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Experience with carl ziess binocular magnifiers

In any case David, just to make sure, you're talking about almost
12" working distance? 

I have the same loupes yes it is 12 inches. This one of the things I
love about the Ziess loupes no stiff neck from bending over my work.
I can sit up straight at my bench and still have a 4x view of my


James Binnion
James Binnion Metal Arts

Along with working as a goldsmith myself, I run a shop with 14
talented goldsmiths. Everybody has an Optivisor and we share three
Meiji microscopes. All of these goldsmiths came from different
backgrounds and, of course, with different personalities. Some don’t
like to wear Optivisors, one only wants to use the microscope (for
everything), one says he can’t use the microscope because it hurts
his back…it’s always something like herding cats. All I care about
is that the work is done well and on time, I want people to do what
works for them (within reason). I do feel like it’s very important
for the goldsmith to see the work better than the client sees it, so
it must be magnified in some way.

Anyway, I thought I get a pair of Carl Ziess binocular magnifiers
for everyone to try. I thought it’s magnification would fall
somewhere between the Optivisor and the microscope. I hoped everyone
would love them. The funny thing was that I was the only one who
really liked them. Part of the problem was that they were passing
them around and not getting them adjusted properly, so they were
getting a bit of a double image. Most seemed to feel that it was
better than the Optivisor but not dramatically better, not enough
better to justify the cost. So sadly, I sent the very cool looking
magnifying glasses back. I may get a pair just for my own studio,
but haven’t yet.

My conclusion was that if you are accustomed to the Optivisor and
have access to a bench microscope, the Ziess Binoculars are a bit of
a luxury item. But if you can’t quite swing the cost of the scope,
the Ziess binoc’s are likely better than what you have, and they
look cool too.


You won’t get 10X loupe magnification with the Zeiss, Steven. I
think that 2.3X to 4X is the range you should expect, depending on
which pair you choose. 10X would give a very small field of view…



I see James has beat me to answering your question- thank you Jim. I
will further elaborate.

The working distance (clearance for using hammer, saw, torch, etc.)
with the flexibility to move the workpiece, or move around the
workpiece, all while seeing with precision, are the things that made
this solution right for me. I began by assuming a comfortable
posture at my bench and measuring the distance from my eyes to the
areas I did the bulk of my work in. Then I chose what I felt was the
best compromise between magnification and field of view that were
available at that working distance. Opinions will vary- that’s
probably why they have so many choices.

My set is older than I imagined when Steve first posted this
question, so maybe Ziess has already addressed the recommendations I
will suggest for anyone using these loupes. The modifications I will
suggest are to first add a peg to limit the travel of the optic when
swinging them down, thus stopping the ocular lenses from meeting your
eyeballs, and secondly, a set of “filters” made from watch crystals
mounted on threaded rings to protect the objective lenses.

David Lee, CMBJ

G’day, Bench Monkey,

The Zeiss binocular loupe is excellent-but save your money first.
Find a source of ordinary reading glasses and give them a try. You
will likely need something in the range of +3.00 to +5.00, perhaps by
wearing one over another to achieve the total strength. When you
find the strength that works for setting you can have your optician
make them up for comfort and adjustment if needed.

If I can give you any further advise contact me off line.

Best wishes,
Dr. Mac

i agree with James completely on this point, my Orascoptic gives me
between 10 and 11 inches from the work bench, no more neck or back or
head aches… my only issue with the binocular type glasses is that
when you get up from the bench and move around walking bending over
or whatever your lower peripheral vision is blocked there fore
bumping into things on the floor or lower sides is common with me, so
I have to remember to just move them so,so I acn see where I am
stepping, a very very minor thing that would not sway me from getting
another pair or using the one I have all the time. best money spent
on one’s health in studio work. even more so then my Torit dust

Hratch Babikian

well Steven about prertending to be a Dr.Orascoptic, actually also
pesonalizes your binoculars by having them shipped and stored in its
aluminumstorage case with your name on the box (custom made in the
USA for Dr. Joe the plumer) I had to tell them actually to Keep the
Dr. title Off of there. not to push the company but they are very
user friendly.

Hratch Babikian


with Orascoptic and the Ziess you have about 4-5 choices, I got mine
at 10 to 11 inches. you can get them at 4 to 6 inches or 12 to 17
inches. you can also ask for custom distances when they come to
measure your eyes.(Orascoptic) and with the one thing I noticed
about Orascoptic VS Ziess was they really paid attention to comfort
and wieght of the whole unit, the eye glasses are titanium frames.

one other new design style that they had included was the
rectangular ovoid binocular lens shapes which gave a much better
feild of vision and no distortion in the closer distance lenses. I
have the round lens shapes and they are crystal clear at the 11 inch
distance, no distortions. i do like the fact that they are constantly
looking changing working on making their product better.

some one had mentioned and gone to their site, do so and there is an
immenese amount of usful info on all the questions you have, and it
stands for an over all educational info. for all Binocular

Hratch Babikian

Hi Gang,

This post is a little off the subject, but it has to do with
magnification at the bench.

If you already wear glasses, one of the best sources of
magnification at the bench is the Opticaid brand magnifier.

It attaches directly to your glasses.

The entire magnifier is made from clear poly carbonate, except for
the spring clips that attach it to the glasses, which are stainless
steel. It weighs less than 1 oz.

The nice thing about the clear plastic is that it doesn’t interfere
with your vision & is non distracting. The magnifier can be folded up
toward your forehead when not needed. When using them, if needed, you
can look over, under, & around them with no difficulty.

