What Microscope Should I Buy: Dr. Kate's Personal Recommendation
Want to know what one of the most commonly asked questions in the Cytology Coffeehouse facebook group is?
Well, let me just show you…
That’s right, microscopes! Have you ever felt like looking at microscope options is like browsing the menu at Cheesecake Factory… as in, there are waaayyy too many choices? Talk about Option Paralysis, right?
Not only does this come up all the time in the Coffeehouse group, I’m often DM’d and asked which microscope I would personally recommend for in-house use. But the problem with that question is that I don’t really have much experience with clinic grade microscopes, since those aren’t the microscopes I’m using. Because of that, this is a question I’ve never been able to answer based on personal experience, and that bugged me.
So, I decided to do something about that! I researched several different microscopes that I had heard good things about and reached out to one particular company that stood out to me.
I found a number online, gave them a call, and simply asked-- “can I demo one of your best clinic grade microscopes for my vet med friends?”. And they said...absolutely!
Not long later, I had the LW Scientific i4 Infinity microscope sitting on my kitchen table.
And guys...I have to say...it’s awesome!
Seriously, this microscope is a really quality in-clinic scope, and I’d even go so far as to say it rivals lab-grade scopes (i.e. the ones we pathologists use every day).
And I’m super excited to share the low-down with you including what I like about it, cost, and I even have a surprise for you if you decide to buy one in the next 3 months (stick around to the end for details!)…
So with no further ado, let’s talk deets.
Look and Feel:
First off, can we just say, what a sexy microscope! I mean, if microscopes can be sexy, this one definitely qualifies. Sleek, modern, and overall just aesthetically pleasing-- it really makes that dusty old metal tube from the 1950s sitting in the corner of your lab look like a real golden oldie doesn’t it? So I think we can go ahead and give it a 10 for looks. Off to a good start.
And while we’re talking about overall look/feel, I also really like the narrow footprint of this scope. We all know counter-space is at a premium in the vet clinic, and this won’t take up more room than needed.
Next, let’s talk all things optics.
This microscope comes with 4 semi-plan objectives-- 4x, 10x, 40x, and 100x oil (PS: semi-plan refers to the flatness of the field when you’re looking through the scope—you can get plan objectives where everything is really flat but they’re much more expensive).
Oh, and let’s just go ahead and talk about the pink elephant in the room…
We all have that one (or more) employee that drags the 40x straight through the oil. You know who they are. You’ve told them a million times (and probably have placed a nice passive aggressive meme next to the scope too), yet they still do it.
Well, one cool thing about this 40x in particular is that it is sealed around the outside which helps keeps oil from gunking up the objective. Of course if said employee dunks the objective in a bath of oil this ain’t gonna save it, but it definitely helps those “oops” moments that honestly, we all have had.
This is pretty standard for most current day microscopes, but just to mention, this guy has LED lighting. LED is where it’s at. Halogens burn out, LEDs last a bajillion years.
So, now we’re getting to the meat of things. The really important question: What does it look like when you’re viewing a slide under the microscope?
In a single word...GREAT.
This microscope really impressed me when it came to how clear things are! High-resolution, tack sharp clarity-- what more could you ask for?
Also, you know how some microscopes have a thick rim of blurriness and all you can see is a central spot that is in focus? Not a problem with this scope-- there is very little peripheral blurriness, certainly not enough to interfere with your interpretation of the sample.
There also is a good field of view, which basically means you don’t feel like you’re looking through a pinhole. If you have any experience with photography, this would be kinda like using a wide angle lens. Being able to see more of the field while evaluating your slides makes for more effective and efficient sample review.
Let’s now talk about this little cutie patootie-- the MiniVID Wifi camera.
Don’t let the compact size fool you, this little camera is a force to be reckoned with! Working with Wifi and an app, it allows you to take pictures that are viewable directly on your device (i.e. phone, iPad, etc). And why might you want to take pictures of your samples? I can think of a million reasons, but let me just give you a few:
- We live in a technological world now, and we are constantly sharing images on social media (*ahem* Coffeehouse!) and via other avenues (email, digital path services) for consults. Having quality images is *vital* for this purpose.
- Teaching is something we all do-- whether you’re a professor at a vet school or training your support staff in-clinic, being able to capture images to share/archive for teaching purposes is huge.
