The Microbehunter
Amateur Microscopy Podcast
Beginner, Buying | May 8, 2017
[MH002] Should I buy a stereo or a compound microscope?

Here we will have a look at the advantages and disadvantages of the different microscope types.


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.

«
»
Microbehunter Amateur Microscopy Podcast (2017)