Nikon Stereo Microscopes

Models Review: SMZ1500; SMZ445-460 and SMZ745T

Nikon Stereo Microscopes are known for versatility, innovation and technological advances.

Currently, Nikon offers six stereo models with a wide-range of capabilities that can accommodate a variety of research fields.

The significant number of accessories made for stereomicroscopes result in a device that can be adapted and utilized in almost any research setting.

Nikon is known worldwide for its revolutionary optical products, including cameras and lenses, telescopes and binoculars, ophthalmologic equipment and microscopes.

Nikon produced its first compound microscope in the early 1900s and first stereomicroscope in the 1960s.

Nikon has been, and remains, an industry leader in microscope technology. 

Stereo Microscopy

A stereo or dissecting microscope is essentially two compound microscopes joined together at parallel angles with the same focal point. This enables three-dimensional viewing of specimens.

The principle is similar to human vision; each eye sends slightly different image information to the brain, which merges the two images into one stereoscopic vision.

A multi-dimensional, spatial image requires data from two sources focused on the same object at slightly different azimuths; simply removing one source – an eye or compound microscope – results in a loss of depth perception, which makes rendering dynamic images impossible.

The mechanics of the eye and stereo microscope both alter the orientation of an image; a mirror is used to correct the upside-down/backward image just as the brain flips the image sent by the eye.

The compound microscopes used in stereomicroscopy use low power, magnification often below 100x and have a greater working space, making it ideal for dissection or manipulation of specimens.

The illumination system of stereo microscopes resulted in many limitations early on; however, modern models have addressed this and other issues with a multitude of accessories and objectives.

Stereo microscopes are ideal for three-dimensional observation as well as circumstances involving micromanipulation, such as miniature assemblies, and dissections that require a subtle, delicate approach.

To better understand the stereo microscope click here.

Practical Applications

The microscopes have practical applications in a number of scientific and industrial settings, including:


Life Sciences

  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Botany
  • Geology
  • Zoology

Medicine and pathology

Veterinary Science


  • Semi-conductors
  • Soldering tiny electrical parts
  • Metallurgy
  • Textiles
  • Assembly and/or inspection of miniature components


  • Development of microchips
  • Soldering of components

Quick Cost Comparison

A used Nikon SMZ2T Trinocular Microscope costs almost $2000, compared to $14,000 for a new Leica M125 Trinocular Microscope or a new Zeiss Stemi 2000C Trinocular Microscope for approximately $3,500.

Major manufacturers of stereo microscopes include Nikon, Olympus, Leica, Zeiss and Wild.

What you're getting from Nikon...

Nikon stereo microscopes range from entry-level, affordable models to high-end, technologically advanced trinocular units.

Nikon stereo microscopes were one of the first to incorporate computer technology, which was the beginning of creative innovations resulting in the powerful, dynamic models offered today.

All models have a form of Nikon’s Infinity Optical System, which allows for greater zoom and decreased chromatic aberrations. The distance between the objective and observation tube, referred to as infinity space, allows for easy addition or removal of accessories.

This specific Nikon design prevents aberrations and shifts when introducing accessories such as beam-splitters, coaxial episcopic illuminators, digital imaging equipment, eye level risers and various tubes. 

Stereo microscope magnification is a result of the objective and eyepiece, in addition to any auxiliary accessories.

Modern Nikon stereo microscopes utilize a zoom lens system or rotating drum, containing Galilean telescope techniques to control magnification.

Modern eyepieces allow for diopter adjustments and observation tubes often allow researchers to fine-tune interpupilary distances, which reduced fatigue from long observations.

Nikon has also addressed issues associated with illumination.

A modern stereo microscope can utilize ambient light, Kohler principles, incandescent light from a tungsten or tungsten-halogen source, reflective light, fiber optic illumination or a combination of illuminators.

