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Dissecting Microscope v. Stereo Microscope – which one’s cheaper

Updated on February 17, 2010

If you’re looking at purchasing either a dissecting microscope or a stereo microscope you might wondering which one is cheaper.  Dissecting microscopes are microscopes with two eyepieces and low power which get their name from their old-time use of helping in dissection procedures.  Stereo microscopes are microscopes that have a left and a right eyepiece for each eye that helps to produce a three dimensional image which provides better depth perceptions.  Both are low power stereoscopic microscopes and have many applications.  Some of the applications can include biological observations, industrial viewing especially in the electronics and semi conductor industries, dissection of animals, observation of jewelry, rock composition analysis, coin authenticating and many other applications.  So if this sounds like a dissecting microscope or a stereo microscope would be suitable for your needs, how do you go about deciding which one and how can you find a cheap microscope to fit your needs.

No matter which stereoscopic microscope you’re using, one of the biggest and most important things to include in your observations is light.  Lighting is the single most important thing when considering which microscope will fit your needs.  The light illuminating the object will need to come from above the object as opposed to transmission microscopes that require light to come from below the sample.  As I mentioned, a bright light is a necessity and there are a couple of ways that you can make sure to have adequate lighting.  One is to provide independent light from a lamp or other external source.  This can be a good option because you can control the position of the lamp, however, it’s not always easy to get it to illuminate the object the way you want it and most incandescent lights produce a lot of heat which may deteriorate certain samples.  The next option, and a much better one, is to buy dissecting microscopes that have a fiber optic lighting option already installed.  These fiber optic lights are very flexible and can be manipulated to be positioned in just the right way to provide perfect lighting conditions.  On top of this, the fiber optic lights produce much less heat which will keep the sample cooler.

When using these types of microscopes or similar ones (such as a coin microscope) you may want to capture images or record videos.  In these instances it’s important to get a trinocular microscope.  These are similar to the binocular microscope (a.k.a. stereo microscope) only they offer an additional port for a camera to be installed.  This option will cost considerably more; however, this is a onetime price that presumably would get a lot of use. 

The last thing to look for when purchasing dissecting microscopes is the magnification.  Many of the stereoscopic microscopes are compound microscopes which means they have multiple objectives that allow you to choose what power you want to look at your sample with.  Typically these powers range from 10x to 40x to 100x with the higher power meaning more magnification and a bigger image.  Don’t be fooled by the power though, just because it has a large power doesn’t mean that it’s a better image.

To find the best price on either a dissecting microscope or a stereo microscope you’ll need to shop around online.  A lot of the online microscope retailers have good deals on cheap microscopes.  Since they specialize in microscopes they’ll be able to help you find the right stereoscopic microscope you need and provide you with good customer service.  If you find one that you like you should check with eBay or Amazon to make sure you’re getting the best price on your cheap microscope.  With a little bit of research you should be able to find one in no time.

Other Microscope Resources

Microscopes for Kids - A guide to beginners Microscopes and how to find the right one for your child at the right price


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