View Full Version : Loupe recommendations

Nitish Kanabar
22-May-2006, 11:36
I'm looking to buy a good focusable loupe for examining the focus on a ground-glass and fresnel combination.

Any suggestions? What is the optimal magnification ratio - 4x or higher?

thanks in advance

Ron Marshall
22-May-2006, 12:09
I use a Silvestri 6x focussing loupe. I find magnification in the 5x to 8x range to suit me.

Mark Stahlke
22-May-2006, 13:36
I like the Toyo 3.6x loupe. It's inexpensive, sharp, and has good eye relief. I just wish it was focusable.

22-May-2006, 14:25

Although I have the Toyo, Horseman, Kodak, and Sylvestri loupes... I find myself using the Toyo 3.6x and Horseman 6x loupes the most. The Sylvestri and Kodak loupes tend to stay in storage... :)


Chris Strobel
22-May-2006, 14:35
I've been using the Toyo for 4x5, and strong drug store reading glasses in place of a lupe for 8x10

Gary Smith
22-May-2006, 15:16
I use the Toyo loupe, but I was having a hard time focusing my wide angle lenses with it, so I recently bought a Horseman 6x. It made all the difference in the world, its focusable, and the optics seem to be better than the Toyo. My WA shots are now much sharper.

Hope it helps.


David A. Goldfarb
22-May-2006, 15:51
For general use, I like the current Schneider 4x loupe. I've also got an older Schneider 6x and an older Schneider 4x, and the new 4x is definitely better than the old one. I like 6x when I'm using a camera that doesn't have a fresnel screen, since there isn't the issue of magnifying the fresnel pattern.

The Silvestri 6x tilting loupe is handy with wide lenses for focusing away from the lens axis.

I like the long Toyo 3.6x when I'm using a camera with a folding hood instead of a darkcloth.

Bill McMannis
22-May-2006, 18:55
I used to use a the older model of the Schneider 4x loupe. It had two problems. 1) The plastic lugs to hold the neck strap wore through and 2) scratched the heck out of my Linhof Fresnel. (Interestingly, I never had the scrathing when using the Schneider on my Sinar or cheaper Fresnel on my Zone VI.) I relegated the Schneider to edit 35mm slides and now use the Toyo 3.6x for focusing on the Fresnel. The rubberized ends protect the Fresnel and it sharp, though as mentioned above, fixed focus.

22-May-2006, 19:49
Conventional wisdom says use a 4x loupe, though I don't know why. I am happy with my 7x loupe.

John Kasaian
22-May-2006, 20:14
Don't buy expensive beer to drink or expensive loupes for focusing on the gg.

You never truly buy beer---you only rent it for a short time.

A $7 Agfa loupe works better than you can imagine.

I'm not advocating Schlitz Whizz or Cracker Jack prizes either.

Heineken and Silvestri (or Toyo) have advantages but they aren't going to cost you a hundred bucks either. Look for features you realistically think will be an asset.

If you can't think of any features that you want, those $7 Agfa loupes really begin to look pretty good!

Brian Ellis
22-May-2006, 21:31
I agree with John. The expensive loupes are made for viewing slides on a light table, where color balance and I suppose other similar optical things are important. All you need for use with a ground glass is something that magnifies. I'm in a minority apparently but I don't care much for my Toyo loupe, I bought it because it got a lot of good comments when it first came out but I've always used the Peak loupes with a square base and I couldn't get used to the Toyo's round base. The square base facilitiates viewing the edges and corners (if they aren't cut out) of the ground glass. I like 4x because anything larger just seems to be magnifying the Fresenl lines or the grain in a plain ground glass. I also use my loupe for printer head alignment and 4x seems to work well for that too.

Frank Petronio
22-May-2006, 22:28
I have the first $20 4x Wista loupe I got when I got my first camera in 1984. I like it because it has a string so I can wear it around my neck and it is rugged, so it won't get crushed like some of the $100+ loupes. It has fingerprints and dustmarks on it. It's only a loupe! I can't see why you would need a higher mag to focus finer - the backlash on most camera's focusing tracks are sloppier than what I can see with a 4X loupe.

