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  • Stephen Wilkinson

Microscope Buying Guide - How to choose a compound biological microscope

OPTICO N Series: Upright Biological Microscopes

OPTICO offers 5 microscope models in its N Series biological microscope line.

They feature the latest generation LED illumination, with adjustable brightness.


At the start, we have the basic model – the N1000M. This one is designed for entry-level users, ideal for primary and high school classrooms. The design is sturdy and simple, with few moving parts. For example, while the later models include both fine and coarse focus mechanisms, the N1000M has only the simpler, easier-to-master coarse focus function. Although less advanced than the upper models, it’s quite adequate for schoolroom demands.

N1000M Student Microscope

All N Series microscopes have Abbe condensers for illumination direction and control. The N1000M’s condenser is fixed in position beneath the viewing stage.

The N1000M has 3 standard DIN 185 optical glass objective lenses, entirely adequate for students and more economical than the higher grade achromatic lenses of the more advanced models. The 4X, 10X and 40X objectives, when coupled with the standard 10X eyepiece, gives you the option of 40X, 100X or 400X magnification.


N2000M Biological Microscope

The next microscope up in the N Series is the N2000M. It has the same basic frame as the N1000M, and is also a monocular model. This more advanced model features a mechanical stage with X-axis and Y-axis adjustments for more precisely controlled exploration of specimens. The N2000M also adds fine focus controls, and an adjustable-height condenser unit.

Achromatic objective lenses enhance viewing clarity, and an additional objective lens at 100X magnification provides significantly increased magnification –1000X, when used with the instrument’s standard 10X eyepiece.

The N2000M’s objective lenses are also the oil-immersion type, for a further upgrade in viewing quality. ‘Oil-immersion’ means that before viewing, you place a small drop of a special oil on the specimen slide, then gently lower the lens until it contacts the oil surface.


Next up in the N Series is the N2000B – identical to the N2000M, but with one significant difference. Rather than a monocular head (single eyepiece), it has a binocular head – 2 eyepieces. The chief benefit is that it greatly reduces eyestrain (and the headaches it can cause), particularly if you plan to use it for more than 20 minutes at a time.

N2000B Binocular Microscope

The binocular head is fully adjustable for interpupillary distance, for individual comfort. One of the eyepieces allows diopter adjustment, so both eyes have an equally clear view.

We recommend a binocular head for most users and applications. In fact, the only time we recommend a monocular scope is for primary school children, who sometimes have difficulty using a two-eyepiece instrument.


Now we come to the top tiers of the N Series line, with the N120 and N120MT-SP. Both have considerably larger and more substantial frames than the previous 3 microscopes, as well as larger and more powerful LED illuminators. Both can also be fitted with a binocular viewing head, or a trinocular head for use with an optional digital camera.

N120 Binocular Microscope

The larger frame allows for a taller, wider mechanical stage, and for optional equipment such as phase-contrast and dark-field condensers, necessary for a variety of specialised applications.

The N120 features achromatic objectives in the standard 4X, 10X, 40X and 100X – offering final magnifications of 40X, 100X, 400X and 1000X, when combined with standard 10X eyepieces.


The N120MT-SP is the most advanced and feature-rich N Series microscope. The designation ‘SP’ refers to the ‘semi-plan’ configuration of the instrument’s objective lenses, an improvement over the image quality of the N120’s achromatic objectives. Specifically, with achromatic objectives, about 60% of the viewing field is in focus.

N120MT-SP Trinocular Microscope

Semi-plan objectives raise this to about 80%, improving efficiency for advanced applications, and especially advantageous in digital microphotography.

The N120MT-SP also features suprior quality, wide-field eyepieces. The ‘wide field’ designation indicates a wider field of view, so that more of the specimen appears in the field than with the eyepieces found on the other instruments in the series.


We also offer digital cameras for use with the two larger N Series microscopes, fitted with trinocular heads. Our USB2 model is available in 2, 5 and 12 megapixel resolution versions. All are USB powered, and come with Windows & Mac software for computer viewing and recording. You can view images and video live on a computer screen, and record them for later viewing and analysis.

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