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Friday, 29 June 2018


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Snap it on an iphone and zoom in...

I really need to go get my eyes checked and get a new prescription. Anyway, when I need to read tiny print (and my daughter isn't around to read it for me !) I use ... drumroll please ... my iPhone ! No app, just the stock camera.

Mike, you already carry around a decent magnifier - your iphone. Swipe up from the home screen and select the magnifying glass icon. I use it all the time to read small print. In fact, I just used it this week to read the back of a button-type battery. It has the added benefit of being able to capture a screen grab of the magnified text. Handy when latering purchasing that replacement battery.


Are you gonna try to light your July 4th fireworks with your new Levenhuk Zeno 500?
Reading, ants, fireworks. The possibilities boggle the imagination.
I have a nice, rectangular magnifying glass with a handle. Like my cell phone, it seems to be on the other side of the house when I need it.
When I read printed books these days, I have a head-band light I wear to help read. Strong light gives back a lot of my lost eye sight when trying to read small print. I keep the strap of it wrapped around the book I'm reading so it's always available for the task.
While at the ophthalmologist yesterday, and looking for new frames, I also took time to admire the glasses cords/chains as a possible way to keep up with my glasses. I went with a basic black, fabric cord, instead of the "bling" like chains favored by high school librarians of my youth.

If you have an iPhone it has a built in magnifier. Once it’s turned on you just press the home button three times and there you are, a magnifier with adjustable magnification. Also has a built in light if you need it.

Perhaps a safety note may be appropriate, to remind potential users not to leave any of these where direct sunlight may fall on them - risk of burning things, or causing a fire, etc. That's one of the reasons that desktop magnifier has a cover, along with keeping the lens relatively free of dust... in my house.

A couple of days ago my 98year old mother in laws electronic desktop magnifier expired after 16 years of good service. This lead me to an internet shopping adventure searching for aids to the visually impaired.
I found her several choices in a replacement but also learned about hand held electronic magnifiers. In some applications they might present a useful alternative to a conventional magnifying glass.


BTW many years ago linen testers were all the rage at Brooks Institute. They fit very nicely into a Tupperware box of film holders. When I gave my 4x5 gear to my son my trusty linen tester went with it.

It's like you snatched this entry out of my brain. I don't have much trouble yet seeing small print, but yesterday I was trying to find the right electric cord for an amplifier, in a tangle of other cords. I didn't want to blow the damn thing up. The problem was, the specs on the back of the plug were in type so small that I don't think anyone could really read it. My only magnifier to hand was one of those long half-round things used to read lines of type on flat surfaces, but I couldn't get it to focus on the rounded electric plug. I'd also gotten one of those dome-shaped magnifiers as some kind of gift from a book store, and that was useless. The problem with those magnifiers that have stands like those old photo loupes or the linen tester is that they require the thing you're magnifying to be at a precise distance, and that's not always easy to do, especially with things that are not flat. The Sherlock Holmes device isn't bad; you can work with it. An illuminated one would be even better. Unfortunately, I have neither, but I do have a small pocket magnifier that comes in a leather cover, and that works okay. About medicine bottles -- some of them have necessary instructions in type so small that I think that few people could read them. I wonder if accidental misuse could then be a basis for a lawsuit?

I have various loupes for photographic reasons, and I too suffer from degraded eyesight, but my often-used solution is to resort to my smartphone. Sounds clunky I know, but it works

.. by which I mean using the smartphone camera, of course

.. it's always with you ;-)

If you want the finest possible loupe, and happen to have an old 50mm f/1.4 lens sitting around, and boy do I ever, congratulations you already own it.

I have a 55mm f/1.2 Nikkor attached to one of these http://a.co/eWHm0Hj that makes an excellent light box loupe for 35mm film and occasionally I even use it to take pictures!

Similarly, my old Hasselblad focusing hood now lives on my light box now that that camera is retired.

BTW, reading glasses from the dollar store are a good thing. I keep a pair with the temples broken off in my pocket to use when looking at prints in museums and galleries. And yes you can even tale pictures with them too.

