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Showing 1-10 of 125 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 146 reviews
on August 24, 2011
The video might be enough to convince you. But please read this extended review for all the details. Every one of the images in the video was captured with THIS microscope camera.

EDIT: Please see W. Nicholls review for more current information on software and a solution for the weak stand! We've both found that the stand is okay for very basic use, but leaves a lot to be desired. The software is the same way, but there are several excellent freeware alternatives available.

I am an IT professional for a major police department. I specialize in video enhancement and conversion. I ordered this for my Mom, who collects and sells antique buttons. Because of my Prime Membership, and because I would be the one installing this for my parents (naturally), I had it shipped to my place. When the package came in, I couldn't resist opening it and trying it out on my system. There are a few things that I didn't like, but more that I did like. First, the stand is stable enough, but not rock-solid steady like a tripod. Specifically, the stand itself appears to be very sturdy stainless steel, although the arms holding the camera are plastic. The software included (for my Win7x64 system) is actually a very basic Microsoft program, so don't expect a custom application. That's okay, though. It gets the job done, and I had no problems with program or driver installation. The magic is in the scope itself.

The grippy rubber surrounding the unit helps with positioning, especially when you are using it in a hand-held photo/video shoot. The focus ring might be a little tough at each of the extreme ends, but is otherwise very smooth and easy to adjust.

I was able to grab several very high quality images right off the bat. I used a twenty dollar bill as a test subject. I was able to zoom in so much that the ultra-tiny "USA 20" shadows under the right-side text were clearly visible, yet I was also able to zoom out enough to capture almost the entire bill. Going further, I captured an entire US Quarter at about a half-screen size, and was able to zoom in so close that I the screen was filled with only 3 grooves of the 119 grooves around the edge of the quarter. That's pretty impressive. In fact, that is a HUGE range of magnification. Ask your photographer friends. They will confirm this.

The software was a piece of cake to install (Win 7 x64), although I had to use my other computer to copy the mini-CD to a regular CD. My second computer has a tray-load CD drive, while the system I wanted to use it on has a "suck-load" (ie slot-load) CD drive. This program/driver package is NOT available on the manufacturer's website, and the mini-CD is not labeled, but it's really a minor problem. If you use any other webcam or video capture program, this camera will work with them as well. Also, any other webcams you have will work with this software for effortless still and video capture.

Overall, the stand is nice and stable, provided you really crank down the screw (which still allows for some forceful movement but still keeps the camera in place), but the arms that hold the camera are a little weak. This is a tiny weakness that can be easily overcome by adjusting from the bracket instead of grabbing the camera itself. If you won't be using the very wide range of zoom/focus levels, this will NOT be a problem for you. The best way to operate this camera is by moving the object instead of the camera. My mother just wants a little visual aid in identifying manufacturing marks on antique clothing buttons. For her, I set up the focus and camera angle, and she hasn't touched it in several weeks of examining antique buttons. She just moves the buttons around beneath the lens.

The LED lights are very good. Even with the rest of my household lights turned off, the built-in LEDs had enough power to provide plenty of bright light for proper exposure. At some zoom/focus levels, I even had to move the switch to the "half-led" position to prevent washout.

The zoom/focus range is incredible. To make it clear, please understand that "zooming" means moving the camera away from the object and adjusting the focus, but I was really impressed with the incredibly wide range of zoom/focus on this system. I got great pictures in the range from less than 1/10 of an inch all the way to 6 inches+ away from the subject. To give this some context, I should remind you that I got a picture of a US Quarter that took up 1/2 the frame, then "zoomed in" (aka moved closer and adjusted focus) so that I had a shot of only 3 of the 119 ridges on the edge of the coin. Both shots provided great detail, and the 2 MP resolution was a pleasant surprise. At 1280x1024, it isn't quite true HD, but provides a very good image.

