by Absolute Clarity

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Researchers Solve 350-Year-Old Mystery of Microscopy

by Absolute Clarity

Antonie van Leeuwenhoek was a 17th century Dutch businessman and scholar who is widely regarded as the “father of microbiology” by modern scientists. Van Leeuwenhoek made his own microscopes that were up to 10 times more powerful than those of his contemporaries, and capable of producing detailed images of a quality that had never been seen before. With the help of his remarkable inventions, van Leeuwenhoek became the first person to directly observe bacteria, blood cells and sperm cells under a microscope. In fact, it took more than a century for biologists to build a microscope that was more powerful than van Leeuwenhoek’s.

So how was Antonie van Leeuwenhoek able to build microscopes that were decades ahead of their time? The answer to this question has eluded scientists since the enigmatic scholar’s death.

Van Leeuwenhoek claimed that he was able to achieve high levels of magnification simply by grinding his own thin lenses by hand. Because his microscopes were so precise and powerful, however, other scientists have long doubted the veracity of this claim. Until recently, there was also no way to test van Leeuwenhoek’s claim without destroying one of his historic microscopes.

Now, thanks to advances in non-invasive 3D imaging techniques, scientists finally have an answer to this centuries-old question. As it turns out, van Leeuwenhoek was telling the truth after all.

“It would appear that there was no exotic method of production after all, but van Leeuwenhoek was just exceptionally skilled in grinding tiny lenses,” said Tiemen Cocquyt, curator of the museum where the historic microscopes are stored.

Non-invasive neutron tomography confirmed that the lenses were carefully ground, rather than blown as many researchers believed they were. This discovery is a testament not only to van Leeuwenhoek’s creativity and ingenuity, but also to his skill as a craftsman.

More than 300 years after he opened a window into the world of microorganisms, a new generation of scientists is using their own innovative imaging tools to gain a better understanding of van Leeuwenhoek’s legendary microscopes.

What’s the Difference Between Stereo and Compound Microscopes?

by Absolute Clarity

Compound Microscope

Are you in the process of shopping around for your first microscope? Congratulations! A microscope can allow you to experience our world from a fascinating new perspective. But before you decide which microscope to buy, it’s important to make sure you find the one that’s best suited to your needs. During your search, you’ve probably noticed that there are two distinct categories of microscopes—stereo microscopes (also known as stereoscopes) and compound microscopes. Today we’ll help you understand what distinguishes these two types of microscopes from one another, and decide which one is right for you.

Stereo Microscopes

As their name implies, stereo microscopes use two objective lenses to generate a three-dimensional image. This type of microscope offers a relatively low magnification power and deep depth of field that is ideal for viewing objects such as insects, fossils, flowers and mineral specimens.

Compound Microscopes

Whereas stereo microscopes are well-suited for viewing relatively large specimens, compound microscopes are designed for viewing specimens at the cellular level on glass slides. Chances are, this is the type of microscope you used in your high school biology class. These microscopes offer a much greater magnification power than stereo microscopes, but they have a much shallower depth of field. That’s why this type of microscope is also known as a “flat field” microscope, which is a term you may remember form our earlier blog entry about microscopes for educational applications. Compound microscopes are also usually equipped with multiple objective lenses that can be rotated to adjust their magnification power.

Still have a few lingering questions about which microscope is right for you? Feel free to give us a call or contact us online to speak with a representative at Absolute Clarity & Calibration today!

Choosing a Microscope for Educational Applications

by Absolute Clarity

Classroom MicroscopeIn addition to being powerful scientific instruments, microscopes can also serve as valuable educational tools in a classroom setting. After all, there’s no better way to learn about the structure of minerals and biological specimens than by taking an up-close look at them. That’s why microscopes are common features of classrooms and home science labs all over the world. But before you invest in a microscope for educational purposes, it’s important to understand your options. Generally speaking, these microscopes fall into two broad categories: flat field and stereo microscopes.

