I have the great pleasure of being the caretaker and primary user of a slightly used Fisher-Scientific rebranded Motic AE31E (the “E” stands for Elite) inverted phase contrast trinocular microscope. She is my lab workhouse and a really all around great scope. I would never have considered an inverted microscope as a viable option before I inherited Mo. However, having used her heavily and exclusively for the past year and half or so, I am a complete convert, and don’t think I could/would ever go back to a traditional upright. Especially now that I have upgraded her with new eyepieces, new and better objectives, and a kick ass digital camera/imaging system. The advantages are many and the only (slight) disadvantage is that most inverted scopes are designed with lower magnification operations in mind than is common in traditional microbiology. Usually they are found in metallurgy or gemology or other occupations where 400x to 600x or so magnification is the most anyone would ever need, and most work is done in the 100x-400x range. In microbiology 400x–600x is only the starting point (I am referring to bacteriology specifically, lower magnifications are more important in mycology as fungi tend to the larger end of the spectrum. This has been awesome in my case as I have been doing quite a bit of yeast and mold identification work recently) and 1000x magnification and greater is often needed. All that background leads me to the new condenser you see pictured above. With this beautiful specimen, and a more powerful objective I am still window shopping for, I should finally be able to reach and exceed the 1000x threshold with an inverted microscope. Unfortunately I will not be able to take advantage of the phase contrast capabilities at that zoom but such is life in our universe where the physics of light and optics dictate what we can and cannot see when we make things seem larger to us by magnification.
Check it out. A few early images post installation below. Note that none of these images are of actual microorganisms. I am uncertain what exactly they are but most likely just a random confluence of detritus and salt crystals precipitated out of the solution I was examining the particular sample in.