June 3, 2021


There are two kinds of microscopes in the world, stereo and biological. This isn't true of course, there are electron microscopes and other exotic devices, but for most people just understanding that there are two basic types of light microscopes will get them off on the right foot.

What I call stereo microscopes (sometimes called dissecting microscopes) are low power instruments that look at opaque objects (such as mineral crystals, flowers, and insects). They typically offer magnifications of 10-30 and often offer a continuous "zoom" to change power. I use one of these more than any other, and find them more pleasant and useful than a biological microscope.

What I call "biological microscopes" are what most people think of when they think of a microscope. They look at slides using transmitted light. They generally offer several magnifications by changing objectives by means of a rotating turret. The commonly offered magnifications are 100, 400, and 1000. The 100x objective that gives the 1000 magnification is generally an oil immersion objective.

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