Stereo Microscope : Part & Characteristics

Stereo Microscope can also be termed as a dissecting microscope or stereoscopic microscope. It is an optical microscope that is designed for low magnification which uses reflected light on examination of a sample.

It also provides two viewing angles; that is from right to the left and it is arranged to produce a 3D visualization of the sample being observed.

Therefore, this type of Microscope is usually used when studying solid specimens or when carrying out other procedures like circuit board manufacture, microsurgery, dissection. It can also be useful in forensic engineering.

However, most people tend to confuse stereo Microscope with a compound microscope because it is equipped with a double eyepiece.

Well, the image obtained has no major difference than that of a single monocular eyepiece.

Parts of stereo Microscope

part of stereo microscope

The following are the parts of a stereo Microscope.

Stage plate

This is the part where the specimens are normally placed so that it can be subjected to examination. The slate plate should be large enough to allow it to hold samples being examined.

Stage clips

The stage clips are used to hold the slides containing the spaceman onto the stage plate. This is to ensure it is stable enough so that there can be a steady observation of the sample.

Light controls

Most specimens that are examined on a stereo microscope are largely opaque which requires transmitted illumination to shed some light on the sample.

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Therefore, this microscope contains light controls that have both the bottom and top illumination to shed some light on the specimen which is under examination.

The light intensity can be regulated using the light controls which is positioned slightly above the stage plate.

Focus Knob

The focus knob is used to lower or raise both the eyepieces and objective lenses. This is the same as those in the compound microscope where the stage can be lowered or raised.

Besides, it is also used to adjust the objective lens until you get a clear focal point to enable you to view the specimen.

Objective lens

Stereo microscopes can be equated to binoculars because they have an objective lens for each eye. The tube holding the objectives can be rotated to get different magnifications.


This is what you normally use to look at the top of the microscope. The standard eyepiece has a magnification power of 10x though there are varying powers available ranging from 5x- 30x depending on levels of magnification.


This is the adjustment ring which allows for inconsistencies on both eyes to accommodate different distances from different individual eyes.

Characteristics of Stereo Microscopes

  • They have dual magnification which provides more levels of magnification without compromising optic quality.
  • The focal length of the microscope can be altered using a Barlow lens.
  • It offers zoom magnification which is similar to that of an SLR camera or binoculars.
  • Magnified images can be displayed on a high-resolution monitor by integrating video cameras.
  • The recent development on the use of high power LED provides effective illumination, especially for magnifications.
  • It has two separate optical paths and objectives.
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How Do stereo Microscope work

The stereo microscope uses reflected light to illuminate the specimen. It magnifies at a low power which is good for the amplification of opaque objects.

This microscope is very helpful when it comes to the examination of thick and solid samples because the light is naturally reflected in the specimen.

The magnification range of stereomicroscope ranges between 20 x to 50x. Opaque objects like flowers, insects, mineral specimen and coins can be visible under the microscope magnification.

Dissecting vs Compound Microscope

Understanding the difference between the dissecting and compound microscope will help you in distinguishing them and their functional differences. So let’s get to it.

A dissecting or stereo microscope is different from the compound microscope. In a stereomicroscope, the image is not backward or upside down unlike the case of a compound microscope. Its images are usually upright.

Stereo microscopes provide optical paths that result in 3D images whereas a compound microscope has only a single path hence it displays the same image to both the right and the left eye.

A compound microscope can be used to examine samples under the magnification of 40x -1000x or more. This includes bacteria, chromosomes, blood counts, plant and animal cells.

On the other hand, a stereo microscope provides a stereo zoom that uses low magnification with a range between 1x-4x or continuous zoom magnification between a range of 0.7x to 4.5x.

This makes it ideal to view electronic components such as circuits, jewelry, surface soldering, botanical dissections, insects and fossil examination.

When is stereo Microscope Used

The stereo microscope is mainly used for dissecting purposes because one can work the specimen as he proceeds with the examination of the sample.

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This is different from a compound microscope because the dissecting microscope has a longer working distance range that can allow you to perform microsurgery or dissect objects.

This microscope gives a 3D visualization that allows a thorough examination of the samples. It is because of this reason that biologists, paleontologists, and technicians use it to examine their specimens.

What are the Advantages and Disadvantages of a dissecting microscope

The following are the Advantages and Disadvantages of a Stereo microscope.


  • It provides binocular vision because it has two eyepieces which allow for less eyestrain and better focus.
  • It has a greater field of view because of low magnification.
  • It can be used to dissect live specimen so long as it is not microscopic.
  • It provides an enhanced view of the specimen because light can be placed anywhere not necessarily from below.


  • It has low magnification power unlike the compound microscope
  • It is not possible to examine the microscopic specimen.


The stereo microscope is designed for research, forensic inspection, quality control, and medical industry.

Additionally, a quality stereo microscope is available within Amazon stores and other retailer companies at an affordable price with as low as 145 dollars.

Therefore when buying stereomicroscope ensure it is well equipped and all the parts are functional so that you can maximize it.

Read : History of Binocular

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