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The Dino-Lite USB Digital Microscope Buying Guide

Whether you are an avid coin collector looking to unlock the rich history from a 1909 V.D.B Licon cent coin or a dermatologist looking to see skin through a whole new lens, Dino-Lite's USB digital microscopes have the versatility to meet your needs. We know that finding the right Dino-Lite for your hobby or profession can be a challenge, which is why we’re highlighting some of the key features to consider when narrowing your search.

We all have preconceptions about what a microscope should look like. 

It’s white. The eyepiece is black. It sits upright. There is a stage, sometimes with slide clips. There is a blocky base. Newer models might have a sleeker base. 

Dino-Lite USB digital microscopes are a complete reimagining of the microscope. Of what it can do. Of how. It’s the product of asking why, when nobody else thought to. Why can’t there be a different type of microscope for applications that don’t require the bulk of the traditional microscope? Why can’t work in your field be easier?


Enter Dino-Lite digital USB microscopes. Dino-Lite is the original manufacturer of digital USB microscopes - it’s been reimagining microscopy for more than two decades. And over that time, it learned how to pack a ton of features into a pocket-sized package. 


Each model is built with a purpose in mind. The right mix of features for quality control on electronics, for example, or for a hobbyist cataloging a stamp collection, or a biologist studying cultured cells. And because they’re built to thrive in a huge range of applications, there are also a huge variety of models to choose from. 


So we put together this guide. As the 1st and largest distributor of Dino-Lite digital USB microscopes in North America, we know as much about these as the manufacturer does. And we know what sets them apart from the knockoffs that have sprung up over the years. You’ll be happy with a Dino-Lite. And if you work with a knock off, you’ll know it.


This guide is the easiest way to understand, then narrow down the features that can make your workflow better with a genuine Dino-Lite. Work your way to the bottom of this USB digital microscope buying guide and you’ll have just about everything you need to light up the right choice. 


Special Features, Acronyms, and What They Actually Do.

Dino-Lite USB digital microscopes incorporate a load of special features to make the user experience:


  • Intuitive

  • Friendly

  • Easy

They’re often referenced by an acronym. Because they’re special features you won’t find on traditional microscopes, they might not be familiar to you. Learning these special technologies and their acronyms is about the toughest part of working with a Dino-Lite. 


Extended Depth of Field - EDOF


Almost every application using a microscope runs into depth of field issues at some point. It’s that blurriness that appears in parts of the image that are just out of focus. The higher your magnification, the shallower your “depth of field” is. 


Think of your subject as a slice of tomato on a sandwich. The tomato is in focus, but the stuff above and below it - the slices of bread, cheese, and meat - represent out of focus space. And the higher that magnification gets, the thinner your slice of in-focus tomato gets. 


Dino-Lite’s Extended Depth of Field (EDOF) pulls the rest of the sandwich back into focus by capturing multiple slices of in-focus space, then stacking those images together. 


This feature is only available through DinoCapture 2.0 software, which is only available on PC (not MAC)


If you bought a Dino-Lite from us in the last 30 days, didn’t choose a model with EDOF, and now you have buyer’s remorse, just send it back. We’ll take it back and get you setup with the right model, so when you’re looking at highly magnified samples that aren’t perfectly flat, like:


  • Fabricated parts.

  • Geological samples.

  • Electronics.

  • Insects.

  • Bones.

  • Plants.


...you have the tool that makes evaluating and cataloging those samples much more efficient and accurate.


If EDOF is one of the main features you’re interested in, we recommend the models below:


Dino-Lite Edge AM73915MZTL

A best-seller, and one of Dino-Lite’s flagship models. It’s packed with features, including EDOF, that make it suitable for industrial quality control, or sample observation in research labs. Or just about anything else you can throw at it.


Dino-Lite Edge AF4915ZT


The most affordable model with EDOF and a handful of other features that make it popular with jewelers, watchmakers, and in forensics (with the added DinoVision software that makes image drag-and-drop, split, overlay and comparison fast and easy).


