Focusing Loupe : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

I where glasses and would like to know which loupe is best for focusing on ground glass. Currently, I own a Schneider 10X loupe but have found it's inability to lock its rotating diopter after focusing it to the ground glass to be problematic (i.e., it's easy to get it out of focus with respect to the ground glass). Ideally, I would like a loupe that would allow you to lock its focus and perhaps have some sort of eye cup that would aid in keeping the "exact" eye to loupe distance you used to focus it on the ground glass. I noticed on my last trip that very little up and down eye movement (i.e., varying the distance of the eye from the loupe) makes a huge difference in what appears focused on the ground glass. Are there any good loupes out there that perhaps come close to my dream of the perfect focusing aid?

Thanks in advance,


-- Thomas W. Earle (, November 04, 2001


A 10x magnifier is way too powerful to use happily to focus with. If you try a high quality 4x or at most a 6x lupe I think you'll be much happier.

-- Ellis Vener Photography (, November 04, 2001.

I totally agree with Ellis and give you something else to consider. I also wear glasses but do all my critical focusing with a loupe and without the glasses on. Find it much easier and more precise. That works fine for my vision but might not for yours.

In the search for the perfect loupe I have a drawer ful I think but find three consistantly outshine the rest:

1) The Schneider 4x is always with me

2) I also carry either the Calumet 7 (actually 6.7)x or the Silvestri 6x tilting loupe. I am getting more and more fond of the Silvestri, especially wehn using wide angle lenses.

-- quimby (, November 04, 2001.

After having used makeshift loupes, I stumbled upon a new Calumet 4x aspheric loupe for $10, probably made by Rodenstock. Compared to the $90 or so retail price, I grabbed it.

What a difference! Whether it's light or dark, the image just snaps into focus with this loupe. It can be adjusted to the depth of the ground glass, and it has a sleeve that can be retracted (letting in light) to use the loupe for evaluating a print. Or it can be extended (keeping out light) to use the loupe on a GG for focusing or on a light table to examine a transparency.

-- neil poulsen (, November 04, 2001.

"Calumet 4x aspheric loupe for $10, probably made by Rodenstock"

Wow! Ten bucks ... more info please ..



-- quimby (, November 04, 2001.

I also tried to use a 10x loupe for groundglass focusing with much frustration. I later switched to a 4x Schneider Loupe (very good), but for 8x10 I now use a jeweler's magnifying headset that is made like a welder's helmet which can be swung up and down on the head. The lenses I have focus at about 4 inches. This allows me to compose with the lenses in the "up" position, keeping the focusing cloth from sagging, then I flip it down to check focus, leaving both hands free to hold the cloth closed to any pesty light openings. Works great and is much faster (for me) than having to hold a loupe with one hand. Another advantage is that you have a magnified view of a 3-4-inch section of the ground glass and easily into the corners. Best of all, the entire unit is only about $20 retail.

-- David Haynes (, November 04, 2001.

I agree with Ellis. I use a Schneider 4X that is nice and bright -- and find the mag suitable for my work. Sometimes there are simple solutions: if your loupe barrel rotates, tape it? I live in ranch country, so I think of tape & baling wire ;-) I'm sure there is a more expensive solution.

-- Paul Chaplo (, November 04, 2001.

Another vote for the Silvestri tilting loupe!!

-- paul owen (, November 04, 2001.

I have two loupes: a Mamiya 5x and Toyo 4x. The Mamiya is beautifully made, has a pretty wide area of view, and comes with two skirts (screw on) for either slides/ground glass or prints. It's heavy compared to the relatively light Calumet/Rodenstock 4x which is in the same price range. I haven't had a big problem with the barrel rotating. Its base is metal, so I worry about accidentally breaking the GG on my 8x10 in the cold. Maybe I'm just paranoid, but it's not reassuring to hear metal on thin, cold glass.

The Toyo OTOH is relatively inexpensive ($40 new from Calumet), is about a cm taller, and has a rubber lining on each end. It works just fine.

As for the el-cheapo tape solution, I did that too but decided against it so I don't muck up the Mamiya (I'm very obsessive). Instead I use a rubber band that's about 3-4mm wide. It will span the distance between the upper and lower half of the loupe, preventing the barrel from rotating.

Neil, I'll give you $20 for your Calumet loupe. Think about it: 100% profit! And to David, where do you get a jeweler's magnifying headset?

Another thing to consider is a watchmaker's loupe. It's a loupe on a C-shaped/half circle of wire (about 2-3mm wide) that holds to your head from the tension in the wire. You rest the loupe on your forhead when not in use. The ones used for watchmaking are probably pretty powerful (think screws and jewels), so you'd have to see if they offer them in lower powers. To see a photo, pick up an issue of Watch Time or Wristwatch International. Better yet, go to Jaeger LeCoultre's web site (, click "The Craftsmen", then click "Case Assembly" on the right. There should be a photo of a woman using the loupe.

-- Tony Karnezis (, November 04, 2001.

Wade, I wear Bi-focals, and use a jewler's loupe on the frame, found works perfectly for me.


-- Bill Jefferson (, November 05, 2001.

The Silvestri fills my needs beautifully. I especially like the tilt for wide angle work, fitting into the corners of the frame, too. Very well engineered and well made unit.

-- Al Seyle (, November 05, 2001.

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