International test results for objective lens quality, resolution, spectral accuracy and spectral separation for confocal laser scanning microscopes

Microsc Microanal. 2013 Dec;19(6):1653-68. doi: 10.1017/S1431927613013470. Epub 2013 Oct 8.


As part of an ongoing effort to increase image reproducibility and fidelity in addition to improving cross-instrument consistency, we have proposed using four separate instrument quality tests to augment the ones we have previously reported. These four tests assessed the following areas: (1) objective lens quality, (2) resolution, (3) accuracy of the wavelength information from spectral detectors, and (4) the accuracy and quality of spectral separation algorithms. Data were received from 55 laboratories located in 18 countries. The largest source of errors across all tests was user error which could be subdivided between failure to follow provided protocols and improper use of the microscope. This truly emphasizes the importance of proper rigorous training and diligence in performing confocal microscopy experiments and equipment evaluations. It should be noted that there was no discernible difference in quality between confocal microscope manufactures. These tests, as well as others previously reported, will help assess the quality of confocal microscopy equipment and will provide a means to track equipment performance over time. From 62 to 97% of the data sets sent in passed the various tests demonstrating the usefulness and appropriateness of these tests as part of a larger performance testing regiment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • International Cooperation
  • Microbiology / education
  • Microscopy, Confocal / instrumentation*
  • Microscopy, Confocal / standards*