A loupe is a necessity for almost any photographer who prints his or her own work. The pocket-size device enlarges the smallest details in your negatives and prints and comes in handy whether you are examining the quality of a print, the details of an enlargement, or the individual images on a contact sheet. Magnification levels vary, as do special features like lights. Find out what’s right for you by reading about our favorite photographer’s loupes on the market now.
1. Start International Peak TS1960 Fixed Focus Loupe
This lightweight plastic option has a fixed focus and a clear skirt, making it best for slides and prints. It is longer than other loupes we’ve seen, measuring just over 2.5 inches, which makes for a more comfortable viewing experience since you don’t have to hunch over as much.
2. Carson LumiLoupe Power Stand Magnifier
While many photographers find 3x to 6x magnification sufficient, a 10x magnifier can be an indispensable tool for fine details. This inexpensive loupe from a trusted brand is made from plastic and features dual lenses that have a fixed focus for quick and easy checks. The transparent skirt allows ambient light to filter in, so colors look true.
3. Hoodman HoodLoupe
A loupe can be a helpful tool for digital photographers in the field, too. The HoodLoupe is meant to be placed over the LCD screen of a digital camera, allowing photographers with less than perfect vision to adjust the diopter up to three levels above or below standard. This is helpful considering that while the viewfinders of many digital cameras can be adjusted, most LCD screens cannot. The glass lens provides a clear, non-pixelated image and resists scratching.
4. Carson MagniTouch Stand Loupe
Loupes with lights are particularly helpful when looking at prints, whether at full size or on a contact sheet. This model, also from Carson, features LED lights and an opaque skirt that cuts out any inconsistent natural light. The lens is made from scratch-resistant glass and has an adjustable focus that provides 3x magnification. Also included are a zippered pouch for storage and a soft lens cloth.
5. Start International Peak TS2044 Zoom Loupe
When an adjustable zoom is needed, this loupe from Start International is one of the best out there. It contains eight lenses that can be focused to plus or minus 2 diopters, providing an impressively flat field between 10 and 20 millimeters with no distortion. The lens is coated to provide full color correction. The loupe comes with a reticle for measuring as well as a cleaning cloth and a carrying case for travel, though this high-end tool is best used in a studio.