Observing your plants’ progress is an important step in any grow op, and when we say observing, we’re not talking about giving them a quick once-over at the end of the day. To stay on top of plant health and overall quality, you really need to get in there with the best digital microscope.
This is the easiest way to observe all aspects of your plants’ progress. The magnification power of a high-quality scope allows growers to fully understand what’s going on with their plants. With this handy device, you have a better chance of harvesting at the right time, which we all know leads to better bud.
A lot of small-time growers in Canada assume that they can get away with using a basic magnifying glass, but if you consider yourself a pro or just want the best results, you’ll want to go with a microscope instead.
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What is a digital microscope?
It’s a tool that displays images by using a built-in camera and a magnifying lens instead of only using eyepieces that you’d find in a more traditional, non-dig device. Once the image (or even video) is captured, it sends it to a monitor so that it can be examined without having to keep your face uncomfortably glued to the eyepiece.
Things to Consider When Choosing a Digital Microscope for Cannabis
Even after you’ve made the decision to toss that basic magnifying glass aside and go with a scope instead, you’ve still got a lot to think about. As you start browsing through microscopes, you’ll quickly see that they range drastically in cost, features, magnification power, and ease of use.
There’s clearly a lot to consider, but try to focus first on the 4 factors below.
Wireless vs USB Microscope for Cannabis
If you opt for a plugable USB microscope, there will obviously be some wires involved. But this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. These devices tend to be easier to use and a better option for beginners, especially those who aren’t as tech-savvy.
To display images, USB microscopes have to be directly connected to a laptop or computer, which isn’t nearly as high-tech as a wireless microscope. With wireless functionality, you can pair a device directly to the microscope without ever having to plug anything in.
Of course, you want your new microscope to be powerful, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you need a device that has 1000x magnification. You’re not looking at tiny, microscopic amoebas here…
That said, you should try to find a microscope that allows you to alter the magnification, and if goes up to 1000x, that’s great. But realistically, you won’t be using that setting too much, so make sure that it can be adjusted to focus at a lower magnification power as well (like 40 or 50x).
Digital Microscope Software Compatibility
The draw of digital microscopes is that they can display images to another device, which means you won’t have to make the call on when to harvest with your eye pressed up to a magnifying eyepiece. The display options for each microscope and the operating systems it can be used with depend on its software compatibility.
Most microscopes available today work with a long list of different devices and software, so you should be able to capture images/record video and send it directly to any smart phone, iPhone, iPad, PC, Android, and just about any Windows or Mac device you’re using.
On top of software options, pay close attention to the functionality features before deciding on a microscope. Some of these devices are super basic and can just take screenshots of images, but others can record video, take accurate measurements, and perform 2D image analysis.
Battery Usage Time & Charging Method
Most microscope batteries are rechargeable, so you’ll just plug the device in with a USB cable when the battery is low. An easy rule of thumb to follow is that a 900mAh battery lasts 3 hours and a 500mAh battery lasts 90 minutes.
Best Digital Microscopes Overall in Canada for Cannabis
Keeping all the considerations above in mind – software compatibility, battery specs, magnification power, and USB vs wireless – there’s one microscope that stands above the rest for growers: the Skybasic 50x to 1000x device.
Skybasic 50x to 1000x
The Skybasic microscope is a 2.0 digital wireless device that is powerful but can still fit in the palm of your hand. The magnification settings range from 50x to 1000x and this microscope has tons of cool features, like built-in WiFi, 8 LED lights, an easy-to-use focus wheel, and video functionality.
Skybasic is designed to work with your mobile Android or iOS device, but it’s also compatible with Windows or Mac computer. Whether you’re taking still images or video footage, everything you capture will be in high resolution.
Possibly the best part of Skybasic microscopes is that they won’t break the bank. It’s not often that you’ll find a 2.0 digital microscope that’s this affordable, making it a great choice for growers on a budget as well as beginners.
Best USB Microscopes for Cannabis
There are tons of quality microscopes on the market, but the key here is to find one that works best for cannabis. Part of this means you have to choose a device that you can easily carry around with you while working in the grow room.
The Skybasic is great for that, but if you want the best USB microscope instead of a wireless one, you’ll want to go with the Jiusion Original instead.
Jiusion Original 40-1000X USB Microscope
Jiusion Original plugable USB 2.0 digital microscopes come with a Type C/micro USB cable so that you can easily connect the device to any Android cellphone or computers/laptops that run on Mac, Windows, Linux and Chrome operating systems.
This is the best USB scope for a number of reasons, but the main one is that it’s easy to use. Not all USB microscopes are, but with this one, you’ll have no trouble using the software to record the micro world, capture screenshots, and record video of your grow room.
Best Beginner Microscope for Canadians Growing Cannabis
It doesn’t matter if you consider yourself a science whiz, every beginner grower in Canada should be using beginner-friendly tools, and this rule applies to microscopes.
Every manufacturer claims that its product is “easy to use”, but in a lot of cases, this is a wild overstatement. But with MoKo USB microscopes, it’s not, which makes this model the best for growing weed at the beginner level.
MoKo WiFi USB Digital Microscope
The MoKo USB microscope has a lot of the same features as the Skybasic like the 8-piece LED light system and maximum 1000x magnification power. But the general consensus is that this is a better choice for beginners, and part of this is because it’s slightly cheaper.
One thing we’re loving about the MoKo USB device is its easy installation. To install, all you need to do is download the “Max-See” app and connect your phone to the device by following the step-by-step prompts. Once you’ve done that, you can use the MoKo with iOS systems and Android devices.
