View Full Version : Anyone use reading glasses as a loupe?

Chris Strobel
16-Feb-2010, 17:43
Well my visions gone to the point where I can't focus anymore with my Toyo 3.6 loupe, it has no diopter adjustment.Today in the market I saw some +3.25 reading glasses for under twenty bucks.Has anyone tried these for focusing an 8x10?


16-Feb-2010, 18:05
I'm also interested. I like to use the viewing hood with my speed graphic and stick my face right up against it. Obviously I can't use a loupe with the viewing hood, but I have a hard time focusing down to 6 inches or whatever.

16-Feb-2010, 18:28
I have 2 or 3 pair as I tend to put them down and walk away. They are great. I haven't found any short comings that I can think of. Just remember if you are in a dangerous place your vision will be compromised if you forget momentarily to take them off before walking to or from that 1000 foot cliff!!

Eric Woodbury
16-Feb-2010, 18:37
A you get to higher powers, the eye to ground glass distance becomes more critical. Therefore, when the image is out of focus, it is sometimes hard to distinguish between focusing the camera and focusing your glasses.

I'm wondering if you can buy stick on magnifiers that are about as big as a dime. How would that be to have a couple little magnified spots on the ground glass? Just a thought.

16-Feb-2010, 19:06
Works fine for an "almost there" focus... I wear dime-store +3.5 diopters to get focus real close, but still use a loupe with diopter adjustment for final tuning. This on a 4x5... not an 8x10, but don't see where size would make much matter.

Nathan Potter
16-Feb-2010, 19:12
I use 3.25 diopter drugstore glasses at around 8 inches from the screen for initial setup and global focus and they work fine. $11.99 at the grocery store. Then I do critical focus with a 10X or 5X adjustable Leitz loupe - vintage 1960. The 10X is probably a bit too strong but has sentimental value (as does all my other antique gear).

Nate Potter, Austin TX.

Brian Ellis
16-Feb-2010, 19:43
I use reading glasses to rough focus and a loupe to fine focus. Braille is next.

Roger Thoms
16-Feb-2010, 21:43
I use reading glasses to rough focus and a loupe to fine focus. Braille is next.

Basically what I do, bought the reading glasses on Mark Citret's recommendation and have been quite pleased. As my eye sight deteriorates I'm also finding the reading glasses quite useful in the darkroom, both for composing and rough focusing on the easel and for reading label on chemical bottles.


16-Feb-2010, 22:01
The visor set I have uses two different magnification sets of lenses that flip down and the whole front piece can flip up out of the way. Plenty of room under the dark cloth for them.

Just a sampling of a few. I discovered these when working on laptop computers and then on camera's. Guess what.... pretty handy for focusing on Ground Glass and keeps your hands free.

See the link for a few ideas


jim kitchen
16-Feb-2010, 22:01
I use reading glasses to rough focus and a loupe to fine focus. Braille is next.

Now that quote is funny... :)

jim k

Wade Guisbert
17-Feb-2010, 06:04
I wonder what the percentage of people on this site need reading glasses? I wonder if we are a bunch of geezers who are committed to the large format for "sentimental" reasons?

Dan Fromm
17-Feb-2010, 06:25
I wonder what the percentage of people on this site need reading glasses? I wonder if we are a bunch of geezers who are committed to the large format for "sentimental" reasons?I can't speak for anyone else, but I think I qualify as an old geezer and I'm not committed to LF for sentimental reasons. Economics still does it for me. Can't get the image quality I want with 35 mm or with digital gear that I can afford. Can't get the, um, wide view I sometimes want with digital at a reasonable price either.

As for reading glasses, I've tried +4s. They're helpful but a loupe works better for me. My two eyes aren't equally nearsighted and I have astigmatism. If I wanted to use my trifocals, I'd have to have the near prescription changed considerably.



Ivan J. Eberle
17-Feb-2010, 07:35
For 4x5, I'm finding that +2.5 ones don't get me close enough to the GG under the darkcloth; and I haven't found a satisfactory pair of +3.25 or greater diopter ones yet. As I don't wear glasses for other purposes, I have to second the comment that readers can be disorienting and potentially dangerous in rugged terrain (once you've stepped out from under the darkcloth to come around to the front of the camera).

17-Feb-2010, 08:28
I have been using reading glasses strong enough to allow me to comfortably view an entire 5x7 ground glass for composition purposes. I don't recall the power but I selected them by bringing a 5x7 photo into the drug store and trying several powers. What I ended up with was quite a bit stronger than I would use for reading, but not strong enough for critical focusing.

Based on a recommendation from this forum, I add to these a clip-on flip-up 4x magnifier (http://www.cabelas.com/cabelas/en/templates/product/standard-item.jsp?_DARGS=/cabelas/en/common/catalog/item-link.jsp_A&_DAV=MainCatcat602006-cat130008-cat130011&id=0024296711125a&navCount=2&podId=0024296&parentId=cat130011&masterpathid=&navAction=push&catalogCode=IA&rid=&parentType=index&indexId=cat601233&hasJS=true).

I like this combination quite a lot more than my fancy 4x loupe, mostly because it lets me get into the corners better and I can intuitively adjust my head position so that my eyes are well focused on the ground glass. This magnifier quickly gives me confidence that my image is properly focused.

I have considered getting some prescription readers made for this purpose or even some bifocals that are principally at the reader strength with only a small section with my distance correction at the top of the lens.

