When I finally maxed out the available power of the Optivisor (which
had to be surgically removed after 40 years of use) we investigated
several magnification systems. Switching to anything besides what
you're used to does require some time. I did not like the binocular
glasses. After 2 days of trying them, I still could not get
comfortable with them and the magnification was not high enough. I
tried the Meiji but didn't like the requirement of keeping your eyes
"glued" to the binoculars.
We settled on the Elite Mantis by Vision Engineering, available
through Gesswein or directly by googling the company name.
Although we could find no other jewelers who use it, we did find a
rep to try it out. After working with it for the past ten months, I
can say it's truly ergonomic bliss.
At times I'm carving metal--steel, gold, titanium--at the bench for
3-4 hours straight. When I did that with an Optivisor I wished I had
a masseuse on staff.
I sit with a straight back and view a single "screen" although it's
not a digital monitor. None of this placing and keeping your eyes
pressed against a binocular setup. I have the 4X and 6X power lens;
you can go up to 20X. It has an LED array which provides shadowless
light. There is enough room for tools, burrs, gravers, etc. with the
4X (FL: 3 3/4") and 6X (FL 2 3/4") lenses.
I've mounted the GRS ring clamp so I can work on rings using the
Mantis and it's great--the area you're working on is always in
focus. One unexpected benefit is that I now break far fewer burrs.
Drawbacks? Well, after getting over how crappy your fingers and
nails look, you might be told, as I was, that you're putting too
much detail in the designs! Also, the price is steep--my setup was
$3,000--but this is a tool that will last forever and did I mention
The manufacturer--Vision Engineering--is running a special through
September on a less-expensive model--the Compact Mantis--that
requires you to swap out the lenses. I wasn't sure how important
that would be to me and ended up buying the Elite model that holds
two lenses making the switch quite easy. I don't actually use this
feature a whole lot and others might find that the cost savings are
well worth the minor inconvenience of swapping out lenses with the
No ties at all to the company; just one very happy user. PS I still
use my beloved Optivisor every day.
Chris Boothe, Exotica Jewelry