January 1, 1970 (Vol. , No. )

James Joubert Photometrics/QImaging

Planning on buying a new microscope? Read this first.

New microscopy technologies constantly emerge that set higher science standards. For instance, faster EMCCD cameras improve super-resolution microscopy. If you’re planning on buying a new microscopy system to capitalize on these advances, here are four indispensable tips to ensure the system you choose is right for you.

  1. Start with the application. The most important properties of a microscopy system depend on the experiment you’re conducting. The experiment determines the objectives, filters, imaging detector, illumination source, and imaging technique. For example, if you’re looking at bright field fixed cell samples, the requirements may be a full white-light spectrum illumination source and a detector that represents sample color accurately. Sensitivity and throughput would be lower priorities.
  2. Detectors matter. When purchasing a microscopy system, the imaging detector isn’t always one of the main priorities for many researchers. It should be. Data quality determines experiment quality. Identifying which camera to use for an application is crucial to determining your experiment’s success. For instance, if you’re unable to detect dim signals, the data required to reach a conclusion will be lacking. A camera with insufficient resolution may muddle the finer details you’re trying to image and measure.
  3. Ability to upgrade. Options to upgrade or add on to a system will help you meet future research requirements. This flexibility enables you to extend the life of your microscopy system and save on budget.
  4. System support. Supplier service and support is a commonly overlooked factor when purchasing a microscopy system, but it can dramatically impact your ability to maximize the research potential of your microscopy system. Excellent service and support provide you with a resource to ask questions about your system, as well as learn to use it in a way that will optimize performance and quality of your results.

Fluorescence intensity map of immunolabeled tubulin in cell culture. [Photometrics]

James Joubert is a field applications scientist at Photometrics. To learn more about imaging techniques, please visit this site.

For more on life science microscopy, check out “Close-Up View of Life Science Microscopy” from GEN’s December 2012 issue.

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