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Archive for the ‘Microscopes’ Category

Microscope Slides – The How and the Why

Any compound microscope needs to use slides to view anything. While you can purchase prepared slides, there is a certain satisfaction, or outright professional need to makes one’s own slides. Fortunately, blank slides are available for purchase.  However there is a wide variety of slides available and some might get confused with what kinds of slides they need.

First of all is the basic slide: It is a 3″ x 1″ (75mm x 25mm) slip of glass about 1mm thick.

Several types of slides

Basic slides can be made of plastic, but glass is much preferred. Not all slides are created equal and Spectrum sells Premium slides that have a much lower scratch-dig rating than standard slides.

Standard slides are also available with a frosted end. The glass is ground on one end of one side of the slide that makes it opaque.  This is so that they can be labeled using a pencil without the need for stickers or other marks.  Some slides have frosting on both ends for more information.

These two types of slides are all most folks will need for their flat slides requirements.  The rest of the designs are needed in labs and industry.

Other slides go one step past the frosted end and have colored ends for labs where indexing the slides by type can be important.

These are important to labs where a lot of slides are produced and the lab needs to index the slides by type: white=bone samples, green=blood, etc. All the labels can be written on with pencil or felt-tip pen (sometimes ball-point).

There are also what are known as ‘charged’ slides. These are high-end microscope slides with a coating of a special adhesive formula (one side only!). This formula is very useful for getting specimens to ‘stick’ to the slide. These slides also have printed ends in varying colors.


For very large samples, there are even over-sized slides that are 3″ long by 2″ wide. These can also hold multiple samples for quick comparison:

These huge slides do have some issues: the are not as easy to handle, and they require a microscope with a large stage to fully take advantage of the size.

Now all of these slides are flat, which is fine for samples that need to be laid flat. This is fine for solid samples, or for liquids that are to be flattened underneath a cover slip. This is fine for observing dead materials, but what if you wish to observe living organism from say pond water or other sources? This is where concave slides come into play:

Concave slides are thicker than regular blank slides, and instead of a flat surface that have one or two small indentations that can hold liquids, such as the aforementioned pond water, blood or other liquids. This allows small creatures to be viewed without killing them. They may not be easy to find, but any water from a natural source should have some microscopic creatures in it.

Having a set of blank slides (and cover slips) at the ready is almost a requirement for owning a telescope. They are inexpensive and good to have when you find a new item to examine. Slide preparing kits can also help with stains and other materials to help prepare slides for viewing. Be sure to have some of these around if you plan to properly use your microscope.
www.spectrum-scientifics.com

Microscope Slide Warmers

In the field of biological or medical research, very often microscope slides need to be warmed when they are not in use – either to keep the life in them alive or to make certain certain actions or biochemical processes are taking place. Sometimes it just won’t do to look at a cold, dead slide! For the solution to this problem we have several models of slide warmers that can help in the lab!

The two first models are fairly simple in design: A small plate-top model that has a 10″ x 7″ top with dial controlled temperature and LED display:

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A larger unit for more active labs comes with a 25″ x 8″ top:

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This has sufficient space to warm quite a collection of slides.

You may notice that these models, while excellent, do have the issue of just being a flat plate that the slides are placed on. This is OK but taking slides off the plate with gloved hands (crucial in some fields) can sometimes be a bit tricky. Also in busy labs slides can be pushed around on the plate, causing some unwanted mixing. A solution to that end is the Step-Up Slide Warmer. Sometimes its best just to let the picture do the talking:

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With this design the slide ends do not rest on the plate, making for easy retrieval. The stacked formation design also is more efficient and is able to hold twice as many slides as a plate model of the same size. Up to 40 slides can be warmed and the stacking system allows for much greater organization.

Oh, don’t forget that we also have been carrying a Microscope Stage Warmer for those who need to have their slides warmed while they are actually being observed!

TS-Stage Warmer

Want to purchase microscope slide & stage warmers?

www.spectrum-scientifics.com

Tissue Floating Baths

Spectrum Scientifics has added two new tissue floating baths to our product line!

