2,591 Brands 544 Categories All Departments

magnifier for viewing nature

Optics for your pocket.

magnifier for viewing nature

Postby Simon on Wed Jul 12, 2006 2:21 pm


I would like to buy a magnifier to look at tiny bugs and flowers. Can you suggest one or two that have the best optical quality? Thanks.


Postby on Wed Jul 12, 2006 3:21 pm


It's all a matter of the size of the subject and how much detail you wish to see. Handheld magnifiers typically run from 2x all the way up to 20x, but be warned: as magnification goes up in a handheld, the lens size typically goes down. The typical 2x magnifer may have a lens size as large as 4", but a 10x magnifier usually has a lens that is 1" or smaller in size. Thus, if you want to see the big picture - patterns in rocks or viens in leaves - you'll want a low power model with a big lens. If you want to see crystal structure in the rock or hairs on the leaves, you'll be using a much smaller lens, but one with more magnification.

One trick I discovered many years ago is to reverse a binocular, hold it close to a specimen and away from the eyes and look through the objective lens. This makes a pretty good impromptu magnifier. With this makeshift magnifier, I've been able to study insects, plants, rocks and just about anything of interest while out in the field.

For serious detail work, a highly corrected optical design such as the Hastings triplet will have the best optics. These will be small, pocket magnifers with relatively high power lenses. I find them to be the best choice for studying the small stuff - insect parts or grass seeds. A good choice here is the B&L, ... fiers.html

For less detailed work, a low power magnifier with a handle such as the Nikon 8D, ... ifier.html is the ultimate, though pricey choice. It is, however, excellent, with no distortion or color fringing. For more casual work, a less expensive option is the B&L 2205, ... ifier.html

In the past, I have used photographers loupes - a magnifier on a clear stand for studying photgraphic negatives - as a magnifer to study insects. Just plop the magnifier over the insect, obeserve and the insect remains captive until you lift the magnifier away. You can also use a piece of white cardboard to trap insects you find on branches and leaves. The Pentax loupe such as the 60053, ... 60053.html even has zoom capability. A great economy alternative here is the Carson Bugloupe, ... ifier.html Every kid should have one of these.

These are just a few ways a magnifier can be used out in the field. Enjoy.
Your personal optics expert
Joanie (Jne) K
Phone: (888) 263-0356
Fax: (847) 574-6820
Site Admin
Posts: 4044
Joined: Tue Sep 23, 2003 11:18 am
Location: Prospect Heighs, IL