I put some black tape around the base so it was dark all the way around. That makes it easier to use without a darkcloth when you just want to do a quick spot check of the focus.

Reading glasses are also nice to try for kicks. I liked using them with the Graflex and can't see why they wouldn't work in general.

Emmanuel BIGLER
23-May-2006, 00:15
If you wear eyeglases you should definitely try the loupe you want to purchase before buying it.
Some are much better than others in therms of the actual field of view that you can see with your eyeglasses on.
Being both short-sighted and suffering from astigmatism, this issue is critical to me since I have to keep my glasses on for focusing. I have a good experience with the Russian 4X "Horizon" loupe, which has a large diameter lens element at the eyepiece level. I'm quite happy with it. Moreover it is a souvenir from Russia, bought on the Nevski Prospekt before a visit to the Hermitage Palace, so there is definitley nothing to argue against it ;-);-)

I had a bad experience with another brand, a loupe advertised as "covering 6x7", but due to ts poor design, with my glasses on, I could only see about the field of a mounted 35 mm slide (2"x2"). And it was not very sharp. So to me, loupes are not born equal and it is worth trying them before making a decision.

A also tested the 4x aspheric Rodenstock loupe at one of our informal French LF get-together meetings ; it is extremely sharp and light weight, well suited for those who wear glasses, its field is designed for 35mm kind of negs/slides and is smaller than the 4X Horizon that covers the full 56x56 frame of a 6x6 image. But the 4x Rodenstock is so damn' sharp and compact !!

Pending issues are related to what happens in the corner of a groud glass (GG) behind a wide-angle lens ; there you need to tilt the loupe to point towards the iris of the lens in order to actualy see something (even with a Fresnel lens on your GG, in the corners you often need to tilt the loupe), Silverstri makes a tilting loupe, Gandolfi sells a loupe with a rubber base that can also be tilted while protecting the GG from extraneous light.

Leonard Metcalf
23-May-2006, 03:27
I used to have a Schnieder 6 X and loved it. Now I have a Toyo 4 x, which I always leave at home, as I don't like the small image. I also have an Ebony which I don't seem to use very much at all either (despite me carrying it everywhere). Somehow I miss the Schneider. Perhaps it was the sheer size of the image. I don't like that I have to focus the Ebony one, I just want to concentrate on the image on the ground glass. The Ebony loupe is basically just a magnifying glass. I also had a very small 10 x one, that I think I used once before tossing it away.

Stephen Willard
23-May-2006, 03:53
I just switched from the Schnieder 4x loupe to the Toyo 3.6 loupe. The loupe does not adjust for eye correction. It is designed to be used with glasses, and it does this very well, or with perfect vision that needs no correction. If you have less than perfect vision and try to use the loupe without glasses or contacts, then it will not work.

The design of the loupe is perfect for its application. Construsting a composition under the dark cloth is an iterative process between focusing and viewing the entire image on the GG. When I am composing I need my eye glasses to see the entire image on the GG. When I was using the Schneider loupe I would have to remove my glasses to use it. Taking my glasses on and off between viewing and focusing was a huge distraction and inconvenience that increased the amount of time needed to construct a composition. With the Toyo loupe I do not need to remove my glasses to use it. Using the Toyo loupe has made the iterative process of constructing a composition much faster and simpler then when I was using the Scheider loupe.

Because the Toyo loupe is very simple in design there is less to go wrong, and it less than half the price of the Schneider loupe. I found the Toyo loupe to be just as sharp as the Shneider loupe as long as you are wearing corrective eye wear when using the it.

Joseph O'Neil
23-May-2006, 04:50
I have two loupes that I use. My "cheap" loupe for in the field is a Nikon loupe - I don't even know what power it is (it's not marked) but it's aorund 6X. Not bad.

My main loupe is a SMC Pentax 5.5 Photo Loupe (Pentax spells the word "LUPE" on the thing itself). this is a large loupe, made to cover a 6x6 negative almost, the lenses being about 2.25" wide. Why I like it so much is you can stand back anywhere fomr 2 inches to a foot away, and see into it just fine. I found one here on a UK web site to show you

or here

Although not made as a large format loupe,is it ever nice and easy to use. takes up a fair bit of room when backpacking, but it's nice to use.


