Microsc Microanal 25 (3) 699-704 [2019-06-00; online 2019-02-06]
Routine system checks are essential for supervising the performance of an advanced light microscope. Recording and evaluating the point spread function (PSF) of a given system provides information about the resolution and imaging. We compared the performance of fluorescent and gold beads for PSF recordings. We then combined the open-source evaluation software PSFj with a newly developed KNIME pipeline named PSFtracker to create a standardized workflow to track a system's performance over several measurements and thus over long time periods. PSFtracker produces example images of recorded PSFs, plots full-width-half-maximum (FWHM) measurements over time and creates an html file which embeds the images and plots, together with a table of results. Changes of the PSF over time are thus easily spotted, either in FWHM plots or in the time series of bead images which allows recognition of aberrations in the shape of the PSF. The html file, viewed in a local browser or uploaded on the web, therefore provides intuitive visualization of the state of the PSF over time. In addition, uploading of the html file on the web allows other microscopists to compare such data with their own.