Chris Strobel
17-Feb-2010, 10:02
Based on a recommendation from this forum, I add to these a clip-on flip-up 4x

That was going to be my next question, these flip up add-ons.I pretty much wear +1.25 drugstore readers all the time now, so if I add these 4x cabela flip-ups over my +1.25 readers, I have the equivalent of 5.25x loupe right?

Armin Seeholzer
17-Feb-2010, 12:29
Yes on my 8x10 I use it most of the time 3x +. With a strap around the neck so I always can just push it away if I like to do so!

Cheers Armin

Kirk Gittings
17-Feb-2010, 13:13
Unfortunately I buy them by the 6 pack at Costco because I loose them so often.

Jim Becia
17-Feb-2010, 14:09
I use 3 to 3.5 for composing and rough focusing, but still use a loupe to fine foucus. Save your money and go to a Dollar Store where they are yes, a buck. I buy them by the half dozen because I'm either losing, dropping, breaking, or sitting on them at some time or other. At a buck a piece it doesn't hurt so bad. While they might not be the most fashionable, nobody can see them under the dark cloth!

Michael Jones
17-Feb-2010, 14:58
While I have worn glasses since before I was 3, the reading power is, at best, good for rough composition. For years I've a pair of half frame glasses made by my optometrist with high (about 5x) magnification set for 9-12" for focusing.

While not yet ready for Braille, they do look as if they are made from Coke bottles...


D. Bryant
17-Feb-2010, 22:04
I use +4 and I'm planning to have a pair of +6 made to try out.

Don Bryant

Bruce Barlow
18-Feb-2010, 06:54
As my optometrist said about reading glasses, "They're a dollar at the dollar store."

I wear one contact lens, with the bare eye a +2.75, so I can use my bare eye rather than glasses. Then, I use my contacted eye to look at the composition, as fuzzy as it is, to make sure it's worthwhile. Works for me. I do keep a +3.25 pair of glasses in the toolkit, but they're rarely used.

Herbert A Terbrack
18-Feb-2010, 07:49
I can still focus without any reading glasses, however once I'm done focusing I can't see a thing unless I put my glasses on. This is the only advantage of being myopic and having 20/400 uncorrected vision in the left eye. I can get my face to within to three inches of the screen. I still use a loupe for critical focus. I've also used the +3.5 dime store reading glasses if I were wearing my contact lenses for correction. So many choices to make before the camera is even placed on the tripod. Wear my contacts and see or my glasses and see not so well but have my supervision (microscopic vision) when I take my glasses off.

Tracy Storer
18-Feb-2010, 10:23
There was another thread on this a while back, YES! I use +3 for focusing 8x10, didn't need them 2-3 years ago. I've tried them on a string around my neck and also sometimes just put them on top of my head....turning into my Dad.


19-Feb-2010, 15:18
I use reading glasses, and I use a focusing Schneider 4x loupe for my ground glass and don't need my glasses.

AJ Edmondson
20-Feb-2010, 19:54
Ain't it great to know that we can share so many frustrations!!! Prior to cataract surgery I couldn't seem to carry enough "different" pairs of glasses and it took as long to sort through them for the "right" pair for the operation performed as it took to set the camera up. I was beginning to look like the rack at the dollar store. Now, I can manage with only the loupe.

24-Feb-2010, 12:54
For composition I use those skinny reading glasses that come in a slim case. I put on two pair of 3.0, and let them multiply. They're thin, so it's easy to continue to see the real world by looking below them or above them.

When I think I've got it composed the way I want I put the loupe up to my eye, pushing the glasses up out of the way. I use a silvestri tilting loupe so I can see well in the corners when using the wide angle lenses.

17-Apr-2010, 12:04
For those who have tried using high-power reading glasses for focusing, do you think +6 glasses could be used as an alternative to a loupe? Ive never even tried reading glasses so I dont know what to expect. Id like to use it on a 4x5 Crown Graphic to focus while keeping both hands free.

Eric James
17-Apr-2010, 12:43
Engl, yes, +6 glasses will be very useful and, in many situations, they will replace the need for a loupe. However, very strong reading glasses will have you focusing very closely to the ground glass - as you approach the ground glass your pupils converge; if the optician hasn't accounted for the decrease in inter-pupillary distance, your dominant eye will take over and your non-dominant eye will no longer help you judge sharpness.

I had a pair of +5 glasses made without the correct inter-pupillary distance factored in - I used them in place of a loupe but my vision was monocular. A year later I had a +7 pair made with the correct inter-pupillary distance factored in; this pair was ideal...until a lens fell out of the frame and into the snow as the sun was setting. Now I'm back to using a loupe :(

17-Apr-2010, 13:37
Thank you for the information! Ive now ordered a pair of cheap +6 glasses to see how it works out. If the using only one eye up close turns out too bothersome I might look into having corrected glasses made, but I guess its going to get considerably costlier.

Drew Bedo
17-Apr-2010, 17:39
I am legally blind (~ 20/200 in the "good" eye) and use a pair of glasses 1/2 inch thick to read short passages. These also work under the focusing cloth of my Zone-VI. I can work on about 2 sq in at a time. A bar code type target placed in the composition also helps to get the focus right.

Another solution is the jeweler's head-set magnifier in whatever power you need. I use the strongest. The head-set can be used with prescription lenses or coupled with reading glasses.

Gear-up and shoot away!

Gear-up and shoot away!

Michael Kadillak
17-Apr-2010, 17:52
Try the Opti Vision headset with the variable magnification lenses. They seem to provide more dimensional viewing on the ground glass for me than conventional reading glasses. Plus they easily move out of the way.