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These definitions are intended for the layperson. If you need more technical
please check with your local library or a bookstore for a good book on microscopes.
Abbe Condenser: A simple device that condenses and focuses the light
coming from the light source. The user can adjust a movable Abbe Condenser, whereas one that is
not movable has a fixed focus. A condenser is most important at 1000x.
Binocular: Having two eyepieces. All stereomicroscopes and some compound
microscopes are binocular. Since each person is different, our binocular scopes allow for
interpupillary adjustment (eye spacing).
Diaphragm: A simple device between the light source and the stage that is
used to vary the aperture to refine the stream of light that passes through the subject.
DIN Objective: DIN (Deutsche Industrie Normen) represents an
international standard for microscope objectives. This standard specifies the exact threading
and focal length, and insures compatibility with lenses from any microscope manufacturer in the
world. Our microscopes with DIN lenses assure you that your scope will not be obsoleted
several years down the road by an accidentally broken lens.
Eyepiece: The lens closest to the eye when looking through a microscope
or stereomicroscope. The eyepiece is also called the ocular.
Mechanical Stage: A device which is mounted on or part of the microscope
stage, and by means of two knobs allows precise movement and positioning of the slide. A
mechanical stage is most valuable at 400x or higher where precise movement is most critical.
Objective: The lower lenses, closest to the specimen. The
objectives are fitted into the nosepiece, and most scopes have more than one. On
stereomicroscopes, there is a matched pair of objectives (ie, you are looking through two
eyepieces, and two objectives), whereas on a compound microscope there is a just single
objective in use at any time (regardless of the
number of eyepieces).
Ocular: Another term for the eyepiece.
Oil Immersion: A lens that requires a drop of special oil on the
subject for use. The oil is put on the cover slip, and the objective is actually lowered
into the oil. Oil Immersion lenses are sealed so as to not be damaged by the oil. A non-oil
immersion lens should never be lowered into immersion oil. Once you get into very high
magnification, about 1000x and beyond, you start fighting a battle with the characteristics
of light. Light travels in waves, and when you magnify something 1000 times there are
fewer of those waves passing through the subject and into the lenses (enabling you to see).
Immersion oil allows you to control and actually "bend" more of that light into the lens so
that you can see. Without the oil, you would not be able to focus on the image. Most of our
Student Microscopes are available with Oil Immersion lenses and all of
our Professional and Medical microscopes are. Immersion oil is
included with each.
Parcentered: A microscope that is parcentered is one in which
the object in the center of view will remain in the center when the objective is rotated.
Parfocal: A microscope that is parfocal is one which, if it
is in focus with one objective, when the objective is rotated, will remain (mostly) in focus.
Stereo Microscope: A stereo microscope is one which provides a
magnified, three-dimensional view of a visible object. It has two eyepieces (binocular)
as well as two objectives. Since you are looking all the way through the scope using two
complete sets of lenses, your eyes are able to see the subject three dimensionally.
A stereomicroscope is best used for close up examination of objects which can be
seen with the naked eye, such as stamps, coins,insects, rocks, etc. You would not
normally look at slides with a stereomicroscope.
Subject: That which is being examined under a microscope or
Total Magnification: Determined by multiplying the power of the
eyepiece (ocular) by the power of the objective lens. For example, when viewing a subject
through a standard 10x eyepiece and a 40x objective, the subject is being viewed at 400x or