Other models also feature EDOF. You can narrow down your search by the following model prefixes:


  • AM7915--

  • AM73915--

  • AF4915--

  • WF4915--


Extended Dynamic Range - EDR


EDR (Extended Dynamic Range) is an image processing tool exclusive to several Dino-Lite Edge models. 


Textures on the surface of the subject you’re examining can cause bright spots and dark spots. The setting on a piece of jewelry can cause shadows on the inset stone, the threads on an industrial fastener look lighter on the ridges than in the valleys. 


EDR capture mode eliminates shadows and highlights that can cause inaccuracies in your work. 


How does it work? The EDR capture mode takes three pictures at different exposure levels:


  • Underexposed.

  • Overexposed.

  • Standard.


It then stacks the three images into a single image with the click of a button, so you can see every detail of the image in balanced, even light.


EDR is particularly beneficial in settings like:


  • Botany or other fields of plant biology, cataloging samples in detail.

  • Electronics, building circuit boards, verifying quality standards, or working with electronics in the field.

  • Zoology, where lighting conditions can be difficult to work with.


The EDR images can be stored and viewed with DinoCapture 2.0 (available for windows only)


Some of the most popular Dino-Lite’s with EDR include:

Dino-Lite Edge AM73915MZTL


A best-seller, and one of Dino-Lite’s most feature-rich. It’s packed with features, including EDR, that make it suitable for a huge range of applications, in the lab and in the field.

Dino-Lite Edge AM7915MZT

The Dino-Lite Edge AM7915MZT is recommended for professional use, and it’s the flagship model in Dino-Lite’s Edge series. A comparable compound or stereo microscope is far outside this price range.

Only the Edge series features EDR. So if the recommendations above don’t quite suit your purpose, filter by Dino-Lite Edge and you’ll see the other options with this in-demand feature.



Automatic Magnification Reading - AMR


The AMR function automatically detects and displays the magnification you’re viewing your sample at (because it’s easy to zoom in or out with your Dino-Lite, you may not always know intuitively the exact magnification you’re at). 


The magnification is displayed in real time inside the Dino-Lite software you use, and stored with the captured picture. 


It’s designed for quality control applications, where you constantly make measurements and run calculations. It makes your high precision job easier, faster, and more accurate. 


And it’s designed for medical applications, where the subject you’re looking at isn’t always a regular shape, or as large as the next subject. It makes your decisions easier, because it gives you good, accurate information fast.

Dino-Lite Edge PLUS AM4517MZTL

AMR is an advanced feature, but is available on several mid-range Dino-Lite models, including this one. Family doctors may not need some of the features in mid-high to high-end models, and this is the best value for your medical practice.

Dino-Lite Edge AF4515ZTL

The combination of AMR and Wi-Fi readiness (just add the adapter, sold separately) make this another great choice for professional use in medical clinics, jewelry stores, and industrial workplaces. 

Other models with AMR include:


  • AM4815--

  • AM7515-- 

  • AM7915--


And a few others.


Flexible LED Control - FLC


Dino-Lite LED’s can be controlled and adjusted on the fly using Flexible LED Control (FLC).


When you need more light in your application, when the ambient light is weak or your subject has tiny details that require more intense light to view, you can crank the lighting up. If you’re working in the field and need natural light for your observations, turn the LED’s way down.


FLC gives you control over six levels of illumination, with lighting sectioned off - so if you need more light on the right side of your subject, or less light from the top and bottom of your sample, you can do that. 


It comes down to control over what you see under your scope. FLC is another level of control you have over the image you see and capture. 


Recommended models with FLC include:

Dino-Lite Edge Plus AM4517MZT

A brand new image sensor and FLC make this model one of the most versatile for industrial inspection and other workplace applications.

Dino-Lite Edge AF4115ZT

It’s the most affordable model with FLC, and it’s often sold to watchmakers and hobbyists who want versatility, quality, and value, without features they’ll rarely, if ever, touch

 A Built-In Polarizing Filter

A built-in polarizing filter makes it easy to capture images of shiny surfaces without that shiny part. Think:

  • Metals

  • Plastics

  • Glass

  • Jewelry

  • Electronics

  • Skin


If you aren’t a dermatologist, you probably didn’t think human skin would be part of that list.  In fact, skin can be tough to look at up close without reflections getting in the way. A polarizing filter is a dermatologist’s best friend


The filter also increases contrast, so differences in your subject are easier to identify. 


