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Colony counters are used in biological studies to determine the number of bacteria in a colony on a petri dish. Rudimentary counters are often grid attachments to microscope oculars that help scientists manually count the number of identified bacteria within a grid, and then use a formula to make a good estimate on the correct number of bacteria. Modern day colony counters replicate the same formulae electronically, resulting into faster and more accurate estimates.
While, majority of automatic colony counters use the same principle, different models have different specifications and sensitivity depending on the need of the research. For instance, while, most automatic counters have LCD displays, some have larger and clearer screen size to view the colony itself, while cheaper models only have a small LCD display that shows the bacterial count. Smaller and low-cost models also still use a magnifying lens for manual viewing of the bacterial colony, while more advanced models have high definition cameras, shadow filters and LED lightning for better viewing. In most cases, these additional features have no practical use outside of laboratories that perform high level research making the less expensive models more desirable for schools, education and basic research.