Difference Between Similar Terms and Objects

Difference Between Magnification and Resolution

Magnification vs Resolution

Optical instruments are used to enhance images, to analyze light waves, and to determine the characteristics and the properties of a subject. There are several optical instruments that have been created such as; camera, photometer, reflectometer, refractometer, autocollimator, and spectrometer to name a few.

The oldest and most common optical instruments, though, are the microscope and the telescope. The microscope is used for the magnification of small images, and the telescope is used to magnify images from far away.

In viewing these images it is important for them to have a good resolution as well. Resolution is the fineness, sharpness, and clarity of the produced image when viewed through an optical instrument. It is the ability of the instrument to produce a detailed image of a subject. It captures more detail which we can see even if the image is magnified, and it can produce an image that can be examined more closely and clearly. Resolution can be expressed in arcsec or seconds.
Magnification, on the other hand, is the degree which an object is made bigger by using optical instruments such as a telescope or a microscope. They bend light to enlarge an image up to the point when the magnification becomes indistinguishable. It can be expressed by a whole number and a letter “X.”

Magnification and resolution are interdependent of each other. But while high magnification would usually signify high resolution, oftentimes the larger an image becomes, the lesser its resolution because as the image is doubled in size, so is its area. This is due to the irregularity and abnormality in the design of lenses used in optical instruments. When two objects that are held apart and at a distance from the viewer are magnified many times, they will have edges that become blurry, and it becomes impossible to see two separate objects.

To achieve a high magnification and resolution at the same time, a combination of ocular and objective lenses are used with numerical aperture or light range angles that are different. The wavelength by which light hits the object will also affect its resolution; the lower it is, the higher the resolution.


1.Magnification is the ability of optical instruments, such as a telescope or a microscope, to make an object bigger while resolution is the ability of optical instruments to produce images that are clearer, finer, and sharper.
2.Resolution is the power of an optical instrument to capture and produce more details of an image while magnification is the power of an instrument to create and produce a much larger image of an object.
3.Resolution can be expressed in arcsec or seconds while magnification can be expressed by a whole number and the letter “X.”
4.Although both are dependent upon each other, a high magnification does not always guarantee a high resolution.
5.Magnification allows us to see small objects, especially those that are not visible to the naked eye, while resolution allows us to see these objects more clearly and with more details.

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