Because the cradle that holds the camera is a little weak, you might need to push the "shutter" button a few times to get a clear shot, but this is a very minor inconvenience, and doesn't cause any software or storage problems, since you only save the image when you're happy with the result. A typical shot was just under 1 MB in size, and only took two to three attempts to get one without blur. That probably sounds terrible in a review, but I want to emphasize that it is really easy to get a nice clear shot. Just press the camera-mounted shutter button a couple of times until your image is nice and crisp. This works reliably even when holding the object and camera in each hand.

Overall, I can say this. I would love to have one of the four hundred dollar super precise professional forensics lab-type USB microscopes, but for anything less than a couple hundred bucks, this is the best of the bunch. I loved it so much that I ordered one for myself. I am not a professional, but I am a very good amateur. You can see some of my close-up my videos by looking for "SloMoHolic" on a very popular video sharing website that starts with "You" and ends with "Tube", taken with non-microscope professional equipment :-). Hopefully you will see actual ZipScope footage very soon!

Have fun and explore things you've never seen before. There are a lot of options out there, and I have researched them all (although I have not tried them all). This particular model seems to be the best option for anyone who is not in a forensics lab, that wants to have high-quality still and video imagery, with a very wide range of focus/zoom. I hope my review helps you make your decision.
2525 comments| 377 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on September 28, 2011
Right off the top, the Amazon listing for the Aven 26700-300 claims 2MP resolution. I was only getting .3MP (640x480) via the primitive software pressing the shutter button. The instructions don't tell you how to get full resolution captures and I stumbled upon how it's done. Here's the arcane procedure:

Open the AMCAP application window so you can frame your image. This application only has controls for capturing video. If you press the shutter button you'll get a snapshot that pops up in a new window. However, this image will only be 640x480. To snapshot at higher resolution, you must use the tray application/control panel. This gives you access to Properties controls if you select the Properties Page, but that won't give you control over photo resolution. You must right-click or click and hold on the tray application, click on the snapshot menu item, then select a resolution from the fly out list. 1600x1200 is the sensor resolution if it's 2MP, but the Chinese manufacturer's specs (Oriental Inspiration, Ltd.) say 1280x1024 (1.3MP). When you pick the resolution, a snapshot is taken and it pops up in the snapshot viewer window. You'll only see a portion of the full res image since the viewer window can't be resized and there is no zoom. If you then press the shutter button on the microscope, new images will be captured at the resolution you set via the tray application. Be sure to save the image from the viewer window since the image will be lost if you don't. Beware -- when you quit the software the snapshot resolution will set back to 640x480. There's no way to make the full resolution be the default. This software isn't just primitive, it's stone age.

I appreciate Blake Ormand's extensive review, and I don't have experience with other USB microscopes to compare, but I find the software and the stand to be significant limitations on an otherwise good device. Pushing the image capture button on the side of the microscope causes it to move and blur images that would be simple to get sharp with a software shutter control. There is the snapshot control I outlined above and I recommend you use that instead of the hardware button.

The live view via the software is a small, low resolution window. If you maximize the software window, it expands to fill the display and thus distorts the image (at least with most current display aspect ratios). You can resize the window, but this distorts the image since the view will fit any shape window you create. The digital zoom function isn't particularly useful. The image quality is low and you don't see any additional detail. Plan on a real zoom utility of 50x. And you'll only get 50x with the microscope as close to the subject as the clear front ring allows.

Also, there's no white balance control (there's a hue control in the generic control panel, but that's not a substitute). Under normal ambient light, the image has a pink cast. The color is reasonably neutral when the LEDs are turned on via the oval slide switch on the microscope. Actually, the unit is now showing pink even with the LEDs and I suspect a problem with an RGB channel.

The microscope has a poor orientation for right side up. If the shutter button was on top, you'd get a bit more stability pushing toward the base. You can rotate and mirror the image via the generic software and I haven't seen if that's a viable workaround so I can work the unit with the shutter button on top. The stand has a really weak and narrow clip that isn't in the least bit secure or stable. The base and articulating arm are nicely finished, but the clamp barely holds the microscope at all. Unfortunately, the only optional base available from Aven is designed for backlit slide use akin to conventional optical microscopes. I'd like to find a boom-type stand with a clamp that could securely hold the Aven ZipScope's body.