Flat Field

Also known as compound microscopes, flat field microscopes utilize a single objective lens to magnify specimens on the stage. Flat field microscopes offer high viewing resolutions and magnifications, but they have a very narrow depth of field due to their single-lens design. As a result, flat field microscopes are only suitable for viewing very flat objects such as biological specimens on microscopic slides.


Stereo microscopes use two separate optical paths to achieve a much greater depth of field than their flat field counterparts. In essence, these microscopes mimic the function of our eyes, albeit at much higher magnifications. Because they allow us to perceive specimens in three dimensions, stereo microscopes are far more versatile than flat field microscopes. If you plan on studying anything other than biological specimens, a stereo microscope is the way to go.

At Absolute Clarity & Calibration, we offer our own line of entry-level microscopes that are ideal for educational applications, as well as microscopes from other top manufacturers. Meiji, for example, has a number of great options for educators. You can browse our complete selection of educational microscopes online, or contact us today to learn more.

Using a Microscope for Engraving Work

by Absolute Clarity

Meiji EMZ

A quality stereo microscope makes it much easier to see whatever you’re working on, and that’s especially true with engraving work. Eye strain and fatigue are common for engravers, especially when working without a microscope or with one that offers inferior magnification. Fortunately we offer high-quality stereo microscopes that can help make engraving work easier than ever.


It is essential to start with a high-quality microscope. There are plenty of cheap microscopes available, but as with most things, you get what you pay for with microscopes, and an inferior microscope will only result in inferior results, added frustration and wasted money for the engraver. Bright and clear optics can only be found in quality instruments.

Meiji Techno has been an industry standard for decades because their microscopes offer outstanding performance and reliability at a reasonable price. In fact, every Meiji microscope is carefully and thoroughly inspected before it even leaves the factory. Meiji’s EMZ Series has incredibly high-quality optics balances with versatility and affordability.


Meiji also offers some of the best values on stands, and at Absolute Clarify & Calibration, we now carry Meiji’s new FA-5 Triple Joint Table Mount Stand. Ideal for engravers, this stand is equipped with an 84.5 millimeter holder, and fits Meiji’s EMZ, EMT and EMF bodies. The FA-5 stand can also be mounted to any bench.

The Meiji FA-5 stand pairs nicely with a Meiji EMZ series microscope. Offering 10x SWF eyepieces and a 0.5x supplementary lens, this can create a perfect setup for your engraving business. This combination of stand and scope provides a total magnification of 3.5x to 22.5x, a field of view between 65.7 and 10.2 millimeters, and a working distance of 148 millimeters.

Absolute Clarity & Calibration LLC has been providing exceptional sales, service and support for our customers since 1991. We make it a point to provide the highest quality of equipment and fast, reliable service and repair work for each of our customers. To learn more about microscopes and stands that can improve your engraving business or discuss your specific needs with us, call Absolute Clarity & Calibration today at 860-583-0502.

Get Ready for the Solar Eclipse on August 21!

by Absolute Clarity

In just a little less than a month, audiences throughout the country will be able to witness a historic total solar eclipse that will pass across North America all the way from Oregon to South Carolina. Although solar eclipses are actually quite common here on Earth, it’s exceptionally rare for one to traverse the entire length of the Contiguous United States. Likewise, American astronomy enthusiasts have been gearing up for this event for months.

But in order to safely view the eclipse, you’ll need to get some protective eyewear first.

Even though the moon passes in front of the sun during a solar eclipse, it’s still dangerous to look directly toward the sun. That’s why the Space Science Institute is collaborating with public libraries all across the nation to distribute more than 2 million pairs of free eclipse glasses to people who want to view the celestial event without risking damage to their eyes. This outreach initiative is designed to make it easier for people – particularly kids – to safely watch the eclipse and nurture their interest in astronomy.

Here in Connecticut, however, there are only a handful of libraries participating in the event. Fortunately, you can purchase them right here at Absolute Clarity as well. Because we’re north of the eclipse’s path, we’ll only be able to see a partial solar eclipse, but it will still be an event to remember. If you’re feeling adventurous, you could even travel west or south to catch the total eclipse in its prime!

Looking for a pair of eclipse glasses so you’ll be ready on August 21? Give us a call to purchase yours from Absolute Clarity today!

