Photos with my new usb microscope (20X-400X 1.3MP Digital Microscope)

I have been quite pleased with my previous microscope but I decided to buy a slightly better one from dealextreme as double the magnification was available for only a slightly higher cost.

product link) It only cost $48.20 USD (about £31.27 GBP) only $8 than my previous microscope that could only achieve 200x!

20X-400X 1.3MP Digital Microscope

20X-400X 1.3MP Digital Microscope

20X-400X 1.3MP Digital Microscope with nice markings of the magnification

20X-400X 1.3MP Digital Microscope with nice markings of the magnification

Quick Review

  • Large dynamic zoom range (labelled 20x – 400x)
  • Easy to setup (plug and play)
  • Can take some awesome photos, see below
  • Variable illumination settings (using a wheel at top)
  • Rubberised casing gives better grip and good overall feel
  • Much improved build quality over the digimicro
  • Stand is sturdy and can hold camera still in place

Comparison to the digimicro

Digimicro vs New Microscope

Digimicro vs New Microscope

Comparison of microscopes at minimum zoom level

Comparison of microscopes at minimum zoom level

Comparison of microscopes at maximum zoom level

Comparison of microscopes at maximum zoom level

Magnification measurement
The images are taken with the edge of the camera case pressed right up against the ruler. You could probably remove casing to increase zoom slightly, or create a slot to slide a microscope slide into it. The camera has two focuses the first:

First focal point of microscope

First focal point of microscope

And the second (maximum zoom):

Second focal point of microscope (0.5mm spacing between lines)

Second focal point of microscope (0.5mm spacing between lines)

6mm displayed over 170mm: zoom ~ 30x
0.5mm displayed over 180mm: zoom ~ 360x

This isn’t far off the specified 20x – 400x so I am happy! (Note: Measuring magnification level is rubbish as it depends on screen the image is viewed on, so viewing it on a projector would make the statistics seem more impressive.)

The minimum zoom is less than this as we can move the camera further from the object

Setup in Linux

The beauty of this webcam is that it requires no installation with ubuntu 10.04 you simply need to run the software and the camera works! woo! The output of `lsusb` shows the device as:

Bus 001 Device 004: ID 0ac8:3610 Z-Star Microelectronics Corp.

Most video programs will pick up the device, I am opting to use a program called cheese which is awesome not only because of the name but also because of its simplicity.

sudo apt-get install cheese

Bonus Picture

This is a photo of the pixels on a nexus one phone to show the pentile pixel layout

Nexus One Screen Under the Microscope

Nexus One Screen Under the Microscope

As before any requests for microscope images (within reason) will be considered 🙂


  1. Lucy


  2. Dafoofoo

    That was very helpful, thanks for taking the time to but it all together. I am now convinced that I should get one, base on your reviews and photos.

  3. Mikl1984

    Thanks for review
    Please clarify two points:
    – what resolution you used for X calculations?
    It seems to me something wrong. Please discribe procedure more detail
    – is it possible to switch off LED in software

  4. mat

    @Mikl1984 It’s possible it could be wrong but magnification isn’t a great method. This was done at a resolution of 640×480 although the camera specifies it can do 1.3Mp this is probably through interpolation. I show my calculations a bit better in my post about my previous microscope, I am using a different screen now but that will make minimal difference.

    Better way of looking at it is saying that at maximum zoom you can see about 500um and is capable of defining objects that are about 10um (the green pixels of my phone’s screen).

  5. Mikl1984

    What options for resolution?
    Are it 1280×960 or 1280×1024 as max non-interpolated?

    Please check this method for very similar device.

    I have this one
    This camera have 1280×1024 1.3MPix sensor
    1.9 mm = 198x
    12mm = 32x

  6. mat

    @Mikl1984 From a quick glance at that method it looks the same as the method I have used, please see my method in previous post. With the software I was using it only offered 640×480 but I’m sure it should be capable of 1280×1024 (1.3Mp), haven’t had chance to play with it properly yet.

    Also the person in that post is mistaken, the full range of 20x-400x (or near enough) is available, but as you change the distance between the two lenses the focal distance changes and the distance to the sample needs to be adjusted to correspond.

    And I forgot to say before the LED’s cannot be altered in software, the thumb wheel potentiometer on the top of the microscope must be used.

  7. Mikl1984

    I agree

    The main question now what lens used and what CMOS resolution and size?

    If 8x lens and 1/4″ sensor we will receive fantastic 480x on 15″ image at any resolution

    According this
    max resolution in driver 640×480 🙁

    It’s pity

  8. Mikl1984

    Please post photos of box and stickers(on device and box).
    Please upload drivers somewhere
    I need to understand what’s inside

    I found a lot of proposal for those devices from 41$ for 1pcs

  9. mat

    @Mikl1984 It is the exact same microscope as in your link. I believe this is a driver free cam, and I didn’t require anything in linux. Inside the microscope itself? or inside the box? If you care a lot about the insides, you could just construct your own microscope camera (good place for projects is hackaday).

  10. Mikl1984

    I am interested in Win7 or Vista drivers
    Have you any CD in box?

    Have camera any sticker with name, serial number or smth else?
    The same question about box

    Constructing own camera will be next stage 🙂

    Now I need to understand difference if any of bunch on alibaba

    For example I found in drivers info about chip and sensor of my camera

  11. mat

    As I said before, it is probably a driver-free webcam and will just work. I think you are trying to over-complicate the matter.

  12. jesper


    Thank you for the review. However when I follow the link to the new microscope in your post, I come to a 200X zoom white-color microscope. Did you specify the wrong link or did they change the link perhaps?

    Could you double-check and provide the link to the product that you bought on dealextreme? I want to buy it and be sure that I get the exact same model that you reviewed here.

    Thank you very much in advance.

    Best regards,


  13. mat

    Yup, must have been a copy and paste error on my behalf sorry!. I’ve updated the links in the post (400x microscope).

    Thanks for pointing it out. Also as a bonus it seems that I have uploaded a photo of me and a bear with some false teeth to that dealextreme page by accident instead of the images of the microscope, classic.

  14. Polly

    Any idea if this will work with Snow Leopard? The other digital microscopes I’ve asked about would do Leopard, but not Snow Leopard. I’d hate to give it as a Christmas present and then have to keep it for myself (OK, only kind of hate it ; -))


  15. mat

    Probably, it is a driverless webcam should work on all OS’s.

  16. Working Distance

    At a .5″, 1″, 2″, 3″, and 5″ working distance between the object and the microscope – what is the maximum zoom?

    Could you take a picture of the *arms hairs* for the respective working distances and maximum zoom?

    I would greatly appreciate it!

  17. Bead

    Hi there. Great post. I realise that it’s over a year old, but was wondering if you could help me with something. I recently got a micrscope that looks identical to your old one (minus the button), that’s also 20-200x.
    Here’s a shot of the ‘P’ on a 10p (, and as you can see it looks almost identical to your one. The thing is, you have a min and max zoom. Are these both taken with the object at the same distance? I can only ever get one focal point. I’m not sure if its something I’m doing, or if my micrscope just isn’t very good (it was dirt cheap, which is why I bought it).
    The second thing I want to ask is, did you ever manage to take still shots at a resolution higher than 640×480? My microscope claims to be 2mp, but there is no still pin format for 1600×1200 (or anything larger than VGA)

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