A loupe is a magnifying lens, usually set within an eyepiece or frame, that lets you view small details. Which means the best loupes are a must-buy for a wide range of professionals, including jewelers, watchmakers, stamp collectors, instrument repairer, dentists and even for microsurgery. Photographers, too, often use them, to examine prints up close. They might also attach them to the LCD screen of a digital SLR (opens in new tab) to provide a glare-free view outdoors.
When choosing the best loupe, you need to check the magnification is sufficient for the task you'll be using for. Plus, you'll want to know it's able to let in sufficient natural or artificial light – unless, that is, you’re seeking a LCD loupe that doubles as a shade. With all that in mind, read on to discover the best loupes on sale today, and how they differ from each other.
The best loupe in 2022(opens in new tab)
This traditional folding or flip-out metal loupe from optical specialist Opticron is small, ultra portable and won’t break the bank. Featuring a standard 23mm diameter glass lens, it's available with various choices of magnification, from 6x up to 15x presently, and the 15x magnification model is probably the best choice for those wanting to expect gems and jewelry. The metal frame is also chrome plated, making for a quick, handy and very affordable solution. On the downside, it doesn’t feature an additional LED lamp, but in daylight that shouldn't be an issue.(opens in new tab)
Need to examine jewels in dim light or darkness? Then here's our recommendation. As you slide open this loupe/magnifying glass, its built-in LED lights and UV blacklight automatically come on, making for a clear and surprisingly powerful little handheld device.
Just a little bit larger in terms of size and shape than a USB memory stick, this loupe for examining precious gems opens to reveal three magnifying lenses of, variously, 10x, 20x and 30x strengths. While it's small enough to slip into a top pocket, it’s not so small that's it's fiddly to operate. Best of all, the three LR44 batteries required to power its LEDs are included, as is a leather effect ‘travel sleeve’.(opens in new tab)
Offering a magnification range from 1x to 3.5x, thanks to five detachable goggle-like lenses, this head-worn unit keeps your hands free – very useful whether you’re extracting teeth, building a Spitfire out of matchsticks, or valuing precious stones.
The lenses are angle adjustable and detachable, as is the headband, plus the integral light can be tilted to enable a better view. Being a headset, the only downside is it’s larger and bulkier than most loupe solutions. But for what it is, it's still lightweight and economically built. A case and cleaning cloth is included.(opens in new tab)
Another hands-free, head-mounted loupe, this doesn’t cost much more than the Fancii option (above), or weigh much more than it either. Like that model, this Carson headset comes with an adjustable fabric headband and LED lamp. Here, though, it's removable, allowing it to act as a free standing light source if necessary.
The four clip-on goggle-like lenses provided –1.5x, 2x, 2.5x and 3x – can also be adjusted upwards of 85° if they are not needed for magnification. Powered by three LEDs, the lamp can also be adjusted 30 degrees either right or left and about 90 degrees up and down.
The only fly in the ointment is that you’ll need to provide the three AA batteries required to power the lights yourself as they’re not included in the box.(opens in new tab)
Do you find your DSLR or mirrorless camera’s LCD is impossible to view in strong sunlight? Then try the Hoodloupe. Designed to be used with a rear plate LCD that’s either 3 or 3.2 inches in size – just make sure you buy the correct option to match your screen – this may not be the cheapest of viewing solutions. But it's well constructed, and clarity comes courtesy of 1:1 German glass optics and diopter adjustment.
Although the magnification is fixed, you can adjust the magnification of the image using the camera's playback options. So if you’re looking for a way to exclude daylight from the back of your camera to aid composition, this simple yet practical product could make all the difference. The provided neck strap means it’s always close to hand, and a one-year warranty provides added peace of mind.(opens in new tab)
Wonderfully affordable, this is small and lightweight 10x magnifier is perfect for examining slides, precious coins and stamps, as well as proofing pictures and prints.
With a construction comprising pre-focused dual lenses, the magnifying loupe is placed over the flat object you want to view, while its transparent acrylic base lets in sufficient ambient light to allow bright and clear viewing. With a construction the width of a 35mm color slide, and weighing just 40g the LumiLupe is nicely portable, and can be easily stashed in a pocket or the corner of a gadget bag.
See also: Best slide viewers (opens in new tab)
• The best microscopes (opens in new tab)
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• The best night vision goggles and binoculars (opens in new tab)
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