Types of magnifier
There are a wide variety of different types of magnifier at different strengths. Below we describe some of the most common.
Some useful terms
How much a magnifier increases the size of an object, a two times magnifier written as 2x will double the size of an object, a 4x magnifier will increase the size by four times.
Field of view
How much of an object you can see through a magnifier a higher magnification means a smaller field of view.
Made from flexible plastic and designed to fit over an entire page, sheet magnifiers don’t offer the quality of magnification needed for people with sight loss.
Handheld magnifiers are the most common type of magnifier and are available in a wide variety of different strengths and designs. Our handheld magnifiers range in strength from 2x up to 12x and cost between £15 to £48. Handheld magnifiers range from small credit card-sized magnifiers up to larger magnifiers that you can carry in a handbag. Many models come with a built-in light to make viewing objects and reading more comfortable.
Handheld magnifiers require you to hold the magnifier above the page you are reading, making them unsuitable for people with tremors or weak hands. Best suited to spot reading small amounts of text, such as the ingredients on the side of a tin, a telephone number or menu.
Designed to rest on a page makes stand magnifiers suitable for longer reading sessions. They are ideal for people who find holding a magnifier steady difficult. These range in price from £20 to £99 and have magnifications between 1.8x and 12x. They come in a variety of designs, including bar magnifiers designed to magnify a line of text at a time. Some models have built-in illumination, and some have interchangeable heads allowing you to change magnification for different tasks.
Electronic Handheld Magnifiers
Electronic Handheld magnifiers range in size from a smartphone to a paperback book. They combine a video camera and display the magnified image on a screen. Magnification ranges between 0.5x to 25x depending on the model and screen size. Prices start from £350. You can easily adjust the magnification depending on the task you are doing and process the image to make text crisper.
Some people find certain colour combinations more comfortable to see than others, for example, white text on a black background. Most electronic magnifiers will allow you to choose your colour combination for reading text.
Desktop Video Magnifiers
Desktop Video Magnifiers are the most sophisticated type of electronic magnifier; some of them are the size of a laptop computer and can be carried around. Most are designed to sit on a table and not be moved. They are designed for people who need to do a lot of reading, either for work or study.
On most models the camera is suspended above the table or a platform allowing you to write, or manipulate small objects, we even had one lady use hers for needlepoint!
Features include rotatable cameras for near and far work (useful in classrooms), up to 50x magnification, integration with a computer (half the screen is your computer display, half is a document under the magnifier), rulers and guides to help with reading text or columns of numbers. OCR to reformat text on the screen, allowing you to see more text or have the text read out to you, store documents in memory for later retrieval.
Desktop Video Magnifiers range in price from £700 to over £3,000 depending on the features.