Differences between stereo and compound microscopes
- Both stereo and compound microscopes are used by amateur micoscopists.
- Compound microscopes give a higher magnification and are used for specimens that are small and transparent.
- Stereo microscopes can be used for specimens that are opaque (do not allow light to pass)
Buy a stereo microscope if…
- if you already have a hobby that might benefit from stereo microscopes (stamp collecting, mineral collecting etc.)
- if you want to do microscopy with small children. The stereo microscopes give an impressive 3D image and the object looks much bigger but not as abstract.
- if the specimens that you want to look at are large, you can put them directly under the stereo microscope.
- if you do not want to do much specimen preparation
- if you are interested in macro-photography
Buy a compound microscope if…
- if you want to look as small specimens.
- if you want to make specimen slides yourself.
- if you want to see cells
What to do if you still can not decide
If you can not decide whether to buy a stereo or compound microscope, or if you are starting out the hobby, then buy the compound microscope. Sooner or later you might buy a stereo microscope anyway. The reasons are:
- Compound microscopes are more difficult to use and will therefore give you more opportunities to “do things”. There are also more things to learn.
- Most amateur microscopists use compound microscopes as their primary device, so you are then in a community that uses mostly the same type of microscope.
- as they are the way to go if you want to observe water samples, which is one of the more common things to look at
- You can buy ready-made slides to look at. It is possible to look at them also with stereo microscopes, but often the interesting things are too small to be seen with a stereo microscope.
Ultimately many amateur microscopists will own both microscope types.