Swift SS-110: Good and inexpensive microscope

Here I review the Swift / National Opticals SS-110 Microscope. It is a low-cost and a good introductory microscope, which is also portable.

The microscope is branded as a “National Optical” microscope in the US and as “Swift” in other countries. It is the same microscope, however.

The Swift / National Opticals SS-110 microscope features a 4x, 10x and 40x objective and comes with two eyepieces (10x and 25x). Due to its small size and low weight it is very potable and can also be used as a travel and field microscope.

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Who is this microscope for?

If you need a low cost introductory microscope for education, home schooling or for children, then the Swift SS-110 is a microscope that you might consider. Maybe you think about starting microscopy as a hobby, but are not fully convinced yet and therefore do not want to spend much money. In this case this microscope is a low-risk investment.

I recommend this microscope:

  • If you have a tight budget
  • If you need a microscope for home-schooling or education
  • If you need a low-cost microscope for children (eg. as a present)
  • If you need a portable microscope
  • If you are not sure if you want to start amateur microscopy and want a low cost microscope to get a taste of the hobby.

Who should buy a more expensive microscope?

  • If you think that you will have a long-term interest in microscopy, then I would buy a microscope with a condenser and a mechanical stage.
  • If you want to do much photography through the microscope, then I would buy one which is larger and more stable (otherwise it might not support a heavy camera).
  • If you want to teach more advanced microscopy techniques, which includes the using of the mechanical stage and condenser, then I would invest more in a larger model.

In summary, the lack of a condenser with diaphragm is one of the bigger drawbacks, if one is interested in doing photography. The condenser gives much more control over contrast and depth of field. But in this price range, one can not expect one. For teaching microscopy to children it is not needed and might even be confusing to them. I also found that the contrast of the 40x objective is a bit low (due to the lack of a condenser). In summary a very good microscope for the price, it is not a toy, but more experienced users might want to save a bit more money to invest in a larger model, one that also has standardized 160mm optics.

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