Many people think of microscopes as synonymous with lab coats, complicated research, and rooms full of highly technical equipment. But in fact, a quality microscope is a wonderful tool for anyone with an interest in the natural world, regardless of their background.

Far from being complicated gadgets requiring a high level of training, microscopes are really quite easy to use. While there are a few basic techniques and terms to learn, the principle is as simple as choosing something to examine, placing it on a glass slide, and then adjusting the focus and level of magnification to suit your needs and preferences. Adjusting the focus for maximum clarity can take a little practice, but it’s no more difficult than adjusting binoculars.

There’s a fascinating microscopic world all around you – even inside your own body – and a microscope is a great way to discover it. Every drop of pond water and pinch of garden soil is simply teeming with diverse microbial life, and every level of magnification brings you closer into it.

Why not take a look at the cells of plants and animals up close? You could pluck a leaf or a strand a hair from a pet. If you're interested in how human cells look, a painless way to start would be to swabbing the insides of your cheek. For home experiments, why not examine the mould growing on that stale loaf of bread? If you’re too tidy to have mould naturally in your home, it might be worth growing some just so you can examine it under a microscope!

Our saxon ScienceSmart series are a great choice for those who are new to microscopy, while our saxon Prodigy microscope remains simple to use while allowing a higher level of clarity. Both feature wide field eyepieces, which will allow you to easily orient your eye and to view a large portion of your slide without adjusting its position. Similarly, the monocular (as opposed to binocular) eyepieces of both microscopes allow for easier viewing with minimal adjustment, and are perfect for those using their microscopes for relatively short periods of time. If you want an extremely clear and detailed view, the halogen lighting and colour-corrected  lenses of the Prodigy series will deliver without making the microscope any more difficult to use.

You don’t need a specific project or any formal training to use a microscope. In fact, they are quite fun and easy to use with only a small amount of practice. Just like a magnifying glass, pair of binoculars, or any other standard equipment of those with inquisitive minds, microscopes are a great way to explore the natural world for anyone with a personal interest.