Olympus BX51 Microscope Cutaway Diagram

The microscope optical train typically consists of an illuminator (including the light source and collector lens), a substage condenser, specimen, objective, eyepiece, and detector, which is either some form of camera or the observer's eye. Research-level microscopes also contain one of several light-conditioning devices that are often positioned between the illuminator and condenser, and a complementary detector or filtering device that is inserted between the objective and the eyepiece or camera. The conditioning device(s) and detector work together to modify image contrast as a function of spatial frequency, phase, polarization, absorption, fluorescence, off-axis illumination, and/or other properties of the specimen and illumination technique. Even without the addition of specific devices to condition illumination and filter image-forming waves, some degree of natural filtering occurs with even the most basic microscope configuration.

Contributing Authors

Mortimer Abramowitz - Olympus America, Inc., Two Corporate Center Drive., Melville, New York, 11747.

Michael W. Davidson - National High Magnetic Field Laboratory, 1800 East Paul Dirac Dr., The Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida, 32310.


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