Review: 3.5X-420mm Dental Binocular Loupes


Modeling can often involve working with – and straining to see – extremely small parts. Detailing instrument panels. Drilling out gun barrels. Rigging biplanes. We’re often faced with bits that can measure mere fractions of a millimeter. Even with my solid eyesight, I find myself going cross-eyed at times.

That’s actually a giant novelty penny…

The answer, of course, is magnification. Since coming back to modeling, I’ve tried a few magnifying tricks. The desk lamp with a magnifier hood – decent – but you have to get so close with it that it’s constantly impeding tweezers, pliers and paintbrushes. And fogging up as I breathe expletives at it.

I also tried some magnifiers that clip on to my glasses. And found that to see anything I had to hold the parts inches from my face. Not useful.

So when I stumbled upon some dental binocular loupes on eBay – claiming 3.5X magnification and a 420mm working distance – I had to try them. At $53, they weren’t cheap, but they weren’t ridiculous, either.

The loupes come in a little foam-padded case and, to my surprise, come mounted to a pair of glasses. They sure won’t be winning any fashion contests, but functional?

You bet. The 420mm working distance is actually as advertised, meaning you can actually sit like a normal human and see what you’re doing, all gloriously magnified.

Something I really like about these over an Optivisor is that the loupes occupy only a portion of your field of view, so you can actually see to pick up a tool, then “zoom in” on the detail work that needs doing just by glancing slightly down.

I’m a bit far along in my current builds to take full advantage of these, but so far I’m very impressed, and will be putting them through their paces soon.


Purchased on eBay courtesy of my wallet.

5 Comments Add yours

  1. ml says:

    do you have the LED light too that can be attached to the loupe? Does the light almost co-axial with the loupe i.e. you can see into a small hollow cavity with good illumination?

    1. Doogs says:

      Alas, I don’t. But with the 420mm working distance, I’m not sure how effective an LED would be since the light’s intensity would fall of pretty heavily over that distance. When I need a light in a recessed area like that, I’ll resort to a mini flashlight between my teeth and muttered expletives…

  2. mike johnson says:

    Hope all is well in austin. I wondered how you were getting on with these dental loupes.
    You reviewed them a while back, have they lived up to your initial impression?
    I was considering getting some as I currently use a fluorescent magifying lamp. I love the lamp, but I build 1/32 kits which are getting bigger and bigger. So when I airbrush larger surfaces, I want more flexibility. My eyesight is getting crappier by the day.
    Are the loupes heavy on your nose after long modeling sessions?
    let me know at your convienience. congratulations on your 3rd child. I have 3…it gets easier, eventually….

    1. Doogs says:

      They’re better than anything else I’ve tried…the extended focal distance really helps in that regard, but being binocs they still produce that weird, slightly disconnected sensation that, for me at least, messes with eye-hand coordination. Most of the time I go with a half-and-half method of them perched so I can easily look over them.

      As far as the weight, they aren’t bad, but I only wear them as necessary, so if they do induce slight neckstrain of whatnot I’m never in them long enough for it to be an issue.

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