Recommendations for magnifying lenses for fine work

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Any recommendations for magnifying lenses for very fine work?
I've used those lighted magnifying desk lamps with some success, but they are only good for desk work. I am wondering if some sort of loupe like jewelers or dentists use might be worth buying.
My dentist told me that dental loupes cost $1,000 or more. That's a bit more than I was planning on spending.
How much magnification is needed or useful? According to Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loupe, jewelers use 10X magnification to inspect diamonds for blemishes, but dentists only use 2X-5X, so something in that range ought to be good enough for removing slivers and soldering. ;-)
This article says that good jeweler's loupes are triplets -- three lenses combined so as to correct (or minimize) distortion. I am guessing that this is not important for general use. http://jewelry.about.com/od/jewelryappraisal/ss/loupe.htm
This article has a lot of detailed information about optical magnifiers in general. http://www.opticsplanet.net/how-to-choose-loupes-and-magnifiers.html
Here are some products I found online. Any recommendations or suggestions?
This company offers mini-loupes in 4X, 6X, and 8X powers for just $3.50 each and a headband to hold them for just $5:
I couldn't find the 4X loupe.
http://www.seeitbigger.com/Carson_Loupe_Headband_p/c-ml30.htm http://www.seeitbigger.com/Carson_MagniLoupe_Magnifier_p/cdl-ml66.htm http://www.seeitbigger.com/Carson_MagniLoupe_Magnifier_p/cdl-ml88.htm
This $40 headband magnifier had 4 lenses (1.2X, 1.8X, 2.5X, and 3.5X and a small headlight. I can't tell if the lenses flip up.
Is 3.5X enough magnification? http://www.nationaljewelerssupplies.com/page/NJS/PROD/ETELP550
The same company offers this headband magnifier for $60. These lenses (2X, 2.5X, 3X) do flip up, but it is not lighted.
http://www.nationaljewelerssupplies.com/page/NJS/PROD/AMmg3
Amazon is selling this set of 5 watchmaker's loupes for $13. Based on the reviews, it's not clear if these are 2X, 3X, 5X, 7X and 10X or 1X, 2X, 3X, 4X, and 5X.
These are loose loupes (no headband), which I presume you wedge into your eye. I've seen jewelers use them that way, so it must work, but I'm thinking some sort of headband like the first entry would be easier to use, especially for work taking more than a few minutes.
(Amazon.com product link shortened)
This $45 product from Bausch & Lomb claims to have top quality optics. http://www.opticsplanet.net/bausch-lomb-magna-visor.html
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On Sun, 07 Dec 2008 23:37:37 -0800, Square Peg wrote:

I am sure you already know this: The added cost of the doctor / dentist optical headgear is for the distance from your eyes to the focal point of the magnification. With a jeweler's loupe, the object must be held real close to your face to be in focus. The high power lighted medical versions, which cost a lot of money, have the focal point a few feet away, not a few inches. Focal point distance is part of the specification listed for Medical surgical optical magnification devices (at least it was a few years ago when I looked them up.) As your dentist told you, very $$$$.
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On Mon, 08 Dec 2008 04:41:23 -0600, Phil Again

Well, it's been a long time since sophomore physics, so my optics knowledge is......rusty.
Is there any way to tell from the product descriptions how close the work needs to be to be in focus?
For what I need, I think anything from about 6" to 12" would be OK. I would also want an inch or two of latitude where it would stay in focus.
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Speaking as a general rule on inexpensive magnifiers, no there is no way to tell from an Internet product description what the focal length is, nor the depth of the field for the focus range. Other than the higher the magnification, the closer the focal point.
IIRC, makers like Carl Ziess don't like to use the term 'magnifiers' for the 6 to 12 inches range. They tend to be more 'binocular' that is two small telescopic like devices attached (protruding) from a pair of glasses. The longer the focal distance (and the wider the focal range) requires many lenses.
some reading material: http://www.opticsplanet.net/how-to-choose-loupes-and-magnifiers.html
Try before you buy.
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on Ebay,you can find binocular clip-on magnifiers that have magnification ranges of 1.75X to 3X,for around $10. they are easy to use,if you don't wear glasses,they come with a frame with no lenses for you to clip on the magnifier.the magnifier flips up out of the way when you don't need it,and you can look around it,too.
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Jim Yanik
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Do you have any of these? What magnification is best for general household work?
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I have one that is 2.25X,it's focal length is about 8-10 inches,and I use it all the time. I'm 56 and my close focus is shot. I've also seen them at Woodcraft.(a woodworker's supply store) I got mine off Ebay.
BTW,I used to buy a similar,headband-type binoc magnifier at Home Depot(~$20),but it was more unwieldy than the clip-on I use now. Being able to look around the clip-on's lens is the advantage there.
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So 2X-2.5X is enough magnification for you? I'm just a bit older than you, so my near vision is probably a bit worse.
It sounds like you don't have to keep it exactly at the right distance to have it stay in focus.

Good point.
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wrote:

for most things. I work on electronics with them. Got them clipped on my bifocals.(getting old sucks...)

Yes,it's nice.

