Best Stereo Microscopes for Studying Insects & More

When it comes to scientific study, nothing beats having a high-quality microscope. However, these devices come in various shapes, sizes, and capabilities, so how can you know which one will work best? Stereo microscopes are ideal for physical objects, such as biological creatures and samples. While these microscopes won’t allow you to see extra-tiny elements like microbes or bacteria, they will let you get up close and personal with most items.

To help you on your scientific quest, we’ve compiled a list of the best stereo microscopes available online. Whether you’re a rookie biologist or you just want a cool new way to see the world, here is everything you need to know about buying a stereo microscope.

Contents

What is a Stereo Microscope?

The term “stereo” doesn’t just refer to your old boom box. The word actually means “relating to solid forms that have three dimensions.” This definition works perfectly for these kinds of microscopes because that is precisely what they offer. While compound microscopes allow you to see nanosized objects, stereo versions provide a 3D visual. Here are some hallmarks of stereo microscopes:

  • Two Viewing Angles – These devices create a three-dimensional image by replicating how your eyes see. If you look at the object through each lens, you’ll notice that they differ slightly. This setup is ideal for getting a clearer view of your target.
  • Low Magnification – Although you can get pretty close with a stereo microscope, you won’t be able to look at germs or amoeba. Instead, these machines typically max out at around 45-90x magnification. Comparatively speaking, compound microscopes can offer up to 6000x zoom.
  • Light Reflection – If you want to see microscopic particles, you have to be able to look through your specimen. Stereo microscopes are not backlit, meaning that light reflects off of the subject. So, no matter how close you get to your target, you won’t be able to see through it.

Best Stereo Microscopes Reviews

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AmScope SE400-Z Professional Binocular Stereo Microscope

AmScope SE400-Z Professional Binocular Stereo Microscope

As you’ll notice on this list, AmScope is one of the most popular brands for stereo microscopes sale online. The company makes a wide array of models, including this professional-grade version. That said, feel free to use it for at-home experiments as well as engineering and tinkering.

Adjustable LED Downlight / Uplight

Typically, microscopes only have one fixed source of light from the top or bottom (or sometimes, both). However, that can be limiting when working with multi-dimensional items. Fortunately, the SE400-Z uses a bendable LED light, meaning that you can adjust its position for maximum illumination.

9″ x 12″ Boom Arm

Boom arms are excellent for stereo microscopes because they allow you to look closely at a broader range of objects. With a vertical distance of nine inches and a horizontal distance of 12 inches, you can get up close and personal with tons of items, from the tiny to the massive. That said, you do need a stable desk for the base, so keep that in mind.

What Customers are Saying

“The optics are good, the lighting is adequate, and the controls are easy enough to use. I’ve had no issue with the image bouncing around while soldering components. The manual is pretty minimal but, as noted by others, really isn’t needed. As an engineer, I’ve spent 25 years designing custom electronics.”

Pros

  • Durable construction
  • Flexible boom arm
  • Adjustable LED light
  • 20x magnification
  • 1x objective lens for larger objects
  • 9″ vertical distance

Cons

  • Light is not as bright as other models
  • In rare cases, the distance between the lenses is too much, causing image distortion

View / Buy on Amazon

AmScope SE306R-PZ Forward Binocular Stereo Microscope

AmScope SE306R-PZ Forward Binocular Stereo Microscope

Here we have a smaller model from AmScope. Cheap stereo microscopes like this one are ideal for at-home science experiments. If you have a little one that loves to investigate the world around them, this device will be an excellent gift.

10-80x Magnification

Although this microscope’s size is relatively small, it can magnify up to 80 times. Get into the smallest nooks and crannies of your subjects to see them from all angles. Best of all, this microscope comes with rubber eye guards so that you don’t have to hover over the lenses to see anything.

Top and Bottom Lighting

Some subjects are best lit from above, while others are best lit from below. Since this microscope has such intense magnification, you can look through semi-permeable objects like skin and liquid. Although you won’t see bacteria or other minuscule particles, the top and bottom lighting give you more flexibility with your targets.

