What Is Microscope Objective Lens, Types and Function?

What is Objective Lens?    

An objective lens is a lens located closest to the specimen and receives the rays coming from the specimen and forms the image. It is one of the most important optical units of a microscope since it determines the basic performance and function of a microscope.       

The objective lens collects as much light as possible from the specimen and combines this light to produce the real image that is seen on the eyepiece lens. Since an objective lens Forms the image in the focal plane of the eyepiece, it is important to have good quality eyepiece on your microscope to observe the details of the images.

In a compound Microscope, The objective lens is connected with the eyepiece lens through a tube also called the eyepiece tube. The eyepiece enhances the magnification power of the respective objective lens.

The Objective lens is held by a rotating nosepiece or turret just above the specimen. Nosepiece holds around two or more objective lenses, and you can easily switch between them to change magnification power.

Generally, objective lenses come in various magnification power, among those, the most common one is 4x, 10x, 40x, and 100x this lens is also known as scanning lens, low power, high power, and oil immersion lens respectively.

What is Objective lens

Different Types of Objective lens and its magnification

The majority of compound microscopes come with interchangeable objective lenses, Essentially, objective lenses can be categorized into four main categories based on their magnification power. These include.

  • Scanning Objective Lens (4x)
  • Low Power Objective (10x)
  • High Power Objective Lens (40x)
  • Oil Immersion Objective Lens (100x)

1. Scanning Objective Lens (4x)

Combined with the eyepiece lens, this lens will provide the lowest magnification power. For example, a 10x eyepiece lens, multiplied by the 4x objective lens gives a total magnification of 40x.

This objective is often referred to as the scanning objective lens since the low power provides enough magnification to give the observer a good overview of the entire slide and sample.

2. Low Power Objective (10x)

This objective lens is the next lowest powered and is often the most helpful when it comes to analyzing glass slide samples. The total magnification for this lens is equal to 100x magnification (10x eyepiece lens x the 10x objective equals 100).

Learn more: How to calculate total magnification?

Since it still provides a good amount of magnification at a good distance from the slide, there is a limited risk of it breaking the glass and potentially ruining the sample. Hence, why it is often preferred before going for a high-powered lens.

3. High Power Objective Lens (40x)

This is referred to as the high-powered objective lens since it is ideal for observing the small details within a specimen sample. The total magnification for this lens is equal to 400x magnification (10x eyepiece lens x the 40x objective equals 400).

4. Oil Immersion Objective (100x)

This objective lens will achieve the greatest magnification and has a total magnification of 1000x (10x eyepiece lens x the 100x objective equals 1000).

However, since the refractive index of air and the glass slide are slightly different, a special oil must be used to help fill the gap between the two. Without a drop of oil, the objective lens will not work properly and you will not achieve the desired magnification and resolution.

How to classify Microscope objective lens?

A wide variety of objective lenses are available according to the purpose. Objective lenses are roughly classified basically according to the intended purpose, microscopy method, magnification, and performance (aberration correction).

Classification according to the concept of aberration correction among those items is a characteristic way of classification of microscope objectives.

1. Classification According to Purpose

Using this classification method, objective lenses are classified into

  1. Biological-use objectives:
  2. Industrial-use objectives

Since a biological-use objective lens is used for observation through this cover glass, the optical design is performed in consideration of the cover glass thickness (commonly 0.17mm).

Meanwhile, in industrial use, a specimen such as a metallography specimen, semiconductor wafer, and an electronic component is usually observed with nothing covered on it.

An industrial-use objective lens is optically designed so as to be optimal for observation without any cover glass between the lens end and a specimen.

2. Classification According to Microscopy Method

The dedicated objective lenses to each microscopy method have been developed and are classified according to such a method.

For example:

  • Reflected darkfield objective: A circular-zone light path is applied to the periphery of an inner lens.
  • Differential Interference Contrast (DIC) objective: The combination of optical properties with a DIC prism is optimized by reducing lens distortions.
  • Fluorescence objective: The transmittance in the near-ultraviolet region is improved.
  • Polarization objective: lens distortions are drastically reduced and
  • Phase difference objective: A phase plate is built in are available.