Tissue floating baths are used in Histology pr pathology to loosed hard or embedded tissue. This needs to be done in a manner that does not result in wrinkles or folds. Slices of tissue also need to be spread out without the aforementioned folds and wrinkles. The tissue floating bath does with a combination of heat and water surface tension. Usually tissue sections are placed right onto slides.

Our first unit is an economical tissue floating bath. Costing just $175 this unit still has excellent features, such as a 2.3 liter black interior chamber for high visibility, a glazed glass lid,  and non-stick coating for easy cleaning!

An important feature with any tissue bath is visibility as you be able to view the specimens to make certain everything is going properly.  That’s why for more advanced users we have a Light Tissue Floating Bath

This more advanced model has side illumination that uses LEDs. This makes the chamber bright and visible for work. In addition, the unit uses a digital temperature control with push-button controls. Both set temperature and actual temperature are shown in the display for accuracy.

www.spectrum-scientifics.com

Hemocytometer

Our Hemocytometer is probably one of the most popular ‘industrial’ products that we carry.  It is well built, decently priced, and very effective for what it does.

A hemocytometer is designed to be used with a microscope to count blood cells.  The critical part of any Hemocytometer is a thick slide with a rectangular indentation with an etched grid (usually laser etched in this day and age).

The better designed slides use a grid pattern known as a Improved Neubauer. The grid has several areas of known size marked of, so that if one counts the blood cells in that grid one can get an accurate figure of how many cells are in the sample.This overall area is known as the counting chamber.

Many “Hemocytometers” are sold without any crucial accessories – one of  the most important is a Hemocytometer cover slip (shown above). This is important as the cover slip is much thicker than typical microscope cover slips. The slip cover must be placed over the counting chamber before adding the sample. The sample is then added to the edge of the cover slip and capillary action draws in the fluid . The counting chamber is then filled properly and counting can be done under a microscope. After that it is just math.

Part of the kit includes a syringe that is used to introduce the sample to the edge of the of cover slip once it is in place.

( No, we didn’t take it out of the packaging, that thing is sharp!)

Very often samples need to be diluted before counting can take place, and while not ultra-critical our kit comes with two important dilution pipets. One for red blood cells, one for white blood cells.

Naturally, they are color coded for your convenience!

Since bloodwork can be dangerous, we advise always wearing rubber gloves and cleaning hemocytometer gear completely and carefully.

Spectrum Scientific’s Hemocytometer Kit sells for $47.95 and while it lacks some of the advanced features of much more expensive sets (such as anti-reflective coatings on the counting chamber) we cannot say that prices of $200+ are worth such features.  This is also a complete kit – not just a glass slide that other companies may offer.  Be sure of your needs when ordering!

www.spectrum-scientifics.com

The Micro-Wiz Digital Microscope

We’ve carried digital microscopes in the past, but the new Micro-Wiz is a great new entry into the field:

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To start off with: the Micro-Wiz has resolution of up to 5.1 Megapixels via software on the 1/3″ CMOS chip.  The unit has magnification from 46x-525x, an auto-focus system, dual cool LED lights. The entire system is powered via a USB cable to your computer. The software operates on Windows XP, Vista, and Windows 7.

The head of the microscope can removed from the body to allow examination of objects that cannot be placed on the base. The dual lighting system allows illumination of objects when the head is removed. The dual operating system and magnification levels mean the Micr-Wiz can operate as both an Inspection Microscope or a Compound/Biological microscope.

So far the Micro-Wiz is the best student digital microscope that we have come across. Much higher resolution than other student models it comes close to quality of a professional digital instrument!

Interested in Digital Microscopes?

www.spectrum-scientifics.com

Spectrum Scientifics Microscope Buyer’s Guide – Repost

Things are still quite hectic in the store  so this is great time to repost our Microscope buyer’s guide. This is the time of year when many a budding biologist gets their first microscope!

