Which stereo microscopes are best?
Depending on how you plan to use it, finding the best stereo microscope for your needs can actually make a huge difference. However, making sense of the various microscope types and features out there is daunting and may require a little time spent learning about them. In any case, microscopes that offer your preferred level of magnification, adjustability and lighting are your best bet.
Whether you’re a science teacher, student, watchmaker or other microscopic material inspector, the AmScope SE400-Z Professional Binocular Stereo Microscope is a great pick for microscope users at many levels, and it offers up to 20x magnification, which is suitable for the needs of most users.
What to know before you buy a stereo microscope
How you’ll use your stereo microscope
Ultimately, the best stereo microscopes should suit the needs of the user best, so the way you plan to use your microscope may affect which model is best for you. For instance, some users may need a microscope with dual-axis adjustability if their specimens are too large, or others may prefer a bundle with multiple eyepiece sets if they’ll be using different magnification levels often.
Dissecting microscope vs. compound microscope
The two most common types of microscopes include compound microscopes and dissecting microscopes, which are usually called stereo microscopes. While compound microscopes include a smaller viewing area and a more higher-powered magnification than stereo microscopes, the latter feature the benefit of offering two separate optical paths to give the viewer a 3D look at the specimen or sample.
Upper and lower lighting sources
Most basic stereo microscopes should include both an upper and lower light source, since these allow the user to fully see a given specimen. The more magnified an image is, the more light is actually needed to see the sample, so the inclusion of both light sources is a necessary and useful element.
What to look for in a quality stereo microscope
The range of magnification your stereo microscope offers is probably going to be the most important thing to consider, since it’s the main feature of the product. In general, stereo microscopes tend to magnify between 2x and 60x, with some offering a little more, though anything beyond this magnification level will likely require more light and a compound microscope.
The ability to adjust a microscope is a highly useful feature, since it allows the user to change exactly where the scope is pointed. While most microscopes will, at least, let the user adjust the vertical degree of the microscope, others feature dual-axis adjustability for adjusting the microscope’s view on both horizontal and vertical axes.
LED or halogen lighting
Most stereo microscopes feature two different lights, one below the sample and one above. While the majority of contemporary stereo microscopes include LED lighting for these purposes, some also include halogen light. Halogen lights are easier to change than LED lights, which can be both expensive and a little tougher to change, though they may not last as long as LEDs.
How much you can expect to spend on a stereo microscope
Cheap stereo microscopes cost as little as $40-$80, while mid-tier models typically range from $100-$400. Professional-level and other stereo microscopes can cost upwards of $500, and sometimes over $1,000.
Stereo microscope FAQ
What is a stereo microscope?
A. A stereo microscope, sometimes called a dissecting microscope, is a microscope that offers low levels of magnification with the use of two optical paths via a binocular or trinocular eyepiece. Most stereo microscopes allow the user to magnify a sample somewhere between 2x and 60x, usually including both upper and lower light sources.
Can stereo microscopes see 3D?
A. Since stereo microscopes use two optical paths, unlike compound microscopes or others, these allow the user to see samples or specimens in 3D.
What’s the best stereo microscope to buy?
Top stereo microscope
What you need to know: Those who need a top-tier or professional-use stereo microscope are likely to find everything they need in a dissecting microscope with this powerful model from AmScope.
What you’ll love: Featuring 10x and 20x magnification, this stereo microscope is great for most, offering added adjustability up to 9 inches vertically and about 12 inches horizontally. Most of all, users prefer this model’s convenient boom arm, which makes it easy to see items under the lens, even if they’re fairly big.
What you should consider: This model’s stand was found to be a little bit annoying by some of its buyers.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Top stereo microscope for the money
What you need to know: For a more affordable price than most, this forward-mounted microscope offers up to 40x magnification and upper and lower light sources.
What you’ll love: With a 45-degree forward-mounted viewing angle, this mid-tier microscope from AmScope features upper and lower LED lights, and interchangeable 2x and 4x viewing objectives. This model can be powered with a simple AC plug or four AA batteries.
What you should consider: The stereo microscope’s light failed for some users after years of use.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Worth checking out
What you need to know: With up to 60x magnification and a fair price, this halogen light-based stereo microscope features a comfortable forward binocular mount, and both 1x and 3x objectives.
What you’ll love: This model comes at a fair price and includes impressive magnification of 10x, 20x, 30x or 60x, along with an easy-to-use 45-degree mounted set of eyepieces. It plugs in using a 120-volt AC power supply and is great for use in classrooms, offices or at home.
What you should consider: Some buyers preferred LED lights to halogen lights and decided to go with a different model.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
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Peter McGuthrie writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
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