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Quick Tips for Buying Microscopes

1. Microscopes use lenses to create magnified images of objects or object details that would otherwise be too small to see with the naked eye. Microscope power- its ability to magnify- can vary widely from scope to scope.

2. The benefits of microscopes aren't limited to laboratories. They can be used by collectors to view coins or stamp; by children to discover the unseen world around them; by hobbyists or professionals including winemakers, engravers, jewelers, and more.

3. Compound microscopes, also known as research microscopes, are the most common microscope type. These allow light to travel on one path through multiple lenses, each of which magnifies the image. Total magnification powers range from 40x to 1500x and up.

4. Stereo microscopes are the second most common microscope type. These differ from compound microscopes in that they allow light to travel along two separate paths. This yields a three-dimensional image of the specimen, but also limits magnification power.

5. Other popular types of microscopes include electron microscopes, polarizing microscopes, phase contrast microscopes, digital microscopes, and handheld digital microscopes.

6. Digital microscopes are basically digital cameras and microscopes working together as a single device. These often use software to allow users to view images on computer monitors or display screens.

7. Hand-held digital microscopes provide camera and microscope technology in one convenient unit. These can connect directly to your laptop or desktop computer to display magnified images on your screen.

8. The most important part of any microscope is the objective lens. These gather light and project the image into the microscope. In most microscopes, objective lens magnification can vary from 1x to 160x, though 4x to 100x is the most practical range of objective lens magnification for normal observation.

9. Illumination is critical to producing an observable image. Microscopes will either be equipped with a mirror or an artificial light source (such as halogen or fluorescent lamps, tungsten filaments, or LEDs) to direct natural light through the specimen.

10. Any microscope will require accessories for proper observation. Slides, dyes, and cover slips are essential for preparing specimens, while colored filters will help you observe them. As you shop for microscopes, be sure to note whether or not these accessories are included.