Compound microscope vs. stereo microscope

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In 2008, the TEAM 0.5 debuted. It is the world’s most powerful transmission electron microscope and is capable of producing images half a ten-billionth a meter.

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Which compound or stereo microscope is better?

Take a closer look at your surroundings and get a brand-new perspective of the world with the aid of the right microscope. When it comes down to it, they are so much more than scientific instruments and can be a fun way to explore the environment around you in completely new ways. When choosing between these two most popular options, it helps to understand their key features, differences, and capabilities. There are many distinctions between a compound microscope and a stereo microscope, but most notable is how they work, their capability of magnification, and the imagery they produce to the human eye. 

Compound microscopes

First invented in the late 16th century by Hans and Zacharias Janssen, a Dutch father and son team, the first so-called compound microscope was invented by discovering that if they put a lens at the top and bottom of a tube and looked through it, objects on the other end became magnified. Today, it uses two sets of lenses as well as multiple eyepieces and focal lengths to obtain higher levels of magnification.

A compound microscope provides a two-dimensional image with a magnification in the range of 40x to 1000x. They are used to view small samples, typically placed on a slide, that could never be identified or seen with the naked eye, revolutionizing our understanding of science and medicine. They come in a wide range of capability and price range, with beginner models starting off around $70 and professional-grade models coming in at up to $715. 

Compound microscope pros

These microscopes provide a high level of magnification that enables views at a cellular level. Most often, they do not require batteries and use power from an outlet to illuminate a single LED bulb. They also have the precision for a professional capability while remaining easy to use and understand for less experienced users. The head design allows for quick and easy changes to magnifications and the turning knob is adjustable to allow distance between the lens and the subject. 

Compound microscope cons

These microscopes are only capable of delivering a two-dimensional view, unlike the three-dimensional view provided by a stereomicroscope and they are not suitable for larger specimens such as rocks, jewelry, or larger objects. Also, they must be used on a perfectly flat surface to work properly and often require glass slides. 

What are the best compound microscopes to buy?

AmScope Siedentopf Binocular Compound Microscope

AmScope Siedentopf Binocular Compound Microscope 

This microscope provides high magnification and precision is enabled. With slide manipulation along the X and Y-axis to allow coordinates to be recorded, the viewer can return to a specific location on the slide.

Sold by Amazon

OMAX LED Binocular Compound Microscope

OMAX LED Binocular Compound Microscope

The nosepiece of this microscope is a revolving quadruple, which delivers a wider variety of focal lengths and magnifications. It also has lens wipes and slides included in the package.

Sold by Amazon

Swift SW350T Research-Grade Trinocular Compound Lab Microscope

Swift SW350T Research-Grade Trinocular Compound Lab Microscope

A very adaptable microscope with a trinocular head that is capable of accepting additional eyepieces and camera attachments. The LED illuminates from below the slide and is dimmable to ensure a proper view.

Sold by Amazon

Stereo microscopes

Horatio S. Greenough was an American biologist and instrument maker that developed the first stereo microscope in the early 1890s. The fundamental innovation that sets it apart from a compound microscope is its separate objective lenses and eyepieces that result in two separate optical paths for each eye. The slightly different angling views to the left and right eyes produce a three-dimensional visual, and because of this, it is also referred to as the dissecting microscope.

A stereo microscope today will provide a magnification of 10x to 40x and can handle larger items that don’t require a slide. Some can be connected to computers and LED screens to deliver larger amounts of data, information, and visual imagery. Many different options are available and they range in price from $80 to higher-end models being up to $700. 

Stereo microscope pros

When using a stereo microscope, there is more room under the microscope for larger samples such as computer chips, flowers or woven fabrics. Slides are often not required, which means less fragile parts and accessories to purchase, store and transport. It also provides a three-dimensional view to see different angles and viewpoints of the observed specimens. Its viewfinder is positioned at a 45-degree angle for easy viewing with less neck strain. 

Stereo microscope cons

Stereo microscopes often require a power source such as a plug-in outlet or battery. They do not provide as much magnification and are only suitable for larger specimens. You can’t see things at a cellular level with this type of microscope and it may be more difficult to store and transport. Stereo microscopes often aren’t as user-friendly and require some experience and getting used to. 

What are the best stereo microscopes to buy?

AmScope Forward-Mounted Binocular Stereo Microscope

AmScope Forward-Mounted Binocular Stereo Microscope 

Enables students and hobbyists to inspect things like rocks, jewelry, and biological specimens. It simplifies viewing with its forward-mounted binocular viewing head and has interchangeable pairs of 10x and 20x widefield eyepieces.

Sold by Amazon

OMAX Binocular Darkfield Stereo Microscope

OMAX Binocular Darkfield Stereo Microscope

Perfect for gems or jewelry, this microscope has a total magnification of 20x, 40x, and 80x with a darkfield stage and upper illumination. Any manufacturer defects are covered with a five-year warranty.

Sold by Amazon

Swift Digital Professional Trinocular Stereo Zoom Microscope

Swift Digital Professional Trinocular Stereo Zoom Microscope

Designed for comfortable observation, even for eyeglass wearers. This microscope offers a magnification range of 7x-45x and provides crystal clear imagery.

Sold by Amazon

Should you get a compound or stereo microscope?

When it comes to pure magnification, a compound microscope is the one to choose. A stereo microscope can be a fun device for home or classroom, but when it comes to usability and gaining a new perspective of the smaller worlds that exist around you, a compound microscope is a way to go.

 

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Alec Welsh writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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