Choosing a Microscope and the questions to ask!

Choosing a Microscope and the questions to ask!

Microscopes are instruments that are used view objects or parts of objects that are too small to view with the naked eye. In this month’s newsletter we will be looking into optical microscopes and going through the questions you need to think about prior to purchasing a microscope. There are two main types of optical microscopes: compound and stereo. Compound microscopes have higher magnification and are used for viewing slides whereas stereo microscopes have a lower magnification and are typically used when a 3D image is needed such as in dissections or manufacturing. Below are the questions you need to ask when choosing a microscope.

What level of magnification do you need?
For school use 400X might be suitable, but for a veterinary lab 1000X compound microscope may be necessary to view the level of detail required. For biological dissection or inspection of parts a 40X stereo microscope would be the best option.

Do you need monocular, binocular or trinocular?
Monocular microscopes are great for children as they can struggle getting binocular microscopes correctly focussed. Binocular micror long term use as you don’t have to shut one eye or ignore the information from one eye. Trinocular microscopes are great for teaching as the third port is used for microphotography and allows photo or video of what is being viewed through the microscope to be viewed on a large screen.

What light source do you want?
LED is becoming the most popular as they use little energy and they last much longer than other light sources like Halogen. Compared to LEDs, Halogen lights also generate a lot more heat which can degrade samples.

Do you want a mechanical stage?
Mechanical stages are very useful for compound microscopes when you are viewing specimens at high magnifications so they are recommended when the microscope will be used for professional applications. Mechanical stages hold the slide in position and have two knobs which allow the user to move the slide in the x and y directions. This allows users to make small changes to the position of the slide which can be useful for tracking moving organisms, or focussing on a section of interest.

Do you need a slip clutch?
If the microscope is going to be used by school students then a model with a slip clutch is recommended. The slip clutch allows the focusing knob to turn in place once it has reached the end of its range without damaging the focussing gears.

If you would like to discuss microscopes further or have any further questions please feel free to contact one of our friendly Scientists via email or phone on 1300 737 871.

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