Glossary of digital microscope
Published:2014-04-26 08:58:27    Text Size:【BIG】【MEDIUM】【SMALL


The lens at the top of the microscope that you look into.They are usually 10X but also are available in 5X, 15X and 20X. Widefield lenses have a large diameter and show a wide area of the field of view.


Binocular head

A microscope head with two eyepiece lenses, one for each eye. Generally this term is used in describing a high power (compound) microscope. With a low power microscope we say "stereo" head because, unlike the compound microscope, the stereo has a separate objective lens for each eyepiece lens, producing two independent paths of light, one for each eye.In the compound microscope with a binocular head, there are two eyepiece lenses but still only one objective lens and you will not get stereo vision.


Trinocular head

Available on both high and low power microscopes, tri heads have two eyepiece lenses (one for each eye) and a third port at the top for a camera. Some microscopes give you the option of sending all the light to the tri port, or perhaps half and half, or maybe 70/30%. On some stereo tri heads with dual power, the tri port transmits the image through the set of lenses not being used by the stereo eyepieces.



This is an adapter used with various types of video cameras. Usually, you unscrew the lens from the camera and screw in the adapter. The adapter then connects to the trinocular port on the microscope.



The part of the microscope that holds the objective lenses also called a revolving nosepiece or turret.


Objective lens

The lens closest to the object. In a stereo (low power) microscope there are objective pairs, one lens for each eyepiece lens. This gives the 3-D effect. On a high power binocular model there is still only one objective lens so no stereo vision.


DIN lens

A German standard for the manufacturing of microscope lens. DIN lens isn’t particularly better than non-DIN but it will be interchangeable from one DIN microscope to another.  It is set to work with a 160mm tube length and have a uniform thread.  Most quality microscopes use DIN lens.


Achromatic lens 

When light goes through a prism or lens, it is bent or refracted. Some colors refract more than others and as a result, will focus at different points, reducing resolution.  To help correct this problem, achromatic lenses are used.  These lenses are made of different types of glass with different indexes of refraction. The result is a better (but not perfect) alignment of some of the colors at the focal point, thereby giving you a clearer image.


Oil immersion lens

An objective lens (usually 100X or greater) designed to work with a drop of special oil placed between it and the slide. With oil, an increase in resolution will be noticed. 


Semi-Plan lenses

Lenses are never perfect. If you were looking at something perfectly flat, you might find that much of the center part of your field of view is in focus but out on the edges it is fuzzy and a bit out of focus.Semi-plan lenses improve this deficiency by showing sharper images and less aberrations in the perimeter of the field of view. They are better than standard achromatic lenses but cost quite a bit more.



The X is times and the R stands for retractable. These objective lenses have a spring loaded tip so if they hit the slide, they will retract, and telescope inward. This prevents damage to the lens or slide.



The flat plate where the slides are placed for observation.


Abbe condenser

A specially designed lens that mounts under the stage and is usually movable in the vertical direction. It has an iris type aperture to control the diameter of the beam of light entering the lens system. By changing the size of the iris and moving the lens toward or away from the stage, the diameter and focal point of the cone of light that goes through the specimen can be controlled. Abbe condensers really become useful at magnifications above 400X.The condenser lens system should have a numerical aperture equal to or greater than the N.A. of the objective lens being used. All of our microscopes that go to 1000X use Abbe condensers with a 1.25 N.A.  There are two types. One is a spiral type that you turn to move it up or down and the other is on a rack and pinion system and controlled with a condenser focusing knob.



Generally a five hole disc placed under the stage on a high power microscope. Each hole is of a different diameter. By turning it, you can vary the amount of light passing through the stage opening. This will help to properly illuminate the specimen and increase contrast and resolution.  The diaphragm is most useful at the higher powers.


Slide clipe     

A flat glass or plastic rectangular plate that the specimen is placed on. It may have a depression or well to hold a few drops of liquid.



A light source mounted under the stage. Three types of light are commonly used: Tungsten, Fluorescent and Halogen.Tungsten is the least expensive and most common. Fluorescent is bright, white and runs cool and Halogen is very bright and white but gives off heat like tungsten.


Coaxial focus  

A focusing system that has both the coarse and fine focusing knobs mounted on the same axis.  Usually the coarse knob is larger and on the outside and the fine knob is smaller and on the inside.On some coaxial systems, the fine adjustment is calibrated, allowing differential measurements to be recorded.



This is a focus issue. When changing from one objective to another, the new image should be either in focus or close enough so that you can refocus with only minor adjustments.Most microscopes are parfocal.


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