This article provides information on the basic components of a light microscope, including the illumination system, collector lens, and optical and mechanical components. It describes optical performance in terms of image aberrations, resolution, and depth of field. The article discusses the examination of specimen surfaces using polarized light, phase contrast, oblique illumination, dark-field illumination, bright-field illumination, interference-contrast illumination, and phase contrast illumination. Special techniques and devices that may be used with the optical microscope, to obtain additional information, are also described. The article concludes with information on photomicroscopy and macrophotography.