Researchers use light and stereo microscopes globally to understand the structure and properties of objects at the cellular and atomic levels. Whether you are looking for an optical microscope or electron, magnification, and resolution are among the most critical factors. They decide how well magnified you can view your specimen. Optical microscopes typically have a lower resolution and magnification than electron microscopes, depending on their unique requirements.
Keep reading to learn the differences between magnification and resolution and their relationship.
Table of Contents
What is Magnification?
Magnification refers to the degree to which an object can be enlarged. It allows you to view the parts and components of an object at a deeper level by making it bigger and easier to see.
Optical instruments such as all microscopes types and telescopes bend the light to magnify an image without distortion to a point where magnification is not distinguishable. Using a concave glass with a convex lens lets you magnify things when the lens is closer to the eye. Microscopes have a small objective lens and a larger eyepiece to study the sample on magnification. On the contrary, telescopes use large objective lenses to produce images of distant objects viewed by a smaller eyepiece.
Magnification is expressed with a number followed by X, such as 2x, 3x, 4x, etc.
You can measure the magnification of a magnifying lens in two ways depending on the purpose. It includes linear and angular magnification.
- Linear magnification refers to linear dimensions of real images measured in millimeters or centimeters.
- Angular magnification refers to the enlargement of objects for optical observations measured in the angle at the focal point.
Uses of Magnification
Magnification is important in many industries and professions, including printing, medicine, research, and manufacturing. Magnification also allows you to study the components of cells and atoms that might have been undiscovered otherwise. Similarly, telescopes with high magnification are critical to astrophysics. Nowadays, lenses in smartphones and related devices also offer 2x, 3x, or more zoom (magnification) to capture the details of objects and landscapes.
What is Resolution?
Resolution is the ability of a lens to distinguish two points from each other, allowing you to unveil details in an image; it is the measure of clarity. It also comprises the lens’s ability to clarify and sharpen the image. Resolution depends on the minimum distance between two objects when they seem distinct.
When you view an object, the eyes see the diffraction pattern created by light reflection and the iris diaphragm. When you view objects up close, the diffraction patterns of the objects overlap, making it difficult to produce a clear image. High-resolution lenses allow you to distinguish the objects and provide clear observation. Images, videos, or audio of high resolution also take longer processing time due to larger file sizes.
The microscope’s resolution connects to the lens’s numerical aperture and wavelength of light. The resolution of an image can be quantified using pixels, lines per mm, arcsec, dots per inch (dpi), etc.
Uses of Resolution
Resolution is an important part when selecting the best microscope or camera for research or photography purposes. Understanding resolution can be beneficial if you are looking for a digital microscope for your lab. Better image, video, and sound resolution improve the overall quality of the pictures and recordings.
Difference Between Magnification and Resolution
Magnification refers to an optical instrument’s ability to enlarge an image.
At the same time, resolution is the ability of a piece of equipment to distinguish two objects and produce clearer images.
Magnification provides an enlarged and detailed image of a sample to allow an easy understanding of its further components.
Conversely, resolution lets you study the details of magnified or unmagnified specimens.
You can express magnification by using an X combined with a number showing how magnified the image is.
Meanwhile, the resolution of an image can be quantified using pixels, lines per mm, arcsec, dots per inch (dpi), etc.
You can always magnify an image or video as much as you want, even after capturing it.
On the other hand, the resolution of an image, video, or audio cannot be modified after capturing.
Magnification enhances with an increase in the focal length of the lens.
Whereas resolution is directly related to the wavelength of light.
Magnification enables viewing small objects, usually microorganisms, not otherwise visible to the naked eye.
Furthermore, resolution helps us better understand these specimens by offering a clearer image.
Examples of magnification of an image or observation include 2x, 3x, 10x, 400x, etc.
Examples of resolution of an image include 200*300 px, 72 dpi, etc.
Relationship between Magnification and Resolution
Magnification and resolution depend on each other and impact the other factor due to an increase or decrease. High magnification typically means high resolution, but if you keep magnifying an object, the resolution will weaken after a certain point. When two objects kept apart are continuously magnified, the edges will blur, and the resolution will decrease.
You can simultaneously achieve high magnification and resolution by using ocular and objective lenses with different light range angles. A low wavelength also contributes to a better (higher) resolution.
The Bottom Line
Magnification and resolution are often confused and used interchangeably. While both are critical to the quality of images and videos in research, they are not the same. Magnification refers to an optical instrument’s ability to enlarge an object to study its components better. At the same time, the resolution allows you to distinguish two objects from each other, resulting in clear edges and sharper images. Analyzing magnification and resolution are inevitable when purchasing an optical instrument for research, such as a digital microscope. If you need highly magnified observation, you must buy one that fits your needs and provides a good resolution.
What is the difference between magnification and resolving power of a microscope?
Magnification measures how enlarged an image is, while resolving power or resolution allows distinguishing two objects or points very close to each other.
What is the difference between resolution and magnification of light microscope and electron microscope?
Light microscopes have a much lower resolution and magnification compared to electron microscopes. Light microscopes offer a resolution of around nm, whereas electron microscopes produce high-resolution images of up to two million through electron bombardment.
What is the formula for magnification?
You can find out the magnification of an image through the formula M=Hi/Ho=-Di/Do if you know the height of the object and image or the distance of the object and projected image from the lens.
What is the formula for resolution?
Resolution depends on the numeric aperture and wavelength. The formula for resolution is (r) = 0.61λ / NA, where r is the resolution, λ represents wavelength, and NA is the numeric aperture.