I've never actually owned an inverted microscope, but it seems it has only advantages compared to an upright microscope: taller, heavier samples; no crashing the objective into the glass slide; easier to operate, etc.

Why then do people still use regular, upright microscopes? Is there a disadvantage I'm missing?

  • $\begingroup$ Cost? A quick search shows inverted microscopes costing several thousand dollars, while a decent upright can be had for a few hundred. $\endgroup$
    – jamesqf
    Feb 11 at 19:16
  • $\begingroup$ @jamesqf Yup, seems obvious now... Should I delete the question? $\endgroup$
    – David Cian
    Feb 11 at 21:41
  • $\begingroup$ There might be other reasons - I'm certainly not an expert! $\endgroup$
    – jamesqf
    Feb 12 at 1:29

As already mentioned in the comments, cost is one of the primary reasons when you're looking at simple light microscopes. Inverted scopes have more complex optics, along with the convenience factor of being able to examine larger samples, generally having a more stable frame, etc. All this leads to higher cost.

An advantage I can think of for smaller upright scopes is the ability to use them as a dissecting scope, where the sample is opaque and you need to see it from above. Another advantage is this:

fluorescence microscope

Many fluorescence microscopes are upright, as there is a significant amount of extra equipment that needs to be mounted in addition to the eyepiece, including lasers, stage motors, and cameras and other detectors. This can take up a lot of room, and for convenience's sake it's often easiest to mount it up top where it is accessible.

  • $\begingroup$ Doesn't the extra equipment usually have to be built in, though, or at least have ports & fittings on the microscope to allow it to be added? Which would raise the cost. $\endgroup$
    – jamesqf
    Feb 13 at 4:11
  • $\begingroup$ @jamesqf correct, which is why I clarified that the cost argument really only applies for simple "magnification-only" light microscopes. Once you start getting into very high magnification, fluorescence, live sample chambers, etc., cost starts to skyrocket. $\endgroup$
    – MattDMo
    Feb 13 at 19:39

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