Microscopes are not consumer devices. Unlike digital cameras and tv sets, microscopes are modular and can be put together based on individual needs. The particular model of a microscope is therefore of much less importance than the components that are used. Manufacturers will therefore often have a choice of a few microscope bodies to which different objectives and other components are attached. You should therefore rather ask yourself on the features that an amateur compound microscope should possess.
There are 4 big name microscope manufacturers around (arbitrary order): Zeiss, Olympus, Nikon and Leica. They produce microscopes of high quality and, of course, the cost is also much higher. In contrast to no-name manufacturers, these “big four” all produce infinity corrected optics, so their parts are not compatible with each other. Among these microscope manufacturers, the quality difference is really small. Much is a question of personal preference and taste. Visit the website of these companies and compare their lines of introductory microscopes. If you choose to buy from these manufacturers, then you can expect outstanding mechanical qualities and comparably high resale values.
Many amateur microscopists purchase no-name devices of lower cost, however. These microscopes often have DIN optics. It is therefore easier to obtain low cost replacement parts and the objectives are generally interchangeable. The market is therefore quite large. This can be an advantage when shopping for second hand components.
Concerning the optical qualities, it is unlikely that you will be able to notice a huge difference between a “big four” microscope and a better no-name device.
What are some advantages of buying a microscope with a name?
- High mechanical and optical quality can be expected (depending on the optics used).
- More accessories to choose from: Larger companies that target the research market may offer specific components, specialized optics etc. which smaller companies do not offer.
- Servicing possibilities over the company: We once had this EUR 55000 research microscope in the university lab and one of the bulbs needed to be exchanged. We simply called the company and a servicing guy came to do fix it.
- Higher resale value.