 

Spectrum Scientifics Microscope Buyers Guide

Congratulations! You’ve decided to buy a microscope! A microscope is a wonderful instrument that can fascinate kids and adults alike. With proper care, a microscope can last a lifetime. But buying a microscope can be confusing for the first time buyer. There are so many different designs, it can be a bit overwhelming. This guide should help you make the proper choice in deciding on a microscope model.

First let’s start by discussing the different designs of microscope. We will break microscopes into three different categories: Compound Microscopes , Inspection/Dissection Microscopes, and ‘Other’. We’ll cover these one by one.

Compound/Biological Microscopes : Compound (or Biological) microscopes are the models designed to be used with slides. They are high Compund/Biological Microscopepowered; using multiple objective lenses (the lenses that point at the slide) to typically provide 40X, 100X, 400X and sometimes 1000X right off the shelf. Modern compound microscopes usually have some sort of illumination from below to light up the slide. Depending on the design of the compound microscope it may have features like binocular eyepieces (two eyepieces, but do not provide stereo vision) a mechanical stage for moving the slide easily, coarse and fine focus (for easy focusing) and different lighting designs.

The disadvantage of a compound microscope is that you pretty much must use it with slides. You can’t just plop a bug, coin, or plant leaf onto the microscope and expect to get a decent image. Compounds aren’t designed to do that. You can cut up the leaf/bug/whatever and make it into a slide with some effort and a slide-making kit, but that does take some time and only lets you view s small part of the the found object.

Inspection/Dissection Microscopes: Inspection/Dissection Inspection/Dissection Microscopemicroscopes are designed to be used with any object you can fit on the microscope’s staging area. This can be coins, stamps, bugs, plant parts, circuit boards, small animals, or whatever else you might find. Inspection Microscopes often have much lower magnification (10x-40x is typical), much wider viewing fields, and very often the binocular versions give true stereo vision. This allows the viewer to ‘work’ (I.e. dissect) on the object being viewed and get a true sense of depth of objects like coins. Inspection Microscopes may have only 1-2 levels of magnification verses the 3-4 on compound microscopes. The microscope will also have top-down lighting, and some may have bottom-up lighting as well. The eyepieces used in many mid-range inspection microscopes are often larger and more comfortable to use.

The disadvantage of a compound microscope is that its magnification is very low and you cannot use it with slides. That means if you want to see cells, bacteria, or other very tiny objects you will need to get a compound microscope as well.

As you can tell from these write-ups, these two designs are very different from each other. Before we discuss the third category, let’s compare and contrast these two designs:

Features: Compound Microscopes vs. Inspection/Dissection Microscopes

Compound Inspection/Dissection
Magnification High: 40x and up Low: 10-40x typical
Levels of Magnification 3, sometimes 4 (40x, 100x 400x typical) 1 or 2*
Lighting From Bottom From top (or top and bottom)
Viewing Monocular or Binocular, but not true stereo Stereo Binocular
Viewable Objects Slides Coins, stamps, bugs, plants, circuit boards, etc.
Extra Features (depends on model) Mechanical Stage, Coarse & Fine Focus, Bottom light
    *Some models of Inspection Microscope have a continuous zoom from 10x to 30 or 40x

This chart should give you some idea of the basic comparison.

We haven’t forgotten about the third category of microscope: Other. This category covers some odd designs that work as specialty instruments. Some examples of Other microscopes would be:

Hand-Held Microscope: These are small, pocket-sized microscopes used Hand Microscopein a fashion similar to Inspection/Dissection microscopes. They may have higher magnification than Inspection microscopes (30-100x power), often have a built in light, and are light and portable. Their main disadvantage is they have a limited viewing field- you must put the scope directly on the object being viewed. Their optics & lighting are also rarely up to the quality of full-sized microscopes, and moving to find a specific part of an object can be tricky. Still they are great in the field where a full-size microscope would be unwieldy.

