Anyone who has tried painting tiny figurines—i.e., Warhammer—without a magnifier knows how challenging it can be. Trying to get your paintbrush into every tiny nook and cranny can be headache-inducing, but a magnifier can solve the problem immediately. The only question is, what sizes do magnifiers come in?
The size of a magnifier is expressed in 2 numbers: the magnifying power and the dimensions of the lens. Magnifying power ranges from 1X to 10X, while the size of the lens ranges from 1.2 to 5 inches in diameter.
Now, you’re probably wondering what those X’s refer to and how wide magnifying glass is. In this guide, I’ll address those two issues, as well as what you should look for in a desktop magnifier for your art projects.
When looking at magnifier sizes, you’ll come across 2 figures that denote the lens’ magnifying power and its physical dimensions.
One of the first things you should pay attention to when looking for a magnifier is magnifying power, which is used to determine how large the lens can make an object appear.
Most magnifiers will have lenses that can make an object 1X to 10X bigger. Some models have multiple lenses with different magnifying powers, allowing users to enlarge objects to different scales at will.
At 1X magnifying power, the magnifier will make an object appear 100% bigger or twice as big—i.e., a 2-inch object will appear 4 inches when viewed through a 1X magnifier and will appear 6 inches through a 2X magnifier. Another way to put it is that the magnifying power would be the same as if you moved your eyes that many times closer to the object.
After the magnifying power of the lens is stated, the next figure will describe the dimensions of the lens. So, if a magnifier is rated at 2X4, that means it has a 4-inch diameter.
In the case of square or rectangular magnifiers, it’ll come with a length X width rating—e.g., 4.5X5 or 8X8. So, a magnifier that’s rated at 8X6X8 would mean that it can make objects appear 8 times larger when viewed through the 6 × 8-inch-wide rectangular lens.
What Are the Typical Magnifier Sizes?
As you can imagine, magnifiers can come in a wide range of magnifications and lens sizes. The following table will describe the size ratings of some of the most highly rated magnifiers for DIY workspaces.
|Magnifier||Maximum Magnifying Power||Lens Size|
|MagniPros||3X||11 × 8.5 in.|
|Brightech Lightview Pro||2.25X||5 in.|
|Brightech Lightview Flex||1.75X||3 in.|
|Brightech Lightview Pro XL||2.25X||6 × 4.5 in.|
|Carson MagniGrip||4.5X||1.2 in.|
What Should I Look for in a Magnifier?
The magnifiers listed in the table above should come in useful for all sorts of arts and crafts projects. However, if you’re looking for something else, you should keep the following magnifier specs and features in mind.
I’ve already spoken quite a bit about magnifying power, but it’s important to note what different magnifications can be used for.
2X is typically used for reading the small print on documents that you can’t see with the naked eye.
3 to 4X is great for spotting minute details in intricate designs, such as taking note of which part of a miniature still needs paint.
5 to 8X magnification is a great range for painters and sculptors. It allows you to inspect the finest details to make your artwork as hyper-realistic as possible.
8X+ magnification is the type that dentists use to spot microscopic cavities in our teeth. It might be overkill for hobbyists, but there certainly are 8X+ magnifiers made for hardcore DIY-ers.
Magnifiers come in a variety of shapes and sizes. The most popular style among artists is standing magnifiers. It comes with a flexible, adjustable gooseneck that allows users to aim the lens at different angles. Some of the most noteworthy magnifiers are cordless and have built-in LEDs.
Handheld magnifiers are ultra-portable tools that the hard-of-seeing can use to read the minute print on thermostats, medicine bottles, and newspapers.
Loupe magnifiers are the type that a jeweler would use. If you need a magnifier to spot ultra-fine details, this is the type you should get.
Depth of Field
This refers to how far or close the lens can be from an object while retaining focus. In general, higher magnifying power will reduce the depth of field, which means you will have to be incredibly precise when adjusting the position and angle of the lens to get the perfect view.
As you can see from the table above, circular and rectangular lenses are vastly different in terms of their overall size. Smaller lenses allow you to view objects more precisely and are great for viewing fine details in sculpted work or painting 3D objects.
Larger lenses let you view more of an object—e.g., a sheet of paper—which means you won’t have to adjust the lens’ position nearly as often.
Do Magnifiers Cause Headaches?
Not necessarily. If you know how to adjust the position of the lens and its distance from the object, you shouldn’t have much trouble with headaches.
The main issue with some magnifiers is when they come with multiple magnification levels (2X or 3X lenses). When trying to view something at 2X with the 3X lens in view, it can cause strain to your eyes, which may induce light headaches.
In the event that you start to feel a slight pain in the backs of your eyes, roll your seat away from the magnifier and wait 5 minutes before resuming your work. Alternatively, you can shop for a magnifier with a single magnifying lens; that way, you won’t accidentally view an object through two vastly different lenses.