Carson MicroBrite Pocket Microscope Review: Take A Look Into Another World!

Carson MicroBrite 20x-40x LED Lighted Pocket Microscope (MM-300) and the Carson MicroBrite Plus 60x-120x Power LED Lighted Pocket Microscope (MM-24) review.

These inexpensive (sub $15) pocket microscopes offer excellent image quality and a great way of introducing science subjects to kids...

Carson Pocket Microscope Review

Whether it’s the surface of your skin, a printed page, a computer screen, or an insect’s wing; once you’ve seen something through a microscope, you’ll never look at it the same way again; it really is like looking into another world.

bird feather through microscope
A feather viewed through the Carson MicroBrite Pocket Microscope 60-120x MM-300

The devices we tested are the Carson MicroBrite LED Lighted 20-40x Pocket Microscope (MM-24) and the Carson MicroBrite Plus 60-120x LED Lighted Pocket Microscope (MM-300). (Click links to view at Amazon.)

Both are inexpensive, easy to use, and capable of producing highly-detailed images. Either one would be an ideal introduction to the world of microscopes for scientists young or old.

At the time of writing, the 20-40x can be found for under $10, with the 60-120x costing a few dollars more.

You can see prices / reviews of both microscopes at

In the UK both models are slightly more expensive, with the 20-40x currently selling for around £12 and the 60-120x just over £15.

See prices / reviews at

Both pocket microscopes received glowing reviews on Amazon. We tested these handy devices with a variety of subjects to see just how good the images were. We also wanted to find out if the devices would stand up to being used by enthusiastic young scientists…

detail of flower under a pocket microscope.
Plant stamens with pollen. This is the kind of detail you can expect when using a pocket microscope. The models we reviewed weren't designed to be used with a smartphone; the actual images were far clearer!

Neither of these pocket microscopes are designed to be used with a camera phone. The photos we took for this page are not indicative of the image you’ll actually see when looking into the microscope, which are far clearer and more highly-detailed.

Pocket Microscopes - Overview

best pocket microscope review
Active Wild's Chief Reviewer hard at work.

If you want a handy way of making detailed observations of flowers, bugs, etc. when in the field, then a pocket microscope is a useful gadget to have in your backpack.

Such a device is capable of revealing details undetectable either to the naked eye, or to a standard 10x magnifying glass.

woodlouse legs through microscope
The legs of a woodlouse viewed through the Carson MM-300.

Both of Carson’s pocket microscopes are small, handheld devices that are positioned directly over the subject being observed (the 20-40x also has a removable base on which subjects can be placed).

Carson MicroBrite LED Lighted 20-40x MM-24 Pocket Microscope Review

Carson MicroBrite 20-40x MM-24 Pocket Microscope Review
Carson MicroBrite 20-40x MM-24 Pocket Microscope. Click image to view at Amazon.

The Carson MicroBrite LED Lighted 20-40x Pocket Microscope is marginally the cheaper of the two microscopes we tested. The device comes in a clear blister pack that includes the microscope itself, a sheet of instructions, and two plastic slides.

Mounted on a removable base, the microscope looks like a mini-version of a typical optical microscope. It is predominantly green and black. Directly below the eyepiece is a dial that sets the zoom level. At the side is the light switch, and towards the base of the unit is a lever for focusing the image.

An insect's wing seen through the MicroBrite MM-24 Pocket Microscope.
An insect's wing seen through the MicroBrite MM-24 Pocket Microscope.

Build quality is satisfactory but not ultra-high quality; the device feels very light in the hands and both the light button and zoom dial feel a little loose. However, considering the microscope’s low price, these are minor observations. We don’t see this device being easily damaged.

The base of the microscope slides on and off as needed. The base has a slot for holding the slides that came with the device.

On the base directly below the viewing area is a reflective circle. We found that this provided a good background for viewing objects placed on a slide.

The powerful LED is necessary for viewing most objects. Rather than clicking on and off, the button needs to be held down for the light to stay on. This saves batteries, but can make for some awkwardness while viewing an object.