Models: SMZ1500; SMZ445-460; SMZ745T

The most noted and newest Nikon stereo microscopes, respectively, are:

The SMZ1500, a popular, powerful model utilized in cell and marine biology, veterinary sciences and forensic science

The SMZ445-460 are newer, basic models, with an ergonomic and economic designs, primarily used in plastics and gross observation

The SMZ745T is a trinocular model with impressive zoom, a wide-range of applications and most advanced choice for digital photomicroscopy

Nikon SMZ1500

The SMZ1500 has one of the most powerful zoom options on the market; other specifications include:

Nikon SMZ1500 Stereo MicroscopeNikon SMZ1500 Stereo Microscope from

1/Parallel Optical Zoom System

2/Zoom 15:1 with a range of .75x to 11.25x

3/3.75x-540x magnification

4/Binocular low-eye-level, diopter, tilting eyepiece

5/Multiple illuminators

  • Fiber-Optic Ring
  • Fiber-Optic Bifuricated
  • 6v-10w/20w Halogen light
  • Fluorescent Ring

6/C-PS160, C-BD, C-DSS and C-DSD stands

7/Coaxial focusing, knobs on both sides of unit

8/Single and Dual port beamsplitters

This model can be equipped with HD photo or video camera and linked to a PC-computer controller.

It is ergonomic, economical and efficient; it can be used in any laboratory setting, including educational, scientific and industrial.

Nikon SMZ445/460

The SMZ445/460 is an entry-level zoom Nikon stereo microscope, noted for light weight, compact design and affordability. Key features include:

1/Twin zooming objective optical system

2/Zoom 4.4:1, with a range of .8x-3.5x

3/8x-35x magnification

4/100mm long working distance

5/Dioptic eyepiece lenses, from 20x to 70x

6/LED hybrid stand with built-in diascopic and episcopic illumination

7/C-PS160, C-PS, C-BD, C-DSS and C-DSD stand options

8/Multiple illumination systems

  • C-FIR Fiber-Optic Ring, 12v-100w halogen
  • C-FID Bifuricated, 12v-100w halogen
  • C-DSLS Lamphouse, 6v-20w halogen
  • SMZ-U Episcopic Arm
  • G-LS Episcopic, 6v-10w halogen
  • G-EIA Flex-arm
  • C-FPS Fluorescent Ring
  • SM-LW61Ji LED

9/Mold-resistant finish

This model is ideal for educational and small lab settings.

The significant working distance allows for a wider-range of observations, such as plants, insects, rocks and minerals as well as micromanipulations including small specimen dissection, component assembly and other industry-related applications.

Nikon SMZ745

The SMZ745 Trinocular stereomicroscope is a powerful, diverse, cutting-edge addition to any laboratory, with such features as:

1/Greenough Optical System

2/Zoom 7.5:1, with .67-5x range

3/3.35-300x magnification

4/Trinocular Photo Port

5/115mm long working distance

6/C-TRS Titlting stage, C-SSL Dia-sliding stage

7/Multiple Illumination Systems

  • G-LS, 6v-10w
  • C-DSLS, 6v-20w halogen
  • C-FPS Fluorescent ring
  • C-FID Bifuricated, 12v-100w halogen
  • C-DS Diascopic stand
  • C-LEDS Hybrid with built-in epi-diascopic illuination

This model is made extremely durable with ESD protection that prevents electrostatic discharge damage and anti-mold protection in the zoom body.

These precautions also make it suitable for any work environment, even those with high temperatures and/or humidity.

Digital imaging is made easy with the built-in camera port and C-mount adapter; the trinocular design can accommodate both photo and video cameras.

Quick Summary

Nikon stereo microscopes are a practical addition to many educational, clinical, research and industrial settings.

By addressing many of the early issues of chromatic aberration with its zoom infinity systems and wide-range of accessories and objectives, Nikon has produced stereo microscopes that are highly adaptable.

Nikon also offers multiple illumination systems with each model, making a variety of observations and micromanipulations possible.

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