A magnifying loupe is a great tool to check that your photos are sharp and to examine fine details in transparencies, negatives and prints.
|Schneider are well known in the professional photography circles for their superb large format lenses, and also advanced darkroom users will be familiar with their razor sharp enlarging lenses. It's no surprise that the company therefore make the most of their high quality optics to produce a range of magnifying loupes. || |
Now, before you read on, if you're the sort who would nip down to the local sewing shop to buy a magnifier for your slide viewing exit now. These loupes are more expensive than the zoom lenses you'd attach to your SLR camera!
There are four loupes to choose from:
Loupe 3x for 6x7cm
| 235 |
Loupe 4x for 35mm
Loupe 6x for 35mm
Loupe 10x fine detail
They're expensive because high quality optical glass is used rather than plastic so you should get a clearer view which we'll judge in a moment by taking a look at each Loupe individually, but first lets look at some other common points that these models share.
The loupes are supplied in a protective hard card tube. While this looks great as a presentation item in a shop it offers no practical benefit as it's really far too big to store the loupe in and not practical. I'm sure the investment on this could have been used to produce a lightweight carry case in normal packaging!
|Secondly, the four come with a thin elasticised lace style neck strap. The ends of this plugs into flip down connectors at each side of the loupe. It's beautifully designed. |
The eyepiece is adjustable for different users' eyesight and the action is really smooth, another perfect designed piece. For the cost, although the casing looks expensive, it's plastic and feels cheap, this is especially noticeable on the larger medium-format loupe.
|Three of the models have a clip off base/hood that can be replaced with a supplied transparent hood so light will enter allowing you to view prints and other reflective material. || |
So lets take a look at each:
|Loupe 4x for 35mm: 132 |
This has a 47mm diameter aperture which allows you to see the whole 35mm film frame. The optics are really bright providing a sharp, clear view. The 4x magnification is fine for viewing 35mm and could be used for medium- format if you don't mind viewing in sections. I've used a decent Hoya Loupe for the last four or so years and this offers a far brighter image when compared side by side.
|Loupe 6x for 35mm: 227 |
Physically the same size as the 4x, for 35mm film, but the inclusion of an additional Aspherical glass element makes it feel a far more substantial loupe. For the price difference I couldn't detect much of an improvement over the 4x though. Although the 6x magnification is useful for checking really fine detail. Not as practical as the 4x for medium-format.
|Loupe 10x for 35mm: 224 |
Squat model with a 44mm diameter aperture which would allow the whole 35mm film frame to be seen if the magnification wasn't 10x. Again you get a really bright and crisp view, but you can't see into the edges of the frame without distortion, so you have to move the loupe around to see the whole 35mm frame.
Loupe 3x for 6x7cm: 235
This has a base aperture that measures 8cm square so it's perfect for viewing negatives and transparencies up to 6x7cm. As mentioned earlier the plastic construction doesn't make it feel worth the huge price, but the view it delivers is outstanding - bright with exceptional clarity. The 3x magnification is fine for viewing medium-format but not so good for 35mm.
These really are well engineered loupes. Four models offering four quite different propositions. If most of your work is medium-format it makes sense to buy the 6x7 option, but for most users that have a mixture of formats or just 35mm one of the other options will be more beneficial. The 6x version is the one I'd choose as it offers a good detail-inspecting magnification, it feels great and cannot be beaten for quality but at a price!!! You have to be very serious to spend this money on a loupe, especially when there are many lower priced versions on offer from the likes of Rodenstock, Horizon and Nikon.
test by Peter Bargh