Microscope Accessories Guide: Everything You Need to Know

Whether you use a budget compound (biological) microscope, professional stereo microscope or anything in between, you’ll need Microscope Accessories to enhance your discovery of the microscopic world. Keep reading this Microscope Accessories Guide to know which accessories you’ll need for your microscope.

Microscope Slides

Suitable for Biological (Compound) Microscopes

To begin this Microscope Accessories Guide, we will start by introducing Microscope Slides.

Microscope Slides are thin, flat, rectangular sections of glass used to examine samples in microbiology. They are an essential accessory for users of compound (biological) microscopes.

Prepared Slides

Prepared Slides are a great option for a solid introduction to microscopy. These slides may have samples of either plant specimens, animal specimens or both.

They generally come in kits of either 50 or 100, making for hours of interactive learning through your microscope.

A kit of 100 prepared biological microscope slides of animal and plant specimens made by Saxon.
Figure 1. 100 Prepared Biological Microscope Slides

Blank Slides

Blank Slides are designed for more experienced users looking to create their own specimen samples for observation. With blank slides, you will not be limited to the set of slides included in a prepared slides kit.

Blank slides often come in kits. These blank slide kits often come with coverslips, so you can keep specimens thin and flat for accurate examination.

Saxon 100 pre-cleaned blank slides for biological microscopes.
Figure 2. 100 Pre-Cleaned Blank Slides for Biological Microscopes

Concave Slides

When preparing slides using a blank slides kit, several considerations need to be made. Firstly, you will need to determine what needs to be examined under your microscope.

For samples of liquids and larger specimens, blank Concave Slides are more suitable than standard blank slides. This is because they feature a slight depression to hold your samples in place.

Hence, concave slides often do not come with coverslips as they are not necessary.

Two double concave biological microscope slides manufactured by saxon.
Figure 3. Double Concave Slides

Slide Cases

Slides are fragile objects. As a result, you will need to protect them from the elements so that they remain clean and ready for accurate observation.

A Slides Case is an essential accessory that is designed to preserve microscopic slides by keeping them safe and free of dust and other debris, preventing damage.

Case for microscopic slides that suit biological microscopes, manufactured by saxon.
Figure 4. Slide Case for 50 Biological Microscope Slides

Slide Stain

Something else you should consider is whether your slides need to be stained or not.

Slide Staining is a technique used to classify microscopic organisms. It works by staining certain structural details in your samples to create contrasting colours that more easily reveal structural details in microscopic specimens.

As a result, slide staining is often used to classify and identify bacteria in fields such as virology and pathology.

To stain microscopic samples, you will need a Staining Solution. For example, methylene blue, iodine and crystal violet.

A microphotograph of a fungal organism belonging to genus Sepedonium stained with a Lactophenol Cotton Blue (LPCB) Stain.
Figure 5. Fungal organism of genus Sepedonium stained with Lactophenol Cotton Blue (LPCB)

You can also pair staining solutions with Staining Racks or Slide Racks. With these, you can hold multiple microscope slides securely whilst they are stained.

Three-Dimensional Samples

Prepared Slides are only useful for observation under a Biological Microscope. But if you have a Stereo Microscope, you might be wondering: what prepared, three-dimensional accessories are there for observation?

Often, stereo microscopes are used for dissections, which we will touch on later. However, for introductory purposes, you can purchase prepared specimens that are ready for immediate observation. These specimens can come preserved in resin – good examples include Preserved Insects such as scorpions, beetles and centipedes.

Another way to make immediate use of your Stereo Microscope is to bring the great outdoors to you. An Ores Sample offers a perfect introduction to geology with samples of different ores.

Immersion Oil

Suitable for Biological (Compound) Microscopes

Another accessory to cover in this Microscope Accessories Guide is Immersion Oil.

If you are a microbiologist, a high-powered compound microscope is essential for a detailed observation of cell samples. But with a high-powered microscope, you may find that your samples are blurry and not as sharp.