Reducing Eye Strain Starts With Maintaining Your Microscope

by Absolute Clarity

Let’s say that you have been using your microscope on a regular basis for years with no issue until suddenly your eyes start bothering you every time you finish looking through your ‘scope. Is it just that you are getting old? Probably not. The cause of your eye strain is likely due to misaligned optics in your microscope. Unfortunately, misaligned optics can’t be fixed at home, but Absolute Clarity is available to correct the problem for you.

So what causes these alignment issues and how can you fix them? Read on to find out.

Stereo Microscope

Causes of optical misalignment

Reasons for your misalignment may be tied to how you move the oculars, taking pictures through to your eyepiece tubes, improper carrying or dropping the microscope. When adjusting the inter-pupillary distance (how far apart the eyepieces are) make sure you are moving the eye tubes close to the body of the scope. To eliminate the second cause, never attached a camera to the eye tube, camera should only be attached to a trinocular port. When moving your microscope, you should never lift it by the stage or head. Always lift by the “neck” of the stand with your second hand under the base. If you have to ship your microscope, we recommend putting it in a sealed plastic bag, and then wrapping it in bubble wrap and packing it with Styrofoam peanuts in a box with plenty of room for additional cushioning. You can check out our complete packing and shipping instructions here.

Winging It

If you feel that your microscope is out of alignment, then you need to fix it, but unless you are an experienced and seasoned professional, it can be difficult to make sure that it is done right on your own. To reiterate, you should never attempt to realign the optics of a microscope on your own, but making adjustments to the stage is perfectly acceptable and even encouraged.

Do yourself a favor and consult the user’s manual prior to making any adjustments to your microscope. Under no circumstance should you ever use force to tighten or move any piece of your microscope, and if you’re not completely comfortable with making adjustments, call in professional help with your preventative maintenance or alignment.

Go Dust-Free

Have you consulted your manual and made all the proper alignment changes but you are still feeling the effects of eye strain? Then you may just need to complete some cleaning. The first step is making sure to keep the lens and eyepieces on your scope dust and dirt free. Our optical cleaning kit is the perfect solution for making sure your microscope view is clean and clear. Avoid any future dust issues by keeping a cover over your microscope whenever it is not in use or storing it in a case.

If you’ve tried making adjustments and discovered you still can’t solve your issues or you know that there’s a problem with your microscope, look no further than the experts at Absolute Clarity & Calibration. Our microscope repair and maintenance services will make your microscope look and work just like new once again. We offer everything from mechanical and electrical repairs to complete refurbishments and retrofit manufacturing for older equipment in our machine shop. Learn more or schedule service today by calling us at 860-583-0502.

Getting Started with Rockhounding

by Absolute Clarity

Are you looking for a new hobby? Amateur geology – also called rockhounding – is a great way to learn more about rocks, minerals, gems, fossils and other items found buried in the earth by collecting and studying them. Rockhounding can be a great way to learn about the history of your town or city, and it can also teach you a lot about the many rocks and minerals that make up our planet. But before you decide to start rockhounding, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with the basics and the tools of the trade so you can make the most of it.

Before you step outsid e and start searching around for rocks and minerals, you should take the time to educate yourself about them by reading books about amateur geology. There are plenty of resources available out there, and they will help paint a clearer picture about what rockhounding is and how it works. AmateurGeologist offers a wealth of information for those just getting started, including gear guides, book resources and maps. Another site, Beyond 4Cs, maintains an extensive list of free gemology courses and resources as well.

Depending on your location, you may also want to look at joining or attending a meeting of one of the more than 900 rock and mineral clubs. Those in charge of running these clubs can show you the ropes and teach you about the differences between rocks and minerals so that you know what to look for when you’re out hunting for them. offers a registry online to help you find a club near you.

The great part about rockhounding, thou gh, is that you don’t necessarily have to have a great deal of knowledge or experience to get started. While it will certainly help to read about rocks and minerals and to talk to those who know more about them than you do, rockhounding is a very accessible hobby for people of all ages and all walks of life. You can simply visit a local park or beach, or just stroll through your backyard, and start looking around for rocks and minerals on your own. You never know what you will find, and if you suspect that something that turns up on your hunt is worth investigating further, you can research it more later.

