The Zeiss LSM 510 META system is the multiple award winning flagship of the Zeiss microscope range. The LSM 510 META is an extremely versatile laser scanning confocal microscope system available in both an upright or inverted format. This system is equipped with Zeiss’ ICS-Optics and a large selection of dry, water immersion and oil immersion objectives are available. ICS-Optics are infinity color corrected producing and all ICS-Optics have a 45 mm parafocal length. At the heart of the LSM 510 META system is Zeiss’ innovative multi-channel detection system which can spectrally separate overlapping emission signals. By doing so, the LSM 510 META allows the user to simultaneously scan up to 10 fluorophores simultaneously. My work with this system has predominantly been fluorescence in situ hybridization studies of bacterial communities, visualising 3 fluorescently labelled probes (please give a few examples of the fluorophores you’ve used) with the Plan-Apochromat 63x and 100x oil immersion objectives. I have found the images produced by this system to be very sharp and rich in detail.
The Zeiss LSM510 META is a complex instrument, adaptable to a wide variety of applications. Without a good technician, it is unlikely that the average user will be able to use this instrument to its full potential With the appropriate training, however, the LSM 510 META is surprisingly easy to learn to use and use becomes almost intuitive. The microscope itself is well laid out and comfortable to use over prolonged periods. Operation of this system is almost exclusively through the attached computer system and the software coupled with the system is well-designed and supports a large array of applications without becoming overly complex. The stage is motorized and operated through a joy-stick style controller. Fluorescence studies often require the user to regularly switch filters. The LSM 501 META is set with the buttons for changing the filters positioned just behind the left focus knob, allowing the user to flick between the channels of interest without taking their hands off the microscope controls.
One of the strongest features of the LSM 510 META system is the image storage software. The Zeiss LSM 5 image browser not only produces a library of the images taken, but records important data such as the scan mode, lasers, objectives and filters used, the pinhole and stack size for each image. Notes can be assigned to each image and multiple images can be saved with the same name. The software also allows the user to customize the image, such as assigning colors to each channel before exporting the image.
The Zeiss LSM 510 META system is the most complete microscopy package that I have had the pleasure of using. The optics of this system are nothing short of spectacular and the image acquisition and storage software is amongst the best I have used. In short, this system sets the benchmark for laser scanning microscopes. I would stress, however, that the best accessory for a system such as this is a good technician.