The highest quality optics, durability of mechanical components, and customer service have Nikon ranked as our number one choice.
Olympus comes in a strong second as a company known for performance and ergonomics on it’s microscopes. You’ll have to exercise patience when dealing with Olympus though.
Leica ranks third in our opinion. The once great German optical company seems to have moved manufacturing outside of Europe on some microscopes and the quality seems to be falling off based on the models we’ve evaluated.
The only microscope company that manufacturers it’s microscopes completely in Japan as of this writing. (Nikon and Olympus, both Japanese companies have opted to manufacture throughout Asia at this point) Meiji is not a well known name, but based on price and quality, they’re definitely in the top 5.
Zeiss still makes the world’s best surgery microscopes. However their upright compound microscopes don’t seem to be in the same class that they once were. This quality fall off and the price have Zeiss microscopes down in the 5th position. Customer service is also a challenge.
Labomed is the relative “new kid on the block” and have a surprisingly well developed proprietary line of microscopes. This company out of India has good quality optics and a very sleek design. Support is good, and the best part is the pricing. We really like these microscopes as our choice for second tier microscopes outside of the top 5.
Accuscope has a rapidly growing line of new microscope models. This NY based company has the majority of their line manufactured in China. The price is right on these microscopes, they just have to get the quality control issues hammered out. Their customer service is top notch and their microscopes do come with the standard 5 year warranty.