We all know the importance of having a properly focused image for reviewing filaments, but what does that really mean? by Frank J. DeOrio
Your microscope is a critical tool in staying on top of your wastewater plant, so it’s vital to use it correctly. Here we review some of the common mistakes in microscope usage and how to correct them.
1. Poor slide preparation
One of the most common issues we see is poor slide preparation; from having air in the slide obscuring what’s in the biomass, to trying to see around smudges and fingerprints.
Solution: Handle your slides with care; hold them by their sides, and make a quick visual check before putting them under the microscope. And always ask if the odd-looking life form is an alien, or something that just shouldn’t have been in the slide in the first place!
2. Insufficient magnification
Simply put, if you do not enlarge the microscope image enough, you will not be able to see what is present – and may miss smaller filaments.
Solution: Start with 100x and focus in on your image then, move to 400x for image capture.
And be patient and work slowly!
3. Stay focussed
The last common issue is the out-of-focus image. If the image is blurry it is most likely out of focus like this one.
Solution: Try to focus most on the item of concern. Most microscopes have two focus knobs the first for coarse focus, and a second for fine focus.
Use the coarse focus to get the general shapes visible then use the fine focus to get it sharp and visible like this one:
4. Centre the lifeforms in the middle of your slide
The last thing to consider when sending photos to opseyes, or to any expert, is to have the life forms centered in the image. Two good examples of doing this correctly are below.
The key to using your microscope is having well-prepared samples, and a clear view so you can see what’s happening under magnification. Check out our blog post for how to identify and manage the lifeforms in your plant using a microscope.
And while you’re here… opseyes makes the identification of filamentous easy. Simply upload four photos of your sample to our website, and we’ll identify your bugs and tell you what you need to do to fix any issues. And best of all? You can try it for free (no credit card details needed). Just make an account and you’re ready to go.