What Customers are Saying

“I am pleasantly surprised by how good it is. If this is being used as a home-school thing or a child’s gift, it is amazing.”

Pros

  • Top and bottom lighting
  • Up to 80x zoom
  • Halogen lights for cleaner illumination
  • Compact design for smaller projects
  • Comfortable eye guards

Cons

  • Manual can be hard to read
  • Too small for professional applications

View / Buy on Amazon

AmScope – SM-4NTP 7X-45X Simul-Focal Stereo Lockable Zoom Microscope

AmScope - SM-4NTP 7X-45X Simul-Focal Stereo Lockable Zoom Microscope

Stereo zoom microscopes are highly capable and allow you to focus on your subjects more easily. Rather than having to spend so much time adjusting the magnification, you can simply calibrate the zoom setting and get to the right level immediately. This model from AmScope is highly flexible and versatile, making it ideal for professional or personal use.

Trinocular Microscope

When comparing models, trinocular stereo microscopes offer a distinct advantage. Not only can you look through the eyepiece, but you can also set up a camera to look through the third lens. This option allows you to take photos and record videos of your subjects or project what you see onto a screen. So, when using your microscope for teaching or posterity, a trinocular model is ideal.

Super Wide 1 1/4″ Field View

For the uninitiated, the field view of a microscope is the area you see when looking through the lens. The wider it is, the more of your object stays in focus. The SM-4NTP Microscope from AmScope allows you to view more of your target at once, meaning it’s easier to work. Also, if you’re taking photos, you can get a clearer image of what’s happening through the lens.

What Customers are Saying

“I really like this microscope. Before, I’d struggle reworking a circuit board, having difficulty seeing in enough detail to perform the required work. Now it is easy.”

Pros

  • Trinocular design for better imaging
  • Large boom arm for easier maneuvering
  • 45x zoom magnification
  • Super wide field view for better visibility
  • Angled options for microscope head

Cons

  • In rare cases, the boom arm can be hard to move
  • Must hold eyes slightly away from the lenses to see

View / Buy on Amazon

AmScope SM-1BSX-64S Professional Binocular Stereo Zoom Microscope

AmScope SM-1BSX-64S Professional Binocular Stereo Zoom Microscope

For the most part, stereo binocular microscopes are the most common and easiest to use. Some of them come with eye guards, and some don’t, like this model from AmScope. Without the guards, you do have to hover slightly over the lens to get a clear image. Overall, this setup is best for those with glasses or goggles.

LED Ring Light

Sometimes, the illumination that comes from a microscope isn’t sufficient for your needs. Fortunately, the SM-1BSX-54S from AmScope comes with a 64-bulb light. Illuminate the deepest, darkest corners of your subject so that nothing misses your gaze. Best of all, the light is removable for added convenience.

Black and White Stage Plate

Not all microscopes come with a stage plate (for example, stereo boom microscopes), but most of them have a black and white side when they do. This design allows you to see better depending on the brightness of your subject. In some cases, a black background makes it pop, while a white background might blend in too much.

What Customers are Saying

“Impressive piece of equipment. Smooth operation. Nice wide field eyepieces with high eye point for those wearing glasses. The 0.5 aux lens is perfect to give you a wider field of view and higher working distance for SMT work.”

Pros

  • 4.5x optical zoom
  • 45x magnification
  • Professional-grade lenses
  • Black or white stage plate for better visibility
  • Removable ring light for illumination
  • 0.5x lens for larger objects

Cons

  • Assembly can be complicated
  • Over time, the vertical stand can wear down

View / Buy on Amazon

Celestron S10-60 Stereo Microscope

Celestron S10-60 Stereo Microscope

Sometimes, a compact and lightweight microscope is the best option. This unit from Celestron is ideal for at-home use since it doesn’t take up too much counter space. Fortunately, it still has high-quality lenses and features, so don’t think that you’re missing anything.

