By its nature, embryology is highly dependent on microscopy. Many experimental procedures are carried out under either dissection or compound microscopes, and photomicrographs are often the principle data in embryo-logical studies. Most researchers are therefore familiar with achieving an adequate illumination, resolution, and contrast in observing or manipulating specimens. However, when faced with a choice of objectives, contrast enhancement optics, film types and image processing options, high image quality cannot be realized by trial and error. Achieving the highest optical performance for photomicrography requires that a variety of options within the microscope are optimized with respect to the preparation of the specimen. Photomicrographic reliability and quality also rely on a knowledge of how film behaves with respect to illumination and how subsequent image processing can enhance information within a specimen.

It is important to note that although this chapter outlines how image quality is limited by optical and photographic constraints, it can only supplement the essential technical information that is contained in every microscope instruction manual.

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