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I have had this microscope for 3 or 4 years now, and continue to be delighted by its quality, especially as I learn more about how to get the best out of it. When I have compared it to microscopes sold by specialist retailers, it looks like the same specification would normally cost around £90. Note, though, that the exact specification of the microscope on sale at Lidl varies from time to time, as does the contents of the kit. My kit included a few blank slides and cover glasses, as well as a lovely little box of prepared slides, a microtome (used for cutting thin slices) and other bits and bobs. The instruction booklet is actually very informative although it is in slightly comic translation from German!
Like one of the other reviewers, I home educate my children so we do a lot of hands-on science; it's one of the perks of studying on your own schedule. Last week we had 3 of these microscopes at a home education group and the children prepared slides of their own cheek cells and viewed them with the microscopes. They also observed protozoa in pond water. Now, in the UK National Curriculum, slide preparation is not expected in biology until AS-level; this kit goes beyond what you'd need for A-level and would be a great home microscope for degree level study. This microscope is easy enough to use so that we had a 6 year-old being able to load slides and focus it, but of course it's not a toy and it could be broken so I don't want to give the impression that you could just leave a young child to play with this alone; they do need help to learn how to use it. Any user would benefit from spending some time learning how to use it first; there are some great YouTube videos which will run you through it in 5minutes or so. Search for 'How to use a compound microscope'. I liked ScienceProfOnline ' s 'Compound Light Microscope Parts and Operation'. There are also some wonderful amateur microscopy sites with good tutorials.
As well as educational use, the microscope has been used for animal care too. We have learned (using online tutorials) how to check animal droppings for parasite eggs and so to check if our chickens have a heavy intestinal parasite infestation or not. The microscope is easily powerful enough for this, although you need to use the correct technique. So, if you're trying to justify the expense, maybe it could save you some vet bills!
This microscope has a mechanical stage (the 'stage' is the black bit that you put the slide on, and a 'mechanical stage' has a slide holder that moves - there are knobs to turn to move the slide very precisely left and right,forward and backward, while you observe it). This is a very useful feature if you are looking at tiny objects on a slide and need to navigate carefully. Mine developed a fault - one of the knobs stopped turning the attached screw properly. A friend has the same model and hers developed the same fault, so I suspect this is a weakness that others may encounter too. We both managed to fix it easily. First, if you look on the end of the knobs, there are screw heads in there and you may be able to just tighten it up. However, that didn't work for me - it seemed as if the thread inside the knob had worn off. I just put a drop of superglue on the metal spindle and then screwed the knob on; it's been fine ever since. Another friend has a more recent Lidl Bresser microscope and there appear to be just a couple of minor differences. One is that the mechanical stage has gone, and there is just a standard stage with clips. Note that you press down on the short end of the clips to make them lift up so it's easy to insert/remove slides; it's not immediately obvious!
We also have the PC Ocular attachment, although I rarely bother using it because the image quality is nowhere near as good as that using the ocular lenses. It's still an OK image on the PC, but the ocular lenses give much more detail. I have installed the software on 2 different laptops now and each time it was a nuisance to get running; software had to be updated and I did not find it easy to use.However, your computer will just see this attachment as a USB camera/webcam, so in theory you could use any software you wanted to view and capture the images.
I've managed to get some good photos with this microscope, just by holding my smartphone camera up to the regular eyepiece. It takes a little practice but you get the hang of it Another alternative if you don't have a steady hand is to put your camera in a laboratory clamp and stand to get it to the exact rightplace, but by hand is easier when you've got used to it. I get much better photos with the 16x eyepiece because it is shorter than the 5x and for some reason this makes for a better photo - for me at least.
I have been very impressed the light source for this microscope; it's one thing that I had always found so frustrating before. Actually it turns out that more light isn't always better, and for some things (eg protozoa in pond water), you get more contrast if you turn the light down a bit. That isn't a problem because this particular model has a dimmer switch, plus a selection of smaller apertures and coloured gels that you can switch around with a dial on the stage. However, one of the Lidl microscope sets does not have a dimmable light, and we found that placing a piece of paper towel over the light helped to tone it down when we needed; because it's LED it doesn't get too hot, which not only saves energy but also avoids drying out your specimens.
