A stereo microscope is used to observe lowly-magnified samples and to study the surfaces of solid specimens. It is also used to conduct works that require closer observation, such as dissection, microsurgery and watch-making. According to the New York Microscope Company, other key uses of stereo microscopes are circuit board manufacture, fracture surfaces processes and forensic engineering. Thus, its key areas of use are manufacturing, inspection and quality control sections.
Unlike other types of microscopes, a stereo microscope works on the basis of reflection of light from the surface of the sample under view and not on the basis of the light transmitted through an object. It has two objective lenses and two eyepieces, offering two angles of view. That is, both right and left eyes are used to view the samples under study. Although the use of two eyes makes the view greater, the image viewed under the stereo microscope is similar to that viewed under other microscopes, such as the compound microscope. Because it uses reflected light instead of light transmitted through the sample under study, a stereo microscope is ideal for studying opaque samples or samples too thick for light to pass through them. For small specimens, the instrument requires greater illumination, similar to other types of microscopes.