The stainless steel clips can be formed to work with many sizes of
glasses. It’s probably better to use them with a pair of glasses
with a full frame. I’m not sure what the clips would do to a
frameless lens… The Opticaids come in 6 magnifications from 1 1/2 X
to 3 1/2 X… They’re around $21.95 each. I got mine from Stuller.
Usual disclaimers, just a satisfied customer.


i make wood and silver jewelry, mostly all carved stuff, even with
the wood, which i sand to a clean 400, nothing goes out of the shop
unless inspected with magnification, i must do this for my own
anality cause it seems that no one(customer) really ever see much as
far as surface scratches go, i am way ahead of my clients in that
respect, probably true of everyone here, dave

In light of this thread. I am still looking for magnification that
can be different for each eye. Single piece magnification fitting
into optivisor type headpieces, do not work for me. I had cataract
surgery a couple of years ago, and choose to have monocular
correction. My left eye sees close range, my right eye distant, they
both adjust to working together.

For close jewelry work, I need a lens in front of each eye so both
focus very close in. Hugs,



I began by assuming a comfortable posture at my bench and measuring
the distance from my eyes to the areas I did the bulk of my work
in. Then I chose what I felt was the best compromise between
magnification and field of view that were available at that working

What did you decide was your best working distance? Also, if you
don’t mind answering, do you have middle-age eyes or youngster eyes?


This thread has been very helpful in providing necessary info on
which to make a decision.

One other bit of info: what is the ball park price on the Zeiss and
the Orascoptic? It’s not the determining factor but useful none the


I have Obrira glasses they are very much like the Carl Zeiss
glasses. I love them for tasks like fine detailing and stone setting.
A lot of what i use to do under the microscope, I now use the
Obrira’s for- the long focal range makes it possible for me sit up
straight, with a healthy posture.

I also have MegaView - this is, by far, the best optivisor I have
ever owned (and I have tried them all). It has excellent optics,
good focal range and a comfortable headband. They run around $80 and
come with 3 lenses. I can do 90 percent of my benchwork with these.

Have a great day!
Kate Wolf in Portland, Maine hosting wicked good workshops by the bay.


whenever I get eyeglasses made, every 2nd year or so, I also get a
custom pair made for a 18-24" focal length, made by an optician
shop, which is just for benchwork. once you have corrected lenses for
your individual eye issues, you can then use your optivisor, or
whatever on top of these glasses.

Doesn’t win any fashion shows, but it works.

Mark Zirinsky

Terrie do get in touch with Orascoptic to see if they can help, they
will come out to you and measure your eyes with an eye test also,
and custombuild the Binoculars to your specific needs.

Hratch Babikian

What did you decide was your best working distance? Also, if you
don't mind answering, do you have middle-age eyes or youngster

I’m not David, but it might be better stated as what working
distance is necessary. I’m now engraving a piece of steel with using
a Meiji microscope. To have the object in focus at the lowest degree
of magnification the plate I’m engraving is 5.5" from the lens of the
microscope. There is no option if I want the object to be in focus.
And as I mentioned previously sometimes less is more; I’ll use an
optivisor in certain situations instead of the microscope.

Lighting hasn’t been discussed but should be a part of this. I’ve
been using my eyes for a long, long time.

I’ve discovered a couple of things that have been helpful to me. I
use two sources of illumination on my work piece; and I have no idea
why, but florescent light seems better (more illuminating) to me than

I’ve worn glasses most of my life, but as I’ve aged my near vision
has improved. And a couple of years ago I had to renew my drivers
license and I was able to pass the vision test without glasses.
Strange, but acceptable.

The major adjustment I’ve made is when I go to a restaurant I bring
a small pocket light in order to read the menu. Most importantly, I
light my work more carefully than I used to and having two sources of
light has been most helpful.


Hey Kevinthe prices I got from Ziess were starting at 2500.00 to
3000…00 and 3500.00 +the Orascoptic ran me at 850.00, had I gone
with the latest version, would have been 1100.00 at the same strenght
but in the ovoid lenses, they do go up from there to 2200.00 +
depending on the strenght of the lens. I am sure with both companies
if you make contact and ask for the last years model you will get a
better/lower price then their regular prices, like what I had done.

good luck Hratch Babikian

Something to keep in mind about these loupes. There are two classes
of these binocular loupe galileian and prismatic. The kind I have is
the prismatic they are composed of several lenses and prisms to
create a longer light path so that there is greater depth of field
and width of field. These are the ones that cost $2500-$3500 The
galileian type are composed of just lenses no prisms. They are a
less expensive and smaller device more in the $800-$1000 range. They
are still better than a optivisor but not nearly as good as the
prismatic variety. The Obrira loupes that are being sold by some of
the jewelry supply houses are of the galileian variety and reasonably
priced at a little less optical performance than the medical grade
galileian loupes like the Orascoptic or Ziess make. Both Orascoptic
and Ziess offer both classes of loupe and there is a significant
difference in price depending on which class of loupe from either
manufacturer so if you are looking into these tools make sure to look
at both kinds to see which one best suits your needs.

James Binnion
James Binnion Metal Arts

Kevin about the lighting issue, of your work,while magnifying, I know
Orascoptic offers lighting through the eye ware or extra head gear
for surgery or dental work,one design is on top of your head the
other is at both sides of your temples attached to the glasses, and
the type of light is i think LED or the fibre optics I never looked
into it, but they offer it on there site and catalogs, and i remember
something similar to that at the Ziess catalog/site too. I always
think I will get that later when I really need it, but it seems over
the years I am needing stronger light sources for the work area and
spot lighting the actual piece. I am not sure if that has some thing
to do with the start of cataract issue or something else ?

Hratch Babikian