The Dino-Lite model I was considering before buying the Aven is over $400. There are more and better stand options for Dino-Lites, and the software appears to be better (the high end software provides measurement capability). I have no professional use for a USB microscope,so the Aven's pricepoint is more rational for me to play with. I do volunteer fossil preparation and I'd like to use the USB microscope for demonstration and documentation purposes. It would be cool if I could use the computer display to do fine detail work instead of looking through a conventional low power stereo microscope, but I'm not sure that I could set the USB microscope up without having too much parallax error to work with.

Update 01/19/2012: I've found better software that works with this microscope. I did a trial evaluation of NCH's Debut Video Capture Pro Software. You can capture from the microscope at full 1600x1200 resolution and there's a still capture button. The preview scales proportionally, and there's a control that lets you view at actual pixel resolution. There's a 14-day trial, but when the license price is $40. There are other webcam video capture utilities for Windows, Mac, and Linux that you could try. Look up AMCap at the alternativeto.net website.

I bumped up my rating to four stars because good free alternative software is available. Thanks again to Blake, for recommending ProScope HR software which is available free online for personal use. There are also Mac OS and Linux versions of this software. I've installed it but haven't tried the software yet, so I can't compare to the relatively expensive NCH utility.

I'm using a Manfrotto Nano Clamp to mount the microscope to various photographic supports like an articulating arm or flex arm and have uploaded a few to show this. The Nano Clamp does partially obscure the capture button, but using software to trigger captures is far better for vibration.
review image review image review image
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This microscope worked without any effort except installing the application software. You have a choice of several resolutions, but I always select the highest resolution. Bitmap appears to be the default file type, but you can save it as a jpg image file easily. The thing that I don't like about it is the microscope stand. It is attractive and works to some degree, but you really cannot adjust it much beyond the way it is pictured on this web page.

Even though this USB microscope works, I do sincerely regret buying it versus a real microscope for not much little extra money. This is the one I wish I had purchased: AmScope 40X-1000X LED Cordless All-Metal Framework Full-Glass Optical Lens Student Biological Compound Microscope + Digital Camera USB Imager. For another $40 I could have gotten a professional microscope without the handicap of the microscope stand on this unit. And there is a huge difference in capability for a mere $40. But this microscope does function as advertised and I'm stuck with it. It is manual focus, but seems to focus fairly easily. I cannot determine how to change the magnification. It seems to be a combination of a magnification and focus ring. The magnification seems to range from 35X to 55X. Depth of field seems to be reasonably good. I have no idea how they claim 200X. That must be some marketing gimmick.
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on September 18, 2014
As part of my research into tree disease, I use a USB microscope like this a lot, specifically the old Celestron #44300, which does a fine job. But I'm moving to Windows 8, and there are no drivers for that unit, so I'm forced to buy an alternative. This Aven 26700-300 was one of the candidates I bought and tried out.

In summary, it was a disaster, and I'm returning it. Here's what I found out during testing:

Pros:
1) Physically, nice construction
2) Comes with a mounting stand
3) Nice ability to take time lapse photos
4) Nice ability to annotate photos with text, date, and drawing
5) 8 LEDs for more even illumination

Cons:
1) The documentation is sometimes hard to understand due to poorly translated Chinese (you'd think they would hire someone proficient in English to at least review the documentation!)
2) The documentation doesn't say if it is compatible with Windows 8
3) The focus ring is a bit hard to easily rotate
4) It's not clear at all on how to change magnification
5) Some twig samples I viewed were WAY overexposed, and even cutting down on exposure didn't fix it (this was a killer)
6) The was an annoying lag time in image display when panning the magnified image
7) It wasn't at all obvious as to how magnification was defined and how to change it
8) The stand is extremely limited in horizontal & vertical positioning, to the point of almost being useless
9) Adobe Photoshop Elements will bring up the image fine, but when you try to take a photo of it via "Snapshot", it crashes