You may find the highest power lens difficult to use. One minor shortcoming of this microscope is that it has just one focal knob - OK, there are 2 knobs, one on each side of the body so it suits left- or right-handed people, but higher-spec microscopes have a coarse focus knob that you use to get in focus first of all, then a fine-focus know for fine-tuning. Because this microscope has just the one, you have to focus very carefully at high magnification, and step up carefully through the magnifications, finely re-focusing at each step - so you start with the 4x objective lens (the one with the red band), then when you've found something interesting, move up to the 10x and finely re-focus. Those are easy enough - it's just using the highest-power lens that is tricky. I have the 5x ocular in first, and focus with the 40x objective lens. ('ocular' means the one that goes in the eyepiece, and 'objective lens' is whichever of the 3 swivel lenses you are using). You multiply the lens magnifications together to get your total magnification, so that makes 5x40=200x magnification. If you manage to get in focus with that, pull out the Barlow tube (one of the other reviewers explains this very well!), to double what you have. After that,if I manage to get a decent image, I push the Barlow tube back in and switch to the 16x ocular eyepiece, giving me 16x40 =640x. If that works out, then pull out the Barlow tube to its fullest extent and you have your maximum magnification, 16x40x2=1280x. But for most things I find I just don't need that magnification - so don't worry if you find that lens hard to use. It would still be a great scope and a bargain price even if it didn't have the 40x lens.
After having suggested this product a few weeks ago I thought it was time I get around to writing a review about it.
As many of you know, my son is home educated, but I am committed to providing him with as many opportunities to learn at home as possible. I know most children his age would not be using microscopes at school yet, but I like to bring science to life rather than only using text books. We had bought a couple of cheap toy microscopes but when I saw this at Lidyl for £35 I went home and discussed with husband and went back to buy it. Luck was on my side as when I went back it had just been marked down to £28.
The microscope itself is absolutely brilliant. It includes a power cord and powerful led lighting. After having used so many toy microscopes with batteries, this was a great relief, and a good lighting source is essential for proper viewing. The set comes a barlow lense, a 5x wf eyepiece and a 16x wf eyepiece all though to be honest I have not really used any of these much beyond just trying them out as they can not be used with the usb pc ocular. You also get a basic slide making set, brine shrimp eggs and hatchery, tweezers, scissors, blank slides, and eye dropper type thing called a pipette for sucking up liquids and a couple of long thin things that look like they are to poke things with ( sorry for the very non technical description), and a thing called a microcut to make very thin slices of specimens for viewing. Everything comes in a handy black nylon case with a divider section that has loops to hold all the bits and bobs.
The very best part of this microscope is the pc ocular though, and that is the reason I bought this set. It can be very hard for young children to look through a microscope properly, and even adults can find it a strain. This eyepiece means the microscope easily hooks up to a pc and my son can just view everything on the screen, although he does take a peek through the lenses as well. The magnification on the screen is absolutely brilliant. Using a drop of fresh blood you could actually see the cell moving about and it made it so much easier to explain to him what blood cells are and how the body works than just reading a text book, and it is so much more fun as well. ( the blood collection was fun too, after laughing at my husband trying tentatively to poke himself for ages and making such a big deal of it, I quickly took a drop of my own blood and laughed at him more ). My son really enjoys this microscope and it makes learning fun.
I really can not recommend this product enough for anyone with children, as a wonderful way to explore the natural world. I am sure many adults would find it very interesting as well. As an added bonus we found the ocular could be held up to my husbands telescope, allowing pictures from the telescope to be seen on the laptop as well, and my son had great fun looking at all the craters on the moon with this too.
As to power of the microscope, it provides up to 1280 magnification, but in simple terms, it is better than the microscope I used at university, although that is going back some years. For those using it at home I think this will do everything you could possible expect. I was delighted to be able to see movement in blood cells, but it works brilliantly to magnify things like a dead flies wing, or even onion layers as well.
The only down side to this is it doesn't come with prepared slides as most children's microscopes do, but then I imagine it is not really made for children. At the price I paid I certainly am not complaining. I have been able to pick up a few prepared slide separately, and taken the ones from my sons old toy microscopes. Ebay does have slides periodically although they tend to be dear and sporadic in content. If anyone does have a great source for prepared slides, please review it or send me a message. But of course making your own slides is always fun too.
Having worked, for a large chunk of my life, in laboratories, I had access to, and used microscopes of varying sizes and complexities, all of which allowed a fascinating insight into the beauty and sometimes ugliness of nature.
When I left laboratory work, the one thing I missed, next to my colleagues (of course) was a microscope. A good one was far too expensive an instrument for me to consider purchasing; instead, I bought a cheap, but useful little Tasco microscope with a 30X magnification. Not brilliant, but better than nothing.
A few years ago, I spotted a microscope in Lidls, for about £35. I was sceptical at first, thinking that it might be one of those plastic, toy-like instruments one buys for children with a fleeting enthusiasm for seeing their collection of creepy-crawlies magnified to nightmarish proportions, but thought it worth checking out, so threw caution to the wind and purchased the Bresser Biolux AL microscope and accessories.
~~~~What did I get for my £35?~~~~
A strong brown, wooden case made from plywood, filled with goodies that would make any scientifically inclined child dance with glee.
I was expecting just a microscope, but before I detail the instrument, I will list the accessories that accompanied it in the box, each secured to a removable vertical tray, along with an A4 sized instruction book.
(1) One 5X and one 16X-magnification eyepiece lens with lens protection caps.
