The sciences call to you, whether by choice or fulfilling a required class. Regardless of the science you choose to pursue, you will need a good microscope at your side to unlock all of the glorious secrets hidden to the naked eye. The question is, “do I need a stereomicroscope or a compound microscope?” Well we are here to answer your question, and you decide the stereomicroscope vs. compound microscope equation.
What will you be studying?
Before you get too deep in your search, we need to determine what you will be placing under your microscope. The primary difference in the stereomicroscope vs compound Microscope discussion is the magnification ability of the scope itself.
Your stereomicroscope is also known as a dissecting microscope and is generally used to get a closer look at subjects that you plan on working with, with your hands. If you are in biology this scope will be a great tool to help get a closer look for precision cuts while you are dissecting any number of species.
This is also a great option for geologists that are looking to analyze striations in rock. Perhaps one of the greatest applications for stereomicroscopes is in the field of engineering and computer technology. The stereomicroscope gives you the perfect amount of magnification to clearly see areas where precise welding or soldering means the difference between a working machine or a sloppy paperweight.
The microscope option allows you to view things that would be impossible with the naked eye. The compound is a great option for students who are studying microbiology or are planning on going into the medical field. The higher magnification allows for intense magnification to study cells, blood, and tissues. Biologists, chemists, geneticists, and medical research are fields that are most likely to take advantage of a microscope.
Now that you know the differences for stereomicroscope vs compound microscope, lets jump into the ability of the scopes to make things larger. A stereomicroscope has the ability to magnify an object usually between 10 and 50 times its actual size.
The compound microscope has the capability of magnifying your specimen in a huge range of 40 to 1000 times the actual size of an object. This makes the compound microscope hugely versatile for examining the smallest things, but at the same time isn’t useful for dissections or working with larger specimens.
Life is a stage
The stage of a microscope is the area of the scope where you place the object you will be examining.
One of the primary reasons that the stereomicroscope is better for large object work is that they typically a fixed stage, or no stage at all. This allows you more space to work with tools, or have animals, insects, or rocks without risking scratching or damaging the microscope lens.
A compound microscope usually has a moveable stage that can be adjusted vertically, and sometimes horizontally, to allow you adjust the part of your subject that is in the field of view.
Let there be light
The final major difference between compound and stereomicroscopes is the source of light. Stereo is lighted from above to allow ample illumination of your work subject. Compound microscopes light the subject from below through an adjustable diaphragm. For this reason, you need to have a subject that is thin and light permeable.
Stereomicroscope vs. Compound Microscope
In the end, the choice of microscope, and the primary difference is in what you will be using if for. So, before you make the scope leap make sure you dial in what you will be studying and working on.