Are you looking for a hobby magnifying glass or headset visor to help you see your miniatures and models? For anyone who works on scale models, tabletop miniatures, or other really small art, magnifying glasses and visors are an amazing tool you shouldn’t overlook. For the overall best magnifying glass you can wear, the OptiVisor provides the highest clarity, comfort, and ergonomics compared with its competition. Of course, the OptiVisor is pricier and has less features than some other magnifying headbands, such as the YOCTOSUN.
In this article, Chris Spotts reviews 3 magnifying headsets that he has tried for painting miniatures. You can check out his awesome work at The Spotted Painter on Facebook and YouTube.
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What is the Best Magnifier Headset for Painting Miniatures?
Here’s the “too long, didn’t read” answer: The OptiVisor has the best clarity, comfort, and ergonomics. But, it is pricier and has less features than many other headsets. The YOCTOSUN LED head magnifier is the best value magnifier headset.
Three Headsets I’ve Tested for Painting Miniatures and Models
There are 3 headset visors I have tried for magnifying my work, and each set has a different style and design.
- YOCTOSUN White (Hands Free Headband)
- YOCOTOSUN Black (Eyeglasses Magnifier)
- Optivisor 1.75x (Optical Glass Binocular Magnifier)
Why a Headset Magnifying Lens?
A headset magnifying glass really can be a game changer for those fine details. It just provides a little extra magnification that allows you to focus in on those details.
Ideal Power Level for a Headset Magnifier?
I like somewhere between 1.5x-2x. Too much more than that for me and you have to hold the figure too close to your face for me. As the magnification level increases, your working distance decreases. Anything past 3x is pretty much totally usable because your brush hits your face. I generally use 1.75x on my OptiVisor.
What is the Best Headset for Magnifying Scale Models and Miniatures?
Here are my thoughts on the 3 headsets I’ve tried.
Yoctosun glasses style magnifying headset
Let’s start with the easiest headset to comment about: the Yoctosun black glasses style magnifying headset. It has a rechargeable light and many different magnification levels. The Yoctosun black magnifying glass is light weight and reasonably comfortable. However, I hate these!
Because they sit too close to my eyes, there are two issues that crop up. First, they force me to hold the figure I’m painting much closer to my face. Second, and this is a big limitation, 90% of my field of vision is magnified so I can’t look around the lens. Everything in your field of view is magnified. As a result, I get headaches much faster with the glasses-style magnifying headsets. I do not recommend these kinds of headsets.
- Rechargeable light
- Different magnification levels available
- Light weight and comfortable
- Sits too close to eyes
- Obscures normal vision
- Can’t wear alongside regular eyewear
Yocotsun white headband style headset
The Yocotsun white headband style headset has a rechargeable light, many different magnification levels, and options for an elastic strap or glasses mount. It’s reasonably comfortable for short spurts of work. But, for longer painting sessions, I find that they can become uncomfortable and cause headaches because of the pressure on the bridge of my nose. This is not a major issue, but a limiting factor for similar types of inexpensive, feature rich headsets.
A major advantage of the Yocotsun headband style magnifying glasses you wear is that you can look around and below the magnification lens. This lets you work with your wet palette and paints below your field of view, as normal. The other advantage is the price of the headband. They are often below $20 and represent an incredible value for most miniature painters. Overall, they are a great entry into magnified headsets!
- Rechargeable light
- Allows normal field of view around lens
- Uncomfortable for long painting sessions
There are many knockoffs of the OptiVisor, which I won’t comment on those because I haven’t tried them. The one I have is name brand and I opted to buy for quality. This is a much more comfortable option than the other headsets (shown above). The headband is padded and adjustable and keeps all the pressure evenly distributed around your head.
I get no headaches using these and often forget they’re on. You can also tilt the lenses up and away when not in use. They don’t restrict your field of view, and you can easily look around the lens to see normally without magnification. The optical clarity is also the best as the OptiVisor uses glass lenses instead of plastic.
There are, however, three reasons the OptiVisor is not an automatic “you must buy”. First, they don’t have a built in light. You can get an option with a light, but the reviews suggest they are sketchy. If you already have quality lighting, don’t worry about this. Second, the OptiVisor have a single fixed magnification. I already knew that I preferred a magnification power between 1.5-2.0x, so I ordered an OptiVisor with a 1.75x lens. The lenses are interchangeable, but you have to buy them separately. Third, the OptiVisor is more expensive than its plastic lens competitors.
Suffice it to say, I reach for the OptiVisors every time and I recommend them overall if you can afford a pair.
- Very comfortable
- Great for long painting sessions
- Best optical clarity with glass lenses
- No built in light
- Single, fixed lens (you can buy more)
Other Magnifying Options for Miniature Painting and Scale Modeling?
Some people find reading glasses work fine for them. I didn’t. Reading glasses just didn’t seem to work as well for some reason. If you want to try them, you probably want a diopter strength between 3-4 (diopter is not the same as magnification), which translates to around 1.5x-2x. Some people also recommend getting prescription magnification glasses from your eye doctor. I opted not to do this because of cost primarily (and my eyes are fine and I don’t have a consistent eye doctor). An advantage of reading glasses is that they have a small form factor and easily pocketed. They are affordable, too.
You could also use magnifying lamps with a boom or swing arm attached to your hobby desk. I found these a bit awkward to work with as I had to constantly move it around to better work with the miniature figure. I admit that some people like the magnifying lamps better than the wearable magnifying headsets.
Overall, I recommend the OptiVisor for comfort and clarity. But, the white headband Yoctosun is an incredible value and works reasonably well.
I hope you found this review of magnifying headsets useful. For more information or if you have any questions from Chris Spotts, you can find him on Facebook at The Spotted Painter!
3 thoughts on “Headset Magnifiers and Hobby Magnifying Glasses for Painting Miniatures (Review)”
OptiVisor all the way! I’m 50, and have had THREE surgeries in each eye since 2014 – cataract, cornea transplant, and retinal detachment repair. I see fine with prescription glasses, & hopefully I’m done with eye surgeries for many years.
I have 2 OptiVisors and 3 lens plates – #5, #7, and #10. Most of my mini painting is done with the #5 & #7.
The #10 gets used when I’m doing eyes or tiny gems / lenses; or when I’m working with surface mount electronics.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Don’t judge your paint job thru your magnifier! Many times I find myself thinking “damn, that looks like crap”. But then I lift the OptiVisor and it almost always looks just fine. =)
I appreciate the comment! Yes, I also have several lenses for my optivisor. I mostly use the 1.75x magnification power. Also, it’s true about judging your painted models at a normal viewing distance. This is also true about using high resolution photography as a gauge for your work…sometimes those flaws pop out at you when in fact they aren’t that bad. Thanks again!
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