Having worked in the semiconductor industry, I am spoiled for one of these:

Not very practical for text, though. It does work great to remove splinters.

I keep an old 50mm Takumar on my desk. It makes a very decent hand magnifier, though with a limited field of view and not exactly light. But how many people can say they have an 8-element double-gauss hand magnifier?

I also use a chimney finder for a Pentacon Six, which to my eyes seems as good as the Hasselblad chimney finder I have on another camera, or the Pentax 67 chimney finder. These are good for viewing negatives on a light table.

For small mechanical work, I have Bausch and Lomb eye loupes, in 4X, 7X and 10X, with head wires. I prefer them to the headband magnifier, since at such distances I lack binocular vision in any case.

My Oxford Compact Edition BigDic comes with a B&L magnifier of the type you pictured first, but the box has a drawer for it so it's always there.

I used a desk-mounted magnifying lamp for electronics hobby stuff for a while, but it was just too cheap to be any good. More recently, I discovered a 10x-20x zooming inspection microscope on a similar mounting, but with precision parts and an amazingly long focus distance. That was the same flea market where I found a genuine mid-40's 18K gold Jaeger-LeCoultre wristwatch, and got both for pennies on the dollar. But I have yet to install the thing (it's only been five years).

The problem with hand-held magnifiers is that they are never to hand when needed. So, I had my eye doctor use a lens for my left eye that really cranks up the magnification in the bottom lens of my trifocals--a genuine failed age test if there ever was one. But then all this should be classified as Old-Man Problems.

Your phone likely has One already...

Some years ago I bought a Pentax 5-11x Zoom Loupe. This was discontinued not long after I bought it. So although it was one of those spendy, unjustifiable purchases I was glad I bought it. I think of it as the Rolls Royce of loupes. Full disclosure: I've hardly ever used it.


You forgot one that nearly everyone has with them these days. Get a magnifying app for you smartphone, and use that to read the fine print etc.

I am NOT saying that a high number of 5-star reviews on Amazon is necessarily fraudulent, but you might want to listen to the NPR Planet Money podcast No. 850, which is all about fake reviews on the interweb.

I purchased a Nikon jewelers loupe a few years ago. If you need one I highly recommend it.

I’m 61 and have been having the same frustrating eyesight-related difficulties. Sometimes applying a very bright light source allows me to see small print unaided. The worst seems to be driving at night and trying to look at a dimly lit map. Yes, despite onboard nav, I still like checking the route on a paper map! I’ve solved my problem with a pair of folding 2X reading glasses. I’ve seen advertisements for some that fold up into a credit card sized case—very thin. That might assist in portability as I don’t need them very often but I do need to have them with me. I suppose eventually I’ll need to step up to 3X ...

Any manual 50mm f2 will make a fine loupe, if you have one laying around.

Use your iPhone and expand

Or you could open the iPhone camera app and zoom. As long as there's enough light and you don't try to zoom too close it works good.

There's a loupe/magnifier mode in the iPhone (and possibly others). It uses its camera to digitally restrict the FOV thus magnifying the image. It also illuminates the object in dark surroundings. Click the Home button 3 times (quickly).

Here's the magnifier you need: https://amzn.to/2MvxkeX. It's not too cheap and it will even read the fine text to you.

I have a (cheaper, fluorescent) version of the desktop light and it has been phenomenally useful for fixing stuff. Back when I used a DSLR, it needed occasional focus adjustment and without this lamp, I'm not sure I'd have managed it. For reading tiny text, I've mapped triple-click on the iPhone to the built-in magnifier. You can adjust the magnification strength and also force the torch on, which often helps, even in daylight.

Settings=> General=> Accessibility=> Accessibility Shortcut.

Choose 'Magnifier' and invoke it with a triple-click any time.

You've got your iphone?
You've got your magnifier.

I'd like a high quality, elegant version of this: https://www.amazon.com/ToolUSA-3x-Leather-Pocket-Magnifier/dp/B00VUGU5GC/ref=pd_rhf_gw_p_img_2?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1&refRID=2SX4Y0BHJX0HW8HS5YF2

I just use stronger reading glasses. Pretty much the same thing as the OptiVisor without all the bulk. I normally use 1.25 diopter for reading/computer, but have 1.5 and 2.5 diopter ones for closer work.

