Using Optivisors to Magnify Your Work
by Kylie Jones
When I first started using magnification to help me with my jewelry making I just wanted the highest magnification available and I was frustrated by the information about working distances because I didn't understand the trade-offs involved in using magnification.
Magnification lenses are made to focus at a specific distance. Our eyes can focus at all different distances and I think many of us expect these lenses to do the same but they don't and they have a very specific focus range. The more magnification in a lens the closer the focusing distance and the closer you need to be to the work. I use 5 different Optivisor lenses in my work and the one I choose to wear at the time depends on how close I am to the work and how much assistance I need to complete a task.
Kylie Jones's Using Optivisors to Magnify Your Work - , General Education, , using Optivisors
For tasks like stone setting and using a graver I use a bench pin or a ball vise which means I am pretty close to my work. For this work I use a #10 lens that magnifies 3.5x and focuses 4" or 10cm from the lens. Sometimes I use my #7 which has less magnification but allows me to sit back and view a larger area which is better for larger projects or for giving an overall view. Having an elevated work surface like a bench pin means you can be close enough without straining your neck. When looking at stones and checking the cut of a seat for a stone I often use the small Optivisor loupe attachment which is screwed into either side of the lens plate and is stored out of the way and swung around when needed. This attachment will add 2.5x magnification to any lens, but it also reduces the working distance. The reduction in distance will depend on what lens you attach it to. Using it with my #10 it brings it down to about 2" or 5cm.
Kylie Jones's Using Optivisors to Magnify Your Work - , General Education, , using Optivisors
Kylie Jones's Using Optivisors to Magnify Your Work - , General Education, , using Optivisors
Kylie Jones's Using Optivisors to Magnify Your Work - , General Education, , using Optivisors
If I want to work on my desktop, the work is much further away and so my #10 lens doesn't focus at the right spot for this type of work. In this situation I generally use my #5 which magnifies 2.5 times and focuses at 8" or 20cm. This works for me as my desk is fairly high and I can lower my chair if it isn't quite right. You may want to go to a #4 or #3 which give less magnification but allows you to work further away. Your own height, particularly your sitting height, and desk height are big factors for this working situation. The trade-off with more magnification is you have to be closer to the work and finding the optimal magnification and focus distance can take a bit of time and effort. Raising the height of your work surface can be a solution if you need more magnification.  For a more comfortable position you may need a less detailed view.
Kylie Jones's Using Optivisors to Magnify Your Work - , General Education, , using Optivisors
For soldering, I like to see the detail but I don't want my face very close to the work surface so I certainly wouldn't use my #10 lens. The Optivisor I use does depend on what I'm soldering and how detailed the task is. The size of the piece also has an effect, as the larger a piece is generally the more heat will be generated and therefore the further away you want your face to be. I generally use a #4 which magnifies 2x and focuses as 10" or 25cm and if I need a bit more magnification I'll use my #5. Often I will use a high magnification to set up my soldering and then switch to a lower magnification to actually solder.
Kylie Jones's Using Optivisors to Magnify Your Work - , General Education, , using Optivisors
Like most magnification setups the lenses are interchangeable. I don't change mine, I have each one ready to use. I find if I have to change the lens, I sometimes don't bother so having each one ready to go works better for me because I do change them a lot. 

Sawing can be a problem with Optivisors because they are bulky and protrude quite a bit. If you saw from directly behind your saw frame, then the focusing distance of the magnifying lens needs to be longer than the depth of the saw frame otherwise the saw frame will keep knocking the lenses.
Kylie Jones's Using Optivisors to Magnify Your Work - , General Education, , using Optivisors
I have tried quite a few magnification setups and I find the Optivisor glass lenses are really crisp in their focus and definition and they do really help me to see precisely which saves me time and improves the quality of my work.  

Optivisors have space for you to wear your prescription glasses underneath. I don't wear glasses but I do often wear safety glasses under my Optivisor because the Optivisor doesn't offer full protection. 

The specifications for Optivisor are below, if you have a different brand just check if they are the same focal distances. 

#2 1.5x magnification 20" (50cm) focus distance 

#3 1.75x magnification 14" (35cm) focus distance 

#4 2x magnification 10" (25cm) focus distance 

#5 2.5x magnification 8" (20cm) focus distance 

#7 2.75x magnification 6" (15cm) focus distance 

#10 3.5x magnification       4" (10cm) focus distance 

Materials

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Tools

Optivisor 10 3-1/2X
ELP-510.00
  • ELP-510.00
  • Lesson Quantity: 1.00 pieces
  • Purchase Quantity: 1.00 each
  • Price: $53.95
  • Gold Club Price: $40.46
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Optivisor with 1.75 Lens
G6-20
  • G6-20
  • Lesson Quantity: 1.00 pieces
  • Purchase Quantity: 1.00 each
  • Price: $68.95
  • Gold Club Price: $51.71
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  • Category: General Education
  • Technique(s): General Education