- Grossing out your clients with images of the creepy crawly things you find on their pets definitely increases owner compliance! :)
There are a lot of things I like about this camera, but the 2 main things that impressed me were:
- Ease of use
- Clarity of images
Listen, I am not a technically competent person. My fuse for troubleshooting electronics lasts about 30 seconds before I start feeling my blood pressure rise. So, when I pulled this camera out of the box, I immediately thought, “Ugh….here we go”.
But yall, this was a BREEZE to set up. Literally I just plopped the camera on the trinocular tube, downloaded the (super easy to navigate) app, and within a few minutes I was snapping pics of my slide.
Here are a few images I took for your viewing pleasure (PS I also love that you can do all kinds of annotation in the pics right within the app):
Note: The microscope I’m showing you in this blog is the trinocular model-- the trinocular model allows you to permanently mount the camera to the top of the scope. There is also a binocular model which is a little less expensive-- but in order to use the camera with the binocular model, you have to attach it to the eyepiece. This means you have to take the camera on and off every time you want to take a picture, which to me sounds 1) annoying, and 2) like someone will eventually break it because it’s being handled so much. If it were me, I would 100% pay the extra money to have the trinocular model and keep the camera mounted at all times.
Not in the market for a new microscope? This MiniVID WiFi camera will mount onto ANY brand of microscope in the field if you already have a microscope you love. Of course trinocular mounted is the best if your microscope has the third port up top, but if you only have a binocular you can insert the camera into an eyetube in place of an eyepiece using the optional Optical Eyetube Adapter.
50x oil objective- This seems like a good place to mention the 50x oil plan objective. This objective is AMAZING, though I’m not going to lie, it’s not cheap (see under “Prices” section for more details). Seems like the perfect year to ask for a microscope lens for your birthday, no? :) The 50x oil objective is special in that it allows you to view the field between 40 and 100 at oil clarity. This means you get a really ideal magnification for looking at cytology with the crisp focus that oil allows. It really is a dream lens, so just go ahead and add it to your birthday list.
- Lifetime warranty- LW Scientific offers a lifetime warranty on optics and mechanics. This should cover most things that could go wrong with the microscope.
- Demos- They also offer free in-clinic demos! All you have to do is contact your local Jorgenson representative to come out, and they will demo whatever scope you’re interested in purchasing. Also, once you buy a scope, they will come out and set it up for you!
(all prices are in USD)
This microscope falls into what I’d consider the mid-range as far as cost goes for average in-clinic scopes. It isn’t cheap, but it isn’t super expensive either. Honestly, I think when it comes to microscopes (like most things), you get what you pay for. There is nothing at all wrong with opting for a cheaper microscope, but if you do, you have to accept the downsides that come with that. If you plan to use your microscope with any frequency in your clinic, please do yourself a favor and invest a little money in it. You’ll be thanking yourself 20 years down the road when you start referring to it as your “Little Engine that Could” because it’s still trucking along.
I4 Infinity Microscope (includes 4x, 10x, 40x, 100xoil objectives)
- Binocular: $1,523
- Trinocular: $1,823
MiniVID Wifi camera
50x oil objective
And now last but not least, let’s talk BONUSES!
The good folks at LW Scientific extended a special offer to all my Coffeehouse members and blog readers that I’m excited to share with you.
If you purchase the i4 Infinity Microscope between November-December 2020, you can snag a free gift with your purchase!
Buy EITHER the i4 Infinity Microscope OR MiniVID camera and receive a free Dip Quick Stain Kit ($34.50)
Buy BOTH the i4 Infinity Microscope AND MiniVID camera and receive a free Pro Service Kit ($82.00)
To claim your free gift, simply email your invoice after purchase to [email protected] and mention “COFFEEHOUSE FREE GIFT”, and they will then ship you your free gift!
How/Where to purchase:
You can order your scope and/or camera through your preferred medical supply distributor (e.g. Midwest, Patterson, Covetrus, MWI, Penn Vet, Miller, Victor, etc) or call your local JorVet representative.
I hope that this 411 was helpful to you! If you want to see me chat about all this in video form, you can check that out on the video above!
*Our support of this product means that we receive a small commission from the manufacturer after your purchase, at no additional cost to you. This support will never influence recommendations I make. I hope you love this product as much as I do!