If we ask you what the difference between a digital microscope and an optical microscope is, you’ll probably say that there’s no eyepiece on a digital microscope. And you’d be right.
On digital microscopes, you use a monitor to display a sample instead of looking through an eyepiece.
There’s several reasons for that:
- You don’t have to bend your neck to look through the eyepiece, creating a healthier and less painful setup
- With a digital display, it’s easy to document your work
- It allows for in-person discussions between colleagues
Digital microscope vs Optical microscope
The use (or lack) of a monitor, however, also affects the magnification levels and field of view of each microscope.
In this blogpost we’ll discuss how and why that is – and why you need to know the difference.
Digital microscope vs Optical microscope: Field of view
Field of view, sometimes abbreviated to FOV, refers to how much you are able to see when using an inspection microscope. With a digital microscope, Field of view will be bigger than on a optical microscope even if both microscopes are at the same magnification level. This means that you’ll be able to see more of a sample om a digital microscope than on an optical microscope.
The main reason for this being the 16:9 widescreen camera aspect ratio of the monitor that’s being used with a digital microscope.
See the difference yourself
In two simple steps, you can see the difference in Field of view quite easily:
- Start by adjusting the two microscopes so they’re at the same magnification level
- Place a metric ruler underneath each microscope
It will quickly become apparent that despite using the same magnification level on both microscopes, you have a higher Field of view on the digital equipment, allowing you to see more your sample.
Digital microscope vs Optical microscope: Magnification levels
We now know that when using the same magnification levels on a digital and an optical microscope, the digital microscope will display a larger field of view.
But what happens if we adjust the microscopes to have the same Field of view then?
If continue our experiment on our microscopes that are currently at the same magnification level, we know that the digital microscope has a larger field of view. To align the microscopes, we therefore need to reduce the field of view on the digital microscope.
How do we do that? By zooming in.
When zooming in, however, we are also increasing the number of times a sample is reproduced. What this means is that by aligning the field of view, we’re increasing the magnification level on the digital microscope and in turn, allowing us to see more detail at the same field of view level.
Field of view of a microscope and Magnification are two interlocked factors related to microscopy – regardless of the type of microscope we’re talking about. But when comparing digital microscopes and optical microscope, a key differentiator is 16:9 widescreen camera aspect ratio of the digital microscope monitor.
- Higher magnification on a digital microscope at the same Field of view compared to an optical microscope
- Bigger Field of view on a digital microscope at the same magnification level compared to an optical microscope
Want to learn more about digital microscopy?
Here’s a selection of blogposts for you to read next.