23-May-2006, 09:14
Emmanuel is right, beware glasses vs. loupes. Personally, I take my bifocals off when I go under the darkcloth, as I do when using a computer. What I really need is trifocals with the middle zone prescription-free, but can't be bothered. In general, once you get the loupe focussed correctly, the results are the same with or without the glasses (using the near prescription); it's just easier to deal with one thing rather than two things. For me, anyways; others surely would object to taking glasses on/off constantly...

Rick Moore
23-May-2006, 11:09
A also tested the 4x aspheric Rodenstock loupe at one of our informal French LF get-together meetings ; it is extremely sharp and light weight, well suited for those who wear glasses, its field is designed for 35mm kind of negs/slides and is smaller than the 4X Horizon that covers the full 56x56 frame of a 6x6 image. But the 4x Rodenstock is so damn' sharp and compact !!

I have used the Rodenstock 4x aspheric for focusing on an 8x10 groundglass and really like it. It is, as you say, quite light and sharp. The ability to slip up the opaque skirt and use it on a print is also useful.

I have also used a standard linen tester with good results, especially in the corners of the groundglass when using very short (120mm, 159mm) lenses on the 8x10.

Ted Harris
23-May-2006, 11:15
One cautionary note ... be careful with the really cheap loupes that have a single element plastic lens. Not saying that one will not work for you but we had two 'newbies' using these loupes in a Fine Focus Workshop this past weekend. Their first exposures were consistantly slightly out of focus. I watched thier routine, saw nothing wrong and then looked at their loupes. I gave one of them my Silvestri and the other my Horseman 6x to use for the rest of the workshop and they weren't out of focus again.

24-May-2006, 01:07

24-May-2006, 06:05
I use Schneider 4x Loupe and it's great. IMHO you need loupe which is aspheric, is sharp in entire area you are looking at and it is sharp. You can buy Peak, Schneider, Toyo or other anytime 40-60 dollars at E**y.

I got mine and I am happy with it.

John Dziadecki
24-May-2006, 09:51
It seems almost anything works better than nothing. I started by using the plastic Agfa, moved up to the Schneider and am considering the venerable linen tester (5x) simply because it's incredibly light weight, the most compact option of the lot and its square shape allows you to check those corners -- plus, when it goes missing in the field, you won't be out megabucks to replace it :)

John Kasaian
24-May-2006, 19:12
The old Agfa loupe is very sharp in the center. In fact, thats the only place it is sharp so thats where I focus(ed)---but really thats all you need---everything else is just icing on the cake (like my Silvestri's swell cord so I can hang it around my neck! ;-)

Ed K.
25-May-2006, 03:02
I second the Toyo for 4x5 or very critical 8x10 in softer light. The Toyo is designed to focus at the very end of the loupe as it rests on the GG on a rubberized tip. Also second the drug store glasses for 8x10 to conveniently wander around the 8x10 frame at close distances. I have the Rodenstock ( a Samy's branded one ) as well as the large Schneider 3x - both also work fine, but are better suited to the light table than the field. For modest money, the Rodenstock or Toyo are both workable.

Malcolm Stewart
26-May-2006, 01:52
I'm in the UK, have astigmatism so wear bifocals all the time, and have found the "PRO 4X Magnifier Lupe" from Jessops (~£30) to work well. It's focusable, has a neck string, and a choice of translucent and black surrounds allowing use on prints, lightbox and groundglass. Wearing specs, I find it covers a full 35mm frame.
For setting up, I use high dioptre non-prescription "Reading Specs" over my bifocals as my accommodation is now so limited (I'm >67) I quickly run out of what's in focus.

30-May-2006, 14:40
Being a cheap bottom feeder, I have made several loupes that work well. I found that an old 50mm enlarging lens I had, mounted into a transluscent 35mm film canister with the end cut off worked well. An 80mm lens worked even better. The 80 mm needed longer relief, so I cut the ends out of two film canisters, stuck one in the other, adjusted till it was in focus and taped it up.
These were both no name lenses that were lousy for enlarging, the kind lots of us have lying around.