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Microscopy As A Hobby. A 21st Century Quick Start Guide Paperback – 23 Jun 2014
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This book starts with useful information about choosing a microscope. The author discusses both low power stereo microscopes and high power monocular microscopes. Interestingly there is only a fleeting reference to high power binocular microscopes, this I found a little strange since these would appear to be the mainstay of the professional microscopist's toolkit, as I understand it the advantage of these over the monocular microscope is that they are more relaxing to use than a monocular microscope.
There is a useful section on preparation of specimens which describes techniques that don't utilise the aforementioned hazardous chemicals. There is a brief chapter on suitable initial object to study and a slightly more extensive chapter on pond life subjects.
The book then moves on to photomicrography, and this is where I first began to have misgivings about the book. The initial sections about attaching a camera to a microscope are fine, though this then goes on to recommend the use of very expensive software (Adobe Photoshop CS) which a casual user might baulk at the cost of. There then follows three whole chapters devoted to 3D imaging, presentation of 3D images and finally the creation of computer-generated 3D models. It's obvious that the author has a great enthusiasm for the whole subject of 3D imaging, but I would have felt that this was definitely a specialised interest, worth a brief discussion but not the extensive treatment it gets here. The whole 3D modelling chapter seems to have little connection with microscopy at all.
Finally the author moves on to producing and posting videos about microscopy. This is all very worthy advice for a budding videographer, with emphasis on telling a story, creating a script, adding sound, commentary, music, etc. Clearly the author makes such videos, but how many readers are going to want to do this? The advice is certainly not microscopy related, it would apply just as well to making bird watching videos, travelogs or whatever. It feels seriously out of place to me and has the look of padding.
So, in conclusion I feel the author has somewhat failed to correctly identify his audience. I would have loved to see more information on specimen preparation and suitable projects at the expense of the latter third of the book. Maybe issue the whole 3D section as a separate book for those interested in this?
Four stars, because the initial section was good, it just needs to be expanded.
The style is uncomplicated and clear and the approach is methodical and down-to-earth. Here you can learn what sort of microscopes are worth buying, and where to obtain quality equipment. There are money-saving tips for those on a tight budget, and a real sense of progression in both skills and equipment as you read through the book. I have no doubt this will be a book to refer to again and again at the microscope in the future. I look forward to Mol's next publication with enthusiasm - a workbook of projects and experiments for hobby microscopists perhaps? All in all a book like this leaves me with one pressing question: why is there no T.V. show dedicated to microscopy as there is to astronomy? Mol Smith has demonstrated the huge potential of microscopy as a hobby; this book and his website microscopyuk are highly recommended as the best place to start.