Women looking at a digital microscope when doing seed identification


The best digital microscope for seed identification

Here's how and why you need to use a digital microscope for seed identification.

Are you tired of headaches and having a sore neck and back after spending hours upon hours using a microscope when identifying seeds? Or perhaps you’re looking for a new microscope that can do more than just magnify to help you work more efficiently?

If so, you’ve come to the right place.

With the right digital microscope for seed testing and identification, you’ll not only find solutions to current issues caused by traditional magnification systems, such as job-related pain. You’ll also be introduced to brand new ways of working.

But which digital microscope will help you achieve these results?

What is seed identification?

Seed identification is a highly specialized process performed by seed analysts. The identification of seed is usually done by comparing the seeds to specimens in a reference collection, an illustration of seeds or simply based on the seed analyst’s experience.

In most cases, seeds can be identified based on the following cues:

  • The size, shape, and color of the seed
  • Lines, ridges, and pits on the seed surface
  • Whether the seed has wings, hair, scale, or spines
  • The internal structure, position, and size of the embryo
  • The presence or absence of the endosperm
Person using a TAGARNO TREND to inspect seed and grain

Which microscopes are used for seed identification?

A seed analyst will often use a microscope to do seed identification. With a microscope, the seed analyst can magnify the seed to see the different cues better and identify the seeds correctly.

The most common microscopes used for seed identification are stereo and digital microscopes.

The biggest difference between the two is that stereo microscopes use an eyepiece while digital microscopes use a monitor. Which one you use may be a matter of personal preference. Some even prefer to use desk magnifiers, which is a cheaper option with less training required.

But with seed identification being a manual process that requires long hours at the microscope, there’s many benefits from using a digital microscope. Let’s have a look at which options you can choose from if you want to change to a digital microscope.

Two operators inspecting seed using a digital microscope

Different types of digital microscopes for seed identification

A digital microscope is characterized by its lack of an eyepiece. Instead, you use a monitor which can be more comfortable to use. Depending on the type of digital microscope you choose, you can also use software to more efficiently identify seed and document them for your seed database.

In this section, we’ll explore three types of digital microscopes: USB microscopes, microscopes with a built-in screen and microscopes with a separate monitor.

USB microscopes

A USB microscope is a lightweight and often handheld microscope. This makes it very portable and easy to push aside when it’s not in use.

The USB microscope typically needs to be connected to a computer to display the seeds. This, however, is often via USB 2.0 outputs which will compress the microscope feed, resulting in a significant loss of details.

USB microscopes are also widely available on online marketplaces like Amazon and E-bay at a significantly lower point than other kinds of microscopes.

Knowing that the USB microscope, however, is compromised in terms of optical quality and that it is handheld means that it’s not ideal for seed identification.

Digital microscopes with built-in screen

As an alternative to the handheld USB microscopes, you can choose a digital microscope with a built-in screen, typically on top of the microscope, to keep your hands free.

The built-in screen, however, is typically between 8.5’’ and 15’’. Some may find that this is enough to see everything clearly, while others may prefer using a separate monitor.

Digital microscope with separate monitor

The last digital microscope option to consider is thus a microscope with a separate monitor. With a separate monitor, you can choose whatever size you prefer and install it anywhere you like for maximum flexibility.

What to look out for when choosing a digital microscope for seed identification

To help you find the right digital microscope for seed identification, there’s certain features and technical specifications that the microscope needs to have.

Let’s have a look at some must-have features:

Separate monitor

Knowing how many hours you’ll be spending at the microscope, we recommend choosing a digital microscope with a separate monitor for maximum flexibility and comfort at the microscope.

Auto focus

When choosing a digital microscope, it’s important that the microscope has auto focus. This will ensure that the seeds are always in focus, even if you’re moving them around.

It’s an added bonus if the microscope also has manual focus (with some digital microscopes, you can change the focus manually with your feet by using a foot pedal) but choosing a microscope with only manual focus is not ideal.

Frame rate

It is also important that the microscope shows 60 frames per second.

If you’re used to using stereo microscopes, you might not know what that means, so let’s break down why that’s important.

60 frames per second refers to how much information the microscope can display on the monitor per second. If, as an example, the microscope only displays 30 frames, you’ll experience a delay between what’s happening underneath the microscope and on the monitor. This will not only lead to frustration but also motion sickness. With 60 frames per second, however, everything happening underneath the microscope is displayed in real-time on the monitor for a seamless experience.

Magnification range

Besides ensuring proper image quality, it’s also important to know how much magnification you need. Sometimes it’s great being able to really zoom in on the fine details, but usually 50x will be more than enough.

