Also known as compound microscopes, flat field microscopes utilize a single objective lens to magnify specimens on the stage. Flat field microscopes offer high viewing resolutions and magnifications, but they have a very narrow depth of field due to their single-lens design. As a result, flat field microscopes are only suitable for viewing very flat objects such as biological specimens on microscopic slides.
Stereo microscopes use two separate optical paths to achieve a much greater depth of field than their flat field counterparts. In essence, these microscopes mimic the function of our eyes, albeit at much higher magnifications. Because they allow us to perceive specimens in three dimensions, stereo microscopes are far more versatile than flat field microscopes. If you plan on studying anything other than biological specimens, a stereo microscope is the way to go.
At Absolute Clarity & Calibration, we offer our own line of entry-level microscopes that are ideal for educational applications, as well as microscopes from other top manufacturers. Meiji, for example, has a number of great options for educators. You can browse our complete selection of educational microscopes online, or contact us today to learn more.