Automated Cell Counter - an Overview

Automated cell counting has been on the rise for several years and is the current state of the art, at least in the industry. The reason behind this is due to the advantages of automated counting over the classical counting with a Neubauer chamber or Thoma chamber.

On this page we try to give an overview of automated cell counting and present a comparison of counter suppliers.

For those who want to buy a counter, we want to point out advantages and disadvantages and provide support in choosing a cell counter. Of course, we can only provide the information we receive from manufacturers and users. If you have had positive or negative experience with your counter, we are looking forward to your feedback or comments by mail or phone.

Cell counting is an essential basis for controlling cellular growth via growth curves. For this reason, counting methods and automated cell counters are topics in our Cell Culture Basic Course and in the advanced training courses Cell Culture Bioassays and QM in Cell Culture.

Casy Zellzählgerät

Topic of this cell counter overview

Advantages of automated cell counting

Disadvantages of automated cell counting

Brief overview of cell counter manufactures and suppliers

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Zellzählgerät TC20 BioRad Counter

Zellzählgerät Counter Cellometer peqlab


Advantages of Automated Cell Counting

  • Reproducible, person-independent and objective measurement
  • Work simplification with a high sample throughput
  • Additional measurement parameters such as size, aggregation factor and homogeneity of cells
  • Automatic calculation of cell count/mL and % live cells
  • Usually statistically better data because larger volumes of cell suspensions are counted
  • Partial live/dead determination of cells without toxic trypan blue
  • Depending on the instrument, combinations of different measurement methods such as fluorescence-labeled cells or trypan blue are possible
  • Easy to validate


 Disadvantages of Automated Cell Counting

  • High to medium investment costs 
  • Maintenance costs
  • Depending on device cheap to expensive consumables


Brief overview of cell counter manufactures and suppliers

Cell Counting System Manufacturer Device
Optics-based counter  
Bright-field microscopy 4 Bio Cell 4Bio CellCount Pro
  Roche CustomBiotech Cedex HiRes® Analyzer
  Logos Biosystems LUNA-II™
  DeNovix CellDrop BF
  Nexolom   Cellometer Mini
  Cellometer Auto T4
  Bio-Rad TC-20
  CytoSmart Exact BF
  Thermo Fisher Scientific Invitrogen Countess 3
  NanoEntek   EVE™ Plus
  Beckman Coulter Vi-Cell™ BLU
Fluorescence microscopy DeNovix CellDrop FL
  ChemoMetec    NucleoCounter® NC-250™
  NucleoCounter® NC-202™
  NucleoCounter® NC-200™
  CytoSmart Exact FL
  Logos Biosystem    LUNA-FX7
  Nexolom    Cellometer Spectrum
  Cellometer K2
  Cellometer Auto 2000
  Thermo Fisher Scientific Countess 3 FL
  NanoEntek   Adam -MC2
  Adam -CellT
Holographic microscopy Anvajo Fluidlab R-300
Impendance based counter    
  Amphasys Ampha Z40
  OMNI Life Science Bremen CASY
  Beckman Coulter Multisizer 4e
  Merck Millipore Scepter™ 3.0


Optical-based cell counters

Basically, the optical-based cell counters are small, automated microscopes optimized for the purpose. The cells are injected into a flow cell and evaluated with the aid of a digital camera and intelligent image evaluation software.

The devices available on the market differ fundamentally in their equipment. Classic chamber systems where the user can choose from different staining agents such as trypan blue (bright-field microscopy) and acridine orange/propidium iodide (AO/PI) for fluorescence microscopy are available on the market in a wide variety. In the meantime, there is also a device that uses holographic microscopy and thus completely dispenses with dyes.


BioRad Zellzählgerät

Bright-field Microscopy Cell Counter

These instruments use the classical method of cell counting. Here, the sample is mixed with trypan blue or erythrosin B and analyzed. Trypan blue stains dead cells because their cell membrane is permeable to the dye, while living cells are not stained. Since trypan blue is toxic to cells, living cells will also be stained if the sample is not analyzed within a certain time frame. Therefore, when selecting the cell counting instrument, it is important how quickly after mixing with trypan blue the sample is measured.

Imaging method  
Resolution (pixel)  
Cell count / mL  
Size distribution  
Aggregation analysis  
Sample volume  
Counted volume  
Measuring time  
Measurement accuracy | reproducibility  
Cell size range  
Cell concentration  
Multi determination  
Suitable for  
GMP complaint  
Data analysis  
Computer system & specification  


Fluorescence Microscopy Cell Counter

In principle, these systems function in exactly the same way as the chamber systems with trypan blue. However, the cells are stained with fluorescent dyes. This type of staining avoids the problem of false positive staining with trypan blue when the samples stand longer. Thus, one can prepare several samples, let them stand longer and then measure them.

If the instruments measure green fluorescence, they can of course also be used to measure transfection efficiencies and the like. However, this function is of course clearly reflected in the price. Therefore, you should only buy such a device if you regularly perform fluorescence measurements in addition to cell counting or if other measurement principles produce poor results with your own cells.



Impendance-based Counters

Electrically based cell counters measure the change in electrical conductivity between two electrodes through which a constant electrical current flows. If a particle passes through the capillary, the conductivity changes. These devices work according to the impedance principle (ISO 13319).

The cellular components of blood are electrical non-conductors. If they are diluted in an electrically conductive liquid and this suspension is passed through a capillary through which a constant electric current flows, the electrical resistance changes when a cell passes through. The change in resistance is simultaneously proportional to the size of the passing cell. Thus, the concentration (number) of cells in the solution and the volume of the individual cells can be determined simultaneously.

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Casy Ergebnis Zellzählgerät

Zählergebenis Coulter Counter


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