The most popular models with polarizing filters are:

AM4113ZT Polarizing Digital Microscope

If good image quality and a polarizing filter are your primary interests, this model strips away everything you don’t want and leaves you with a purpose-built polarized image

AM4113ZTS Polarizing Digital Microscope

A slightly upgraded version of the other recommended polarizing microscope, but with the ability to achieve 50x or 220x at 6.5mm working distance (for contact-free examination), or 85x-145x when touching the specimen.



 

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Coaxial Lighting


Coaxial lighting is highly application specific. It’s most commonly used in the semiconductor industry, for quality control and inspection of wafer plates. 


Standard brightfield illumination renders some of the structures on the wafer plate invisible. Coaxial lighting pulls back the curtain.


A similar phenomenon occurs during the inspection of polished or chemically-treated metal surfaces, microchip inspection, and a handful of other flat-surface applications where contrast can be minimal. 


It’s not a feature most users need, but it’s indispensable to users who do. If you aren’t sure how it will affect your application, try it out. We’ll take it back within 30 days, no questions asked, if you don’t think it’s a feature you really need. 


Find it in:

Dino-Lite Edge PLUS AM4517MZTL

It’s packed with features that matter to professionals running repetitive inspections.

Dino-Lite Plus AM4917MZTL

Combine your coaxial lighting with a ton of other special features that make your job easier. You can complete inspections faster and with greater accuracy.


Narrow Your Selection Down By Series


Maybe you’re not looking for a specific feature, but you’re more interested in exploring models with a certain collection of features. 


You can easily narrow down your Dino-Lite like that too. 


The Dino-Lite Pro Series Packages Great Image Quality and Ease of Use Together At A Reasonable Price


So you’re looking for good image quality, an intuitive, user-friendly experience, durability, and the ease of working with a USB microscope, the Pro series is a good place to start. 


It checks all your boxes, with a simple USB connection, magnification of up to 220x times, and resolution of 1.3 megapixels.


And if the model you want is available online at Microscope.com, we’ll ship it to you today. Instruments never appears available on our site to lure you into a sale, only to tell you it’s on backorder after you paid. If it’s available, it’s available.


This range does not include any of the special features listed in the first section of this buying guide, and does not include long working distance, special lighting (UV or IR, for example) or high magnification ranges (up to 900x).


Most users in this model range don’t need the rich (and more expensive) features of the Premier or Edge series. They’re often hobbyists cataloging collections or industrial quality control where features like EDOF won’t make the job easier


The Dino-Lite Premier Series Is Widely Used In Extended Working Distance Applications


For work in the electronics industry, repair work, or inspection of large or fragile objects, or for assembly processes, professionals use Dino-Lite Premier digital USB microscopes.


What separates these from other models is the magnification level. Minimum magnification starts at 5x, and maximum magnification for extended working distance microscopes is 140x - it's built with specifications reflective of processes across the electronics industry. Most long working distance models are ESD safe. 


The Dino-Lite Edge Series Goes Wild With Features That Make Your Job Easier


A significant determining factor in the price of your Dino-Lite USB microscope is resolution. 1.3 megapixels is suitable for lots of applications, and the images are sharp and bright. But at 5 megapixels, the images can be enlarged on your screen to zoom in on minute details without losing image quality. It’s a more sensitive image sensor, and it adds to the cost. And that’s just one of the things that makes the Edge series a more refined choice.


Working with reflective objects? The built-in polarizing filter is probably needed. Need to bring your work into an environment where lighting can be iffy? Choose a model with EDR too. 


Edge models are the absolute best. Image quality is unbeatable. They’re equipped to handle any working conditions. They can move from application to application seamlessly.



At a glance, you can get any combination of these features:


  • Magnification of up to 900x

  • 1.3 megapixel or 5 megapixel

  • With or without polarization filter

  • Metal housing or composite housing 

  • Extended Depth of Field (EDOF)

  • Extended Dynamic Range (EDR)

  • Flexible LED Control (FLC)

  • Automatic Magnification Reading (AMR)

  • Coaxial lighting

  • Optional USB 3.0 upgrade for real-time, high quality streaming

  • A durable metal or composite body.


