digital_microscope_ vs_optical_microscope

Field of view

Magnification and field of view on a digital versus optical microscope

When talking microscopy and the difference between different types of microscopes, we need to talk about field of view and magnification.

Field of view is the number of millimetres that you will see in the width of your whole field when looking into the eyepiece of a traditional microscope or when looking on the monitor of a digital microscope.


The object is magnified just as much on the digital camera microscope as on the optical microscope, but on the digital system you will be able to see more of the object because of the 16:9 widescreen camera aspect ratio with a digital microscope.

On a digital microscope, the magnification degree is an expression of how many times the sample is reproduced on the monitor. The higher magnification levels you choose, the smaller the field of view will be and the lower the magnification level, the bigger the field of view is.

When working with a digital microscope and a 22” monitor, you will get a larger field of view than on optical microscopes at the same magnification level.

To give an example of the actual field of view levels on a microscope, in the full range of TAGARNO digital microscopes, field of view varies from 409,0mm/16.10” to 0,8mm/0.03”. With an optical microscope the level of magnification is found by multiplying the lens magnification by the eyepiece magnification. As the digital microscope doesn´t have an eyepiece, the magnification level is found by how many times the sample is reproduced on the monitor.


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Not sure which microscope you need? TAGARNO's digital microscopes can magnify from 4x-660x and can be used in variety of industries.

What microscope you need will depend on your industry, if you want to use specialized apps to optimize your processes and if you need to document your work.

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The average optical microscope has an eyepiece equivalent of a monitor size of 10” whereas digital microscopes often uses a 22” monitor as a standard and is compatible with even larger screens and projectors.

When considering field of view only, the magnification number shown on the digital microscope will be approximately 100% higher than the magnification number shown on an optical microscope.

As illustrated below, 40x on a digital microscope of the digital system will correspond to 20x on an optical system - as a rule of thumb. Depending on the brand of the microscope minor differences can occur.

Field of view size can be used as a reference to visualize the differences:

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Easily make the correspondence

If you are used to working at a specific field of view level on an optical microscope and wants to work at the same level on a digital microscope, for example because of validation issues, the correspondence is very easy to ensure.

The field of view can be determined by placing a metric ruler under the microscope, zoom in to the desired magnification degree and count how many millimeters you can see from left to right. Once you know the size of the desired field of view, place the ruler under the digital microscope, zoom in (if necessary change lenses) until reaching the same field of view.

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