What you need Dan is a scanning electron microscope - no good for color, however. I don't think a mere
250K will buy one of those, however ... perhaps a used one.... And confocal techniques per se won't resolve critical diffraction issues. Apochromaticity at high magnifications requires a very specialized kind
of hybrid correction, way out of my $ league. I'd be happy just to have one of those Zeiss research microscopes like I used in college, along with a sheet film holder. They're common, but still in demand
enough to be expensive. The Polaroid holders could be adapted to standard sheet film I think. Or the
Sinar system itself can be adapted to high magnifcation work - you just need a very stable base column
and a lot of rail sections and bellows. I don't really understand all this fuss, however ... unless someone needs 1:1 or some other fixed scale of reproduction, the larger film at smaller aperture will
give better results, and in something printed small like publication, it won't matter anyway. Sometimes
it's fun to look at images on Nikons "Small World" site. Most are false color and taken with expensive
gear from their medical imaging division.