For the last month or so, I have been trying out and playing around with the SW350 microscope model from Swift. Here I will give my personal review of the microscope as well as show you some of the images and clips I made with it.
DISCLAIMER: This post is not sponsored by Swift and I am not getting paid in any way by the company for writing this review. It was my own idea and the thoughts on the product are my own personal views and experiences.
The SW350 microscope from Swift is available in both a binocular (SW350B) and a trinocular model (SW350T). The binocular model costs $209.99 and the trinocular model costs $249.99 on Amazon right now.
This microscope is in my opinion a great microscope for beginners and people getting into microscopy, both older children and adults. In the following I will go through the microscope from the top moving down and describe the SW350 along with the pros and cons I found while working with the microscope. On Amazon I gave the SW350 4 out of 5 stars and in this review I explain why.
The Swift SW350T (trinocular model)
As mentioned, this microscope is available as both a binocular (SW350B) and a trinocular model (SW350T). The trinocular model is great if you want to mount a camera and be able to view through the eyepieces at the same time. You are also able to fit a camera on the binocular model by removing one of the eyepieces, but of course you won’t have the ability to look through the microscope at the same time.
I use an adapter (LabCam) for my phone to film and take photos, and a binocular microscope works well for me. However, if you have a larger camera, e.g. a DSLR or a heavy microscope camera, I recommend the trinocular model.
The SW350 has two eyepieces, which in my opinion is a very important feature for a microscope. This makes it a lot more comfortable to use the microscope and much easier to observe your samples. However, I am a quite tall guy (185 cm) and the viewing head is only inclined at 30°. Which means that I wasn’t able to sit relaxed while looking in the microscope, this was however easily fixed by placing the microscope on a couple of books, using a higher table or a lower chair. But if you are not as tall as me you probably won’t have this problem.
The microscope comes with two sets of eyepieces, a 10x and a 25x. The 10x are standard eyepieces in most microscopes, but with the addition of the 25x you are able to magnify the sample even more without needing to switch objective. This is helpful when observing samples in water, as you are only able to use the 4x, and 10x objectives for this purpose (the 40x and 100x objectives will “crash” into the water and needs a sample under a coverslip).
The space between the eyepieces can easily be adjusted without the use of tools and allows for eye spacing from 48 mm to 75 mm. One of the eyepieces can also be adjusted according to difference in vision between the eyes.
A compilation of common microorganisms magnified
40x - 1000x with regular and darkfield microscopy
The SW350 has four objectives (4x, 10x, 40x and 100x). These are parfocal meaning that even though you switch between objectives, the specimen stays in focus (almost). The revolving nosepiece that holds the four objectives moves smoothly and are designed so the objectives are parcentral, meaning that you keep looking at the same point of the specimen when you switch between objectives (almost). The objectives have a standard threading and changing them for new or better ones is therefore possible with all objectives having the DIN 160 standard threading, which is most objectives.
The four objectives coupled with the two different eyepieces can give magnifications from 40x to 2500x allowing you to view anything from insects to single celled organisms, blood cells and bacteria up close. However, the magnification of 2500x is usually considered “nonsense” as anything beyond about 1000x is empty magnification. This is not due to this microscope though, but due to physics and something called the limit of resolution. So even if it is possible to magnify an object 2500x with this microscope, you won’t resolve any more detail above 1000x, but that is a topic for another post.
One of the most important things about a microscope is the image quality it produces, and the SW350s achromatic objectives gives you sharp and high-resolution magnification. I was actually a bit surprised, in a good way, about the image quality since this is in the cheaper end of binocular and trinocular microscopes. I compared the image quality to a microscope which is almost 4 times as expensive, and there was only little difference between the two, the most notable difference was at the highest magnification (100x objective).
Single celled alga magnified 400x
To move your specimens around, this microscope have another feature which in my opinion is a must on a microscope, a mechanical stage with a slide holder. The stage moves smoothly in both X and Y directions, and the slide holder makes it fast and easy to place and secure a microscope slide for inspection.
To move the stage in the Z direction (up and down) and adjust the focus, the SW350 has both a fine and coarse focusing knob placed on each side of the microscope. These knobs also operate smoothly and allows you to adjust the focus precisely.
Just underneath the stage is a condenser with an adjustable iris diaphragm and a “swing out” filter holder which allows you to do things like darkfield microscopy, Rheinberg illumination, oblique illumination, use color filters and more. The condenser and iris move as they should, but the filter holder will in some positions swing into the stage control. This is not a huge problem but a bit annoying when it does happen.
Water flea magnified 40x with darkfield microscopy (the darkfield filter is not included)
The light source in the SW350 is a 1 W LED and there is of course also a brightness control on the side of the microscope base. An LED won’t emit any heat like a halogen bulb, and you are therefore able to look at heat sensitive specimens, as well as look at e.g. water drops for a longer period without them drying out. The LED emits a nice cold bluish light in contrast to a halogen bulb which has a warm yellowish light. The LED illumination works fantastic but is a bit dim at the highest magnification. This is however something a camera can easily compensate for, and after looking for a minute your eyes will have adjusted to it as well.
All in all, I think the SW350 is a good beginners microscope build in solid materials with all the necessary features and components a good microscope should have, in my opinion. The few flaws the microscope has doesn’t take away from its excellent image quality and is not something that would stop me from recommending it to people just starting to explore the fascinating microworld.