Since staining can kill specimens, there are times when darkfield microscopy is used instead.In darkfield microscopy the condenser is designed to form a hollow cone of light (see illustration below), as apposed to brightfield microscopy that illuminates the sample with a full cone of light. In darkfield microscopy, the objective lens sits in the dark hollow of this cone and light travels around the objective lens, but does not enter the cone shaped area. The entire field of view appears dark when there is no sample on the microscope stage. However, when a sample is placed on the stage it appears bright against a dark background. It is similar to back-lighting an object that may be the same color as the background it sits against - in order to make it stand out.
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