3. Classification According to Magnification

As we discussed above, objective lenses can be categorized into four main categories based on their magnification power. These include: Scanning Objective Lens (4x), Low Power Objective (10x), High Power Objective Lens (40x), Oil Immersion Objective Lens (100x)  

Apart from the differences in their magnifications, objective lenses are also different in how they are used. For instance, with a high magnification lens (100x) immersion oil is often used to obtain high resolving power. This is not the case with lower magnification objectives.

4. Classification According to Aberration Correction

Essentially, with regards to chromatic aberration correction, there are two main levels of correction. These include the achromatic ad apochromatic.

Achromatic objectives are the simplest, least expensive, and most common objectives used. These objectives are designed to correct for chromatic aberration in both the red and blue wavelengths. They are also corrected for spherical aberration in the green wavelength.

The main weakness with this type of objective is that there is limited correction when it comes to chromatic aberration as well as the lack of a flat field of view. These issues reduce the objective performance of these objective lenses.

These lenses are particularly well suited for monochromatic applications. With apochromatic objectives, there is higher precision. These objectives are chromatically corrected for red, blue, and yellow.

With apochromatic objectives, there is also spherical aberration correction for two and three wavelengths in addition to a higher numerical aperture and long working distance. Because of their better design, apochromatic objectives are ideal for white light applications.

Understanding Labeling and Specification of Objective lens

Specifications of any objectives are listed on the body of the objective. It is important to understand what labeling means if one is to select the right objectives for their intended purpose.

Specifications include:

1. Objective standard

Such objective standards as DIN or JIS will be listed on the body of the objective depending on the type of standard. This shows the required specification present in the system.

For instance, the DIN, which is the most common standard, has a 160mm distance from the objective fringe to the fringe of the eyepiece while JIS has a 170mm distance.

2. Magnification

On the objective, this is usually denoted by an X next to a numeric value (100X, 10X, etc). On the other hand, objectives will also have a colored band around the circumference of the objective that indicates the magnification of the objective.

For instance, a yellow band around the objectives (lower part of the objective) indicates that it is a 10x objective.

3. Numerical aperture (NA)

Numerical aperture refers to the function of focal length and entrance pupil diameter.  This is usually labeled next to the magnification of the objective (1, 1.30, etc).

A large numerical aperture (more than 1) means that immersion oil may have to be used given that the highest NA that can be achieved without immersion oils (in the air) is NA of 1.

This labeling is therefore important in that it directs the user on how to use the objective for better quality images.

4. Cover slip thickness

Denoted by a number (such as 0.17mm) the coverslip thickness is labeled on the objective to note the type of coverslip that should be used.

A coverslip changes the way light is refracted from the specimen. Therefore, it is important to ensure that the right coverslip is used in order to produce a good quality image.

5. Quality correction

Quality correction such as achromatic, apochromatic, plan, and semi-plan are often denoted on the objective in order to show the design of the objective. Plan and semi-plan objectives (also referred to as a micro plan, planar or semi-planar) correct for field curvature.

Field curvature often results in blurred images and correction for this helps produce good quality images. Whereas plan objectives correct better, allowing for better display (over 90 percent) of field flat, semi-plain objectives produce about 80 percent.


What are the 4 objective lenses on a microscope?

  1. Scanning (4x) objective.
  2. Low power (10x) objective.
  3. High power (40x) objective.
  4. Oil immersion (100x) objective.

What is the function of the objective lens?

Objective Lenses – The objective lens gathers light from the specimen, magnifies the image of the specimen, and projects the magnified image into the body tube.

What is objective lens in compound microscope?

The objective lens of a microscope is the one at the bottom near the sample. At its simplest, it is a very high-powered magnifying glass, with a very short focal length. This is brought very close to the specimen being examined so that the light from the specimen comes to a focus inside the microscope tube.

What is a 100X lens known as?

