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Hi all,


In case you couldn't tell, I am trying to upgrade my current painting gear to something that gives me more capability to expand my skill base.  One thing I have recently considered is magnification.


I have heard some folks use reading glasses, and a few that use desk mounted magnifiers.  For those that use them, what makes them worth it? (FWIW, my eyesight is 20/20, I am just trying to get closer without putting the mini right into my face). 



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I use an Optivisor, which is a head mounted contraption, much like what a dentist might use.  Only they're used by hobbyists.  And aren't as expensive as the ones a dentist would purchase.


The usual problems with magnifiers that they're usually small (like, 2-ish inches in diameter), so that you tend to use only one eye when looking through them. This destroys your depth perception, in addition to eye fatigue.


I tried reading glasses, but my vision was bad enough that I didn't get any benefit from them.  Bifocal glasses help, but as I've aged the Optivisor gets more and more use. 


Don't go with the cheap version found at Harbor Freight.  You can find a clone at Michaels for $30, or $15-ish if you use a 50% off coupon.

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I'm not a fan of the desktop magnifiers.  I think they are hard to use for painting because you have to hold your head at just the right angle, and that can lead to a stiff neck.  Head-mounted magnifiers like the Optivisor are easier to use for me, and since my near vision is not very good, it makes seeing details much easier.  I've used the glass lenses found on the Optivisor as well as the cheaper plastic lenses on a Harbor Freight magnifier.  They both work well enough for me, and I switch back and forth depending on how much magnification I want.  I've read that some people have difficulty using head-mounted mags, but I was able to adjust to one after a short learning period.  


If you have 20/20 vision and can see details without any magnification, that's a great place to be.  For you, the main thing I'd be looking for is good light, either natural or daylight lamps.  I like to use one lamp on either side of the desk to minimize shadows.  Then, if you want to try a magnifier, I suggest you try out a pair of reading glasses first.  You'll get some magnification at very little cost, and they don't stick out like the head-mounted mags do.  Depending on where your lamp sits, the head-mounted mags can run into the lamp.  It is something you can adjust to, though.


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First, try an Ott bulb or other form of strong LIGHT. I would say that LIGHT helps more than magnification. 

Harbor Freight has a magnifier, and it's cheap enough (under $10) that you can see whether or not it works for you. I rarely use mine for, say, eyes, but when I need it, I find it useful.

Again, use a magnifier that has LIGHT. Not one that doesn't use light. One that uses LIGHT. LIGHT LIGHT LIGHT LIGHT LIGHT.

Repeating myself since the last guy who replied to my recommendation didn't get one with LIGHT<_<

Edited by ced1106
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I love my magnifier.  It is easy to keep clean and to position with its extension arm (45 inch reach).  I agree with ced1106 about the importance of the light. I use a magnifier model with a bright fluorescent tube light which is quite cool (bluish).  It's also not hard on the eyes the way I find some of the LED lights mounted on magnifiers to be.  I have a triple fluorescent strip light above my painting desk which has full spectrum bulbs, so the two seem to compliment each other.  I have a daylight lamp as well, but I find lately that I haven't been using it as much because it partly shades out the light from the triple fluorescent.  I do find that I often have to take the miniature away from these lights and bring it close to the natural light from a window to get a sense of what the colours really look like.  When the light is too bright,  I find it tends to make me think the highlights have more contrast than they actually do when viewed under less intense light. 


The main problem I find with the magnifier is that I sometimes can't get the right angle with my brush when trying to paint into deep recesses on a miniature because the brush handle collides with the frame of the magnifier.  The other minor problem I had is that the mounting for the lens and bulb is plastic on my model.  I had the tension knobs adjusted too tight so when I went to change its position, the case began to progressively crack and it became less steady.  I glued it back together with epoxy and it's fine now, but I'm thinking that one with a metal case around the lens would be better.   You also have to be careful not to pinch your fingers between the sides of the extension arm when setting it up/taking it down.  There are models available now which have enclosed arms so this is less of a risk. 


I'm thinking about getting a visor, but I've only just recently started wearing glasses and I'm still trying to get used to them. 



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I use a magnifier lamp. It is adjustable so I can change the angle. I think it is actually for doing embroidery but works fine for painting. I actually have 2. One has a little clip which is nice if I have printed something off for reference, I can clip it and have it right there to look at. I used to have 20/20 vision until I got old! I could paint wearing just my glasses but the combo of light and magnification makes it so much less strenuous on my eyes and let's me see better what little bits and bobs are on the minis.

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Well I used to use an opitvisor  and some low power reading glasses. I was always having to flip it up when ever I needed to mix paint etc. now I just use high power reading glasses and like a lot. Don't get any headaches as before from any bands around my head and I just keep them on the tip of my (big) nose like a granny/grandpa would (which I am the appropriated age for, lol) and when I'm not painting, I'm looking over the lenses at objects, mixing paint, etc.. Oh and I paint with two desk lamps with daylight blulbs about 2680 lumens, one on each side of me.

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On 1/21/2018 at 8:13 PM, kazmania7 said:

Well I used to use an opitvisor  and some low power reading glasses. I was always having to flip it up when ever I needed to mix paint etc. now I just use high power reading glasses and like a lot. Don't get any headaches as before from any bands around my head and I just keep them on the tip of my (big) nose like a granny/grandpa would (which I am the appropriated age for, lol) and when I'm not painting, I'm looking over the lenses at objects, mixing paint, etc.. Oh and I paint with two desk lamps with daylight blulbs about 2680 lumens, one on each side of me.


That's why I prefer the OptiSight over the OptiVisor. I have tried reading glasses and although it allowed me to focus on objects closer to me it provided no magnification that I noticed. Using the OptiSight, looking through the lens gives me a magnified view of the fixed focal point but looking over, under and around the lens is normal view. The downside for you would be that it is still a headband type but I have modified mine to be a tad more comfortable.

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I am torn on magnifiers. They are great but I found after I got into the groove of it that I could hardly look at a mini without magnification since it was so powerful. Honestly if you've got a lil cash burning a hole you can cheaply test both head mounted and desk (I picked up one of each for a total of $20, so $10 for each) and I'll probable upgrade to a better headset soon.

I like the headset more then the desktop magnifier; although I'll argue the stiff neck issue a bit. My biggest issue with the desktop is when you find a good spot that allows you to use proper posture it means you'll constantly be putting your arms in the same spot which leads to sore arms. Headset is by far more useful. AND even with hawk-like vision the magnifier (depending how strong) can be so strong you'll legit be watching the very drops of paint transfer from individual brush bristles to the mini, top notch maximum control and a really cool sight to behold. Just be warned it'll spoil you on what minis can look like but it multiplied my skill multiple times over. I went from ok to good just by magnification,


edit to add the 2 cheapies I started with: Headset And  Desktop (but is looks like it's priced much higher now and probably not worth it)

Edited by OneBoot
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