How to obtain the best resolution with your microscope

The resolution that a microscope is capable of achieving is probably the single most important factor that determines the quality of a microscopic image. Without a sufficiently high resolution, magnification is not possible without loss of quality. There are a variety of different factors that determine the achievable resolution. Some of these factors can not be actively influenced by the microscopist, others can. Some of the factors play a larger role, others a smaller one. In the following post, I want to summarize some of these factors.

Increasing Contrast using Optical Methods

Many microscopic specimens are either very thin or transparent or lack color. They lack contrast and can not be easily seen in bright microscope light. In many cases it is not possible or desirable to chemically stain the specimens. In this case, optical techniques become necessary to enhance contrast.

Common Beginners’ Mistakes

The following section outlines some of the common beginners’ mistakes when operating a microscope. Teachers are advised to instruct their students appropriately, proper microscope technique will not only enhance the image quality but will also lengthen the life-span of the microscopes.