Resolving Power vs Magnification
Resolving power and magnification are two very important concepts discussed under optics. The theories of resolving power and magnification play a major role in fields such as astronomy, astrophysics, navigation, biology and any other field that has applications of optics. In this article, we are going to discuss what resolving power and magnification are, their definitions and applications, and finally compare resolving power and magnification and present the difference between resolving power and magnification.
Magnification is a property discussed in optics. In more common words, magnification means how many times the original image is magnified by a certain object or a method. The simplest kind of magnification is the magnification glass. This is also known as the simple microscope. There are two methods for calculating magnification and other optical properties. These are ray diagrams and matrix representation. Ray diagrams are a simple method used to calculate factors such as magnification, object distance, image distance, whether the image is real or imaginary, and other related phenomena. The matrix method is also capable of doing all these calculations. The ray diagrams are suitable for a small number of optical components (1 to 3), and the matrix method is much easier when it comes to large and complex systems. The magnification of objects seen through telescopes and compound microscopes depends on the focal length of the objective element and the eyepiece lens.
The resolving power is another very important topic discussed in optics. When the human eye or any imaging device sees an object what it actually sees is the diffraction pattern created by the object. The iris of the human eye or the aperture of the device works as a sharp edge to create diffraction. When two objects that are close to each other are seen through such a device, the diffraction patterns of these two objects tend to overlap. If the diffraction patterns of these two objects are sufficiently separated, these are seen as two separate objects. If they are too overlapped, they are seen as one object. The resolving power is the ability of an instrument to resolve these close objects. The resolving power is defined as the minimum angular separation between two objects to see them as separate objects. The resolving power depends on the aperture of the instrument and the wavelength of the observed light.
What is the difference between Magnification and Resolving Power?
• Magnification gives how many times the image has been magnified by the instrument. Resolving power gives the ability to separate between two closely placed objects.
• The resolving power is the quality or the sharpness of the image. This is why SLR cameras, which have large apertures, produce very sharp images, whereas point and shoot cameras lack in sharpness.
• For instruments such as telescopes and microscopes the resolving power also determines the maximum magnification the instrument can obtain.