Best Stereo Microscope – A Comprehensive Guide

44202b000s0bc86pt01There are many types of microscopes available for the professional and the hobbyist and each one has variations in the way they work and what they are used for. Like all light microscopes, the stereo microscopes utilizes photons or light to illuminate the specimen, however it has other distinct differences.

Today stereo microscope are used to make a myriad of modern products and for activities including watch repair, circuit repair as well as many other things that require low magnification and 3D visualization.

Stereo Microscopes Reviews

What is a Stereo Microscope?

To most people a stereomicroscopes is just like any other, and they wouldn’t be able to distinguish one from any other kind of light microscope, yet there are some key differences in the way they function and what they are used for.

A dissecting microscope is distinct from other types of microscopes for three main reasons:

  • It utilizes incident light illumination as opposed to light passing straight through the sample (transmitted light illumination).
  • It’s used for low magnification only.
  • It provides three-dimensional visualization.

How Do they Work?

A stereoscopic microscope works by utilizing two unique optical paths as opposed to just one, this is achieved with the use of two objective lens and two eyepieces that provide varying views of the sample at different angles.

The lighting is reflected from a source or incident as opposed to being passed through the sample, providing great visualization of the sample surface.

As they only provide a low magnification yet yield a 3D image it makes them great for certain activities. For example they are commonly used dissecting, hence the name dissecting microscope. They are also used to work with other intricate structures that do not require significant magnification, for instance watch making and repair, jewelry and microsurgery.

A very common misconception is that it is a binocular compound microscope, but it is not.

History of the Stereo Microscope

In 1645 the first primitive one was designed by a monk called Antonius Maria de Rheita, and the principle of stereoscopic vision was first defined in 1832 by English physicist Charles Wheatstone.

In 1853 the first binocular microscope was unveiled by John Leonhard Riddel, this was able to provide the first three-dimensional image, yet it was reversed (pseudoscopic).

In 1890 Horatio S. Greenough presented the first design principle which is still used to this day and used to create most optical equipment.

In 1957 the stereomicroscope was modernized by the American Optical Company who introduced the first shared main objective.

What Should You Look For?

There is a lot of choice and exactly which one you select is usually determined by your requirements and budget. However there are key features you should familiarize yourself with so you understand exactly what’s on offer, some of these include:

Fixed magnification – microscopes with fixed magnification are the most basic type and as a result are the least expensive. Fixed basically describes microscopes that don’t have the capacity to zoom in on specimens, instead you will simply have to adjust the magnification lens (objective). These microscopes are still very useful, yet for a little more you can easily secure one with the ability to zoom.

Greenough – the Greenough microscopes have all of the most desired features including the ability to zoom, high magnification and superb stereo imaging. These are typically preferred by professionals carrying out frequent and demanding activities, such as dissecting biological specimens. Still, compared to many microscopes, these are inexpensive and simple to use.

Our Top Picks

AmScope SE400-Z Professional Binocular Stereo Microscope



This binocular microscope is the number one best seller on Amazon and in our view deserves nothing less. This microscope comes equipped with every feature you could imagine to provide an easy and optimized experience. For instance, you are getting a binocular viewing head with interchangeable pairs of 10x and 20x widefield eyepieces and a 1x objective which provides low magnification and longer focal length for inspecting large-scale specimens.

To make things even easier it also comes equipped with an adjustable gooseneck LED light to give you the ability to focus light exactly where required. In our opinion, this is the best stereo microscope and has an incredibly reasonable price tag considering the array of features.

Celestron 44202 Advanced 



Another contender is this advanced microscope by Celestron, a brand with a big reputation is always an advantage when investing in such a sophisticated tool. That’s why this microscope with 20x power and 40x power and 360° rotatable binocular head made it on our list.

Another major factor people often overlook when choosing a microscope is how delicate lenses are, that’s why this one having fully coated glass optics is such a big deal. It’s crucial your lenses are scratch and dust resistant as this type of damage can render a microscope useless, thus the lenses being coated is a major safeguard to the longevity of your microscope.

AmScope SM-3TZ Professional Stereo Zoom Microscope



Last in our top picks is this trinocular microscope, ideal for the professional including the manipulation of dental appliances and circuit boards.  It is equipped with very impressive features, including a viewing head with a pair of 10x super-wide-field eyepieces, adjustable interpupillary distance, and fixed 45-degree vertical angle to prevent eye and neck strain. An advantageous feature is ambient lighting which illuminates the specimen, eradicating the necessity for power or batteries.