Stereo microscopes or stereoscopic microscopes have the notable feature of utilizing separate optical paths that lead up to each eyepiece. This method takes advantage of the human “stereoscopic vision,” in which the physical separation between the eyes causes each eye to view a particular image at a slightly different angle. This slight difference creates a natural visual perception of depth and dimensionality.
Stereo microscopes also often come with a “zoom” type of continuously variable magnification as opposed to multiple objectives with discrete, fixed levels. Because the continuous zoom removes the pausing of observation while switching objectives, this allows for a simpler and more seamless observation of the specimen.
Finally, in exchange for lower magnification, stereoscopes often feature a much greater working distance. This allows for more ample space for manipulation of the specimen. These elegant capabilities of the stereo microscope make it highly suited in applications in which the three-dimensional observation and careful handling specimens exceed the need for greater magnification. Such applications include microinjections, dissections, movement or separation of small organisms, and many more.
Manufacturers worldwide have worked meticulously to develop stereo and zoom microscopes suited to meet the needs of all areas of science, from cutting edge research to the everyday student. Many additional new features are now available such as automation, LED illumination, integration of cameras for documentation, and plenty of other customization options.