BINOCULAR MAGNIFIERS COMPARED
headband (head-worn) binocular magnifiers, with or without lights.
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We sell 16 different head-worn binocular magnifiers, most of which come in a choice of magnifications; not only do they give stereo vision but they also leave the hands free to work. Some clip to spectacles, some are worn over the head on a headband. They vary from standard binocular magnifiers (from £8.50) to the binocular magnifiers worn by dentists and surgeons (up to £290.00).
With simple lenses (the 'standard' type) the stronger the magnification, the closer the magnifier has to be to the object (the 'working distance'), so a magnifier of 2.5X magnification would give a working distance of 4 inches (100mm), at 4X this becomes 2.5 inches (about 60mm) and at 7X it's 1.5 inches (40mm). In other words, not really enough room to work with tools.
There is another problem with having to get very close to the object. Imagine wearing a binocular magnifier and viewing an object from an inch or two away - you will not be able to use both eyes, you will be too close, you will lose binocular vision, hold your finger two inches from your eyes and you will see what I mean.
for the standard binocular magnifiers you have a choice: keep the magnification
low to get a decent working distance, or make the magnification stronger
but suffer a very short working distance
The choices are: clip to spectacles, or wear around the head on a headband; with or without a light. As explained above, the magnifications tend to be low in order to keep a good working distance. I particularly like the models with the interchangeable lenses, they include a selection of lenses which you can combine, so that you have a choice of magnification.
If you don't wear spectacles you will need the headband version (though spectacle-wearers can also use these, they fold down over the spectacles). Although I think the two 'cheapies' (cheapie 1 and cheapie 2) are unspectacular in quality, they might be OK for the very occasional repair job.
Those that come with a selection of lenses are a good idea if you tend to do different jobs that require different magnifications, e.g. changing a fuse in a dark cupboard one day (popular with electricians), gluing an antique vase the next day, reading a book in bed the next day. These are also a good choice if you don't know which magnification you need and want to experiment. There are three models:
The Binocular headband magnifier, 5 lenses can be used singly or in pairs, ref.binocmag-01H £21.50 - this is the best 'all-purpose' model, and the most comfortable to wear, especially for long periods. It is sturdily built yet feels almost weightless due to the special construction of the headband; it has good effective LED lights; it has five pairs of lenses, making this the most versatile for magnification - combining the lenses (or using them singly) gives a possible 20 different magnifications from 1.1X (working distance 9 inches) to 6X (working distance 1.5 inches). A simpler model is the Binocular headband magnifier, 4 lenses including 'visor' lens , ref: binocmag-1003, £17.50; it has a single LED light; it has three pairs of lenses (magnifications 3.8X, 4½X, and 5.5X) and it has a huge 'visor' lens (2X) which I especially like for reading; I also like the simple design which makes it both lightweight and compact to carry.
My colleague likes the headband magnifiers, he says they are more comfortable than those that clip to spectacles, he uses them for repairing clocks, and I know two people who use them when working on a lathe, I think the 'closed in' feeling makes them feel 'secure'.
Two of my partially-sighted 'testers' tried the clip-to-spectacles lenses with light, £12.50. One said it was 'OK' but that he 'couldn't be bothered with it' (he simply preferred to hold a magnifier); the other said it was very good because of the light, it always pointed at the page, unlike a bedside light (you turn over, to get comfortable...no light). The magnifier does have to be clipped onto your spectacles straight (when lopsided you get distorted vision). None of my partially-sighted 'testers' liked the headband magnifiers, they said they were too large, they wouldn't even try them!
If you wish to read about the many different types of magnifiers and their uses, see my main article, or if you really can't be bothered to read another article, you jump straight its recommendations section.
What is the difference between the three models?
There are three models: one is fixed to a pair of spectacles (included); one clips to your own spectacles; one is built onto a lightweight headband that is perfectly balanced. Each model comes in a variety of magnifications / working distances (i.e. you buy a model of a magnification / working distance that suits you). Prices from £120.00 to £290.00. Unlike standard magnifiers, with these you can achieve a good magnification and a long working distance.
Although there is not a huge amount of difference, the third model (the one on the headband) is slightly better in optical quality, and it has other advantages - it is mounted on a large, but lightweight, headband, which makes it very comfortable to wear for prolonged periods and easier to set up (collimate) for your eyes. But, as I say, there isn't a huge amount of difference in optical quality between the three models, most people couldn't tell the difference, they are all superb.
Incidentally, I used a 4.5X at my evening class where I learnt watch making. It gave me stereo vision at comfortable working distance for working on wrist watches, so much easier than using an eyeglass of the same magnification (which would give mono vision and just 3 inches working distance). For larger items such as pocket watches I found 3.5X magnification to be ample. And if you work on really large items, such as clocks, there really will be no need to go for more than 2X or 3X.
I also found it perfect for when the tutor needed to show me something. Instead of trying to get so close that our noses were touching, I could stand back and see everything he was doing perfectly. This also give me an idea. You could view finely-made items in museum showcases, since there would be no other way of getting close enough to use a magnifier. I digress. My point is that there really is no need for a high magnification.
How to choose a magnifier (plus everything you would ever want to know about magnifying lenses)
How to choose a jewellers' loupe (including examples of what you will see through loupes)
How to choose a magnifier for the partially sighted (specialist low vision aids including lenses and video magnifiers)
How to choose a video magnifier (from small pocket-size electronic readers to a large table model)
How to choose a UV loupe (ultra violet light)
Calculator (Excel format) - enter the magnification, it tells you the working distance, or enter the working distance, it tells you the magnification.
How to choose a stereo binocular microscope (all sizes and magnifications)
Professional USB microscope attachment (it replaces the eyepiece of your microscope)
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