If you can score one for $10 off Ebay like I did($5 bid,$5 ship..),it's well worth trying.
I think they're made in China and only cost the guy $2 in 1000 quantities. that's capitalism.... 8-)
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Square Peg wrote:

I use a pair of multiple lens glasses which are similar to those that surgeons use which have the extra lenses glued to regular glasses. Mine are made by a company called kbk, who or whatever they are. If you google "reading telescopes" you will find many links. I bought mine about 10 years ago when I had one of those pre-tax health accounts where I didn't spend the money in a particular year. I guess we didn't get sick that year or need a lot of meds. Normally you would loose it, however, I asked a low vision optometrist if he could prescribe the telescope glasses because I needed them to see small electronic parts for my job. They were between $200 and $300 and were covered from the pre-tax account, which would have been lost money anyway.
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Square Peg wrote:

a needle threader that doesn't rquire "aiming" ..... the sewing machine needle is still a challenge, but good lighting helps that along.
I once worked for a doctor who wore binocular magnifiers that were worn on a headband and could be flipped up, out of the way, when needed. Not expensive, have seen them at hobby suppliers.
What sort of "fine work" are you doing? Stationary, moving around, etc.
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Square Peg wrote:

Two mostly unrelated points:
1) Try a pair of the highest-power reading glasses from your local drugstore first and see if that does it for you.
2) The best lenses might be triplets, but they are not *that* much better than doublets, and singlets are probably good enough.
I have a cheap (about $1) 4x loupe from HarborFreight that I use for removing tiny splinters, etc. But for most close work I just use reading glasses -- I think they are 2.75x. The focal length of the 4x loupe is less than 6", so you have to hold the work close to your eye.
Bob
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-snip-

I'm up to 2.75's now- and see they have 4x's at my local dollar store. [and the good side is my optician doesn't think they'll do my eyes any harm]

for this kind of stuff I spent $12 at Radio Shack for a lighted magnifier- http://www.radioshack.com/product/index.jsp?productId !02639
It is only 2x but the clarity and bright directional light make it better than some 4x & 6x loupes and magnifiers I've got lying around.
I brought a fuse into RS one day that I was pretty sure had no legible numbers on it. I'd even scanned it on the scanner hoping to read something. The guy pulled out his 2x light & read the numbers right off-- I could even read them. I got the right fuse and a magnifying glass.
Jim
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wrote:

I'm up to 2.5 - 3.0 for normal reading. I think I tried a pair of 3.5s, but maybe I should check that. Good idea.

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I have used one like this for many years for fine work on pc boards, threading needles, etc.
http://scientificsonline.com/product.asp_Q_pn_E_3035681
At these low levels of magnification (2.5x) the quality of optics is not likely to be a concern. You will have a wide field of view and your work zone will be about eight inches from your face. They can be worn over ordinary glasses and flip up when not needed.
SJF
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On Sun, 07 Dec 2008 23:37:37 -0800, Square Peg wrote:

The loupe is 10x. The clip on magnifiers on the glasses are from Harbor Freight for a couple of bucks. The headband I have had for too long to remember where it came from. I use all for electronic circuit work and occasional focus on coins of interest. Somewhere I have a handheld microscope that is battery operated to illuminate subject that I believe is 30x from Radio Shack that uses pen light batteries. All together possibly less than $20.
http://s370.photobucket.com/albums/oo141/rlm_photos/?action=view&current=s7001462.jpg
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One of the most widely used devices in electronic assembly lines and many industries is the OPTIVISOR. I've had 2 sets for nearly 40 years and although one is getting rather ratty from all the workshop abuse, they are still the simplest thing to toss on and use, even over glasses. The 10X set focuses at about 4 to 8 inches and the 5X set maybe 16". They can still be purchased on line from many stores as tools few fussy work. The binocular lenses are nice and large, with a good field of view, and little distortion. Highly recommended. Checkit out.
Joe
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Many online stores sell them. Amazon has several from about $30-$40. The manufacturer's website is: http://www.doneganoptical.com/optivisor.php .
Do they come with more than one set of lenses with different magnification? It wasn't clear from the description.
Based on your ling experience with the Optivisor, how do you think they would compare with these competitors:
This one from Bausch & Lomb comes with 3 lenses and gets very high reviews on amazon: (Amazon.com product link shortened)28804068&sr=8-2
This one comes with 4 lenses and a light: (Amazon.com product link shortened)28806178&sr=8-1
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Order with a standard lens set, add others as needed.

Donegan has been selling these for so many years virtually unchanged, you know they got it right when they designed them. Kind of like a paper clip, or vise grips, every thing else misses the mark in some way. While some designs are interesting, most don't have the appearance of being able to survive industrial usage, or careless workshops. Don't think I'd trade my Optivisor for any of the current offerings. My only complaint is that after 20 years or so, the headbands get a little nasty. But they might go 30 years in an air conditioned shop.
Joe
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I stopped into a local optical shop that was listed on the Optivisor websight. They had one unit in stock and 2 extra lenses (3X, 5X, & 7X). I don't have a major project right now, but it seems to work pretty darn well.
Thanks
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