Stereo versus Biological Microscopes

What is the difference between a stereo microscope and a biological microscope? And why would you choose to purchase a stereo microscope instead of a biological microscope? Let's take a look at the differences between the two types of microscopes.

Biological Microscope Labeled

Take a look at the biological microscope shown above and notice these features:

  • The stage only has room on it for microscope slides, no room for large or bulky specimens.
  • The only light on a biology microscope comes from beneath the stage.
  • The magnification of a biological microscope is much higher than that of a stereo microscope.
  • Magnification is changed by revolving the nose piece so a new objective lens (either 4x, 10x, 40x or 100x) is in place.

Stereo Microscope Labeled

The stereo microscope shown above has several features that are not available on a biological microscope:

  • Plenty of working area for larger objects such as rocks, flowers, large insects, metal parts, etc.
  • The light comes both from above and beneath the stage. If you wanted to look at a solid object (such as a coin) you could light the object from above.
  • The knob on the side of the head of the microscope allows zoom magnification - you can see every magnification between 7x - 46x, which means you can see 7x, 8x, 9x, etc.

In conclusion, depending on what type of sample you need to view will determine whether a stereo microscope or a biological microscope is better for your needs. Below is a chart with some specimens and the microscope best suited to view those items.

 Biological Microscope
  Stereo Microscope
 Blood cells
 Bacteria    Rocks
 Protozoans    Coins
 Pond Water
   Printed Circuit Boards
 Prepared Slides
   Industrial metal parts
 Skin cells
   Fabric weave
 Dust particles

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