With all the microscope porn on many of the sharpening and honing social media and forums lately, there needs to be a more standardized way to document the magnification. There are many available microscopes on the market, and the stated magnification levels are all over the map – from 3x to 1200x. Ironically, having the magnifications in these settings is irrelevant because we can enlarge and magnify pictures for various viewing needs, which often contradicts the stated magnification. It is therefore more important to know and state the actual area or size of the picture.
This tutorial will help to solve some of the uncertainties about knowing what the actual size of your pictures are rather than the so-called magnification. Please keep in mind that this is not in any way a comment on the quality of any of the scopes mentioned here. They are all very good, and extremely useful learning tools.
So, the easiest way to know your picture’s dimensions at a given magnification is to simply take a picture of a ruler under your scope, and state the dimensions when posting pics. This could be a USB scope, a scope attached to your cell phone, an optical scope, etc..
Below is a Veho at 20x. The pictured area is 6mm wide by 8mm high.
Ruler 20x ~6mm high
Ruler 20x ~8mm wide
However, the Veho at 40x is 10mm high by 13mm wide! According to the magnification, the image sizes should be smaller (in theory, 3mm high x 4mm wide), but clearly the USB scopes don’t magnify the same as the scientific ones do. Hence, the issues with stating magnifications vs. stating the actual size of the pictured area.
Ruler 40x ~10mm high
Ruler 40x ~13mm wide
To take it a little further, here is the Veho at 200x, which is 1mm high by 1.5mm wide. This is hardly a 10 times or even 5 times magnification of the 20x or 40x above.
Ruler 200x ~1mm high
Ruler 200x ~1.5mm wide
And lastly, the Veho at 400x, just to drive the point home.🙂 the picture is 0.75mm high by 1mm wide. Again, not the same ratio of magnification to the real size of the picture.
Ruler 400x 0.75mm high
Ruler 400x ~1mm wide
OK, so we get that part now.🙂 On scopes with software packages, you can measure out the dimensions, and even set a “bar,” which represents a specified length, much like a map has a scale in KM or miles. In the example below, famed razor honer Dr. Matt has set his Dino Lite scope’s bar to 50.0 microns, which can be seen in the lower left hand corner of the picture. That means the entire area of the picture, no matter how large or small on your screen, will be approximately 300 microns wide by 250 microns high, or 0.3 mm wide by 0.25 mm high. Dr. Matt’s microscope is quite nice, you’ll notice there is also more information on the top tabs of the picture, including the “magnification” and screen resolution in pixels.
Dr. Matt’s bar is 50 microns
While Dr. Matt’s image as-is is self explanatory, if he didn’t have the bar or tabs and was citing this picture for others, he would say something like “This picture was taken with a Dino Lite 900, and the picture dimensions are 0.3 mm wide by 0.25 mm high.” This way we all know for sure just how close we are to getting our eyes sliced opened.😀 BTW – stating the actual size of this picture makes Matt’s work even more impressive!
In conclusion, taking just a little time and a couple of pictures before hand to measure the actual size of your pictures will prove to be a more valuable asset to understanding what these pictures represent, and therefore make learning from them easier for the user, and for the rest of us in the peanut gallery. Thanks!