This may be especially noticeable at magnification levels greater than 1000x.

Immersion Oil offers a solution to this problem by improving the clarity of your biological microscope at higher magnification. To clarify – immersion oil replaces the air gaps between the objective lens and the coverslip with a refractive index medium equivalent to the glass slide.

Microscopes that are capable of high magnifications sometimes include a bottle of immersion oil. However, these bottles can also be purchased separately.

A translucent bottle of half-full immersion oil manufactured by saxon sealed with a blue lid.
Figure 6. Bottle of Immersion Oil

Petri Dish

In addition to immersion oil, if you are a biologist, you will need a Petri Dish. These lidded, shallow, circular culture plates are designed to hold a growth medium in which cells can be cultured. Hence, you will find them useful for slide preparation.

For example, you may use Petri Dishes for the culture of bacteria cells, fungi and small mosses.

Petri Dishes often come in various sizes such as small, medium and large.

Empty petri dish photographed from above.
Figure 7. Petri Dish


Suitable for Both Biological (Compound) Microscopes and Stereo Microscopes

Most microscopes include an Eyepiece or Eyepieces that have at least a 10x magnification. Users of both compound and stereo microscopes often upgrade to stronger eyepieces to easily increase the resolving power of their microscope.

For example, upgrading to a Widefield 16x (WF16X) Eyepiece is a popular choice. However, there are also other sizes available – sometimes as high as WF50X.

But importantly, all microscopes have a maximum focusing distance. In other words: not all microscopes can take higher magnification eyepieces. Hence, this is something you will need to consider before purchasing an eyepiece upgrade.

A single WF16X Optex Eyepiece for Biological Microscopes captured from a high, front-on angle.
Figure 8. WF16X Eyepiece for Biological Microscopes

Digital Microscope Camera

Suitable for Both Biological (Compound) Microscopes and Stereo Microscopes

Microscopy is more than just observation, it is also about imaging and reporting findings. This means that when you use a microscope, you need to consider more than just how you make observations – you also need to think about how you will capture and record your findings and photomicrograph.

An External Digital Microscope Camera offers an excellent way to convert a traditional microscope into a digital microscope capable of imaging observations.

They are the perfect upgrade for users of trinocular head microscopes. However, these are also compatible with standard-sized binocular head and even monocular head microscopes.

You will also be able to use a Digital Microscope Camera for more than just recording and capturing images. These cameras also allow for observations to be live-streamed, which means they are great accessories for practical applications in classrooms and other similar learning environments.

For example, the Celestron 5MP Microscope Digital Imager, the Saxon 3 Megapixel Digital Microscope Camera and the Saxon 10 Megapixel Digital Microscope Camera are all good options.

2MP Celestron Digital Microscope Imager, or Camera, with its USB cable attached and an eyepiece adapter.
Figure 9. Digital Microscope Imager

Optical Cleaning Kit

Suitable for Both Biological (Compound) Microscopes and Stereo Microscopes

Regardless of whether your microscope is worth $100 or $1000, it is a fragile optical instrument. Hence, they need to be cared for appropriately.

For a minimal level of care, microscopes are sold with a Dust Cover, which is an accessory essential for the protection of your microscope, especially when it is not in use.

But even with its Dust Cover, every now and then, your microscope and its various components will need to be cleaned. Microscopic lenses, much like actual microscopes themselves, are fragile. As a result, they need to be cleaned properly to avoid scratching and damaging the surface of the lenses.

It is important to take care when cleaning your microscope, which is why a professional cleaning kit can go a long way to lengthen the life of your microscope.

A professional Optical Cleaning Kit such as the Saxon Optical Lens Cleaning Kit is a solid example of another necessary microscope accessory.

An opened optical lens cleaning kit photographed from above.
Figure 10. Optical Lens Cleaning Kit

Microscope Lamps and Bulbs

Suitable for Both Biological (Compound) Microscopes and Stereo Microscopes

Your microscope may have top-illumination, bottom-illumination or both. If your microscope has LED Bulbs, you can expect it to last around 100,000 hours. However, if it has Tungsten Bulbs, it is likely to last around 100 hours.

