This Letter analyzes the imaging performance of Bessel beam microscopy (BBM), an imaging technique that places an axicon in the light path of a microscope. Like other superresolution imaging techniques that attempt to narrow the point spread function, in BBM there is a trade-off between spatial resolution and relative brightness of the images. The performance of BBM is analyzed using two parameters, gain and Strehl ratio, which measure the relative spatial resolution increase and relative brightness of the images, respectively. Analytical relationships for both of these parameters are provided and compared to results calculated from simulations. Finally, an optimized BBM system design is presented which has a gain of 0.7 and a Strehl ratio of 0.9.
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