warranty period.
To ensure that your microscope works well, you must keep it clean. If you do not, the dust or dirt can affect the clarity of whatever object you are looking at.
The most important part to clean is the lens. If during use, liquid pours on it, you should immediately clean the liquid. If you do not, the specks of dirt can stick on the lens and become hard to remove. If the problem is dirt, you can use water and a lens wipe. Do not use other cleaning agents because they can damage the coating on the lenses. During cleaning, always be gentle as you wipe so as not to scratch it or remove the coating.
Yes, you can! However, this depends on the model that you have on hand. Some of the models have microscopy cameras. These allow you to take photos of microscope slides or anything that you are viewing. Some of the pocket microscopes on the market come with Wi-Fi capability and even options to connect a camera to the microscope. This camera is used with a c-mount adapter. When choosing the adapter, make sure that you consider the magnification of the eyepiece and the chip size of the camera. There are different types of microscope cameras, ranging from the USB models to HD cameras and Wi-Fi cameras.
Choosing the best pocket microscopes can be a challenge, but the five options listed above give you the ability to narrow your choices. From the list, we recommend the Carson MicroFlip as our top pick. This is a sleek, powerful microscope that comes with impressive magnification power and everything you need from a pocket microscope. For the best value, we choose the Carson MicroBrite Plus it comes with a magnification range of 60X to 120X, which is decent for a pocket microscope. If you are on a budget, then the Levenhuk Zeno Cash ZC2 is an excellent option. Make the right choice by selecting any of the units we have recommended.