I got the distinct impression that the manufacturer was trying to copy some existing handheld USB microscope, but
ended up doing a poor job due to cutting too many corners.
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on January 6, 2016
The scope worked well when using Windows XP operating system, but could not be run on Windows 7 or 10. Customer Service supplied suggestions on methods to down load software from Aven web site and a CD came with the product. In spite of repeated attempts nothing could make the scope work on an Acer or Sony laptop running system 7 and 10. The XP experience showed good resolution and operation over a wide range of distances from touching to over 2 feet away. The light has two intensity settings controlled by a slide switch on the unit. There is a lag time between pressing the single picture button and image capture - so a very steady hand or a fixture must be used for best clarity.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon December 26, 2013
I bought the Aven 26700-300 ZipScope USB Digital Microscope when is available as a "Lightning Deal", and I'm happy with it. I find it useful as a tool, and fun as a toy. The included stand is usable but pretty poor, and I'm still looking for an alternative. Same goes for the software but I already found better software that is free for home use. "NCH Debut Video Capture Software". It is much better and more advanced than the included "eScope Software".

Installing the Aven 26700-300 ZipScope was as simple as plug and play on my Windows 8.1 System. Once installed, the ZipScope provided a very clear image for a low cost, fairly low resolution digital microscope. I've used it to check some fine solder repairs I did on some of my electronics, and to just "play around". For the price I paid, it was a very good deal. I recommend it for kids or adults.
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on October 9, 2012
AVEN zipScope with measurement software.
The microscope: It does exactly as advertised and with amazing clarity.
The stand: It is as valuable as a milk bucket under a bull. It will not support the microscope at a 90 degree angle which is necessary for accurate measurements and a lack of subject distortion.
The programming: ... Horrible! The written dropdown boxes that are critical for measurement and marking the pictures were in the programmer's font (little square boxes).
Product support: Great, the company responded to correct the problem after which the measurements work.
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on September 10, 2015
I've had this for a couple of years. I used it occasionally at my desk at work to look at small parts. Well today it started to fall apart for no reason. The body started separating at the focus adjustment. In addition, the crappy rubberized coating that manufacturers use for a variety of tools and handheld devices is breaking down and becoming sticky. I thought this would have at least lasted for 5 years. So because it only lasted 3 with very little use, I need to give it a very low rating for poor quality of construction.
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on May 8, 2012
I bought this to use for school science projects and checking of solder joints for home electronics projects, and for this it works well. Image quality is decent but not stunning, up to 1600x1200 for still shots. The LED illumination is switchable off/low/high.

Optically, it's much better than I'd expected. Depth of field is pretty good. It has a great range of focus, from several mm behind the clear shield all the way to infinity(!), which makes it easy to use on irregularly-shaped objects. It's a fixed-focal-length lens, so magnification depends on how close the subject is to the microscope. Focused at the front of the clear shield, the field of view is about 9mm x 7mm, and features are distinct down to about 15um (0.015mm). That's enough to see all the fine engraving details on a $20 bill.

The reason for the pinkish color cast described by another viewer is that the sensor does not have an IR (infrared) filter. This is easy to see if you point it at a TV remote control and press a button on the remote. This might be a negative if you're interested in really accurate colors. On the upside, it means you can use the camera for infrared science experiments, or as a low-light camera (like a security video camera) if you wire up some IR LEDs.

The included software is functional if a bit clunky. I had some trouble with it losing track of the capture button on the side of the scope. I don't consider this a big negative, because there's lots of freeware video capture software, and the camera shows up as a standard webcam.
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on November 7, 2013
Digital microscope was very easy to install. Microscope does allow you to see close up details but I did not find the images to be "tack" sharp. I am interested in macro photography of gem crystals and thought that this would be the answer. Microscope would focus, but not as sharp as I was hoping. This is a great item if you want to see details like on a coin or other items, but as a photographer, this did not do what I wanted. The light has two settings, for my crystals, I found them to be a little too bright. For $100, this is a great microscope to "have fun" looking at items, but I will not be able to use it to take snapshots and print the crystals. I was trying to fing a cheap alternative to macro photography without having to buy the expensive macro lens and a ring light.

Digital microscope does work, it has easy to intall software, a small stand, and a light.
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