Fellow science nerds, behold! I present to you my Swift SW350T Microscope review. This thing is a beast, and I’m obsessed with it.
There is an infinite world of wonder right under our noses just waiting to be explored, and it’s possible with a high-end microscope like the Swift SW350T Trinocular Compound Microscope.
For the longest time, I wanted to look at my blood under a microscope and be able to perform our own in-house fecal parasite analysis on the animals in our animal rescue and sanctuary. I researched all the microscopes out there that were within a reasonable price range (a.k.a. not thousands of dollars) and determined that the best value for the money is the Swift SW350T. According to other microscope enthusiasts who have been microscoping long before me, a microscope of this quality would have cost thousands of dollars just a few years ago. Technology sure has come a long way.
What Makes The SW350T Microscope So Good?
The first thing I noticed when I unpacked my new microscope is how heavy it is. When it comes to microscopes, heavy is a good thing. You want a microscope that is sturdy and heavy enough that it won’t get knocked over accidentally or lose its footing if you bump into it. Most of this microscope is made out of metal. It is high-quality and seems like it will last a lifetime.
The next thing I noticed when I stood it upright on the table is how well the shape of the microscope is designed. It has a large rectangular base that fully supports the rest of the microscope. This makes it sturdy and extremely hard to tip over.
3. Professional Grade
The SW350T Microscope means business. Even though this is mostly a toy for me, this microscope would do well in a laboratory and clinical setting. That’s one of the reasons I got this microscope. I saw a lot of veterinarians and doctors online using it in their clinics. Since I plan on doing fecal parasite examinations for the animals in our animal rescue, I wanted to make sure I got a microscope that was up to the task. I asked my veterinarian who currently does those tests for us, and she said this microscope is better than the one she uses.
Even though the SW350T Microscope would fit in well in any clinic or lab, for the price, it is accessible to just about any person who is interested in science, medicine, or microscopy in general. This would make an amazing gift for a kid interested in science. This would also make an amazing Christmas gift for a husband interested in science and medicine (thanks honey). Yes, my wife got me this for Christmas because she knew it was exactly what I wanted, and it was within our price range. Talk about an awesome Christmas morning!
5. Trinocoluar — 3 Separate View Ports
One thing that I really wanted was a trinocular compound microscope. Why? Because I can look comfortably through the binocular eyepieces while using a camera on the trinocular port. This means I can record images and videos of what I’m seeing in the microscope. I can also display what I’m seeing onto a bigger screen for other people in the room to see at the same time. This means I can bore my wife to pieces by making her watch a white blood cell swim around in my blood or a small cluster of bacteria squiggle about that I found in the water of her drinking cup. She might actually regret buying me this microscope at this point. Oh well.
6. Double-Layered Mechanical Stage With Slide Clamp
A mechanical stage with measurement markings on it was important for me to do specific types of medical exams. What I didn’t realize is how much more enjoyable it is to use a microscope with a mechanical stage and slide clamp. The slide clamp locks your slide into place, and instead of manually pushing the slide around the stage with your fingers, you use these knobs underneath the stage to move the entire stage north, south, east, or west. This makes for very precise movements that would be otherwise almost impossible to do by moving the slide with your fingers when you are zoomed in 400x or more.
The mechanical stage and slide clamp make it easy to precisely follow around little buggers as they swim around your microscope slide. I have tracked the same tiny microscopic creature around for hours without losing sight of them because of this precision.
The stage is 130x130mm and has a rack stop. The stage has an x-y travel range of 70x30mm.
7. Amazing Magnification and Clear Imagery
The imagery on the Swift SW350T Microscope is excellent and allows you to magnify anywhere between 40x-2500x (40X, 100X, 250X, 400X, 1000X, and 2500X). Everything just looks really good through it. There aren’t any distortions or imperfections in the objective lenses. Everything is crisp and easy to see. It comes with 4 DIN achromatic objectives, 4x, 10x, 40x (spring), and 100x (spring and oil). They are all parfocal and have a back focal length of 160mm.
8. Adjustable Binocular Ports With Swiveling Siedentopf Head
I really enjoy the swiveling Siedentopf head feature of the binocular ports that allows the binoculars to be rotated 360 degrees. When I see something really interesting, I can call my wife over, swivel the head towards her, and she can lean over, grab the Siedentopf head and quickly and intuitively adjust them like a pair of field binoculars to her eye positions (interpupillary distance) without losing focus, and look into the microscope and see exactly what I was seeing without me even having to get out of my chair.
The binocular eyepieces are also interchangeable. The standard unit comes with wide-field 10X and 25X eyepieces.