If you can’t quite decide the most valuable combination of features for your application, give us a call. It’s what we love to talk about, and it’s what we’re here for. We’re always available during normal business hours - a real, live Dino-Lite enthusiast


Dino-Lite Edge With High Magnification


Some Edge models hit magnification ranges of 900x. 


At that range, they’re commonly used for:


  • Biomedical research

  • Lab testing

  • Material analysis

  • Precision electronics inspection


Basically, anywhere where high magnification, versatility, and mobility are factors. 


Dino-Lite high magnification range USB microscopes feature real magnification. Other manufacturers claim up to 2,000x magnification on similar styles of instrument. We in the industry call that false magnification. It’s a higher number, and it’s meant to make the instrument appear better. In fact, the image you see is of poorer quality and contains fewer details than a Dino-Lite image at 900x. It’s flashy marketing and it’s meant to trick you.


You don’t have to trust us about this. You can dig around online to find the same information from plenty of sources. And you can learn more about it here too.


Or, if you want to compare image quality, get yourself a 900x Dino-Lite and a 2,000x from the other manufacturer. If the other manufacturer gives you better image quality, we’ll take the Dino-Lite back within 30 days, no questions asked. 


Entry level, For Getting Kids Into Science! Dino-Lite Basics


You just need to get an up-close look at some really cool stuff. That’s what the basics are for


You don’t need the sharpest images or fancy software (although a basic version of DinoCapture is included). You just want to explore and plant a seed that could blossom into a lifelong love for science. 


These are affordable, easy to use, durable, and portable. The magnification of the microscopes goes from 10x to 50x and around 230x.
 


Dino Lite Digital USB Microscope Accessories. For The Fullest Experience.


Lots of Dino-Lite models can be upgraded with a handful of accessories:


And there are lots of application-specific accessories that can round out your Dino-Lite microscope setup.


Like this portable back light polarizer stand, built for geologists traveling and working in the field, portability and low power consumption are important.


Like this image capture foot pedal, ideal for operators who work with tools or inspection equipment while handling their Dino-Lite microscopes - pc inspection and repair, medical professionals and jewelry specialists.


Like this simple, adjustable jewelry staging holder.


If there’s an accessory you think you need, it’s here.


The Software That Makes Dino-Lite Thrive In Your Application


A big part of your Dino-Lite is the software, which is continually upgraded at no cost. It’s included with every USB microscope and makes the user experience rich, intuitive, and powerful. 


So what can you actually do with it?


  • Capture pictures or videos of your subjects.

  • Convert images to multiple formats for collaboration, posterity, presentations, and more.

  • Measure and mark your images with lines, radiuses, circles, angles, 3-point circles.

  • Calibrate your Dino-Lite.

  • Add notes directly to your images.

  • Share your field of view in real time online with suppliers, customers, colleagues.

  • Control lighting options and manipulate images for better viewing.

  • Geotagging.


DinoCapture 2.0 (as of 2021) or DinoVision gives you full access to the functionality that make Dino-Lites so valuable to specialists like you across so many fields


So Choosing Your Dino-Lite Boils Down To Where You See The Most Value


If you read this far, you get that there are tons of features in these innovative digital USB microscopes. 


They’re exciting. They’re different. They can make your day-to-day life easier. 


But because they’re so feature-rich, it can also be hard finding the best mix for your application.


Now that you know the lingo - EDOF, EDR, AMR, Edge, Pro - you can tell us what feels the most valuable to you and we can help you narrow everything down.


Learning everything in this buying guide gives you the tools to make a confident decision, and to weigh your options with the right foundation of knowledge. 


So give us a call today. We love hearing about new applications and matching other scientists with the best tools we can find. Dino-Lites definitely qualify. And we can’t wait to talk to you about them. Plus, we have special volume pricing available if you’re purchasing for your:


  • Clinic.

  • Quality control team.

  • Industrial production line.

  • Forensic lab.

  • University research team.

  • Dental chain.


All you have to do is fill out our contact form for access

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