Olympus sharpens its focus

By Kirsty Barnes

- Last updated on GMT

Olympus is gearing up to launch the two latest models in its range
of stereo microscopes, hailed as offering scientists superior
sensitivity with the highest zoom ratio and resolution on the

The company's new SZX2 series, ideal for use in detailed research or routine applications, will be available by July, Dr Kay-Peter Schmidt, department manager of life science microscopy, told Labtechnologist.com​ at this week's press launch.

The piece de resitance of the range, SZX16, is designed for advanced research purposes and has a specialised optical system to give customers what they are looking for - superior depth of field.

Equipped with a maximum numerical aperture (NA) of 0.3, the SZX16 produces the highest resolution available in its class - 900 line pairs/mm.

This best-in-class advantage is repeated with in the microscope's large zoom ratio of 16:4:1.

Combined with the high NA optics to get maximum light out of the system, SZX16 can also offer the user optimal clarity at any magnification.

"In addition, the system has been optimised for use in delicate manipulations, with and enhanced 'better than nature' 3D vision, achieved via an increased stereo effect,"​ said Dr Winifred Busch, product manager of life science microscopy.

The SZX16 also features six new objectives, including four parfocal objectives (0.5x, 1.0x, 1.6x and 2.0x) and can switch seamlessly between 3.5x and 230x zoom, allowing the user to view a whole organism (up to the size of a mouse) through to the cellular level with minimal adjustments.

These combined features are what equips this microscope for superiority in advanced scientific applications, particularly micromanipulation, fluorescence and viewing living specimens.

"Demand for such advanced microscopic functions is growing in the field of life science, where microscopic investigations are rapidly moving from basic cellular level investigations towards more complex whole systems and organisms,"​ said Dr Werner Kammerloher, product manager of life science microscopy.

As with Olympus's existing microscope range, the design features of the SZX16 are ergonomically friendly.

"In particular, the stage height - at 4cm - is half the height of any other stereo microscope on the market,"​ said Busch.

This compactness is achieved by the use of a novel LED base system, which enables the fine control of transmitted illumination for bright and even images.

Importantly, the LED light system, which uses cold light, also prevents the stage and sample from heating.

For those requiring a less-glamorous stereo microscope, Olympus has designed the SZX10.

With a natural 3D view and precision optics that deliver a natural colour and distortion-free images to the edge of the field of view, this model is ideal for identification and morphological purposes, said the company.

One stand-out feature of the SZX2 range is that for first time in a stereo microscope, a correction ring has been added to the 2x objective to provide optical correction of obstructions such as water and petri dish cover.

"This new function provides optical correction of up to 5mm of water column above the objective,"​ said Schmidt.

"This is the only objective in the world that can do this,"​ he said.

Available with a range of modular features, the SZX16 will cost in the range of €16,000 - €20,000 and the SZX10 will cost between €5,000 - €15,000.

Such add-ons include the option to attach a trinocular head to optimise images for 2D documentation, as well as precision measurements.

In addition, both models in the new SZX2 range can also be fitted with Olympus's newly-launched DP71 digital camera, which uniquely combines brightfield- and fluorescence-imaging in the one camera and offers a flexible imaging station, said the company.

Designed for high-resolution documentation as well as high-speed imaging for live views, the DP71 uses a high-sensitivity cooled charge-coupled device (CCD) chip to provide what Olympus claims is the fastest image acquisition rates of its class.

The interface also provides improved image-processing capabilities, with excellent colour reproduction and accuracy - essential features in applications such as pathology.

And for the first time, the DP71 features the 'custom monochrome mode,' which allows users to increase the recording sensitivity in applications such as fluorescence microscopy, where a specimen is partially or wholly dark, by optimising the emission wavelength of the fluorescent dye in a specimen.

Further details will come into focus in April when the new range is showcased for the first time at Analytica, in Frankfurt.

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