I've had the Peak 8X since forever, along with a 10X Hastings Triplet my uncle gave me ages ago. Recently got the amazing SMC Pentax 5.5x, which is my fave for slides and negatives.

I've got a real jeweler's loupe (you hold it in your eye socket), but haven't really used it yet.

[The Pentax 5.5X is lovely. Discontinued, but still easy to find on eBay. --Mike]

My wife has solved this whole magnifier problem long ago; she hands tiny print stuff to me to read for her. (My near vision is eerily superb, nearly that of a microscope.)

Rodenstock makes a very good loupe. As does Schneider. A good loupe has at least two lens elements. The cheap Chinese hand held magnifiers have only one, and lots of aberrations as a result. I had a Rodenstock, but over the years fog started to develop between the lens elements. So I eventually retired it and got a Canon loupe. Also very good. The best loupes for photographers have two things: 1-they can be focused, the lens group can be moved closer or further in the stand; and 2-they can be used for both reflective and transparent objects. Ie prints and slides. The clear bottom sleeve (or skirt?) lets light in to view prints, and it can be covered with a black sleeve when viewing transparencies.

I have a really nice "Sherlock Holmes" style magnifier that I've had for many years. Hmmm...I can't read the small print on it, however, so I guess I need another magnifier.

Okay, got it. It's made by Quartanary.

[Sure that's not "Quantaray?" --Mike]

We are fortunate in Europe to have Eschenbach. A company specialising in good quality optics in magnification. as an optometrist I use them on a regular basis with my Low vision patients although your iPhone is one of the easiest mag devices ever thought of. Take a photo - pinch it -easy as pie. Many Mags these days are task specific (linens magnifier for thread viewing) so as long as you have a specific task in mind it’s an easy choice. Another option is the “mono mouse” a electronic device that plugs into a pc or tv and magnifies whoever and whatever you have in front of you and displays it on the screen. Very handy indeed....

The trouble with standard spectacles is that they only work for particular distances. I have a great optician who helped me out. I can see everything in pin sharp focus 4-5 point type to infinity with one custom made pair of these. https://www.zeiss.com/vision-care/en_us/better-vision/better-vision-with-zeiss/your-individualized-zeiss-lens/how-do-i-find-the-right-progressive-lenses.html

I would like to find a glass like the one Peter Cushing used in the movie "Top Secret".

@John Camp. Having trouble focusing a loupe on something that isn’t flat. Turn it around, the lense works just as well that way and you can get it as close as you need to

Funny I went to read TOP with the Optivisor around my head (but flipped up) as I was working on my railroad models. It works really great, but notice that the versions with highest magnifications need you to bring the object quite close, certainly not comfortable for continuous reading.

I've had all of the options you've listed in your post and still have most.

Now that I've pasted the 2/3rd century milepost, I seem to have settled on two pet choices:
1. An ancient (real) Agfa Lupe, cheap enough to leave lying around.
2. A couple of pairs of dollar-store "reading" glasses. These are +1.5d and +3.5d and function well as more comfortable and compact replacements for the magnifier hood that seems to never be dragged out of the closet it inhabits.

In addition to using the common Fast 50 as a hand lens, I've found that the viewing lens out of an old 120 TLR works well. I punched a hole in the bottom of a plastic 35mm film can and pushed the lens in to create a stand lupe. Mine, an f/3.5 Yashica lens, seems to work best with the front element facing the subject.

Once again I'm learning something new. I've never used loupes or magnifiers much and currently own a cheap plastic Waltex 2.5x-5x (Bifocal) and a dollar store 3.5x that’s shaped like a frog. Everyone seems to love the frog. Anyway, Wikipedia tells me that “The highest magnifying power (MP0 = (0.25 m)Φ + 1) is obtained by putting the lens very close to one eye and moving the eye and the lens together to obtain the best focus”. I’ve never used magnifiers that way. I’ve always put the magnifier close to the object and adjusted its distance to the object for focus. “The eye can then be a larger distance away, and a good image can be obtained very easily; the focus is not very sensitive to the eye's exact position. The magnifying power in this case is roughly MP = (0.25 m)Φ.”