Make sure you have enough room

To correctly identify seeds, you also need enough space between the lens on the microscope and the surface the seeds are on. This is referred to as working height.

Some digital microscopes can be adjusted in height which adds a lot of flexibility and may increase their versatility while others only have one height setting. Which kind you prefer is up to you.


If you want to document the identified seeds, it’s recommended to choose a digital microscope with easy documentation processes.

Pictures can typically be saved by using:

  • A dedicated button on the control box
  • Generic drivers that allows you to connect the microscope to a computer via USB and use the built-in Windows OS Camera app on your computer
Woman using a multifunctional digital microscope to inspect seed

The best digital microscope for seed identification

At this point, we know which technical specifications a digital microscope needs to have in order to be used for seed identification.

With this in mind, we highly recommend the TAGARNO ZIP and TAGARNO TREND, two microscopes that meets all the technical specifications mentioned in this blogpost.


With 60 frames per second, auto focus as well and manual focus, TAGARNO ZIP produces sharp images at all magnification levels up to 53x.

Although there’s only one working height setting, ZIP has more than enough space underneath the microscope to fit the tools you need. The one height setting also means that it’s easy to set up and requires very little manual adjustment.

With a footprint of only 38.6 cm by 15.5 cm (15.2’’ by 6.10’’) and weighing only 2.0 kg (4.4 lbs), the ZIP is also extremely lightweight and can be moved from station to station as needed.

To capture photos of your work using the ZIP, connect it to a computer and use the built-in Windows OS Camera app. It really is that easy.

With ZIP, what you see is what you get. It’s a simple but user-friendly and high quality microscope that does everything you want from a digital microscope when doing seed identification at a great price and with no unnecessary features.


  • A great low-entry product
  • Minimal adjustment needed, reduces risk of user error
  • Lightweight and easy to move
  • Excellent image quality with 60 frames per second
  • Seeds will always be in focus with auto focus
  • Adjust focus if needed with your feet using a foot pedal and manual focus mode
  • Connect computer to take photos and share findings during online calls


  • Requires a separate computer to capture photos

Download free brochure on TAGARNO ZIP

Could ZIP be the right microscope for you?

Download this free product brochure and learn more about this low-entry microscope with all the basic features that you need for seed identification.

Download free brochure
Preview of TAGARNO ZIP product brochure
Download free brochure


Just like the ZIP, TAGARNO TREND also displays 60 frames per second and offers auto focus as well as manual focus.

What really sets the TREND apart as a seed identification microscope, however, is how easy it is to capture photos. All you need is to press a button on the control box and photos are either saved to a USB memory stick or the internal storage of the microscope. In both cases, photos can be reopened on the microscope itself to check that you have all necessary photos – or transferred to other computer in-house if you prefer.

By using generic USB drivers, you can also connect the microscope to your computer and use the built-in Windows OS Camera app to share the microscope feed in online meetings with remote colleagues.

Lastly, the TREND also had multiple height settings for maximum flexibility and to achieve magnification all the way up to 330x if needed.


  • Adjust the microscope to different heights to achieve higher magnification
  • Excellent image quality with 60 frames per second
  • Seeds will always be in focus with auto focus
  • Adjust focus if needed with your feet using a foot pedal and manual focus mode
  • It's never been easier to document your results
  • Share findings during online calls


  • Long arm requires a sturdy table to reduce vibrations at high magnifications

Download free brochure on TAGARNO TREND

Are you considering TREND for your seed identification processes?

With this free product brochure, you'll learn everything you need to know about this microscope, including a walk-through the features that make the TREND unique.

Download free brochure
Preview of "Is TREND the right microscope for me" brochure
Download free brochure

In summary

Using a digital microscope for seed identification will not only solve issues caused by current magnification systems. A digital microscope will also introduce new and more efficient ways of working.

There’s many digital microscopes to choose from, not just in terms of brands but also technical specifications.

For the best results, however, we recommend a digital microscope that:

  • Uses a separate monitor
  • Shows 60 frames per seconds
  • Has auto focus as well as manual focus
  • Can magnify to minimum 50x
  • Offers easy documentation processes and enough working height to comfortably fit your hands and any equipment you need to do seed identification

TAGARNO ZIP and TAGARNO TREND meet all of these requirements and are great options if you want to take your seed identification processes to the next level.

There’s more to read

Now that you’ve made it to the end of this blogpost, here’s a few other blogposts that you might find interesting.

You are now entering our German TAGARNO site Do you wish to continue?
No, stay here Yes, proceed