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Disadvantages of a Compound Light Microscope

Updated February 21, 2017

A compound light microscope allows you to view slides of items, both animate and inanimate. The microscope is compound because it uses more than one lens, which allows for greater magnification. A light projects the image through the lenses and then to your eye. Because this type of microscope is less expensive and easier to use compared with its counterpart, the electron microscope, the compound light microscope is popular. Yet, it has limitations related to resolution and magnification.

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Although the compound light microscope is more clear than a simple microscope, it is still not as capable of magnifying as well as an electron microscope. The magnification of a compound microscope is a multiplication of the two lenses, the one in the eyepiece and the one scanning the object.


Although the compound light microscope is able to make things appear a lot larger than they are, that does not mean that the resolution is accurate. Just because something is made bigger, does not mean it is going to be a clear image.


A compound light microscope can magnify only to the point that light can be passed through a lens. Therefore, it will always have limits on how much it can magnify and how clear a resolution can be. This is in contrast to the electron microscope, which uses electrons to bend the light in order to bring the picture to the eye and present a clearer image.

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About the Author

Lisa Pulsifer

Lisa Pulsifer has found written communication to be necessary in school and her teaching career. While Pulsifer's online writing experience consists of several message boards on topics that range from pregnancy, parenting, to living frugally, writing was required as she earned her M.Ed. in severe disabilities and B.S. in psychology.

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