Oil Immersion Objective Lens (100x) The oil immersion objective lens provides the most powerful magnification, with a whopping magnification total of 1000x when combined with a 10x eyepiece.

What are objective lenses attached to?

An optical microscope is used with multiple objectives attached to a part called a revolving nosepiece. Commonly, multiple combined objectives with a different magnification are attached to this revolving nosepiece so as to smoothly change the magnification from low to high only by revolving the nosepiece.

What are the lenses on a microscope called?

The compound microscope has two systems of lenses for greater magnification, 1) the ocular, or eyepiece lens that one looks into and 2) the objective lens, or the lens closest to the object. Before purchasing or using a microscope, it is important to know the functions of each part.

Why do microscopes have 2 lenses?

While some older microscopes had only one lens, modern microscopes make use of multiple lenses to enlarge an image. There are two sets of lenses in both the compound microscope and the dissecting microscope (also called the stereo microscope).

What does the 40 on this microscope objective lens mean?

4, 10, 20, 40, 100: This represents the magnification of the objective. The total magnification is calculated by multiplying the magnification of the objective with the magnification of the ocular (eyepiece), which is usually 10x.

What is the shortest objective called?

scanning-power objective lens  After the light has passed through the specimen, it enters the objective lens (often called “objective” for short). The shortest of the three objectives is the scanning-power objective lens (N) and has a power of 4X, Color the 4X objective black.

What type of objective lens is used in clinical laboratory?

The lowest power lens (sometimes called a scanning lens) is usually 3.5X or 4X and is used primarily for initially locating a specimen. The most frequently used objective lens is the 10X lens, which gives a final magnification of 100X with a 10X ocular lens.

What is the magnification of the objective lens on a microscope?

Objectives typically have magnifying powers that range from 1:1 (1X) to 100:1 (100X), with the most common powers being 4X (or 5X), 10X, 20X, 40X (or 50X), and 100X.

What are the two lenses in a microscope?

Compound Microscopes Typically, a compound microscope is used for viewing samples at high magnification (40 – 1000x), which is achieved by the combined effect of two sets of lenses: the ocular lens (in the eyepiece) and the objective lenses (close to the sample).

What’s the difference between ocular and objective lenses?

The objective lens is closer to the sample or specimen under observation, while the ocular lens is farther to the sample and closer to the observer. The objective lens function by magnifying the specimen while the ocular lens magnifies the magnified image of the specimen for better resolution. 03-Dec-2021

What is the objective in a microscope?

The most important imaging component in the optical microscope is the objective, a complex multi-lens assembly that focuses light waves originating from the specimen and forms an intermediate image that is subsequently magnified by the eyepieces.

What magnification is 40x objective?

400x magnification  A microscope’s total magnification is a combination of the eyepieces and the objective lens. For example, a biological microscope with 10x eyepieces and a 40x objective has 400x magnification.

How can you identify the objective lens?

The low-power objective lens usually has 10x or 20x magnification. You can identify it by a yellow stripe around the lens housing. This objective can be very useful for viewing prepared specimens on slides. It will achieve somewhere around 100x to 200x magnification for a 10x or 20x eyepiece respectively.

Which type of lens is used in compound microscope?

A compound microscope uses multiple lenses to magnify an image for an observer. It is made of two convex lenses. The first, the ocular lens, is close to the eye and the other lens is the objective lens. Both the lenses are of different focal lengths because the uses of both are different.

Is the objective lens convex or concave?

The concave lens serves as the ocular lens, or the eyepiece, while the convex lens serves as the objective. The lens is situated on either side of a tube such that the focal point of the ocular lens is the same as the focal point for the objective lens.

What is immersion oil used for?

Immersion oil increases the resolving power of the microscope by replacing the air gap between the immersion objective lens and cover glass with a high refractive index medium and reducing light refraction.

What is a 4X lens is also known as?

The 4X lenses are called the scanning or low power lens. It has the widest field of view, allowing you to look at large parts of the specimen, and the greatest depth of field.

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