The Compound Microscope

What is a compound microscope? How is the term related to the inverted microscope – in Toronto or elsewhere? Or perhaps the other configuration, upright microscope, in Toronto, for example.

Yes, you’ve read it right, the compound microscope uses two optical parts. We will discuss each of them below:

1. the eyepiece – also called the ocular, this is the part where you look through to observe the specimen in question. This comes in a cylindrical shape. You may not have known it before, but the eyepiece in a compound microscope is a lens.

The magnification of oculars could range from 5X and 25X. The typical compound microscope, however, uses 10X.

2. the objective lenses. These lenses are the ones that are closest to your specimen. Primarily used to collect and gather light from the sample, your objective lenses in your compound microscope come in various magnifications. Objective lenses used in microscopes are termed as “parfocal.” This means that when you change from one lens to another, the focus is still on that same object or sample.

The Power of Two

Indeed, the fact that the compound microscope makes use of the eyepiece and objective lenses makes it a more potent instrument. In the olden times, as in the era of the Father of Microbiology, Antonie van Leeuwenhoek, the simple microscope does not use the parts found in modern microscopes.

And while Leeuwenhoek’s models can capture an image up to 266X, today’s compound microscope can do a lot more than that. The most potent microscopes today give you a total magnification of 1000x to 2000x! That is so much more powerful than the simple ones, right?

A small trivia on getting the total magnification… Because the compound microscope makes use of two optical systems, its total magnification is the product of the magnifications of the eyepiece and the objective lens. You can make little adjustments with the eyepiece, but with objective lenses, there’s so much that you can do.

Also, be careful with the task of combining oculars and objective lenses. The combination will determine the quality of your “image.” As a rule of thumb, choose the combination that provides the best correction for various lens aberrations.

Indeed, today, the world has gone a long way. At present, the field of microscopy has changed so much that very sophisticated ones are now replacing the once simple microscopes. Once upon a time, a microscope was so small, which can do only a limited set of capabilities.

Today, you are treated with stereo microscopes, examine microscopes, metallurgical microscope and an organic microscope. There’s such a significant amount of going on about the universe of moment living beings that you effectively get confounded of the terms. 

Simply recollect a specific something however: when you talk about the compound microscope, you ought to recall that it is a cutting edge microscope that utilizes target lenses and a visual. The combination of these optical systems makes way for a more robust look at the micro-world.

Compound Considerations in Buying a Compound Microscope

Taking a gander at the world through your unaided eyes is a treat in itself.

In any case, taking a gander at the life and its manifestations and animals through a compound microscope is an entire distinctive ballgame basically because you begin to increase a thankfulness forever’s complexities and nuances in a more significant number of ways than one.

As such, before splurging on something as crucial as a compound microscope, be sure that you factor in these compound considerations that go into buying it.

These factors ought to make sure things more apparent to your mind’s eye much as a microscope makes things more apparent to your naked eye.


Plastic parts might be cheaper and colourful than metal parts in a microscope, yes, but you must opt for durability and quality more than beauty and quantity. As such, always choose microscopes that are made of mostly metal parts.

You will get more mileage from a metal microscope, not to mention that it ought to retain its essential beauty even after years of use. Plus, it does look more professional sitting atop your home lab desk than a plastic toy microscope!

Also, do opt for all-glass lenses. Although there are toy microscopes that promise magnifications of up to 600 times, their lenses simply will not allow for said power.


A compound microscope usually comes in two basic types: low power and high power. Each type has its applications, although the high power microscope is preferred for most laboratory activities.

The low power microscope magnifies visible specimens from 10X to 80X their standard sizes. Think of things like grains of sand, coins, fabric, small insects and leaves, which a budding scientist will be interested in exploring in minutiae.

The high power microscope, on the other hand, allows for magnification of 100X-1000X of invisible objects like blood cells, microorganisms and bacteria. This compound microscope, of course, requires proper training and handling.

Of course, if the microscope is intended for children, a low power type ought to suffice since it does not require elaborate specimen preparation and complex operation. When the children get older and still need a microscope, then it is logical to purchase a high power type.


Now, price is the last consideration because you ought to be willing to pay for a quality microscope. You don’t have to worry too much about the price though as you can purchase a good microscope for as little as $100!

If you do settle for a cheaper microscope, be sure that it fits your needs perfectly. After all, you don’t want to shell out money for a compound microscope that will not prove itself worthy of its price, no matter how small it may be.

Don’t compound your money woes with virtually useless equipment, in other words.

When all these factors are considered in your purchase of the perfect compound microscope, you will discover that life, indeed, can be good despite the nitty-gritty details that we might not want to see. Think of the additional cost but, hey, when it comes to education for the whole family, nothing should be too expensive. 

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