(2) A Barow lens, which doubles the magnification of the combined eyepiece and objective magnifications.
(3) A PC-Ocular, called a MicrOcular - a camera, which when attached to the microscope eyepiece-holder and with the USB connected to a PC, displays the specimen image on the monitor.
(4) An Ulead Photo Explorer SE Software disc. This CD-Rom is necessary for the installation and use of the micrOcular.
(5) A mains lead, to power the microscope LED illumination systems.
(6) A platic case holding ten glass slides and slide covers, plus five slide preparations, such as yeast, and fly wing.
(7) A matted lens for use with the micrOcular.
(8) Rudimentary microscopy instruments, tweezers, pipette, scissors and a natty little 'micro-cut' for slicing specimens.
(9) A prawn breeding plant and specimens of yeast, prawn eggs and sea salt in plastic bijoux bottles. With comprehensive instructions on how to breed the prawns and observe their growth and also included are some additional, simple, yet interesting experiments.
~~~~The Bresser Biolux AL Microscope~~~~
The Bresser Biolux AL, built in Germany, is an excellent quality, sturdy , metal microscope, coated in a cream, metallic paint and tipping the scales at around 2 kilograms. The black, plastic base houses the dimmer wheel, for reducing or increasing light passing through the condenser lens, situated on the base; this light illuminates specimens placed on the microscope stage, from underneath, through a small aperture in the stage.
Situated next to the condenser is a small on/off switch, for illuminating the specimen directly from above, rather than from below. The second light, located on the microscope arm, above the stage, points directly down onto the specimen.
The whole unit stands about 27cm in height; the base measures 13,5cm x 10cm.
Below the stage, are a series of six coloured filters mounted on a wheel, used for viewing transparent specimens such as single, unstained cells, making the components of the specimen more readily identifiable.
A proportion of the wheel protrudes from under the left edge of the stage.
On top of the stage are two moveable bars, set at right angles to each other, called the mechanical Desk or plate, with a 1mm gap between it and the stage. The specimen slide, held between the two claws of the 'desk' move forward, or sideways by the manipulation of the two knurled screws attached to the mechanical 'desk.' A locking screw on the back, locks the 'desk' in position if required.
Each bar of the 'desk' has graduated scales, so that by noting the position of the pointers on each scale, a specimen can be removed and replaced later with the scales as per the last viewing, to find the exact part of the specimen again.
Immediately above the stage, attached to the underside of the microscope head, are three objective lenses, permanently fixed to the objective revolver - a revolving stage, allowing the selection of an appropriate lens magnification.
The magnification choices are, 4X, 10X and 40X.
On microscopes that are more sophisticated, the objective lenses can be unscrewed and interchanged.
Joining the top of the microscope-head is the eyepiece-holder, a 7.5cm hollow tube into which the appropriate lenses are inserted.
Three lenses, which slot into the eyepiece-holder, are supplied with this microscope; firstly the Barow lens, a 7.5cm graduated tube with a lens positioned at its base, is inserted into the holder, then either the 5X or the 16X-magnification eyepieces is inserted into the top of the Barow lens.
The function of a Barow lens is to increase the magnification of the lenses in situ. With the Barow lens fully extended, magnification is doubled.
For example: With a 5X eyepiece and a 4X objective lens, the magnification is 20X.
When the Barow lens is fully extended, the magnification is doubled to 40X.
The minimum magnification achievable with the Biolux AL is 20X and the maximum, a magnificent 1280X. Therefore this microscope is suitable for viewing a large range of specimens.
However, the Barow lens cannot be used in conjunction with the micrOcular lens and the standard condenser lens should be replaced by the matted condenser lens when using the micrOcular.
Focusing the microscope is simple, the stage racks smoothly up and down, towards and away from the objective lenses. (In larger microscopes, it is the objectives that are racked up and down to focus.)
It is always advisable to avoid damaging the lenses, by initially racking the specimen up to the lens and then focus by racking the stage down.
The microscope is easy to set up and use. The lenses are of excellent quality giving clear images with no irritating aberrations sometimes encountered in inferior quality lenses.
It doesn't take long to get the hang of which filters and magnifications to select, trial and error adds to the fun.
This microscope is perfect for students studying science-based subjects, medical or otherwise. It is relatively inexpensive. Lidls occasionally have these on special offer, especially around Christmas time, though there is no guarantee of that. Since purchasing mine, I have seen it in Lidls each Christmas. Sometimes they sell a slightly different model of microscope, but it looks to be of the same quality as this one. Now is the time to keep an eye open for one of these.
I thoroughly recommend this microscope for science students especially, and even for those youngsters with fleeting interests, it is much cleaner and safer than a chemistry set and who knows, they might, in the words of a well known actress, gain an 'Ology' and become a scientist, one day.
The world could do with more "Ologists."