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Things to Consider When Buying a Microscope

black and white microscope

If you’re looking to add a new microscope to your lab, you’ve likely discovered it’s not always easy to figure out the best model for your needs. You can begin to narrow down your choices by identifying exactly what you’ll be viewing with the new equipment. Once you’ve done that, the other pieces will fall in place.

Here are a few things to consider.

1. Longevity 

You’ll be using the microscope frequently, so make sure you choose one that’s made of durable materials, such as metallic alloys, and that all joints are fastened with metal screws. The microscope’s finish should be resistant to reagents and easily cleaned. Once purchased, make sure to add the equipment to your lab’s preventive maintenance list.

2. Lighting

You’ll see many lighting options when buying a microscope, including fluorescent, incandescent tungsten-halogen halogen bulbs, and LED illuminators. 

Tungsten-halogen bulbs can become hot during use. By comparison, fluorescent and LED lighting systems emit low heat, which makes them better choices for viewing samples that may be affected by the environment.

3. The Stage

A mechanical stage is usually a better choice than a manual one, especially when viewing at high magnifications. Mechanical stages allow easier slide adjustment in a fine differential, making the tracking of moving organisms more effective.

4. Digital Microscopes

Digital microscopes can be compound or stereo. They allow users to capture video or still images for display on a computer. These microscopes contain software for zoom, time-lapse photography, editing, and special effects.

5. Compound or Stereo?

The choice between a compound or stereo microscope depends on what you’ll be viewing. Stereo microscopes are used to view larger 3-D objects like insects, minerals, or mechanical pieces. Compound microscopes are better suited for applications involving high magnification for forensic or biology labs, such as viewing tissue samples and cells.

Compound microscopes can be monocular or binocular, and usually feature several objective lenses that can be selected to increase magnification. 

Stereo microscopes are a popular choice for the classroom and the hobbyist because they’re easier to set up and use. However, for the close-up magnification required in most laboratory settings, a compound microscope is the better choice. 

6. Chromatic Aberration Correction

The most common objective for lab microscopes is the achromatic objective. These are corrected for aberrations in the blue and red wavelengths and are also spherically corrected for green. While the most affordable option, its limited correction can lead to artifacts. Note that If the objective isn’t specified, it is achromatic.

Semi-apochromats, or fluorites, are the second objectives on this list. While more expensive than achromatic objectives, they have additional spherical corrections for blue. Fluorites are a better choice for recording and color viewing.

Apochromats are the most expensive objective, but they’re the most highly corrected of the three options. These are chromatically adjusted for blues and dark blues, red, and green. They’re spherically corrected for blue, deep blue, and green. The apochromatic is by far the superior choice for color viewing.

Look for objectives that boast plan correction, as these offer a 90% flat display for a larger field of vision.

New or Used?

One consideration when buying your microscope is price. If your budget is more limited, you can purchase a refurbished, used microscope from BaneBio. We can even purchase your older microscope, or take it in trade for your new purchase. 

If you have questions, don’t hesitate to contact us. With over 14 years of experience, we have the expertise to help you choose the perfect microscope for your lab and your teams.

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What is Microscopy? An In-Depth Look

life sciences microscope

As a very basic definition, microscopy is the use of microscopes to view samples. These are samples which would not be visible to the ‘naked’ eye, so the microscope is used to dramatically magnify the objects in question. Most people are familiar with the use of a microscope from a science class they had in school along the way, even if that was years ago. Of course, the microscopes used by professionals in this field are a far cry from what is used by the average class of school children.

A Long History

While it is a decidedly high-tech field these days, the use of microscopes actually dates back many, many years. Humans have been attempting to magnify small items for viewing for centuries, and the microscopes available today represent the best of what mankind has been able to develop. If not for the considerable efforts of individuals hundreds of years ago, microscopy may not have developed into the advanced field that it has become.

The Basic Concept

So, how does a microscope work? For something so technical, it is a decidedly simple concept. The idea is to move light through a sample, either sending it directly through the sample or reflecting it, and then through one or more lenses in order to be viewed. Once a magnified image of the sample is created, it can be utilized in many ways. It may simply be viewed by the microscopist, it may be captured digitally for viewing later, or captured with a photographic plate. No matter what the specific plan may be, the magnification makes it possible to view things on a scale that simply isn’t achievable with the human eye alone.

Understanding the World

The uses of microscopy are too diverse to even attempt listing in this article. There are virtually countless potential uses for a microscope, but they all come back to the same basic idea – seeking a better understanding of the world and how it works. Microscopes are used extensively in the medical field, of course, but that is just the start. Anytime meaningful research is being completed in a scientific field, it is virtually certain that microscopes are playing some kind of role along the way. So much of what we know about the world is owed to the use of microscopes, and only time will tell what other discoveries microscopy will make possible.

Just Another Tool

At the end of the day, microscopes are incredible tools – but they are just that, tools. And tools need to be used by capable, knowledgeable people if they are going to be effective. So, as a field, microscopy depends just as much on the people looking into the microscope as the device itself. Without the well-trained scientists and other individuals who have learned how to use the equipment, and learned what they are looking for, the microscope itself wouldn’t hold much value. It’s the bringing together of human and machine that makes great things possible in this field.