Courtesy of Carl Zeiss MicroImaging

For researchers who make live-action movies of cellular processes, Jena, Germany-based Carl Zeiss' http://www.zeiss.com new LSM 5 LIVE confocal microscope system may be the equivalent of moving from flip books to movie cameras.

The new microscope "lets us quantify a higher order of dynamic processes," says Mary Dickinson, assistant professor of molecular physiology and biophysics at Baylor College of Medicine, who helped Zeiss develop the new system. "You're able to collect images much faster and still maintain a reasonable sensitivity for biological work."

Two improvements give the 5 LIVE those advantages. First, the system captures full 512 × 512-pixel images at 120 frames per second, about 25 times faster than previous models. (In contrast, big-screen movies display 30 frames per second.) Typical confocals illuminate and capture one pixel at a time, scanning a sample point-by-point through a pattern of pinholes, but the 5 LIVE projects...

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