Zeiss, Nikon, Olympus, Zeiss: How do you choose?

Most of my experience with microscopes come in the form of Zeiss or Leica microscopes. I haven’t interacted with many Nikon instruments but I see they have Imaging Centers and Centers of Excellence.

What goes into the final decision of the purchase? Reputation? Price? Imaging modalities? Customization? Image/Optics quality? Discounts? Special discount programs?

Any feedback/info would be helpful.

First and foremost is your intended use and imaging needs - both now and in the foreseeable future. If all of them have scopes that can do what you want, then move to the following points but bear in mind that they must have everything you need available now - don’t assume things will come in the future. So get that info from the reps.
All those manufacturers have good customer support networks - so that box is ticked.
Price - not just for the scope(s) but for ongoing support and servicing. Look at long term and ongoing costs - is the software licensed by date (i.e. needs to be renewed each year?).
All the above factors being acceptable, get your hands on a demo scope from a rep and see how you feel using it. Then buy the one you like the best. The ergonomics of these scopes do vary by manufacturer (this includes the illumination characteristics for direct vision - something you can’t tell from pictures).
Also, if you want digital imaging, make sure you see actual examples of images of your specimens (or similar specimens) - specs can be very deceptive here.
Watch out for incompatibilities - if your institute uses Zeiss software image archiving or whatever, don’t assume that a Nikon system will smoothly integrate into it - or vice versa - the changes are it will be a nightmare (or impossible) getting two proprietary systems to talk to each other.
Also - don’t get side stepped by gimmicks promoted by reps. Have a well-defined idea of what you really need for your work. If WiFi/Bluetooth image broadcasting and an eco-bulb sensor were not part of your original spec then that shouldn’t sway your decision.


Hello there!
For commertial systems, after system performance and knowing that I could do what is required with the systems, the quality of service and support is key for me. I work in a core facility so I cannot afford a long downtime and limited or shabby unprofessional support. Ask other system users around you if you don’t know the company, or ask the company who are the customers in your area and get feedback directly from them.
Good luck!


Thanks for the feedback everyone!

What worked for us with a less standard setup, ie light sheet: try to request demos that would include time for imaging your own samples. This will let you confront the manufacturer’s description with lab reality.
And service cost and availability might differ from country to country even for the big manufacturers, so it’s an important point.

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Also, check the output image format. Having to duplicate the data because you need to convert it before opening it anywhere else than on the vendor’s software is really not fun.

My recommendation is to make sure that the image format is multiresolution (critical for big tiled images) and bio-formats compatible. You can check the list of compatible file formats here for bio-formats 6.10.1. For multiresolution support, look for a tick in the pyramid column, (and double check for known issues in the image.sc forum).

Some more info here: OME's position regarding file formats | Open Microscopy Environment (OME)

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To add my two cents - I echo that experiment should come first. If there’s a specific solution that is only offered by one or two vendors, that should weigh heavily. However, in the event that they all have a solution to address your need, consider the local team. They’ll be your training and support life line. it can make the whole difference. Plus all the other comments above!! Good luck!!

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They are all competitive in my opinion. A lot of it comes down to the continuing relationship AFTER the microscope is in place. What will it be like to interact with them or the next 6-10 years to get service, help you tweak things, small fixes, availability, etc. Of course, one company may have something the others don’t, if that’s the case then it’s a factor. The software and ease of use across the company can be an issue to consider if you are placing in a core facility versus single lab. Definitely have demos, have users use the microscope, try different samples, different types off imaging, push the envelop during the demo, is the microscope robust, does it do what they claim it can do, ask a lot of questions during the demo, press them, think if scientific solutions you may need. I realize the reply is late, but that’s my 2 cents.

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