As a magnifier rookie it makes sense that I can widen the field with the “close-eye” approach but the idea that I can increase the magnifying power by changing how I use the glass is a surprise. D’oh!

I once worked for a company that made electro-mechanical chart recorders and printers. About half of the engineers had desktop magnifying lamps in their work areas. This may be why none had solid walnut leather-top desks.

Late to the party, @ Jupiter 9 for legal reading, @ 40 mm summicron for details wurkzzz.

Y B Hudson III

Coil make a great range of hand held magnifies.

She has a range of then as she has found that for her vision, there is no one to suit all requirements.

Mike replied " I do vaguely remember that Nikon magnifier, but I can't find a picture of it online. Was it just like a linen tester, but with a 24x36mm opening?"

It lives on in the Peak Stand Loupe 8X. Available at B&H.

As far as safety goes, I keep a number of pairs of binoculars near windows for bird watching and am very careful to position them so they won't focus light on anything flammable while they're unattended.

The "ant killing" Sherlock Holmes magnifier can be used to concentrate sunlight to start a fire. Might be useful when outdoors and when camping..... and cool way to light a Cuban cigar.

The classic that I've used regularly since the late 60s is the Agfa 8x loupe. It looks identical to the Kalt except for having the Agfa brand on it. I've still got two of them that I use when dealing with negatives or contact sheets. And, yes, also sometimes instructions on new tech products that are printed far too small (though it's too small-field for reading at length).

It's not all-plastic, though; the lens held in it is glass. Dunno if that's also true of the Kalt.

I also use a Pentax Super Takumar screw-mount 50mm f/1.4. Very clear and sharp.
But I find the Eschenbach clip-on magnifier even more useful for close work, as it's light and so easy to see past it to get a normal view of the surroundings.
And thanks for the iPhone tip - it was news to me.

Since the "L" word was mentioned, I thought I'd share this little jewel which was given to me by a Leica rep several years ago. 29mm dia x 20mm high and finished like a modern M lens:

Speaking of burning holes...

I once left my Nikon S2 (rangefinder) on a window sill for a few minutes. After a trip to Marty Forscher’s shop for a new shutter curtain, all was well, and I learned a valuable lesson.

Being partially blind for all of my 57 years, I have some level of familiarity with hand magnifiers. Many of the ones mentioned are cute, but for actual, practical, everyday, constant use, I prefer the COIL 6x (20D) hand magnifier. It's got a single element, bi-aspheric acrylic lens. Mine lives in my pocket, gets pulled out constantly, scratched, dropped, and generally abused. It's a tool for me - but a very good one! You can pay twice as much through low vision suppliers, or you can go to AAA Industrial Supply (https://www.aaaindustrialsupply.com/coil5206handmagnifierwithbi-aspheric6xmagnification.aspx). For those of you who are encountering mildly impaired vision later in life, and don't need a magnifier small enough to fit in your pocket, COIL also offers 3x and 4x versions with a bigger lens. Good stuff!

It may not ba available new anymore, but there once was an actual Leica option (search for Leica universal 5x loupe), a heavy glass and metal beast with a removable film holder. I actually bought one, mere months before my first DSLR. Oh well...

"Mike replied " I do vaguely remember that Nikon magnifier, but I can't find a picture of it online. Was it just like a linen tester, but with a 24x36mm opening?"

It lives on in the Peak Stand Loupe 8X. Available at B&H."

During my 20+ years of selling Nikons, they never sold this lupe except as a promo piece through the Nikon School. It was always a rebadged Peak lupe or one make by whoever actually makes the Peak lupes.

The only lupe they listed in their catalog was a 7x "comparitor" style. It was cylindrical, adjustable focus, and had a clear base with a metal retainer for a reticle. The same was, at least for a time, sold under the Peak brand as well. I have one of these and its excellent though the field covered is rather narrow.

What; it's old age?

I thought they were just making the print smaller.

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