Using the microscope with the base, with a specimen placed on a slide, provided some very clear images. This way, the specimen could be positioned by moving the slide rather than the microscope.

Using the microscope without the slide gave more viewing flexibility. Rather than using the focus lever, the whole microscope could simply be moved to and from the subject. Only very small adjustments were required, calling for steady hands.

We tested the microscope with a variety of objects, and were surprised by the quality of the results. Using this little device we could see the intricate structure of a feather, the panels of an insect’s wing, the fibre of various papers, the individual dots of a newspaper picture, and the pixels of a computer screen.

Carson MicroBrite Plus 60-120x LED Lighted Pocket Microscope MM-300 Review

Carson MicroBrite Plus 60-120x LED Lighted Pocket Microscope MM 300 Review
Carson MicroBrite Plus 60-120x LED Lighted Pocket Microscope MM 300. Click image to view at Amazon.


The Carson MicroBrite Plus 60-120x LED Lighted Pocket Microscope lacks the removable base of the 20-40x model. Despite being plastic, it feels well-made and durable – slightly more so than the 20-40x. Below the eyepiece is a lever that sets the required amount of zoom. Further down at the front of the microscope is a focus dial. A small button at the side turns the LED light on and off.

Unlike the 20-40x model, a single click of the button is required to turn the device either on or off – you don’t need to hold the button down in order for the light to stay on.

Using the microscope is simple; you simply position it over the subject. The zoom level is set with the lever. The focus dial, which essentially just raises and lowers the lens, is then used to bring the subject into focus. The LED light is required in nearly all situations.

The microscope was easy to use and produced remarkably clear images. We tested it with a variety of subjects and were astounded by the level of detail it produced.

Bird feather viewed under the Carson MM-300 Pocket Microscope
Bird feather viewed under the Carson MM-300 Pocket Microscope

The additional zoom provided by the 60-120x meant that subjects could be examined in far greater detail than that achieved by the 20-40x.

The 60-120x revealed a whole new level of intricacy in a bird feather and alien-like clusters on an insect’s wing (we still have no idea what they were). A speck of dirt on my hand was blown up to the size of an asteroid. Not good for OSD sufferers!

Insect's wing seen through pocket microscope
Insect's wing. The actual image was far clearer than these photos suggest.

This extra magnification came at a price. It was occasionally less obvious which part of the subject we were looking at – the zoom was so powerful that sometimes a ‘bigger picture’ would have been helpful!

However, spending a bit of time with the device paid off and we were soon able to locate exactly the part of a subject we wanted to view.

Pocket Microscope Review: Conclusion

Both the Carson MicroBrite LED Lighted 20-40x and the MicroBrite Plus 60-120x are easy to use, well-constructed (the 60-120x more so) and very well-priced.

The 20-40x seems to be marketed more towards kids, with the 60-120x aimed more at adult users. This makes sense, as the images produced by the 20-40x – while extremely detailed – weren’t so large as to be confusing.

The sheer amount of detail provided by the 60-120x makes it marginally less suitable for use by very young children – it’s sometimes tricky to find the part of a specimen you want to examine.

That said, either of these devices would be suitable for a young scientist, although a degree of supervision may be required at first, especially for younger kids.

Initially it’s confusing (even for adults!) that the subject appears upside-down, and that moving the microscope means that the subject moves in the opposite direction!

Neither of the pocket microscopes we tested were designed to be used with a camera / camera phone. Although we endeavoured to photograph what we saw through the microscopes with a camera phone, as you can see from the images on this page we didn’t have much success!

If photographing your enlarged images is something in which you are interested in doing, then you may want to consider a microscope with this functionality.

In conclusion were very impressed with these little microscopes. Both were easy to use, required little or no set up, and seemed rugged and durable. Image quality was remarkably good, and we’d have no hesitation in recommending either of these pocket microscopes to mobile scientists young or old!

If you want to try them for yourself, check them out at

… or at

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