The TELMU 40X-1000X is one of the most popular microscopes available on Amazon today.
The first thing you notice about this microscope is that it’s small and light (it weighs in at about 4 pounds). You could just about hold the whole thing in one hand.
To me, there are four key features central to this scope:
- It’s very affordable
- It offers a good magnification range (1000X is good enough to see bacteria)
- It has a monocular head
- It has a cellphone adapter
These four factors alone make in an appealing choice for beginners and hobbyists.
The monocular head shouldn’t be seen as a downside either. With kids, a binocular head can just be a pain and decrease their experience, so I like the idea of monocular scopes for children and beginners to improve user experience.
TELMU 1000X Compound Microscope Review
I usually start from the top and move down when doing my microscope reviews and unboxing videos. So this review will be no different – let’s start with the head.
1. Monocular Head
This microscope comes with a monocular head (meaning you look through it with just one eye).
You essentially need to choose between a binocular and monocular head when choosing a microscope. There’s also the option of a ‘trinocular’ microscope (the third section being for a camera).
A binocular microscope can be really nice for a personal microscope. But if you’re working with kids, binoculars can be a nightmare. Kids want to adjust them constantly when it’s their turn to look through, and they have trouble seeing through them in general.
So a monocular head is better for working with kids or sharing between adults.
And you can tell this model is made for sharing because the head is designed to rotate to point at whoever is looking through it. In reality, the rotating head feature feels pretty pointless. It’s not hard to swap seats, and frankly feels more natural.
Overall, the head reveals that this microscope is clearly designed for use with children and sharing between teacher / parent and child.
2. Eyepiece and Cell Phone Adapter
The two eyepieces are 10X and 25X. This is pretty normal and not something worth writing home about. The larger eyepiece allows for stronger magnification (up to 1000X) while the smaller will allow for magnification down around the range you would expect of a lower-magnification stereo microscope.
You’ll get these features with all comparable compound microscopes on the market today.
The one appealing feature about the eyepiece is the cell phone adapter. It allows you to place your cell phone’s camera over the eyepiece and get pretty decent footage stored on your cell phone.
This cell phone adaptor option is not as good as a dedicated microscope camera, but it will do for someone trying to get set up on the cheap.
The eyepieces also don’t come with a pointer, which is by no means a deal breaker, but it would be good to have one of these for teaching purposes.
3. Objective Lenses
The objective lenses are the main lenses you’ll be rotating between to find focus. Usually you can get compound microscopes with between 3 and 6 objective lenses. This model has 3.
That’s not a bad thing though.
Most hobbyists would find that – even if they had a microscopes with 6 objectives – they’d only use the first 3 most of the time. That’s because additional objectives would likely give too much magnification.
The objective lenses in this model are 4x, 10x, and 40x magnification. Combine those with the eyepiece magnification and you can see the range for this scope is 40X (4X objective multiplied by 10X eyepiece) up to 1000X (40X objective multiplied by 25X eyepiece).
This is plenty of magnification for most people’s needs. To give you an idea, 400X magnification is enough for high school biology students – so this is above and beyond. You’ll be able to see bacteria clearly at 1000X magnification.
The stage on this model is one of the reasons I didn’t choose to get this microscope.
Most entry level compound microscopes like this one have stages that adjust vertically, but not horizontally.
In other words, you can use the stage to adjust the focus but you won’t be able to ‘scan around’ your specimen.
And that’s the case with this one.
Imagine the object you’re trying to look at is on the periphery of your vision. You’d have to move the slide or petri dish 2-3mm to the right. Your only option will be to unclip it, adjust it that 2-3mm, re-clip it, then check to see if the vision is better.
That’s a pain for anyone.
But especially for kids. Kids don’t have the fine motor skills so it becomes a real user experience issue with children.
That’s why I always go for a model with a “mechanical stage” and will pay the small additional fee for it. If you’re after a model very similar to the TELMU with a mechanical stage try the AmScope M150C-MS.
However, for a stage that only moves on the vertical axis, it’s nice that it has both fine and coarse focusing knobs for accurate focus.
While I’m not allowed to directly share the price on this article (because Amazon prices change regularly), you can check the price directly on Amazon. Overall, what I will say is it’s one of the most affordable microscopes on the market because it’s an entry-level piece of equipment designed to minimize cost as a barrier of entry into beginner microscopy.
This model has both an overhead light and a light underneath the stage. The overhead light is best for viewing visible specimens like rocks, coins, leaves and feathers. The underneath light is better for opaque specimens like bacteria from saliva. I like this setup.
Note that the lights can’t be used in conjunction – only one at a time.
The lights are powered by 3x AA batteries, making this a nice and portable microscope, too.
Additional Goodies – Prepared Slides
Another big sign this microscope is made for beginners and children is that it comes with 4 prepared slides and 6 blank slides. The prepared slides have animal legs, onion, wood and cotton in them so you can get started straight away.
Keep in mind you might be a bit confused about what you are looking at without a guide – so consider getting a workbook or watching YouTube videos to learn what to look out for and get explanations of what you’re seeing.
Downsides and Reasons for Upgrading
Most people would be satisfied with this model for entry-level microscopy all the way up to high school use. I’d be comfortable with this magnification level for most people.
But there are some key reasons why I personally stepped up to another model:
- Stage is not Mechanical – It’s important to me that I have a mechanical stage as it significantly improves user experience. I’d pay for this additional feature.
- No Digital Camera – There’s a cellphone adaptor eyepiece here which can get you started. But a camera eyepiece is much more preferable if you want to record what you see. Cameras are great for students so they can capture images that can then go on presentation slides or posters for class presentations. I personally bought the CA-CAN-NIK-SLR camera adapter from AmScope to attach to my microscope.
The TELMU microscope is a good entry-level microscope that provides all you need to get started. While I didn’t personally go with this one, I can see it making most people happy about their purchase.
Personally, I was willing to pay a little more for a mechanical stage which helped improve user experience. I also grabbed a DSLR camera to microscope adapter to fit on my microscope. Check out my setup here which cost me less than $200 and had those additional features I liked.
Hi, I’m Chris and I run things around here! I share all my microscopy experiments, microscope information and tricks, how to guides, and microscope reviews in the articles on this site. Browse around to see what you like (I recommend the experiment ideas section) or connect with me on any of the social platforms listed below.