Buyer's Guide: Choosing a Good Microscope
- Perfect For Your Needs -
When choosing a microscope, it can be overwhelming wading
through a wide range of information. There are also a a lot of
microscopes being sold. One may end up with a poor quality microscope,
which will not meet their required needs.
However, there are several factors to
consider before actually purchasing a microscope including the lighting options, the type of specimens to be observed as well as the type and
construction of the microscope among others.
The stereo microscope, also referred to as the dissecting or
stereoscopic microscope, typically use two different paths of light which
allows the user to see a specimen in 3D.
Although these microscopes have a high depth perception, they have the
disadvantage of low resolution and magnification. They are excellent for the
purposes of dissecting, viewing insect specimens and fossils.
The best models
of these types of microscopes are composed of a built in light source as well
as zoom capabilities.
A digital microscope may either be a stereo or compound
microscope. These types of microscopes enable the user to capture still images
and video images, which can then be displayed on to the computer monitor.
is made possible by the presence of optics as well as a charge coupled device
(CCD) moreover, these microscopes contain imaging software that allows the user
to zoom, create special effects as well as time lapse images and editing.
Typically, these types of microscopes
have an inbuilt led light source. A digital microscope differs from the stereo
microscope due to the fact that a digital microscope has no provision that Allows
direct viewing through an eyepiece.
Once an individual has considered which type of microscope
to purchase for given purposes, it is important to consider a number of other
variables, most importantly being the quality of the microscope. The quality of the microscope will
depend on a number of factors that include:
The Quality of Construction
There are a wide range of microscopes from those made of
plastic which would be considered a toy to the cheaply constructed imported
scopes. A majority of these are have inferior structure that can break easily
in addition to giving minimal optical quality. This can be avoided by
purchasing from a reputable vendor. With regards to construction, sturdiness is
one of the most important qualities to consider when purchasing a microscope. This should be solidly constructed and
composed of a sturdy metallic allow. A strong construction would be important
since it would possess a certain degree of durability and will last longer as
compared to that of plastic.
The majority of microscopes have a built in light source
either use a fluorescent, tungsten or halogen bulb. Those with a fluorescent
bulb system tend to be more expensive as compared to the tungsten system.
their light quality is brighter and they give out lesser heat as compared to
halogen or tungsten bulb systems.
LED illuminators are going for almost the same prices as the
fluorescent systems are today becoming more and more popular in microscopy.
Although they have similar color rendition problems as those of fluorescent
systems, they have a variety of benefits given that they can draw in lesser
power and essentially emit no heat.
For example in the case of a battery
powered microscope, they would be the ideal choice since they use less power.
The quality of optics will largely depend on the quality of
the objective lenses in addition to the quality of the eyepiece, but this is
secondary. An achromatic lens is used as the standard for good quality objective
Achromatic lens- this is the lens that
corrects for the fact that different colors refract through curved, glass
lenses at varying angles.
It is also important to ensure that the objectives are DIN
(Deutsch Industry Norm) compatible. This is because DIN objectives become
useful given that they are interchangeable from a DIN compatible microscope to
another. In this case, the user can replace a damaged objective rather than
purchasing a new microscope.
With eyepieces, a wider eyepiece allows for easier viewing.
Some of the best ones include wide field (WF) or super wide field eyepieces
However, it is important to keep in mind that the lens width will
decrease relative to the size of the magnification power.
Some of the other factors to consider would include:
Abbe Condenser and Iris Diaphragm
When purchasing a compound microscope, it is critical to
ensure that it has a good quality condenser and iris diaphragm. Typically, the best
Abbe condenser will allow for greater level of adjustments.
The two are found
in the sub-stage of a microscope and are typically used to adjust the base
illumination. Some of the compound microscopes will have an iris diaphragm as
well as an Abbe condenser as a standard.
This is a useful part of the microscope. When viewing at
high magnifications, the mechanical stage becomes very important.
With a good
mechanical stage, it would be much easier to move the slide in a fine
differential, and thus following a moving organism across the slide is much more
The Focusing System
The focusing system allows for the movement of the stage.
For high power use, it is necessary that the user have a fine adjustment system
that works effectively in addition to the course adjustment knob.
It would be
wise to ensure that the knobs have no backlashes. During observation, the user
may need to turn the fine adjustment knob both directions, and thus it has to
respond well without problems.
Check out MicroscopeMaster Reviews of Amscope and Omax microscopes. Many options available with these brands for beginners to more advanced.
When purchasing a microscope, it would be wise to purchase a
brand that is of higher quality than a mediocre instrument that will eventually
cost the user more in replacements and upgrades.
Research has also shown that
some of the most high quality microscopes include those from Japan and Germany.
However, they are more expensive as compared to others.
The user should always
take into account their needs (for home or school purposes or advanced
research) in addition to considering the instrument as an investment, thinking
long term, so as to avoid purchasing the wrong microscope initially.
Paul E. Nothnagle, William chambers, and Michael W.
Davidson, Nikon microscopy. "introduction to stereomicroscopy"
Read our page on Microscope Versatility for more help
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