Imaging has rapidly become a defining tool of the current era in biological research. But finding the right method and optimizing it for data collection can be a daunting process, even for an established imaging laboratory. Cold Spring Harbor Protocols is one of the world’s leading sources for detailed technical instruction for implementation of imaging methods, and the November issue features articles detailing standard and cutting-edge laboratory techniques.

The confocal microscope is a workhorse of the modern life science laboratory. Its popularity stems from its ability to permit volume objects to be imaged and rendered in three dimensions. But the confocal microscope itself does not produce three-dimensional images; in fact, it only images very thin sections of a specimen that lie within its focal region. To produce a three-dimensional image, a series of thin optical sections are collected, and computer processing is used to combine them into a volumetric rendering. In the first of November’s featured articles, Spinning-Disk Microscopy Systems, Oxford University’s Tony Wilson reviews the many methods for producing optical sections, of which the confocal optical system is just one. He also describes a number of convenient methods of implementation that can lead to, among other things, real-time image formation. The paper, like all our featured articles, is freely available to subscribers and non-subscribers alike.