Digital Microscopes: Many traditional microscopes can have a digital Digital Microscopecamera built into their structure, or can have their eyepiece replaced with a digital camera. But some microscopes are designed from the ground up to be used as high-power digital microscopes. These items have no eyepiece, only a CCD camera and an objective lens. They may have fixed or variable magnification, and the computer screen resolution will vary from model to model. Many ‘toy’-like designs have VGA quality graphics, which is 480 x 640. This level of quality is acceptable for kid’s use but is not sufficiently detail for any real work or study. Usually 1.3 Megapixels is the highest quality available for devoted consumer digital microscopes. If you desire higher resolution a compound microscope with a digital microscope eyepiece might be in order.

High Power Magnifiers: A hand-held magnifier is a very different 10X Triplet Magnifierinstrument from a microscope, seeing as how most magnifiers have about 2-3x magnification and microscopes can go as high as 1000x. But some close work magnifiers have very high power (10x and up) and the line between a microscope and a magnifier starts to get blurred. As far as optical design goes, they are still very different animals: The magnifier has just one lens (or set of cemented lenses) while the microscope has both an objective and eyepiece lens. Although the difference is there, the jobs they cover get blurred. If you need a lower powered microscope or a high power magnifier, make certain you are choosing the correct tool for your viewing needs.

Hybrid Microscopes: Given the difference in use between a compound and an inspection microscope it didn’t take to long for some folks to come up with a design that tries to do the job of both microscopes. Usually this is done by taking a compound microscope design and adding a top-down light to the system. These designs can be a great boon to parents or buyers who cannot decide which usage they would prefer. The disadvantage is that like many other things that try to do multiple jobs, they are not the best at either job. Most often hybrid microscopes are better at being a compound microscope than an inspection microscope (mostly due to the higher powers of a compound microscope), but at least the option for using the microscope both ways is available. Consider a hybrid if you can’t decide between designs, but remember it won’t do the job as well as a devoted microscope.

Toy Microscopes: Many ‘toy’ microscopes are available on the market, usually they are either plastic hand-held models or plastic versions of compound designs. The former can be great fun for small children who would like to have something to view nature close-up but can still handle their not-always-delicate hands. The latter, however, is usually to be avoided. Cheap plastic bodies and cheap plastic lenses will give the viewer a very poor experience indeed. Companies that make these items often pile on junk accessories like plastic ‘viewers’, poor slide making accessories, and other gimmicks to cover the fact that the instrument is junk. Avoid these if at all possible.

OTHER THINGS TO CONSIDER

So now that we’ve discussed the various microscope designs, we should talk about that are features of microscopes:

DIN Objectives: DIN stands for Deutsches Institut für Normung – Don’t worry about that. Just understand that DIN eyepieces are set to a higher standard the the average beginner microscope. DIN objectives are generally universal so you can take one DIN objective out of one microscope and thread it into another. DIN eyepieces are often a bit more costly.

Digital Microscope Eyepieces: Digital eyepieces can be a great boon to Digital Microscope Eyepieceyour viewing experience. When plugged into a computer they can be used to view objects on a much larger screen, and the images can be saved, modified, emailed, etc. Some digital eyepieces can make movies as well. Some microscopes have digital eyepieces built into the body of the microscope, but almost all non-toy microscopes can have their eyepiece’s removed and replaced with a digital microscope eyepiece. The image quality from a digital microscope eyepiece can go from VGA (or even TV) quality all the way up to 5.0 Megapixels or even more.

ACCESSORIES:

One nice feature about microscopes is that they don’t need a whole lot of accessories to get a good experience. But there are a few things you can get to increase your viewing experience:

Prepared Slides: Professionally made slides are always excellent to have around. They let you see objects with a quality that few can match. They also may be of specimens that may be very hard to obtain. Consider having a few prepared slides to enjoy.

Slide Making Kits: Sooner or later you will want to make your own slides. This will involve blank slides, coverslips, a razor (for cutting samples) and some mounting medium. These can be bought individually, but it is often more economical and convenient to buy a kit.

Special Slides: Blank slides with concave dips can be obtained for holding liquid samples. This is excellent for examining microscopic life in pond water and other sources.

Slide Boxes: Once you make your own slides you should store them properly in a slide box. Don’t leave them to get dust and scratches.

Microtome: If you make a lot of slides, cutting thin sample sections with a razor can get annoying after a while. A microtome can help. It is a mechanical device that helps cut a thin sliver off the sample. Think of them as working like the meat slicer at your deli only on a much smaller scale. Microtomes can be hand driven devices for around $75 to fancy automated item costing hundreds or even thousands of dollars.

CONCLUSIONS:

As mentioned above, before you decide on what model microscope you want, make sure you know what it is you want to do with it! Fun can be had viewing both prepared slides and making your own slides using a compound microscope. But it can also be a real thrill to take objects straight from the backyard, or even from your pockets and put them under an Inspection/Dissection microscope. If you have needs beyond having fun observing (research, coin collecting, etc), make certain that your microscope does that sort of job first and foremost.

Happy viewing!

Microscopic Images of Broken Metal

The following pictures were taken through a Premium 10X/30X Inspection Microscope using a Digital Microscope Eyepiece in one of the eyepiece holes.

The object being imaged is a broken piece of steel, damaged by long-term fatigue. Forease of description we will refer to it  as a stage prop fencing blade. It had broken under duress after many ‘stabbings’. The crystal pattern of the fatigued steel can be seen surrounded by a sheath of intact metal. One minor issue with using a Video Eyepiece in an inspection microscope is that they may have trouble focusing on objects with a lot of depth. Since the broken edge of this blade had to be held at an angle to see the broken portion there are parts that did not end up in focus.

The first image was taken at 10X:

Broken Stage Blade at 10X

Broken Stage Blade at 10X (scroll down for the 30X image)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The second image was taken at 30X:

Broken Blade Edge at 30X

Broken Blade Edge at 30X

At 30x the depth of focus becomes more of an issue (more a problem with many inspection microscopes at higher powers, actually), but the crystalline nature of the internal metal can still be seen quite well.

www.spectrum-scientifics.com

 

Comparison Microscopes

Often mentioned on forensic-based TV cop-shows, but rarely actually shown , Comparison Microscopes are excellent tools not just for forensic work, but also for comparing different tissue types, teaching, and for checking diseased vs. healthy tissues. They are used to compare the samples on two slides side-by-side.

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They look clunky, because they essentially are just two microscope bodies attached a the top by an optical bridge. The mechanics are 2 high quality binocular microscopes which combine 4 DIN objectives (or 5 in the advanced model), a large stage, a mechanical stage, coarse & fine focus,  and N.A. 1.25 Abbe Condensers among many other features.

To do a comparison of slides, you place 1 slide on each stage, bring them to focus, and make adjustments on the optical bridge.

The resulting image shows the samples side-by-side. Here is one example of a human stomach cell side-by-side with a human kidney cell:

Stomach To Kidney Comparison Photo

Stomach To Kidney Comparison Photo

Comparisons can be made with almost anything that can be put on a slide. Comparison Microscopes are invaluable in teaching students to see diseased tissues vs. healthy, forensic work, and a host of other fields.

Want to buy a standard Comparison Microscope?

Want to buy an advanced Comparison Microscope (5 DIN Objectives)

www.spectrum-scientifics.com

Spectrum Scientifics Microscope Buyers Guide

Spectrum Scientifics Microscope Buyers Guide

Congratulations! You’ve decided to buy a microscope! A microscope is a wonderful instrument that can fascinate kids and adults alike. With proper care, a microscope can last a lifetime. But buying a microscope can be confusing for the first time buyer. There are so many different designs, it can be a bit overwhelming. This guide should help you make the proper choice in deciding on a microscope model.

First let’s start by discussing the different designs of microscope. We will break microscopes into three different categories: Compound Microscopes , Inspection/Dissection Microscopes, and ‘Other’. We’ll cover these one by one.

Compound/Biological Microscopes : Compound (or Biological) microscopes are the models designed to be used with slides. They are high powered; using multiple objective lenses (the lenses that point at the slide) to typically provide 40X, 100X, 400X and sometimes 1000X right off the shelf. Modern compound microscopes usually have some sort of illumination from below to light up the slide. Depending on the design of the compound microscope it may have features like binocular eyepieces (two eyepieces, but do not provide stereo vision) a mechanical stage for moving the slide easily, coarse and fine focus (for easy focusing) and different lighting designs.

The disadvantage of a compound microscope is that you pretty much must use it with slides. You can’t just plop a bug, coin, or plant leaf onto the microscope and expect to get a decent image. Compounds aren’t designed to do that. You can cut up the leaf/bug/whatever and make it into a slide with some effort and a slide-making kit, but that does take some time and only lets you view s small part of the the found object.

Inspection/Dissection Microscopes: Inspection/Dissection microscopes are designed to be used with any object you can fit on the microscope’s staging area. This can be coins, stamps, bugs, plant parts, circuit boards, small animals, or whatever else you might find. Inspection Microscopes often have much lower magnification (10x-40x is typical), much wider viewing fields, and very often the binocular versions give true stereo vision. This allows the viewer to ‘work’ (I.e. dissect) on the object being viewed and get a true sense of depth of objects like coins. Inspection Microscopes may have only 1-2 levels of magnification verses the 3-4 on compound microscopes. The microscope will also have top-down lighting, and some may have bottom-up lighting as well. The eyepieces used in many mid-range inspection microscopes are often larger and more comfortable to use.

The disadvantage of a compound microscope is that its magnification is very low and you cannot use it with slides. That means if you want to see cells, bacteria, or other very tiny objects you will need to get a compound microscope as well.

As you can tell from these write-ups, these two designs are very different from each other. Before we discuss the third category, let’s compare and contrast these two designs:

Features: Compound Microscopes vs. Inspection/Dissection Microscopes

Compound Inspection/Dissection
Magnification High: 40x and up Low: 10-40x typical
Levels of Magnification 3, sometimes 4 (40x, 100x 400x typical) 1 or 2*
Lighting From Bottom From top (or top and bottom)
Viewing Monocular or Binocular, but not true stereo Stereo Binocular
Viewable Objects Slides Coins, stamps, bugs, plants, circuit boards, etc.
Extra Features (depends on model) Mechanical Stage, Coarse & Fine Focus, Bottom light
    *Some models of Inspection Microscope have a continuous zoom from 10x to 30 or 40x

This chart should give you some idea of the basic comparison.

We haven’t forgotten about the third category of microscope: Other. This category covers some odd designs that work as specialty instruments. Some examples of Other microscopes would be:

Hand-Held Microscope: These are small, pocket-sized microscopes used in a fashion similar to Inspection/Dissection microscopes. They may have higher magnification than Inspection microscopes (30-100x power), often have a built in light, and are light and portable. Their main disadvantage is they have a limited viewing field- you must put the scope directly on the object being viewed. Their optics & lighting are also rarely up to the quality of full-sized microscopes, and moving to find a specific part of an object can be tricky. Still they are great in the field where a full-size microscope would be unwieldy.

Digital Microscopes: Many traditional microscopes can have a digital camera built into their structure, or can have their eyepiece replaced with a digital camera. But some microscopes are designed from the ground up to be used as high-power digital microscopes. These items have no eyepiece, only a CCD camera and an objective lens. They may have fixed or variable magnification, and the computer screen resolution will vary from model to model. Many ‘toy’-like designs have VGA quality graphics, which is 480 x 640. This level of quality is acceptable for kid’s use but is not sufficiently detail for any real work or study. Usually 1.3 Megapixels is the highest quality available for devoted consumer digital microscopes. If you desire higher resolution a compound microscope with a digital microscope eyepiece might be in order.

High Power Magnifiers: A hand-held magnifier is a very different instrument from a microscope, seeing as how most magnifiers have about 2-3x magnification and microscopes can go as high as 1000x. But some close work magnifiers have very high power (10x and up) and the line between a microscope and a magnifier starts to get blurred. As far as optical design goes, they are still very different animals: The magnifier has just one lens (or set of cemented lenses) while the microscope has both an objective and eyepiece lens. Although the difference is there, the jobs they cover get blurred. If you need a lower powered microscope or a high power magnifier, make certain you are choosing the correct tool for your viewing needs.

Hybrid Microscopes: Given the difference in use between a compound and an inspection microscope it didn’t take to long for some folks to come up with a design that tries to do the job of both microscopes. Usually this is done by taking a compound microscope design and adding a top-down light to the system. These designs can be a great boon to parents or buyers who cannot decide which usage they would prefer. The disadvantage is that like many other things that try to do multiple jobs, they are not the best at either job. Most often hybrid microscopes are better at being a compound microscope than an inspection microscope (mostly due to the higher powers of a compound microscope), but at least the option for using the microscope both ways is available. Consider a hybrid if you can’t decide between designs, but remember it won’t do the job as well as a devoted microscope.

Toy Microscopes: Many ‘toy’ microscopes are available on the market, usually they are either plastic hand-held models or plastic versions of compound designs. The former can be great fun for small children who would like to have something to view nature close-up but can still handle their not-always-delicate hands. The latter, however, is usually to be avoided. Cheap plastic bodies and cheap plastic lenses will give the viewer a very poor experience indeed. Companies that make these items often pile on junk accessories like plastic ‘viewers’, poor slide making accessories, and other gimmicks to cover the fact that the instrument is junk. Avoid these if at all possible.

OTHER THINGS TO CONSIDER

So now that we’ve discussed the various microscope designs, we should talk about that are features of microscopes:

DIN Objectives: DIN stands for Deutsches Institut für Normung – Don’t worry about that. Just understand that DIN eyepieces are set to a higher standard the the average beginner microscope. DIN objectives are generally universal so you can take one DIN objective out of one microscope and thread it into another. DIN eyepieces are often a bit more costly.

Digital Microscope Eyepieces: Digital eyepieces can be a great boon to your viewing experience. When plugged into a computer they can be used to view objects on a much larger screen, and the images can be saved, modified, emailed, etc. Some digital eyepieces can make movies as well. Some microscopes have digital eyepieces built into the body of the microscope, but almost all non-toy microscopes can have their eyepiece’s removed and replaced with a digital microscope eyepiece. The image quality from a digital microscope eyepiece can go from VGA (or even TV) quality all the way up to 5.0 Megapixels or even more.

ACCESSORIES:

One nice feature about microscopes is that they don’t need a whole lot of accessories to get a good experience. But there are a few things you can get to increase your viewing experience:

Prepared Slides: Professionally made slides are always excellent to have around. They let you see objects with a quality that few can match. They also may be of specimens that may be very hard to obtain. Consider having a few prepared slides to enjoy.

Slide Making Kits: Sooner or later you will want to make your own slides. This will involve blank slides, coverslips, a razor (for cutting samples) and some mounting medium. These can be bought individually, but it is often more economical and convenient to buy a kit.

Special Slides: Blank slides with concave dips can be obtained for holding liquid samples. This is excellent for examining microscopic life in pond water and other sources.

Slide Boxes: Once you make your own slides you should store them properly in a slide box. Don’t leave them to get dust and scratches.

Microtome: If you make a lot of slides, cutting thin sample sections with a razor can get annoying after a while. A microtome can help. It is a mechanical device that helps cut a thin sliver off the sample. Think of them as working like the meat slicer at your deli only on a much smaller scale. Microtomes can be hand driven devices for around $75 to fancy automated item costing hundreds or even thousands of dollars.

CONCLUSIONS:

As mentioned above, before you decide on what model microscope you want, make sure you know what it is you want to do with it! Fun can be had viewing both prepared slides and making your own slides using a compound microscope. But it can also be a real thrill to take objects straight from the backyard, or even from your pockets and put them under an Inspection/Dissection microscope. If you have needs beyond having fun observing (research, coin collecting, etc), make certain that your microscope does that sort of job first and foremost.

Happy viewing!