Loupes..is that really necessary ?

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Hello repected photographers,

I ask this question only out of interest. I have no intention of insulting the fine photographers that take the time and care to produce magnificent shots with their abilities. As an amateur photographer I have been examining the possible acquisition of a good quality loupe. Since the idea has become prevelant in my mind I have read a great deal about the options available on this site. I went ahead and bought 4+ dipotic glasses at a local drug store after considering and testing the options. I managed to talk a local photo store into letting me step outside and test a Schneider loupe against my cheap drugstore glasses. Of course this is purely a subjective opinion but I found myself much more comfortable with the glasses than using the loupe. Also I found it much easier to focus in the corners during broad daylight with my Super Angulon 90 mm as well as my Voightlander 150mm. In summary it was easier to place the glasses over my eyes ( I don't normally wear glasses)and focus than it was to use a loupe. So my question is...Why do you use a loupe and what am I missing ?

-- GreyWolf (dwd@telusplanet.net), September 07, 2000


My apologies.. I meant respected photographers...damn those typos..

-- GreyWolf (dwd@telusplanet.net), September 07, 2000.

Grey Wolf, Able Fox Five here, Over.

At least two well known large format photogs I know of do not/did not use loupes. With a fresnel I find I don't need a loupe with my 8 X 10.

The last studio I worked in seemed evenly split - some of the shooters used 'em allatime, some used 'em only when shooting 4 X 5, and some never used 'em. No one ever singled out one shooters work as sharper than anothers and no client ever complained. The studio before that used 'em, but not with any degree of consistancy - i.e. if the G.G. was too dark, out came the loupe. The first studio I worked in used an old process lens.

Others have suggested you use the 50mm lens from your 35mm reversed.

Edward Weston used his pince nez glasses. Ron Wisner uses (and sells) a linen tester - not the same as those coated multi-element mega-buck loupes. I have bought lenses that cost less.

If it works and you are satisfied with your prints, then it's good enough. If you are a worrier, or obsessive, or whatever, buy one if it'll make you more confident. I kinda doubt someone will stop dead in their tracks and point an accusing finger "You didn't use a loupe on that one! It's no good!" If the image is strong, no one will care how you got it.

-- Sean yates (yatescats@yahoo.com), September 07, 2000.

I actually considered using a pair or medical magnifier glasses that a dentist friend of mine uses... that is until I fount out that they were many hundreds of dollars per pair. I guess it will be loupes for me for a while longer.

-- sheldon hambrick (sheldon_hambrick@hotmail.com), September 07, 2000.


I own one of those costly German loupes, but I don't use it that often (hardly at all.) In my opinion it's all about seeing the image on the ground glass and we all have different vision. Use whatever works for you! Even a droplet of water on the ground glass will magnify. Your prints or chromes will confirm whether you're in focus or not.

Sounds to me like you made a good find. Good Luck!


-- Pete Caluori (pcaluori@hotmail.com), September 07, 2000.

I use the +4 diopter drug store glasses to compose the picture and many times to focus the image, and I ain't young anymore. I also have a homemade magnifier that I made out of a piece of PVC pipe and a cheapie enlarging lens. I use the magnifier in dim light, but most of the time I just focus with the glasses. I use 4x5 mostly, and my prints are plenty sharp. Any thing that will make the image a little bigger is all you need.

-- Doug Paramore (dougmary@alanet.com), September 07, 2000.

I had a Schneider 4x loupe, but I sold it. I now use a linen tester, which is an inexpensive folding magnifier. I am very happy with it. It allows me to view the corners, which I could not do with the Schneider. For optimum-quality slide viewing, the Schneider is preferred, but for ground-glass focusing, an inexpensive magnifier works fine.

-- William Marderness (wmarderness@hotmail.com), September 07, 2000.

I use +4 dioptre glasses for composition and rough focusing on 5x4, and a loupe for precise focussing. If my eyes were younger, perhaps I wouldn't need the loupe. It is cheap loupe, I can't see any advantage to a more expensive one. A small field of view and colour fringing don't matter, I can readily see if the image is in focus or not.

Remember that a loupe and reading glasses are pretty much the same thing, the main difference being the focal length. My glasses are 250mm, the loupe is 50mm. My eyes need the extra help, yours may not (yet).

I don't like using a camera lens, because holding it in position is harder than using glasses or a loupe.

-- Alan Gibson (Alan@snibgo.com), September 07, 2000.

I use a 5x chimney finder from a Bronica S2A ("Nikkor" is finely etched along the edge of the glass). There's a bit of distortion at the edges, but it's focusable, has a square base for getting into the corners, and I've been making sharp images with it.

-- David Goldfarb (dgoldfarb@barnard.edu), September 07, 2000.

I use a visor style loupe. These are used by jewelers and people who work on small electronic assemblies. I think Peak makes on that photo stores (B&H) sell, but you can pick them up at most good electronics supply houses. They come with either plastic or glass lenses, and most have interchangable lens plates so you can pick your diopter. Since you can wear normal glasses under them, your regular prescription will adjust for eye-to-eye differences. They flip up out of the way, don't require hands, and are very light weight. The one I bought was about $20 with optical glass lenses.

-- Glenn C. Kroeger (gkroeger@trinity.edu), September 07, 2000.

Another possibility could be a "Hastings Triplet" used by geologists to identify minerals in rock samples. They are similar to the linen tester, in that they can be folded and put in your pocket and angled for good corner viewing, but are typically more powerful; I find 7X to be good for making sure fine detail is as sharp as possible. They are available from Edmond Scientific. I must say, though, that most often I reach for a $50 7X Calumet loupe with dioptric adjustment. I like this because it allows you to place it firmly against the glass. But maybe the real reason I like it is simply because it comes with a little string that lets you hang it around your neck where its always handy.

-- Steve Pfaff (spfaff@hrl.com), September 07, 2000.

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