Using a stereo microscope allows you to take a closer look at your samples, providing a clearer picture in 3-D. This allows you to study the unique features or rocks, minerals and crystals that you uncover and identify the distinctive features and striations that make each sample unique. You can compare and contrast the different rocks and minerals that you find, looking at the similarities between your different finds or identifying unusual or distinctive aspects that make them stand out.

If you decide that you want to invest in a stereo microscope for your rockhounding expeditions, Absolute Clarity & Calibration is your one-stop-shop for all things related to microscopes. We carry a large selection of stereo microscopes and can show you exactly how to use them for rockhounding purposes. Call us at 860-583-0502 today for more information on stereo microscopes or to schedule an appointment to stop in and see us.

Five Easy Microscope Experiments for Beginners

by Absolute Clarity

Did you just get your hands on a new microscope and are trying to think of some fun or educational ideas for what you can examine at home? We’ve got five simple microscope experiments that are great for students in any school level or even just for at-home microscope aficionados.


Clean, dry leaves make great simple experiments. Collect a number of different leaves – some still very green and some browned and dead, and leaves from different kinds of trees – and compare the way they each look under the microscope. You might be surprised to see differences in the detail of the leaf surfaces between the tree species or even from a fresh leaf to one at the end of its life.


Have you ever zoomed way in on a $1 bill? Slide a dollar bill under your microscope to check out the intense detail with which our money is printed and why it’s so hard to make counterfeit cash. You can see all of the nuanced printing that is done to deter counterfeiters – many of which are traits that cannot be seen with the naked eye. If you can, try with different denominations or even with currency from other countries, suggests MicroscopeDetective.

Printed Photos

You know from your use of computers or televisions that many modern displays have small pixels that combine together to provide the full picture. Did you know, however, that is how many printed pictures are produced as well? Take a picture printed off from your home or office printer and put it beneath the microscope. This is a great experiment to practice adjusting focus and magnification, notes MicrobeHunter, and will open children’s eyes to the fact that the big picture is just a series of smaller printed dots!


Spring is coming, and with it will be the return of many species of insects. That means it could be the perfect time to get a closer look at some of the creepy-crawlies that share our world. Capture a few interesting samples – flies, grasshoppers or other small insects – and place them under the microscope’s lens to get a look at some of their distinct and interesting features like compound eyes or wing structures. Plus, the stereo microscope will provide a three-dimensional view, allowing you to get a better look at these structures in the context of the insect’s body shape.


Depending on where you live, you may have a high concentration of naturally forming crystals in the world around you. Quartz is incredibly common all around the country, and there are an incredible number of varieties that can be interesting to compare side by side. You can even bring out your own jewelry, as well, and put that under the ‘scope to get a closer look at the refined cut and features that make jewelry stones to appealing.

These are just a few of the many incredible things you can do with your microscope as you get started. Whether you’re in the market for one to have in your home or to grow your own hobby, Absolute Clarity & Calibration has what you need. Our extensive inventory of microscopes includes something for everyone, whether you’re a casual home user or a passionate hobbyist. Shop the full catalog online now or call us today at 860-583-0502.

Lighting and Microscopes: How the Light Selection Affects Operations

by Absolute Clarity

Stereo Microscope Purchasing a microscope that comes equipped with a quality lighting system can make a world of difference for anyone using their devices on a regular basis. A good lighting system will allow you to literally shed light on a specimen so that you can get a much better look at it. But did you know that all microscope lighting systems are not created equal?

According to there are several different lighting options to consider for use with your microscopes, each of which offers its own specific pros and cons. Let’s take a closer look at some of the different options.


Fluorescent lights are common in many American homes, but also used frequently for scientific uses. They give off light when the gas inside of them is electrified. These bulbs create a more natural white light that allows you to see specimens as they really are without any discoloration from the light source. The coolness and sharpness that fluorescent lights provide has made them a popular choice for many both hobbyists and students who rely on microscopes.