Insect Specimens Included

If you’re new to the world of microscopes stereo versions can be an excellent introduction. Celestron makes it easy to understand how to use this device because the company provides three insect specimens. Once you learn how to inspect them, you’ll be able to find your own subjects.

Two Sets of Eyepieces

Since this isn’t a zoom microscope, you have to switch eyepieces. However, this feature can be beneficial as you can customize your viewing experience to match your target. One set magnifies up to 10 times, while the other goes to 20. Based on your lens adjustment, you can zoom in up to 60x overall.

What Customers are Saying

“The S10-60 is perfect for meet-point faceting, identification, flaws or just looking for tiny bugs in Amber.”

Pros

  • Durable metal construction
  • Up to 60x magnification
  • Black and white stage plate
  • Insect specimens included
  • Rubber eye guards for comfort
  • Two sets of lenses for large and small objects

Cons

  • Limited field of view
  • Not meant for professional use

AmScope SM-4TZ-56S Professional Trinocular Stereo Zoom Microscope

AmScope SM-4TZ-56S Professional Trinocular Stereo Zoom Microscope

As we mentioned, trinocular models are the best stereo microscopes with camera options. If you want to record your experiment or workflow, something like this version from AmScope is an excellent choice. This professional-grade microscope is perfect for all kinds of activities.

Continuous Zoom Magnification

Sometimes, you want to be able to zoom into your target from a wider field of view. Some microscopes make it tricky to do this, while the SM-4TZ-56S does it all in one fluid motion. This feature ensures that you can go back and forth from detailed inspection to a broader scope in less time. This model is ideal for fast working conditions.

Double-Arm Boom Stand

Stereo boom microscopes allow you to see more objects since they aren’t limited by a stage plate. This version has a double-arm boom for maximum stability and flexibility. You can turn the head and swivel the arm as much as necessary to get the right angle on your subject.

What Customers are Saying

“Excellent for electronics prototyping and repair. There is plenty of space beneath the objective lens to work on boards. Very pleased with it because you can move it into optimal position with ease, and the optics are great.”

Pros

  • Trinocular viewing design
  • Extra wide field view
  • 20″ x 17″ double-arm boom stand for easier adjustment
  • 54-LED ring light provided
  • 4.5x continuous zoom
  • Up to 90x magnification
  • Wide 0.5x lens for larger objects

Cons

  • More expensive than other models
  • No stage plate provided

Leica Microsystems 10450311 A60 F Stereo Microscope

Leica Microsystems 10450311 A60 F Stereo Microscope

Leica stereo microscopes are built for high-end professional workplaces, so this model is made for jewelers, electronics manufacturers, and scientists. If you’re a hobbyist or at-home scientific enthusiast, you can get a lot out of this model. However, be aware of its price point, as it’s much costlier than other microscopes on this list.

Flex or Swivel Arm

You have two options when purchasing the Leica A60. You can buy a flexible arm, which gives you maximum versatility when viewing your subjects. Alternatively, you can buy the swivel arm, which works similarly to a regular boom stand. Both options work well in different conditions, so pick the one that suits your needs.

38-Degree Viewing Angle

Typically, wild stereo microscopes (with two viewing lenses) have a 45-degree viewing angle. While this setup is standard for tabletop imaging, it can force you to crane your neck more. This Leica microscope has a 38-degree angle, which is much more comfortable and easier to use, allowing you to work longer.

What Customers are Saying

“This is perfect for jewelry stone setters. I work with 1mm diamonds, and this allows for me to ensure they’re properly set and secure.”

Pros

  • Durable construction
  • Easy to master
  • Wide field view for larger objects
  • Up to 30x magnification
  • 38-degree viewing angle
  • Professional-grade microscope

Cons

  • More expensive than other models
  • Not ideal for home use

Vision Scientific VS-5FZ-IFR07 Simul-Focal Trinocular Zoom Stereo Microscope

Vision Scientific VS-5FZ-IFR07 Simul-Focal Trinocular Zoom Stereo Microscope

Our final model is this trinocular stereo microscope from Vision Scientific. As a professional-grade unit, the VS-5FZ-IFR07 is suitable for at-home use, classrooms, or job sites. Let’s see what it can do.

