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Hand Held Magnifiers?

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Dr_GMJN05/02/2022 13:05:59
1306 forum posts

All, can anyone recommend a small magnifier for inspecting things like part centres in a lathe chuck, the accuracy of a centre punched workpiece, or the condition of a tool tip? My near point is getting ever further away.

I've got an eye loupe, but I want something that I don't need to get my head right next to the part.

I've also got a Sandvik loupe with a scale mounted under it, so you can estimate measurements, but this only really works of flat surfaces, and the scale obstructs whatever you're trying to put under it.

For scale modelling, I've got a light-weight glasses type magnifier with long eye relief, but I don't want to be putting that kind of thing on just for a quick check of something.

I've also got a larger reading type magifying lass, which it a bit bulky, and not really enough magnification. I'd think 5x-10x would be OK.

Not after anything elaborate, just a decent quality small hand-held magnifier.


Frances IoM05/02/2022 13:11:58
1268 forum posts
28 photos
I'd consider a USB microscope - small easily mounted on a flexible arm - most households have an old laptop that can serve.
Bit more expensive but useful elsewhere are the inspection camera with small detached monitor
MikeK05/02/2022 14:40:25
226 forum posts
17 photos

Not hand held, but I like my Donegan OptiVisor. Easy on and off and frees both hands.

Howard Lewis05/02/2022 14:48:48
6116 forum posts
14 photos

I use a folding 8x magnifier, to examine centres, tool tips / edges.

held close to the eye it means being close to the subject, and has very shallow depth of field, but shows the subject very clearly.

Ideally you will need to find a fairly old fashioned opticians, to get one from stock, but there is always the internet!


Kiwi Bloke06/02/2022 09:07:29
669 forum posts
1 photos

I have a few small folding hand-held magnifiers, 8X and 10X. There seems to be considerable difference between them, in terms of depth of field and consequent ease of use. The best one was my father's. He bought it for his philatelic obsession, and would not have bought something cheap and nasty. He was very proud of it, and I remember him demonstrating to a quite young me its freedom from chromatic aberration, and what an 'achromatic doublet' was, and how such things worked. Unfortunately, its working distance is probably closer than you want.

My second-best wasn't cheap, but it shows colour fringes. Quality comes at a price...

I was impressed by the magnifiers my dentist wears, which allow working at a comfortable distance. Alas, they are unaffordable.

Bill Davies 206/02/2022 09:57:23
284 forum posts
11 photos

I find telescope/microscope eyepieces, used in reverse, very good for detailed closed-up work.


Nick Clarke 306/02/2022 09:58:18
1427 forum posts
63 photos

I use an older Eschenbach hand magnifier - 10x magnification and 35mm diameter. Illuminated and the newer versions like the picture below come with a stand. Cromwell sell them for about £45 + VAT and post and Amazon for about £70 presumably all in.


Nick Clarke 306/02/2022 10:05:09
1427 forum posts
63 photos

Even with quality magnifiers; at 10x you are more than likely to get colour fringing.

When teaching visually impaired children their use you always try to use the lowest magnification that was useful to give a wider field of view and longer viewing distance.

An illuminated magnifier or excellent lighting is as important as the strength of the lens, and a coated lens is important too, to reduce flare.

Edited By Nick Clarke 3 on 06/02/2022 10:05:32

Mike Hurley06/02/2022 10:10:30
314 forum posts
87 photos

What about the Steve Fletcher (The Repair Shop) approach of mutiple pairs of glasses? Variable magnifications & quite cheap if using 'readers' at £1 pair.

P.s. and keeps both your hands free!


Edit for p.s.

Edited By Mike Hurley on 06/02/2022 10:12:35

Nick Clarke 306/02/2022 10:15:26
1427 forum posts
63 photos

While I love watching Steve Fletcher at work with two or three pairs of glasses, why to I keep getting flashbacks to Professor Brainstawm in the Norman Hunter books?

Mike Hurley06/02/2022 10:19:21
314 forum posts
87 photos

Absolutely Nick! Allways makes me chuckle.

He does some fine work though


Martin Kyte06/02/2022 11:04:49
2756 forum posts
48 photos

Take a picture with your phone.

regards Martin

Dr_GMJN06/02/2022 18:41:04
1306 forum posts
Posted by Nick Clarke 3 on 06/02/2022 09:58:18:

I use an older Eschenbach hand magnifier - 10x magnification and 35mm diameter. Illuminated and the newer versions like the picture below come with a stand. Cromwell sell them for about £45 + VAT and post and Amazon for about £70 presumably all in.


Thanks Nick - spot-on. Bit more than I wanted to spend, but I'll try and find one.

MikeK06/02/2022 18:58:28
226 forum posts
17 photos

Amazon has a similar one that this thread has prompted me to get:


Peter Greene 🇨🇦06/02/2022 19:43:24
513 forum posts
6 photos

That looks like a right handy device for the shop, Mike. I checked it out on the Canadian (and UK) Amazon sites as well - which you can usually do with Amazon by editing the .com to .ca or

Granted our exchange rate is the pits right now but I was a bit appalled by the Canadian price.

Peter Greene 🇨🇦12/02/2022 17:17:34
513 forum posts
6 photos

I did find one of these at for a better price here.

I must say that it was a decent product. The plastic parts fit well (without reveals) and it looks much better than the price would suggest.

I'm curious though: how is the magnification (" 10x " in this case) calculated for something like this? 'cause things sure ain't ten-times bigger. Two or three-times perhaps.

Andrew Tinsley12/02/2022 18:54:57
1630 forum posts

The Eschenbach magnifiers are available from ZORO at a better price than Cromwell.


Bill Phinn12/02/2022 20:55:38
755 forum posts
113 photos
Posted by Peter Greene 🇨🇦 on 12/02/2022 17:17:34:

I'm curious though: how is the magnification (" 10x " in this case) calculated for something like this?


They think of an impressive sounding round number and calculate most people aren't going to know any better.

Yes, most economy magnifiers and loupes are definitely not the magnification they're claimed to be.

I use a Schweizer magnifier, and Eschenbach and Belomo loupes. I have the Belomos in 8X, 10X, 12X, 15X, and 20X magnifications, though I only really use the 8X to 12X ones most of the time.

Edited By Bill Phinn on 12/02/2022 20:56:30

Huub12/02/2022 22:55:29
88 forum posts
13 photos


I use this 10X magnifier that has a scale to inspect tool tips and other small stuff.


Paul L13/02/2022 08:37:59
80 forum posts
26 photos

You could have a look HERE

The they seem to cater for every need / budget.

I have no affiliation, just a happy customer.

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