9. Easy And Precise Focus Dials
There are two coaxial focus dials on this microscope: coarse and fine. I find that they are quick and easy to use and adjust, and I can make very fine-tunings to the focus, even at max magnification, with ease. The focus remains in place even if you bump the microscope. There are even adjustable ocular diopters (+/- 5dp) on the binocular eyepieces for even more fine-tuning of the focus. After a little practice, I am quite the wizard with the mechanical slide dials and the focus dials. I can whizz around the stage, switch objectives, and focus in and out of different regions easily.
10. Dimmable LED Light
Under the condenser is an LED light that is extremely bright, but able to be dialed down to whatever level is most comfortable for your eyes. I tend to keep the light dialed down to the midrange because bright lights mess with my brain. I am glad they chose an LED light over a halogen or other kind of bulb. LED lights like this should last decades without needing to be replaced. The dimmer dial is on the left side of the base and is easy to access while you are manipulating the stage and focus dials that are also on the left side.
11. Adjustable Abbe Condenser With Iris Diaphragm
Another nice feature is the industry-standard NA 1.25 Abbe condenser with an adjustable iris diaphragm. The condenser filter housing swivels out, is easy to access, and allows you to swap out the condenser filter if you want. They even include an additional blue filter that you can swap in for increased contrast to help you see certain things better.
12. Comes With A Great Assortment Of Accessories
Swift includes some really nice accessories with this microscope. It comes with:
- A perfectly fitted microscope dust cover that covers the entire microscope down to the table
- A bottle of immersion oil to go with the 100x oil-immersion objective
- Sets of interchangeable 25x and 10x wide-field eyepieces
- A blue filter for the condenser
- A spare fuse
I was planning on buying a generic dust cover, a bottle of immersion oil, and a high-contrast condenser filter before buying this microscope, but when it got here, I realized Swift threw that stuff in already, saving me the hassle. Plus, the microscope dust cover is perfectly fitted to this microscope, is high quality, and seems like it will last a long time.
The dust cover is essential in my household because the cats like to play scientist with me and rub against all my equipment. Even though they might contaminate my specimens with their cat hair and dander, at least they won’t get their detritus in the hard-to-clean crevices of my eyepieces, viewports, and objectives when I’m not using the microscope thanks to the dust cover.
Gosky Microscope Lens Adapter: The Best Way To Take Pictures and Videos With the Swift SW350T Microscope’s Trinocular Port
If you have a smartphone and a trinocular microscope, then I would highly recommend the Gosky Microscope Lens Adapter. In fact, I think every trinocular microscope should just come with a Gosky Microscope Lens Adapter. Seriously, it’s that good. It’s like peanut butter to my microscope jelly. They are that good together.
I had an old smartphone left sitting around from the last time I upgraded phones, so I decided to make it my permanent microscope camera. I just keep it in the Gosky adapter all the time and pop it onto the trinocular port when I want to start taking pictures and videos of what I’m seeing in the microscope.
As you’ve probably noticed, buying a special “microscope camera” is absurdly expensive, costing almost as much as the microscope itself, and only for 1.3 MP or 5 MP cameras. If you want a higher resolution than that, then you are going to be paying well more than the price of the microscope for a pretty crappy camera that can’t even compare to the camera you probably have in your smartphone.
Honestly, look at the prices on the 1.3 MP and 5 MP microscope cameras:
And if you want a really good laugh, look at the prices on the 16 MP, 18 MP, and 20 MP microscope cameras:
Absurd, ludicrous, borderline heinous, if you do ask me.
Anyway, save yourself the hassle and the expense, and just get the Gosky Microscope Lens Adapter and use the super-nice camera that’s already on your smartphone. The adapter is extremely easy to adjust to fit your smartphone and takes about 30 seconds to pop your phone in it and set it on the trinocular port.
Can You Upgrade The Objectives On The Swift SW350T Microscope?
Yes! One of the best upgrades I made to my microscope is swapping out the 100x immersion oil objective lens with the 60x dry lens. Using the 100x lens with immersion oil is so much work and super messy. I don’t feel like dealing with oil all over everything, so I’d rather have a slightly less powerful dry lens. That’s where a 60x objective lens comes in. Instead of 2500x with a ton of hassle, I get 1500x magnification all day with the combination of the 60x objective and the 25x wide-field eyepieces.
For this microscope, you want to make sure to buy an objective lens that is compatible with the Swift SW350T. Another nice feature would be to get an objective that is parfocal with your other objectives. That means you can switch between objectives without losing focus. The best 60x objective I found for the Swift SW350T is the AmScope A60X 60X Achromatic Microscope Objective.
