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HOW TO CHOOSE A MICROSCOPE

Your application is the most important factor in choosing a microscope. What you need to see and what you want to do with that image will determine what kind of microscope you need.

Basics

There are two basic types of optical microscopes: compound (high power) and stereo (low power). If you need very high magnification to view the internal structures of cells, you would most likely use a compound microscope. If you need to examine solder joints on circuit boards or other relatively large objects, you would probably use a stereo microscope. Within each of these applications, however, there can be far more demanding requirements; a researcher studying the functions of neurons will require a far more sophisticated instrument than a high school biology teacher introducing students to cellular structures for the first time. If you have a very specific application, you may need a highly specialized microscope or special accessories. With our wide range of microscopes and accessories we can help you configure an instrument for almost any application.

Compound Microscopes

Compound microscopes are what most people visualize when they think about microscopes. They are available in monocular, binocular and trinocular formats. They have a number of objectives (the lens closest to the object being viewed) of varying magnifications mounted in a rotating nosepiece. Typically the range of magnification on a compound microscope is between 40X and 1600X, although some are capable of higher or lower magnifications. Because only one objective is used at a time, the viewer sees a two-dimensional image of the specimen. The image is usually reversed and upside-down. For basic student microscope use refer to the Elementary, High School and Monocular sections, for medical student, laboratory and medical use refer to the University, Binocular and Trinocular sections, for Inverted Microscopes, Metallurgical Microscopes, Polarizing Microscopes, Portable Field Microscopes, Fluorescent Microscopes and Gemological Microscopes refer to the Specialty section.

Stereo Microscopes

Unlike a compound microscope that offers a 2-dimensional image, stereo microscopes give the viewer an erect (upright and un-reversed) stereoscopic (3-dimensional) image. This is particularly useful for biologists performing dissections, technicians repairing circuit boards, paleontologists cleaning and examining fossils, or anyone who needs to work with their hands on small objects. Most stereo microscopes are used at magnifications from 5X to 90X, but with the proper microscope and accessories, magnifications up to approaching 180X can be achieved. For educational and simple hobby use refer to the Binocular Stereo Microscopes. To customize and build a stereo microscopy system for industrial or advanced applications refer to the Trinocular, Boom and Inspection Microscopes. These types of system will allow one to customize stands and illumination systems for any type of application. For Research Grade Stereo Microscopes we feature the zoom and boom Series. These systems are designed for critical viewing for research, medical, forensic and other high end stereo uses.

Microphotography

For many applications the ability to capture, display, and preserve specimen images is of equal or greater importance than actually viewing the specimen through the eyepieces. Photomicrography (35mm and other chemical formats) has been a common option on microscopes for decades, but the recent development of relatively inexpensive CCD (charged couple device) video and digital cameras has greatly increased both the popularity and flexibility of microscope imaging. Instead of clicking through slides during a lecture, university professors can now display real-time video images on projection televisions; petroleum geologists can e-mail images of core samples to their laboratories from remote locations around the world; oncologists can refer to CD or on-line catalogues of cell images to help them make faster and more accurate diagnoses. For video and digital imaging, refer to “CCD, USB, Camera”, LP Digital Scope and HP Digital Scope sections.

There are many different methods for capturing, displaying, and recording microscope images, and each has its own advantages and disadvantages. It would be impossible to cover all of these options here but one basic piece of information will be important in selecting your microscope: While it is possible to mount a camera on a monocular or binocular microscope (note: a binocular microscope has two eyepieces, but is not necessarily a stereo microscope), it is far better to use a trinocular microscope designed for camera work. Trinocular models have two eyepieces for normal viewing, plus a third "phototube" on which you can mount a camera without interfering with the normal operation of the microscope. Trinocular microscopes are ideal for photo, digital or video applications. Depending upon your application, additional components may be required for your microscope. Our friendly sales force can assist you in choosing the correct items required.

Hopefully this brief outline will help you to determine which kind of microscope your application requires. If you would like further information on any of these topics, or if you would like help in choosing the right microscope for your application, simply contact us toll free at 1-888-950-2888 or email us and our technical support and sales staff will be happy to help.

All of our microscopes come with five year warranty.