Our world is divided, not by language or location, but by what we can see and what we cannot. In the sciences we use microscopes to help us move beyond what are eyes can capture. Modern microscopes are able to let us observe objects that are 1000’s of times smaller than are visible with the naked eye. Sometimes, though, you don’t need that much magnification. For engineers and geologists, you may need something with a wider field of view and lower magnification. For these fields the question is, which type of microscope has the lowest magnification power?
The Purpose of a Microscope
You may be wondering what possible use for a low magnification microscope has, well not everything in the scientific world needs to be seen at 1000 times magnification. For geologists, archeologists, and engineers, a microscope with lower magnification allows them to observe greater detail of their subject while maintaining a wider field of view and having space enough to manipulate the subject with tools.
Field of View
The field of view is how much material you can see while looking through the objective lens of the microscope. The higher the magnification, the lower the field of view. This means that things like rocks, bones, and circuit boards lose necessary workspace at higher magnification. In this case knowing which type of microscope has the lowest magnification power will help you choose the right microscope the first time.
Light vs. Electron light
In the world of microscopes, you subject is illuminated in one of two ways. The first is standard visible light that illuminated the subject either from above, or below through a diaphragm. The second is electron Light that uses shorter wavelengths of non-visible light to provide the high detail and resolution needed to view the absolute smallest of particles. When looking for which type of microscope has the lowest magnification power, you want to stay in the realm light microscopes.
Which Type of Microscope Has the Lowest Magnification Power?
Now that we have established some base criteria for low magnification microscopes, lets jump into the two primary types of light microscopes.
Compound Light Microscope
The first is called a compound light microscope. Compound light microscopes are probably the style you picture anytime you think of microscopes. The have the eyepiece, the magnification lenses (objective lens), the stage, and a light on the bottom that shines up through the stage.
Depending on the compound light microscope you chose, you will have a magnification range of 40x to 1000 times magnification. Since the subject is illuminated from the bottom, and the stage is often closer to the objective lens, this style of scope is best used for small subjects, and subjects that are at lest semi-transparent. This allows the light to pass through, and thereby illuminate the subject.
The stereo microscope, also known as a dissecting microscope, is configured in a way that allows for the use of tools when working with a subject. This is accomplished thanks to the greater distance between the objective lens and the stage.
The greater distance also limits the magnification power of a stereo microscope. While compound light and electron microscopes are capable of magnification power in the 1000’s, stereo microscopes typically max out at around 100X magnification, and have a bottom end of around 2X. This low magnification fives you enough clarity to see detail, while maintaining a wide field of view for working with your subject.
The Power of Low Magnification
We hope we have help you end your search for which type of microscope has the lowest magnification power. In general, light microscopes have the lower range and resolution and stereo microscopes have the combination of smallest range and lowest total magnification. This combination is ideal for the hands-on scientist, or student hoping to jump into computer engineering, or product development.