Which Microscope is better for Visualized Patch-Clamp Recordings?

Matt Jones jonesmat at physiology.wisc.edu
Fri Jul 20 15:51:18 EST 2001

"Zakaria Mtchedlishvili" <zm5e at virginia.edu> wrote in message news:<9j7bol$qbm$1 at murdoch.acc.Virginia.EDU>...
> We are about to buy a microscope with near DIC optics for patch-clamping in
> hippocampal slices. I would like to ask my colleagues neurophysiologists to
> share their pros and cons regarding the system they use and regarding
> additional equipment . Our choice is between Nikon Physiostation, Olympus
> 51BX or Zeiss Axiovert. The last one is most expensive and I am wondering if
> it is worth to pay higher price for Zeiss. Also, I would like to know your
> recommendations regarding choice of objectives. Initially, I will be
> recording from soma of dentate granule cell, but later I plan to record from
> soma and dendrite at the same time.
> Thank you in advance!
> Zakaria
> --
> Zakaria Mtchedlishvili, Ph.D
> Department of Neurology
> University of Virginia - Health Sciences Center
> Box. 800394, Charlottesville, Virginia 22908
> Phone: (804)924-2438
> Fax: (804)924- 5061
> Email: zm5e at virginia.edu


I use the Zeiss Axioscop FS2. The new model with the sliding objective
mount, not the old rotating turret. I like this scope very much.

I was also considering Leica and Olympus, but for resons of poor
response from the sales staff, was not able to see demonstrations in a
timely manner. In fact, I requested a demonstration and quote from
Olympus and Leica both, and -got no response at all from either of
them-! Meanwhile, the Zeiss rep emailed me back within hours of my

I wasn't about to drop $60k on 2 of their scopes if they couldn't be
bothered to make an effort to sell me one, so I went with Zeiss, for
which I am not sorry at all.

First off, the technical service and sales support from my local Zeiss
rep have been superb (Thanks Paul!). This is very important, possibly
the most important thing because in most other respects these
company's scopes are pretty similar. All of their optics are great (I
assume), and certainly there are lots of people using the various
scopes to get high quality recordings, including difficult ones that
require great performance such as paired recording (which I do) and
dendritic or axonal recording (which I want to try soon, and think the
Zeiss will handle very well). I also work in dentate gyrus, by the

Next, here are some features that I really like about this scope:

1) Great optics in general (I said that already).

2) Large working distance. I get almost 2mm with a 40x water immersion
objective. This nmight not sound like a lot, but it's plenty. I can
get 2 patch pipettes, a puffer pipette and a big huge bipolar
extracellular stimulating trode all under the objective at the same

3) Sliding objective mount. This thing is great. The turret slides
back and forth toward you, instead of having to rotate to the side.
That means a) you can lift the objective out of the bath and put it
back in -during a recording- without losing the cell. I need to do
this all the time for paired recordings. With the turret, I could do
this too (sometimes even without losing the cell!), but it placed a
huge constraint on where I could put my manipulators and stuff because
the objective needed a lot of side room for swinging around. Now, i
have no problem as long as no manipulator is directly in front of the
objective. b) You can switch magnifications easily while recording.
again, this is great because I often need to get a recording and then
go hunting around for a second cell to patch, or fiddle with
stimulator placement or whatever. By lowering the magnification, you
can see the entire slice, go find what you want, move the stage over
to it, put in your second trode, get the cell, etc.

4) Easily accessible rotating filter module. I haven't needed to
switch filters during an experiment yet, but probably will someday. I
think this will make it real easy.

5) An accessory that I find really useful is the "video zoom"
attachment. This is a tube that sits between the video mount on the
scope and the camera, and allows you to zoom in and out from 0.5x-2x.
This is also very helpful for searching around (zoom out), and seeing
really small things like dendrites (zoom in).

So, I can't say anything bad about the other scopes (other than that
their sales departments were incredibly -lame- in my case: have you
ever even -tried- to find a local phone number for your Leica rep on
the Leica corporate website? Try it sometime, you'll see what I
mean.). But I can wholeheartedly recommend the FS2. Not cheap

Good luck,


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