Fluorescent lights are also sold as a ring light which can be used to provide a uniform lighting around a sample. Whether an insect, crystal or stone, this light can surround your object and light evenly from all sides, brightening up features so that you can get a better look at every angle and detail.


Many people have turned to LED lighting in their homes, and the trend has started to spread into the microscope community, as well. LED lights don’t consume much power and last for a significantly longer period of time than most conventional lights. In addition, with the low power requirements, they are also the perfect lighting system to match up with a rechargeable battery. As a lighting accessory, LED lights pair perfectly with cordless microscopes to take your equipment along on a trip into the field. Certain LED light sources are even dimmable, which also allows more adjustment in brightness, making the LED more and more popular for its versatility.


Finally, halogen lights usually aren’t found on microscopes themselves, but are more and more common as an accessory. Halogens are common as part of fiber optic pipes, which can be mounted to a microscope and moved on a snake-like arm to provide lighting from nearly any angle. This is particular beneficial when studying samples as you may not be able to see certain features of an insect’s anatomy or a particular striation of a crystal without lighting from a specific angle. These lights can direct light exactly where you need it, providing the view you need to get the most from your studies.

Absolute Clarity & Calibration has more than 20 years of experience when it comes to microscopes and we can help you find the right lighting system for your microscope. We carry a wide range of replacement bulbs for common microscopes and a full range of LED lighting options. Learn more about lighting and how we can help by calling us today at 860-583-0502.

Common Mistakes Beginners Make with Stereo Microscopes

by Absolute Clarity

Stereo microscopes, which are also commonly referred to as low power or dissecting microscopes, can be used to take a closer look at specimens that are visible with the naked eye. For example, you can use a stereo microscope to analyze insects, coins, circuit boards or any other objects that are large enough for you to see. Stereo microscopes offer either adjustable magnification – commonly in stereo zoom or turret microscopes – or fixed magnification through the two eyepieces that can provide slightly different aspects and a more three-dimensional view of a given sample.

While stereo microscopes offer a range of unique advantages over compound microscopes, it’s important for you to be careful when using a stereo microscope, as they also come with their own unique set of challenges. Here are several mistakes that many first-time stereo microscope users make.

Mistake 1: Using a higher magnification than necessary.

Most stereo microscopes are capable of magnifying specimens from 2x all the way up to 100x. But in general, there aren’t many occasions that will call for you to attempt to magnify something at the most extreme level, and we don’t generally recommend going above 60x magnification. Many people try to magnify specimens at the maximum settings much right away, though, and wonder why they are unable to see anything in their microscopes. This is why it’s always best to start at a much lower magnification and then work your way up as necessary.

Mistake 2: Trying to look at specimens that are too small.

As we mentioned, stereo microscopes are not designed to analyze cells or other specimens that are impossible to see with the naked eye. Despite this, many people still try to do it and zoom in as close as they can on microscopic items. If this is your goal, you should be using a compound microscope instead.

Mistake 3: Adjusting the wrong light.

Some stereo microscopes offer two light adjustments, with the incident light that shines from above and a bottom light that provides upward illumination. Many think that turning up the bottom light is the better option, but most stereo microscope uses are better served by improving the light from above. Unless the sample being observed is transparent or translucent, improve visual quality by turning up the incidental lighting.

Mistake 4: Mishandling the microscope.

While stereo microscopes are much sturdier than compound microscopes, this does not mean that you should not still handle them with great care. If you are a parent giving your child a stereo microscope, you should teach them about being gentle with the lens and handling their specimens. Instructing proper microscope care early establishes a respect for scientific equipment that can carry throughout the rest of a child’s life. Teach them to be gentle and careful and they can not only explore some great science, but also develop greater appreciation for the microscopic world.

Absolute Clarity offers a wide rangeof stereo microscopes for classrooms, educational settings and more. Regardless of whether you’re looking to purchase a brand new microscope or one that has been used, we can assist you. Reach out to us at 860-583-0502 today to learn more.