The SM-5 stereoscopic microscope, built during the 1960s, comprises a binocular microscope head, zoom body, and a vertical column with a metal stage. Although most objects to be observed were placed on the stage, the microscope could also be detached from the stage and used for observing any subject placed beneath the objective.
Nikon designed the SM-Lamp for use with this microscope, however, sunlight and incandescent or fluorescent lighting could also be used as a source of illumination.
The head consists of two 10x eyepieces positioned in the eyepiece tubes and a pair of built-in objectives at the bottom of the body tube. The body is supported by a coarse and fine positioning rack that is mounted on the column. The stage has two types of circular disc inserts that the specimen rests upon. A clear glass plate is used for diascopic observations of transparent specimens and a reversible black/white plate is used for episcopic observations of opaque specimens.
The eyepieces were not the ordinary type used in microscopes, but wide-field and high-eyepoint, providing a large viewfield and enabling the microscopist to wear eyeglasses while observing specimens. For higher magnifications, 15x and 20x eyepieces were available as accessories.
The objective housing at the base of the head could accommodate a variety of accessories such as a polarizing attachment, ring illuminator, or half-reflecting mirror. Two clips hold an object glass in position and permit the attachment of accessories, such as a floating stage, polarizing attachment, or a diascopic base with illuminator.