recently purchased a different trinocular head for my venerable
old Nikon microscope. In the process of setting up the head I
found a number of issues that I could not seem to get resolved.
In frustration, I caught myself thinking, "Boy, if only I
had a Zeiss (or Leitz, or Wild, or Olympus...) I wouldn't be having
these problems!" Now, mind you, I am an amateur microscopist
of very limited financial means. All of the 'scopes I caught myself
daydreaming about are way beyond my financial means at this time.
I live for the day that I can merely stand in the same room with
a Zeiss Universal with all plan-apochromatic objective lenses!
LOL But this got me to thinking about the "world's best"
microscope and I came to a fundamental reckoning...
"World's Best Microscope" is the one you can afford
to buy and will use regularly. Now, to some of you this may
be an obvious conclusion. I dare say, to many of you this may
well be Greek! I know a few amateur microscopists personally,
met a few more over the Internet, and I belong to an online microscopy
group. A topic of discussion that repeatedly comes up is, "What
is the best microscope?" So many times I hear people shoot
themselves in the foot by saying "I can't do this (whatever
"this" may be!) or "I can't possibly do that (whatever
"that" may be!) because my 'scope's not good enough"
or "My 'scope won't support that". All too often, the
microscope goes ignored. You would also be surprised at the people
I know who own very fine microscopes and don't use them because
the 'scopes are too complicated for them.
realistic about your needs, expectations, and financial capabilities.
Microscopy can be an expensive hobby but it doesn't have to be.
Be realistic about what you can afford to spend versus what type
of microscopy you would like to perform. Simple brightfield work
can be accomplished at very reasonable costs. Phase contrast microscopy
is going to cost you more. Before laying out your hard-earned
cash for a microscope decide how far you want to take your new
interest. If your interests run to simple microscopy don't spend
more on a complicated instrument that may just languish in the
closet. A microscope not used is far more expensive, at any cost,
than a microscope that is being regularly used. Conversely, if
your interests run towards some of the more complicated lighting
techniques, don't saddle yourself with a microscope that cannot
be upgraded or easily replaced with a more advanced model. Do
your homework before you make your purchase.
have to learn to walk before you can run.
A basic premise but one that is so often ignored. Having a microscope
with all of the "bells and whistles" is next to useless
if you don't know how to use them. I know many who have become
frustrated because they can't obtain the same results as they
see others obtain. Where was their failing? They never took the
time to learn the basics of setting up a microscope. One friend
of mine bought a very nice phase contrast setup when we were in
college. 30 years later I asked him whatever happened to his microscope.
My friend had sold it years ago and gave up on microscopy because
he could never see anything through it. After a little more discussion
I decided that he never took the time to learn how to set up the
'scope correctly. Rather than learning the basics with a basic
instrument he tried to start out with a more difficult technique
using a more complicated instrument. No wonder he got discouraged!
Take baby steps.
buy less than you need. Okay. Finances are tight but you really,
really want to perform phase contrast microscopy. It really is
false economics to purchase an instrument that is not capable
of your ultimate desires. You have two choices, as I see it. One,
purchase a basic instrument that can be upgraded. Two, if "one"
is financially out of the question, set your sights a little lower.
Don't ignore the availability of many fine microscopes from the
late 1950s through 1970s. Many of these microscopes may be purchased
at a fraction of the cost of a new microscope and are perfectly
serviceable. It is often more advantageous to purchase an older
microscope that you can afford to upgrade later than a new microscope
that demands all of your financial resources at the time of purchase.
Buying a new instrument that you can't afford to upgrade later
will only result in an instrument that languishes in the closet.
If you are truly limited by finances, don't give up. As stated
before, there is so much that can be accomplished in one's lifetime
using a basic instrument.
on what you can do with your current microscope, not on
what you can't do with it. I
am one of those types that when I decide to take on a new hobby
or interest I have the tendency to want to "do it all and
do it right!" LOL Boy, is this a tough part of my personality
to change. I can get discouraged fairly quickly if I have an interest
in a particular technique that my microscope may not support.
I have learned (and it was a hard lesson to learn) not to be discouraged.
I have learned to content myself with exploring all of the things
I can do with my present setup and look forward to a day that
I might be able to equip myself for other techniques. I have hardly
begun exploring all there is to do and learn with a simple brightfield
microscope. Simply changing slide preparation methods can lend
a different look to brightfield images without having to resort
to different lighting techniques that may, or may not, be supported
by your current setup. Exhaust the possibilities with your current