Digital imager and digital microscope side-by-side


Should you choose a digital microscope or a digital imager?

Are you considering a digital microscope or digital imager, but unsure which option to go with?

In this blogpost, we'll explore both options so you can decide which one is the right choice for you.

Within microscopy, being able to quickly document your magnified findings and collaborate with in-house as well as remote colleagues has become more crucial than ever.

For that reason, many companies worldwide and across industries are looking at alternatives to their traditional microscopes. As part of their research, they often come into contact with two devices: the digital microscope and the digital imager.

Both have their unique applications and benefits, but choosing the right tool for your needs can make a significant difference in your work.

Let’s dive into the world of digital imaging and microscopy to help you decide whether a digital microscope or a digital imager is the right choice for you.


We’ll do that by exploring:

Digital microscope used to magnify PCB
With a digital microscope, you can view high-resolution live images of your magnified samples and use software to take your inspections to the next level before saving your findings.

Introducing the digital microscope

A digital microscope is a versatile tool with a built-in camera that creates high-resolution live images of your magnified samples.

Digital microscopes also offer features and software that you can use to create consistency in your inspections, increase the accuracy of your analyses and improve your efficiency.

It’s a favorite across industries, all the way from electronics, to agriculture and forensics, for several reasons:


Integrated cameras and simplified processes

Digital microscopes have a camera built directly into the microscope, eliminating the need for a separate digital camera or imager.

They are also optically simpler than stereo microscopes and offer broader magnification capabilities, enabling you to explore the tiniest of details as well obtaining an overview of your entire sample at lower magnification on one single system.

This means that you don’t have to change between multiple systems when going from low to high power magnification, creating easier and more efficient inspection processes.


Enhanced visualization

Digital microscopes have advanced features like adjustable lighting and camera settings. This allows them to provide superior clarity and image quality, helping you to see your samples more vividly.

Digital microscopes also offer auto focus as well as manual focus. Auto focus is what ensures that your sample is always in focus as you’re moving it around while manual focus provides extra control when needing to focus on a specific area of the sample. You can even control the manual focus with your feet, ensuring that your hands stay on the sample itself.


Live images means live

High quality digital microscopes display images with 60 frames per second to ensure a live image when moving samples around. By comparison, a digital imager often displays 30 frames per second which will result in a visible delay between what’s shown on the monitor and what’s happening underneath the microscope.


Instant documentation and collaboration

With digital microscopes, you can capture photos of your magnified findings with a press of a button. No need to connect the microscope to a separate computer.

The photos can then be used for documentation purposes or shared with colleagues to discuss your next step, enabling you to collaborate more effectively.


Use software to work more efficiently

With digital microscopes, you’ll often have access to features and software options that simply aren’t available on traditional microscopes. Using software such as presets and measuring apps can introduce new and more efficient processes, taking your inspections to new heights.

While some digital imagers offer features similar to those on digital microscopes, the digital imager requires a separate computer to run the features and does not offer the same range of features like the digital microscope.

Digital imager connected to computer
A digital imager is a budget-friendly solution when looking for a digital alternative to your stereo microscope.

Introducing the digital imager

On the other hand, we have the digital imager, a device that attaches to your microscope to display what’s seen through the eyepiece on your personal computer. While it might sound similar to a digital microscope, there are distinct differences:



A digital imager can be a valuable addition to your traditional microscope, turning it into a digital imaging powerhouse. It doesn’t limit you to a single microscope setup, offering flexibility to use it with various microscopes in your lab.



If you already own a high quality microscope and don’t want to invest in a new digital microscope, a digital imager can be a cost-effective solution to upgrade your existing equipment.


Plug-and-play solution

Considering that you’re already familiar with your existing microscope, there’s no steep learning curve when it comes to digital imagers.

In fact, once you’ve found a digital imager that matches the diameter of your eyepieces, you can create a digital display for your microscope in a matter of minutes and instantly enjoy the easy documentation capabilities and ergonomic benefits of using a monitor rather than an eyepiece.

Monitor with magnified PCB
Although commonly used for inspection of PCBs, digital microscopes and digital imagers are gaining popularity across industries.

So, which one should you choose?

The decision between a digital microscope and a digital imager ultimately comes down to your specific needs and circumstances. Here are some factors to consider:


If you require detailed, high-resolution imagery in your field of work, a dedicated digital microscope might be the better choice.


If you already have a microscope and want to enhance its capabilities without a significant investment, a digital imager could be the way to go. However, some digital microscope manufacturers have started offering something similar.

With TAGARNO ZAP, an entry-level digital microscope from the leading digital microscope manufacturer TAGARNO, you can dismount the eyepiece of your stereo microscope and replace it with a digital microscope. This allows you to enjoy all the benefits of a digital microscope without replacing your existing setup or breaking the bank.


How much money are you willing to spend? A digital microscope is often the more expensive option, but it does come with higher image quality and advanced features that are not available on the digital imager.

In conclusion, whether you opt for a digital microscope or a digital imager, both tools have the potential to revolutionize your work by providing enhanced visual documentation, improved ergonomics and collaborative capabilities.

Consider your specific needs, budget, and the nature of your work to make the right choice. Ultimately, the goal is to empower yourself with the best tool to explore and document the magnified findings effectively.

Magnified PCB using a digital microscope from TAGARNO
Digital microscopes offer advanced features and software that can take your inspections to the next level. Here, it’s the bestselling Measurement app.

Why a digital microscope should replace your digital imager

What if you’ve already bought a digital imager for your stereo microscope.. Should you replace it with a digital microscope?

To answer that questions, let’s once again look at the benefits of a digital microscope and why changing to a digital microscope may be worth considering.

Superior image quality

A key difference between digital microscopes and digital imagers is the image quality.

A digital imager will often display 30 frames per second on live images which will result in a visible delay between what’s shown on the monitor and happening underneath the microscope.

By comparison, a digital microscope will display 60 frames per second, resulting in a truly live image without no delays or lagging.

More advanced features and software

While digital imagers do offer some features and software that can be used to analyze your magnified samples, these are often lacking in terms of functionality and accuracy.

If you truly want to utilize software to create consistency across your inspections while also performing more efficient and accurate analyses, you are better off opting for a digital microscope.

Digital microscopes are born digital

Unlike digital imagers that provide a digital display for a stereo microscope, digital microscopes are born digital.

In fact, digital microscopes are standalone devices with their optics, lighting systems, and image-capturing technology, ensuring a comprehensive imaging solution that doesn’t compromise on quality.

In summary

For many companies looking for a digital inspection system that’ll enable them to document their findings and do more collaborative work, a digital imager is their first step into the world of digital microscopy.

And this makes a lot of sense: The digital imager is a budget-friendly solution that’s easy to install and lets you enjoy the benefits of easy image capturing.

Ultimately, the choice between a digital microscope and a digital imager hinges on your specific requirements and objectives. For those who demand the highest level of precision, image quality, and comprehensive functionality, a digital microscope is the obvious choice.


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

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