Levenhuk 720B Compound Microscope – My Initial Thoughts

The Levenhuk 720B is my favorite binocular compound microscope from Levenhuk. A few of their higher-powered microscopes have objectives that don’t have protective spring. But this one does, which puts it above several of the other Levenhuk models in my opinion.

In my opinion the Levenhuk 720B is a good choice for adult microscopy enthusiasts as well as students from middle school right up to college level biology. It allows users to do experiments from simple onion skin projects right up to complex oil immersion methods.

The microscope has a magnification range from 40x right up to 2000x. I also like that there are a few magnification settings in the 500X – 1000X range which is where I tend to find the best magnification for bacteria cells.

I also like the sub-stage light setup, which includes a 3W LED light, NA 1.25 Abbe condenser and iris diaphragm to help focus your light effectively.

My Verdict: This is one of my favorite Levenhuk microscopes. I think it would be good for most microscopy enthusiasts and students because it allows you to do experiments from beginner to advanced. It’s got some great features like the mechanical stage and quality sub-stage lighting control.

Levenhuk 720B Microscope Review

I’ll start from the head and move down the microscope to review each part one by one.

1. Binocular Head

The microscope has a binocular head, which is usual for compound microscopes of intermediate level and up. People generally find that binocular heads are more comfortable to use that monocular heads. The one exception is for children – who are often distracted playing around with binocular heads so it’s easier with young children to give them a monocular head.

Overall, I think it was the right move to set this model up with a binocular head because it’s an intermediate level model.

The head can also rotate for sharing, and sits at a 45° incline. When calibrating the interpupillary distance, try to get it to a setting you’re comfortable with and leave it there so you don’t mess with the focus.

2. Magnification and Optics

The total magnification for the Levenhuk 720B microscope is 40x to 2000x.

Overall, that’s sufficient for most of your needs. 1000X is usually around all that’s required for cell experiments, while magnification above that often requires oil immersion to reduce distortion.

The 100X objective lens is designed for oil immersion so you can magnify up to 2000X with quality vision.

The four objective lenses are: 4x, 10x, 40xs, and 100xs. The ‘s’ at the end of the 40x and 100x stands for ‘spring’. A spring loaded assembly is best for higher magnification objectives to prevent damage when (or if) the lens bumps up against the stage. Try to only use the fine focus knobs when adjusting the microscope at these higher magnification levels to further protect the microscope.

3. Eyepieces

I wanted to have this extra section on the eyepieces because this microscope uses an unusual 20X Huygens eyepiece. The 10x eyepiece is regular.

To be honest I’m not the biggest fan of a Huygens eyepiece. It’s not possible to conduct measurements with a Huygens eyepiece due to the way it constructs images behind the field lens. Not many people do measurements (you’d need to buy an aftermarket calibration kit and measurement lens), but this is worth pointing out before you buy.

A Huygens lens also has shorter eye relief, meaning you need to get your eye closer to the lens than with a regular lens[1].

It’s important to note, though, that you’ll spend 90% of your time using the 10X eyepiece and when you do use the Huygens lens, chances are you won’t notice much of a difference in practice.

4. Stage

The microscope has a mechanical stage which you’ll find yourself using, especially when working with high magnification. They’re really useful for being able to scan your specimen and search around for cells or objects you’re particularly interested in.

Mechanical stages are normal in this intermediate-level compound microscope category. But if you’re comparing this model to a cheaper model (such as Levenhuk’s 50L Rainbow PLUS) you’ll notice that those cheaper models rarely have mechanical stages.

The coarse and fine adjustment knobs allow you to move the stage at small increments to get the perfect focus.

5. LED Lighting

The lighting for this model is impressive. It features a 3 Watt Sub-stage LED light that is regulated by the light intensity regulator (in layman’s terms: a dimmer) on the bottom of the scope.

To focus or disperse your light, there is an NA 1.25 industry standard Abbe condenser with a decent iris diaphragm. As you close the diaphragm, you might need to increase the light intensity to compensate. With some play, you’ll find your preferred position for high quality vision, and then you can make adjustments from there for each specimen (and the lighting of the room, which often has a bigger impact than you realize).

Note that there isn’t an above-stage light on this model. That’s perfectly normal for compound microscopes designed for examining cellular level specimens. Above stage lights are usually best used for stereo microscopes.

6. Added Accessories

The added accessories are standard for this category of microscope. There’s the assumption that people buying this microscope aren’t seeking ‘beginner kits’ and ‘instruction cards’ so you’re not going to be getting any sea monkeys here! (A quick note: if you buy a microscope that comes with sea monkeys / shrimp eggs, it’s a good sign the microscope is probably a gimmicky toy).

But you do get some very useful accessories, including the dust cover to protect those lenses from dust when the microscope isn’t in use, some immersion oil for that 100X objective, a spare fuse for the light (dim it before turning off the microscope to prevent blowing a fuse) and an allen key for taking out the Abbe condenser and swapping out the blue, yellow and green filters that are also included!

Keep in Mind

While I like this microscope, there are a few things to keep in mind. Besides the first one, these are issues I see with every microscope in this intermediate compound microscope category, so it’s not a knock on the microscope. But these are things to keep in mind:

  • Cannot Measure Specimen widths at higher Magnifications: The key downside is that the microscope does use as Huygens lens for the 25X eyepiece, which makes it impossible to calibrate the microscope at magnifications over 1000X (only a problem if you’re measuring the sizes of your specimens in micrometers (μm)). I doubt many people would be doing that anyway, and if you do just remember to use the 10X eyepiece which isn’t a Huygens lens.
  • No Camera: If you want to capture your images digitally, share them on YouTube or use them for a class presentation, you’d want to attach a camera to your eyepiece. To do this you’ll need to buy an aftermarket camera.
  • Darkfield: For people doing darkfield microscopy, you’d want to get a dark field condenser which might set you back a little. To be fair, I haven’t found any microscopes in this category that come capable of doing darkfield microscopy out of the box.

My Verdict

Overall, the Levenhuk 720B is a nice microscope that I strongly considered purchasing. I wrote reviews of a total of 7 compound microscopes before making my decision, and in the end I decided instead to purchase the AmScope T490B instead. Its features just beat this one out, but only by a little. I think I would have been just has happy with this Levenhuk model. It was really only that Huygen eyepiece that threw me.

[1] https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/physics-and-astronomy/eyepieces
[2] https://www.levenhuk.com/