Simon, J. M. and Comastri, S. A.
The compound microscope: Optical tube length or parfocalization?  European Journal of Physics 26: 1101-1105 (2005).

In various well-known textbooks for undergraduate students of physics, the compound microscope is described as having a standardized 'optical tube length'. On the other hand, in order to fulfil the parfocalization condition required by the human visual system to understand the relation between what is viewed with and without the microscope, the distance between the object and its image through the objective must remain constant as objectives are interchanged. In this paper, we show that these two requirements are not compatible in microscopes containing a revolver with various objectives and that the 'optical tube length' (which differs from the mechanical tube length) cannot be standardized. Moreover, we consider the Deutsche Industrie Norm (DIN) and the Japanese Industry Standards (JIS) norms employed in the microscope industry for standardization of the object-to-intermediate image distance, the parfocal distance and the mechanical tube length.