Connect to Camera or Touchscreen Computer

Digital stereo microscopes, like this one from Vision Scientific, allow you to connect to a camera or tablet. This particular model also enables you to live-stream your field of view to a secondary device, making it ideal for teaching or showcasing various elements of your subject.

Adjustable 144-LED Ring Light

If you want the ultimate in illumination, this microscope comes with 144 LED lights. Best of all, you can adjust the brightness as you see fit, making this product even more useful for all kinds of projects.

What Customers are Saying

“Good microscope for the money. I’ve been using this for watchmaking, and it has performed very well. The controls are very smooth, and the image is very wide.”

Pros

  • Double-arm boom
  • 360-degree movement
  • Adjustable and removable LED light
  • Smooth motion and control
  • Connect a digital camera or touchscreen
  • Up to 90x magnification
  • Comfortable eye guards

Cons

  • Image can sometimes lose focus

How to Choose a Stereo Microscope

We’ve seen a lot of excellent stereo microscopes for sale on this list, but how can you be sure that you’re getting the right one? Here is a breakdown of the different features to pay attention to when comparing models.

Zoom

Since a microscope’s primary job is to magnify your target, you want to be sure that you can get sufficiently close to your object. As we’ve seen, most of these microscopes max out at 45x zoom, although some options can go double that with 80 or 90x.

Before making a final decision, consider how you plan to use the microscope. If you want a fun and exciting way to look at nature, 45x should suffice. However, if you need the machine for professional purposes (i.e., watchmaking), you’ll likely want as much of a zoom as possible, just in case.

Illumination

Since you need light to see your objects through the microscope’s lenses, you want to ensure that you get sufficient illumination. Some models only have one light source, while others have multiple bulbs for better visibility.

Another point to consider is if you can adjust the lighting or not. For example, the SE400-Z from AmScope has a bendable LED lamp, meaning that you can customize your light source to match the object. In other cases, you only have one method of illumination, which can be limiting.

Stand

The type of stand you want will depend on the work you’re doing. For example, if you plan on inspecting small items like leaves, dirt, and insects, a microscope with a fixed base can work well. The other advantage of that design is that the whole machine is more compact and easier to put away.

Alternatively, if you need to inspect larger objects, a microscope with a boom or swivel arm allows you to manoeuvre more efficiently and focus on varied targets. That said, keep in mind that larger stereo microscopes take up more room and may be harder to move when not in use.

Final Verdict

When choosing the right stereo microscope types of microscopes, the “best” model is the one that suits your particular needs. For example, the AmScope SE306R or the Celestron S10-60 are two of the best stereo microscopes for entomology. However, if you’re working on computer chips or jewelry, the Leica model is the top of the line. Overall, choose the model that offers good zoom, magnification, and flexibility to see your objects more clearly.

Other Highly Recommended Stereo Microscope Brands

Zeiss Stereo Microscopes
Olympus Stereo Microscopes
Nikon Stereo Zoom Microscopes
Meiji Stereo Microscopes
Motic Stereo Microscopes

See Also

Visit Our Wonderful World of Insects

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Gordon Ramel

Gordon is an ecologist with two degrees from Exeter University. He's also a teacher, a poet and the owner of 1,152 books. Oh - and he wrote this website.

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1 thought on “Best Stereo Microscopes for Studying Insects & More”

  1. The Amscope SE306R-PZ-LED is an upgrade from the Halogen model,

    I love mine, except that the battery charger (the scope needs rechargeable batteries in it all the time to work), isn’t working. I just recharge the batteries when exhausted (the batteries, not me) by using my Golisi battery charger.

    Great scope – good reviews on Amazon.

    Reply

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