Increasing demands for manufacturing quality and new standards in surface metrology foreshadow a widespread adoption of 3D surface topography measurement in manufacturing quality control. This raises the question of instrument selection. Coherence scanning interferometry and laser scanning confocal microscopy are some of the most common technologies in optical measurement of surface topography. These methods differ significantly in their suitability for different types of measurement. This article provides a comparison of the measurement noise and step height measurement performance two measuring instruments based on these two principles in relation to objectives used for measurement. Such data can be used to inform instrument selection in an industrial environment.