Microscopes for Education

The microscope has long occupied an important position in the classroom due to its ability to provide a direct glimpse into the microscopic world around us. Whether you’re looking at pond scum and insects with young students or training the next generation of pathologists, there’s a Nikon microscope solution that fits your needs.

Products for Microscopes for Education

The ECLIPSE Si upright microscope is focused on user comfort, designed for heavy use by educators and other professionals. Featuring an expanded array of contrasting techniques, camera compatibility, and intelligent features, the Si can be used as an instructor instrument. Features such as automatic turning off illumination after a period of inactivity and a vertical stage stop for worry-free focusing are also useful in the classroom. Teaching heads are available.

The ECLIPSE Ei upright microscope is designed for student use, featuring a simple color-coded interface for intuitive navigation of microscope settings. Both the Ei and Si are available with Online Guides – web-based instructional resources containing step-by-step guides for microscope alignment and operation, supporting remote and independent learning.

The SMZ745 / SMZ745T stereomicroscopes feature a Greenough type optical system with 7.5X zoom magnification and 115 mm working distance. The air-tight, anti-fungal, and anti-electrostatic design helps these stereomicroscopes handle the rigors of classroom use. The SMZ445 / SMZ460 stereomicroscopes also feature a Greenough optical system and are the most compact and cost-effective stereomicroscopes offered by Nikon.

Nikon’s Digital Sight series cameras provide several options well-suited to educational use. Our most recent color camera, the Digital Sight 1000, can be directly connected to a display via HDMI for live video rate display of full HD images (2.0 megapixels). Images can be saved directly to an SD card. The DS-Fi3 color CMOS camera provides greater sensitivity and resolution (5.9 megapixels). The NIS-Elements L camera controller and software works for both camera models, allowing for acquisition, remote image sharing, and basic analysis functions such as annotations and distance measurements.

●: included, ⚬: option

Upright Microscope
Upright Microscope
Online Guide Available yes yes no no
Zoom Range N/A N/A 0.67 – 5.0X 0.8 – 3.5X (SMZ445)

0.7 – 3.0X (SMZ460)
Illumination Source LED LED LED LED
Camera Compatibility yes yes SMZ745T no
Field of View 22 mm 20 mm 22 mm 21 mm
Supported Contrast Techniques ECLIPSE Si ECLIPSE Ei SMZ745/SMZ745T SMZ445/SMZ460
Brightfield - Transmitted yes yes yes yes
Brightfield - Reflected no no yes yes
Darkfield yes no no no
Widefield Dia-Fluorescence yes no no no
Phase Contrast yes no no no
Simple Polarization yes no no no

Discussion of Microscopes for Education

Its dramatically reduced weight and multiple grip locations make the ECLIPSE Ei easy and stable to lift, carry and store, even on high shelves.

Is an upright microscope or stereomicroscope best for your classroom?

Stereomicroscopes and upright microscopes are the most popular microscope designs for the classroom.

Traditional microscope slide-mounted specimens are usually observed using an upright microscope (though a stereomicroscope may also be usable for this purpose). This includes observation of H&E-stained human cell and tissue histopathology slides. Upright microscopes are generally more conducive to very high magnification and high-resolution imaging, which requires the objective lens to be placed very close to the sample.

Stereomicroscopes are useful for observing large specimens with a pseudo-3D stereoscopic view. This can include various model organisms during dissection, large geological samples such as rocks and fossils, and so much more. Working distances are routinely in the tens of mm, allowing for straightforward sample access and manipulation.

The stage does not rise above the set height.

Designing a microscope for the classroom

When crafting a microscope for the classroom, Nikon’s optical engineers and designers face a unique challenge. How do you design for both exacting optical quality and an instrument that can withstand heavy use (and potentially abuse) by novices?

One of the most important things we do is to create a lightweight and compact instrument body with obvious grip locations to facilitate regular handling and minimize the likelihood of drops and other damaging events. Both the ECLIPSE Si and ECLIPSE Ei upright microscopes also feature an integrated cord wrap to facilitate handling and storage.

Both the Si and Ei feature upper stage limits that are adjustable using a vertical stop. This feature helps avoid the accidental ramming of objective lenses into slides.

Images under observation with a microscope can be shared in real time, with students even in distant locations.

(Figure above shows utilization of a web-conferencing service.)

Microscope options for the virtual classroom

Adding the right camera to your educational microscope unlocks a world of possibilities for setting up your virtual classroom.

The Digital Sight 1000 requires only a monitor and a mouse for image observation and capture, and even basic analysis functions such as distance measurements. This allows for straightforward combination with web-conferencing services for real-time remote image sharing.

Remote image sharing can also be performed using a 3rd party WiFi-enabled camera configured on one of Nikon’s educational microscopes. Nearby users can directly connect to the camera via WiFi, allowing students to see images on instructor microscopes or instructors to monitor the work of students. This approach provides an option for social distancing within the classroom that doesn’t rely upon an internet connection.


Camera Integration
Nikon provides a variety of camera options, including fast color and monochrome CMOS options.
Field of View
The field of view of the system, also referred to as the field number, is the diameter of the imaging area at a nominal 1X magnification.
Illumination Source
Illumination sources for transmitted light-based contrast techniques are most often either light emitting diodes (LEDs) or halogen lamps. LEDs are a bright, eco-friendly, and more energy efficient choice.
Online Guide Available
The Nikon Online Guides are available for select microscope models. Scan a QR code on the microscope using your smart device to access an online collection of step-by-step tutorials –supporting independent learning.
Supported Contrast Techniques
Brightfield observation is the standard for most educational applications. Techniques such as phase contrast are useful for viewing relatively transparent samples – such as single cells.
Zoom Range
This applies to stereomicroscopes featuring variable zoom magnification. The greater the available zoom range, the more sample types that are conducive to micro-to-macro observation.