The AmScope A60X 60X Achromatic Microscope Objective conforms to the 160mm DIN standard and has 20mm mounting threads, so it will work with the Swift SW350T. It’s the same 60x objective I bought and use on my Swift SW350T microscope.
The 60x objective really changes the game. You can go super deep on a specimen without having to do the messy and time-consuming immersion oil ritual. All you have to do is rotate your microscope nosepiece from the 40x to the 60x and BLAM-O! you are at max magnification.
Is It Hard To Change The Objectives On The Swift SW350T Microscope?
I had some trouble at first when trying to remove the 100x oil objective from the Swift SW350T because it was screwed on so tightly to the nosepiece. I found that if I used the rubber-ended handles of a pair of adjustable pliers, I was able to grip the threads on the objective and unscrew it by using the pliers as a lever without damaging the objective. This proved to be quite easy to remove the objective, and I was able to swap in the 60x dry objective easily.
What Is The Difference Between The Swift SW350T And Swift SW380T Microscopes?
So, this was actually kind of hard to determine. I spent a long time watching videos and reading forums to figure out the difference before I finally decided on the SW350T.
The two main differences are:
- The SW380T has an even higher-precision fine-tuning focus dial.
- The SW380T has a more stable swiveling Siedentopf binocular head.
For the additional cost, I didn’t think those two tweaks were worth it. The other people online who had tried both agreed that the difference was negligible and not very noticeable. The fine focus dial on the SW350T is excellent. I didn’t think an extra $50 for a slight improvement in that was worth it. I used that price difference towards the Gosky adapter and 60x dry objective that I mentioned above.
Other Useful Things To Go With Your Microscope
Microscope Slides and Coverslips
Once I got my microscope and started using it, I realized I needed a few different things to do the things I wanted to do. First thing is first, you will need microscope slides and coverslips. The AmScope Microscope Slides and Coverslips (AmScope BS-50P-100S-22 Pre-Cleaned Blank Ground Edge Glass Microscope Slides and 100pc Pre-Cleaned Square Glass Cover Slips Coverslips) work just fine and are super cheap. They are also pre-cleaned, so you can use them right out of the box without having to worry about artifacts interfering with the view of your specimen.
The next thing I needed to buy was microscope specimen stains. Different stains allow you to better see different things. For example, methylene blue is used to stain the DNA and RNA of cells, allowing you to differentiate between red and white blood cells while looking at blood under the microscope. I bought a set of a variety of stains, so I will have them on hand for when I need them. I got the “Innovating Science Microscope Stains Vital Stain Kit, 7 Bottles of Different Stains.” I’ve only used the methylene blue stain on my blood so far, and it works well. This kit comes with:
- 30mL Bismarck Brown, 1% Alcohol Solution
- 30mL Brilliant Cresyl Blue, 1% Alcohol Solution
- 30mL Cupric Acetate, 3% Aqueous Solution
- 30mL Cupric Sulfate, 1% Aqueous Solution
- 30mL Janus Green, 1% Alcohol Solution
- 30mL Methylene Blue, 1% Alcohol Solution
- 30mL Neutral Red, 1% Alcohol Solution
This kit will probably last me a lifetime.
What good scientist doesn’t have a rack of test tubes sitting on their desk? I found a cheap rack of test tubes to be very handy for storing different specimens (pond water, drinking water, distilled water, blood, fecal solutions, diluted stains, etc.). Since I’m not doing anything too crazy in terms of heat or caustic/acidic solutions, I decided on plastic test tubes because I didn’t want my cats knocking them off the table and breaking them if they were glass.
The test tubes and rack set I bought is the 16x125mm Assorted Color Plastic Test Tube Set with Caps and Rack, Karter Scientific (Pack of 50). The stand was easy to assemble and is sturdy. The test tubes come in different colors which is helpful for me in keeping my specimens organized. They are plastic so they won’t shatter like glass ones if I drop them on the floor.
Beakers, Graduated Cylinders, and Pipettes
Any self-respecting scientist has to have at least some beakers, graduated cylinders, and pipettes for sciencing with. I bought a cheap set on Amazon, and they have worked out surprisingly well. I chose plastic again because I don’t want any cats knocking over glass lab equipment and shattering glass all over the floor. Any self-respecting scientist also has cats roaming about his laboratory.
These come in handy when I’m mixing the microscope stains with distilled water and need precise measurements. Then I transfer those diluted stains into test tubes to use when I need them. Also, the pipettes are a must-have because it’s what I use to transfer samples to and from test tubes and onto microscope slides.
The set I bought is the moveland 15-Piece Set Plastic Graduated Cylinders and Beakers with 5 Transfer Pipettes and 1 Test Tube Brushes, Ideal for DIY and Kids Science Lab. It also came with a pipe cleaning brush to clean the cylinders which also works on my test tubes.
To round out my mini science lab, I needed some Petri dishes to keep specimens in. They can also be used to grow out cultures of different strains of bacteria and fungi. I bought a giant bulk pack of cheap plastic Petri dishes: Bekith Petri Dishes with Lids, 50 Pack 90mm Dia x 15mm Deep Plastic Sterile Container, 50 Pack Plastic Transfer Pipettes(3ml).
This set also came with more pipettes. I will never turn down free pipettes.
I’ve been using the Petri dishes to store the microscope slides that I want to save. So, for instance, I want to see what happens to my blood on a microscope slide after a week. I just set the microscope slide with the blood sample and coverslip into the petri dish, put the lid on it, and add it to my stack of Petri dishes containing my interesting specimens. You’d be amazed at how cool dried blood looks under a microscope after a month.
Diabetic Lancets and Alcohol Swabs
This might sound crazy to some people, but YOU HAVE TO LOOK AT YOUR BLOOD UNDER A MICROSCOPE! (This is not medical advice). It’s so cool. Really, it is. All it takes to enjoy this wondrous spectacle of nature is a sharp object and preferably some alcohol swabs to prevent infection.
When I first got my microscope, I immediately started stabbing myself in the fingertips with insulin needles. This was a brutal, savage way to get a few drops of blood for myself. It takes some gumption to work up the courage to stab your fingertips for blood. Major respect to the diabetic folks that have the courage do it multiple times a day for their entire lives to monitor their blood glucose levels.
I decided the stabbing technique was too brutal for collecting specimens, so I decided to class the joint up by buying some nice Pip diabetic lancets. These things are spring-loaded, come in multiple gauges depending on how much blood you want, and really take the gut-wrenching savagery out of stabbing yourself repeatedly with a needle. The amount of pain and unpleasantness was reduced by a factor of 10x with these things. They seem to be the nicest lancets on the market from what I can see. Since I’m not using bulk quantities of these, just a few to look at my blood occasionally under a microscope, I figured I’d splurge and get the nicest lancets available.
I bought the Pip 50 Piece Set | All-in-One Multi-Size Diabetes Safety Lancet Starter Set | Multi-Sensitive Fingerstick Testing Kit for Blood Sugar & Ketone Monitors. This is the starter set that comes with three different gauges. I didn’t know what gauge I would need to get the amount of blood needed for microscope samples. I found the purple, middle gauge Pip lancets (30g, 1.6mm depth) to be the best for this.
All you do is unscrew the top off one of the lancets, and press it against your fingertip. The spring-loaded mechanism does the rest. POP. You hardly feel it, and it’s over with. And then you get 2-3 good drops of blood to play with.
I like to look at the blood fully concentrated under a coverslip. The red and white blood cells flow around from the different forces on the plasma. Some of the white blood cells move around on their own and are really fun to watch. You can also use a little bit of diluted methylene blue stain mixed with the drops of blood to make some of the white blood cells stand out.
Swift SW350T Trinocular Compound Microscope Manual
If anyone needs the manual for the Swift SW350T Trinocular Compound Microscope, I uploaded it here to my server.
You can download or view it here:
To sum everything up, the Swift SW350T Trinocular Compound Microscope is amazing. I love this thing. It’s addictive. I want to look at everything with it. I want to take pictures and videos of everything I’m seeing and share them with my friends.
Everything I said here should also apply to the Swift SW380T Trinocular Compound Microscope. As I said earlier, they are basically the exact same with two very slight differences that you probably would not even notice.
Microscopy is a fascinating hobby, and it blows my mind that you can get a microscope this high in quality for only a couple hundred bucks these days. Twenty years ago, a microscope like this would have cost 10x more, probably $2,000-3,000.
I think that the Swift SW350T is an amazing tool for anyone of any age that is interested in science. Also, for lab and clinical work, I think it is more than adequate and easy on the budget. I know multiple doctors that use this same microscope in their clinic. I’m using it for clinical lab work on myself and the animals in our animal sanctuary. I would like to use it to do clinical lab work on my wife, but she won’t let me lance her for blood samples yet. I’m still working on that.
I hope you have as much fun with your microscope as I’ve been having with mine. I know I’m going to be playing and working with my Swift SW350T Microscope for years to come. I honestly think it will last me a lifetime based on the build quality and materials.
I give the Swift SW350T Trinocular Compound Microscope a 10/10. I love it!
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