Although this USB microscope is great for recording video and capturing images, the resolution is a little bit low for our liking if you’re using it with a PC. With PCs, the max resolution is 720 pixels, but connecting to mobile with a USB cable, it’s 1080.
Top Jiusion Digital Microscope (Most Trusted Brand)
We’ve already talked about one Jiusion digital microscope, but this brand has a lot of high quality devices that are worth considering. The last Jiusion product was a great budget-friendly option, but if you’re OK with spending a little bit more, the next step up are the Jiusion WiFi USB microscopes.
Jiusion WiFi USB Digital Microscope
The best thing about this USB microscope from Jiusion is the fact that it’s built with a new generation WiFi chip, This means better clarity of images in high definition of 1920 x 1080 pixels. It also means that there will be no lag when viewing pictures and video on mobile.
Another thing that makes this the most-loved grower’s magnification device from Jiusion is the completely updated aluminum alloy bracket/flexible arm, which is the most stable and top-rated base in the market. Plus, this is the first wide-angle 2MP microscope that’s capable of displaying a larger viewing area.
Best Celestron Digital Microscope for the Pros
Jiusion isn’t the only top-rated brand out there – Celestron is another one. Celestron microscopes are more expensive since they use more advanced technology, but if you’ve got the money to spend, go for it. This next one is the best option for pros who are running massive grow ops in Canada.
Celestron 44302-C Deluxe Handheld Digital Microscope
The Celestron digital microscope is built with a 5-Element IR cut high-quality glass lens and ranges from 20x to 200x magnification. It’s a great 5 mp device for low-power observation of 3D specimens, and even though the magnification doesn’t go to 1000x like some of the other microscopes on this list, it’s hard to beat the image quality.
Calling this a “handheld microscope” microscope is a bit of an overstatement, but even though it’s larger than the others, it’s still portable enough to easily use in the grow room. It comes with a USB 2.0 cable and runs on intuitive software with high-tech measuring features that works on Windows and Mac devices.
Best Trichomes Microscope for Cannabis
The entire point of browsing around digital and USB microscopes is to help you get a better look at trichomes. All of these microscopes so far are perfectly capable of viewing trichomes and giving you a definitive answer on when it’s time to harvest, but the Facamword takes it to another level.
Facamword Wireless Microscope
The Facamword digital microscope USB device captures images and 1080P videos at up to 50x optical and 1000x digital zoom using Inskam free software. This software is user-friendly and lets you view and record crystal clear images/video footage.
The reason it’s the ultimate choice for trichome-viewing is the combination of the comfortable eyepiece and the stable viewing platform. On the base of the platform, there are clearly-labeled measurements so that you can take note of bud size while you also take a good look at the trichomes.
What magnification do you need to see trichomes?
The main reason to buy a microscope for your grow op is to study your plants’ trichomes. The changing color of these tiny little hairs is a tell-tale sign of when your crop is ready to be harvested.
Although trichomes are small, there’s no need to use a 1000x magnification setting to get a good look at them. The best setting for seeing trichomes up-close-and-personal is to use a magnification setting of about 50 or 60x.
Pictures of Trichomes Ready to Harvest
This picture from Canniseur shows milky-white trichome heads, which is a tell-tale sign that your plants are fully developed and ready for harvesting. Once they’ve started turning amber, that’s the end of your harvesting window.
Seedsman says that the easiest way to determine plant potency is to observe the trichomes, and as soon as they hit that clear color that you see above, this is the beginning of the harvesting window.
Are digital microscopes any good?
Well, that depends. Yes, they can be very good, but they can also be very crappy. It all has to do with the specific microscope you’re using and who manufactured it, the magnification power, and the quality of the images displayed.
If pictures and videos aren’t delivered in high resolution, then you actually might be doing more harm than good by using a microscope vs a magnifying glass. This is why it’s crucial to use a top-rated microscope that has been reviewed by other growers and not just scientists in a lab setting, like the Opti Tekscope, Skybasic, or any device from Jiusion.
How do you use a digital microscope?
Once again, that depends. Sure, microscopes are all used for the same purpose (for magnification), but each one has its own operational features and settings. The main differences when it comes to how to use a microscope have to do with whether you’ve chosen a USB or wireless device.
For the sake of keeping things simple, let’s focus on how to use a USB device. The first step is always to make sure the software is downloaded and updated. Once that’s done, plug the microscope into any USB port on your desktop, laptop, TV, or whatever monitor you’ll be using to see the images.
After that, you’ll hold the device up to a bud (or whatever part of the plan you want to examine) and the image should automatically display on your monitor. There might be some additional steps to get there, but that’s on you to read the manufacturer’s user manual.
The focusing capability of every device is different. Usually, it’s as simple as spinning an adjustable focus wheel, but some devices have an auto-focus feature that can be super handy.
To capture a still image, usually all you have to do is click the “capture” icon on the screen with the device’s software open. For recording video, you’ll just click the “record” icon instead.
The main takeaway here is that you’ve got to pay close attention to trichomes if you want to harvest at the optimal time. An early harvest could mean that all of your patience and hard work over the past few months was for nothing, and harvesting too late can be just as bad.
To keep that from happening, the easy solution is to use the best digital microscope. Compared to other pieces of equipment like LED lights, fans, and temperature controllers, microscopes aren’t usually seen as an essential tool for growers, but it’s still a great investment.
Using one of the devices we’ve reviewed here may earn you extra points on your next crop, especially in terms of bud density, flavour, and potency.
More questions on proper harvesting practices? Feel free to reach out to us or join our Facebook group to connect with other Canadian growers.