Whatever the case, lamps and bulbs are wear and tear items. This means they will fail at times, and sometimes need to be replaced. Fortunately, they are usually cost-effective, inexpensive replacements.

Dissection Kit

Suitable for Both Biological (Compound) Microscopes and Stereo Microscopes

Dissection Kits or Slide Preparation Kits contain several tools that are useful for the dissection of larger specimens, such as animals and plants. This means that they are a great addition if you use a Stereo Microscope, and especially if you intend to prepare larger specimens for examination.

However, a Dissection Kit can also be used to prepare microscopic samples. Hence, if you use a Biological Microscope, you may also find that you make good use of these kits.

At the very least, a Dissection Kit typically includes tweezers, a scalpel and scissors. A good option is this 7 Piece Dissecting Kit.

A 7 Piece Dissecting Kit sold by Optics Central, which includes a spatula, scalpel, tweezers, probes, scissors and preparation needles.
Figure 11. Dissection Kit

So, what is the takeaway from this Microscope Accessories Guide?

Microscopes are incredible optical instruments that need an open range of accessories to truly be appreciated. Which accessories you purchase are entirely up to you and what you plan to see with your microscope.

Whatever the case, any of the accessories listed in this Microscope Accessories Guide are a great way to start – or continue – your journey into the microscopic world.


Celestron. (n.d.). DIGITAL MICROSCOPE IMAGER 2MP [Online image]. https://cdn.shopify.com/s/files/1/0102/9740/9632/products/44423_Digital_Microscope_Imager_1_x500.jpg?v=1561312673

Hardin, H. F. (1965). 23108 [Online image]. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://phil.cdc.gov//PHIL_Images/23108/23108_lores.jpg

olhakozachenko. (2020). Empty transparent petri dish isolated realistic vector illustration. Science and laboratory concept stock illustration [Online image]. https://media.istockphoto.com/vectors/empty-transparent-petri-dish-isolated-realistic-vector-illustration-vector-id1268687719?k=20&m=1268687719&s=612×612&w=0&h=qwOxEsH3YGafw1M9Wgjxlhfm9-vL6o5YcfBI4TjxnTQ=

Optics Central. (n.d.). Optex WF16X Eyepiece for Biological Microscopes [Online image]. https://www.opticscentral.com.au/pub/media/catalog/product/cache/900241317b0f2575f23f035c2c200d48/o/p/optex_wf16x_eyepiece_for_biological_microscopes.jpg

saxon. (n.d.). saxon Double Concave Slides (50pcs) [Online image]. https://www.saxon.com.au/media/catalog/product/cache/e744b0a71cb9bdd2eb52eff7374ce483/s/a/saxon_double_concave_slides_50pcs_1.jpg

saxon. (n.d.). saxon Microscope Immersion Oil [Online image]. https://www.saxon.com.au/media/catalog/product/cache/e744b0a71cb9bdd2eb52eff7374ce483/o/i/oil.jpg

saxon. (n.d.). saxon Microscope Slides Case for 50pcs [Online image]. https://www.saxon.com.au/media/catalog/product/cache/e744b0a71cb9bdd2eb52eff7374ce483/s/a/saxon_microscope_slides_case_for_50pcs_-_sku_311050_2.png

saxon. (n.d.). saxon 100pcs Pre-Cleaned Blank Slides Kit [Online image]. https://www.saxon.com.au/media/catalog/product/cache/e744b0a71cb9bdd2eb52eff7374ce483/s/a/saxon_100pcs_pre-cleaned_blank_slides_kit_-_sku_310100_1.jpg

saxon. (n.d.). saxon Optical Lens Cleaning Kit [Online image]. https://www.saxon.com.au/media/catalog/product/cache/077d9b3c6c55a2fe67e6991b5924254d/s/a/saxon_optical_lens_cleaning_kit_660024.jpg

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *