Selecting a Microscope

What is important in a microscope?

A microscope is designed to show details of tiny things.  Depending on what you want to look at, you can get by with a very simple and inexpensive microscope, or you might need a microscope that pushes the limits of what is possible in physics and your wallet.

What you need in a microscope will be constrained by what you want to examine, but also by who is going to use it, how often it is going to be used, and cost.

I am going to assume that we don't know what we will want to look at, or that we will want to look at everything.  That means that the most important thing in the microscope is something called resolution.  Resolution is how much detail we can see, or how small a thing we can see.

Resolution is determined by the objective lens and the condenser. Everything else on the microscope is there to support those two things, or is there to make the microscope more convenient to use.

Who the microscope is for will also determine what you want in the microscope.  The microscope might be for:

You might be constrained by budget.  You might want the best microscope you can get in a particular price range:

Throughout this book I will be discussing ways to get the most out of whatever microscope you have.  If you are constrained by cost, I will show you how, with a little extra work, or help from a digital camera and a computer, you can overcome the limitations of your budget or the microscope you already have.  If you have a microscope bought for someone at a particular age, I will show you how to upgrade it as time goes by.