Optivisor : The Review
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Thread: Optivisor : The Review

  1. #1

    Default Optivisor : The Review

    Partly out of curiousity, and partly out of a possibly misguided belief that I could somehow find an "easy" way to improve my painting through mechanical means, I picked up an optivisor and tried it out. I detailed my experiences with it on my blog:


    Anyone else had any experience with one? No one I know has ever used one, so I'd be curious to see if my experiences differ from anyone else's.

  2. #2


    I use one all the time - very happy with it!

  3. #3
    Senior Member Jbickley00's Avatar
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    My problem is while I like that magnification, the focal length for the one I got is too short for practical painting. (4")
    It seems that anything more than a 2x magnification shortens the focal length considerably. So think about how far away you hold the mini when you paint it.

  4. #4


    My ability to focus closely began to diminish about the same age as yours Kelly so it kicked off my search for something to help with doing very fine details and the first thing I bought was a head-mounted visor thing of a similar style to the Optivisor.

    I found it difficult to try to get used to, so much so that unfortunately it's been gathering dust for some years now. I suppose the main thing was accommodation - they seem to tug at the eyes, so big problem with eye fatigue - which I guess you could get used to if you had no choice but to tough out wearing them. But the issue with the short focal length you mention in your review and jbickley also mentions above is a major hassle and might not be fixable, brush handles & sculpting tools constantly bumping into the lenses is annoying at best and although it's possible to shorten brush handles I wouldn't want to, but it's not possible to shorten most of my sculpting tools so this alone may be the dealbreaker. I also found it difficult to judge distances properly wearing them, although I think this is another something you'd get used to.

    A couple of years ago on a whim I tried off-the-peg reading glasses and they work much better for me - far easier to accommodate to, and as they perch on the nose you can peer over them easily so they're far more user-friendly IMB.

    I may have to give the Optivisor clone another shot for very fine work in future years though as my close focussing gets worse.

    Some previous threads that mention Optisors and other vision aids:

    Last edited by Einion; 05-07-2013 at 02:49 PM.

  5. #5


    Apologies for resurrecting a long dead thread, but I thought I'd post the following update:

    I'm now 40, and I'm having to cope with the realization that my eyesight will never be as good as it once was (and I used to have very strong eyes!). I still have no problem at long distances, but my eyes just don't want to focus on anything up close any more.

    As such, I've started to rely on the optivisor more and more. I simply use the one magnifying lens (no need for the drop down additional ones... yet), and I flip my head back and forth like Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy's Zaphod every time I need to refocus on the stuff on my desk, rather than the model in hand.

    The plastic headband does get sweaty and slippery though. Thinking of gluing a strip of felt or terrycloth to the forehead portion. Might help.

    For the times when I'm taking my painting on the road and don't want to carry my lamps with me, I'm considering jury rigging a LED lamp to it. Perhaps one of the ones that normally clip on to the front of a hunter's ball cap? I used to use a LED headlamp all the time for this purpose, but the two don't seem to work well together (maybe if I had a forehead like a Klingon, but I don't).

    Anyway, I took a look at some of Einion's recommended forum threads on CMoN, and it seems that others are using these more and more as well (especially us old folk!). The other alternative seems to be cheap low powered reading glasses. Might have to give those a try too.

    As for mine, it's still going strong. The plastic is not super durable though... it's got one or two cracks now (around the screws), and the bottom edge of the lens has been bumped by my brushes a few times when I wasn't paying attention (I now lick my brushes to sharpen the point and condition the hairs with spit mid-project... disgusting, but useful!).

    Anyway, for you young guys, I advise that if you get one, use it sparingly in case it prematurely fatigues your eyes. For us old farts with already shot eyeballs, this may be the ticket to keeping up with the younger generation.

    Man, I hate getting old...

  6. #6


    ...Klingon forehead is all I read...
    ​You are ranked 1 out of 9149 artists.
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  7. #7


    Quote Originally Posted by BloodFather of Kharnath View Post
    ...Klingon forehead is all I read...
    Well, that WAS the most important part, I guess.

  8. #8


    I really cant do anything detail-wise now without using the Flex-a-Mag (same company as optivisor) and even at that there are times when I wish I could zoom in further so I was considering an Optivisor but your review leads me to believe I wouldn't be too thrilled with it (having to tilt your head back to see anything else in particular would drive me nuts). Thanks for the very informative review.

  9. #9


    Quote Originally Posted by sunsanvil View Post
    I really cant do anything detail-wise now without using the Flex-a-Mag (same company as optivisor) and even at that there are times when I wish I could zoom in further so I was considering an Optivisor but your review leads me to believe I wouldn't be too thrilled with it (having to tilt your head back to see anything else in particular would drive me nuts). Thanks for the very informative review.
    I actually tried a combo desk lamp / magnifying lense for a time, much like the one you linked to. I have to say that I hated it. For some reason, it was extremely difficult to properly judge where my brush was in relation to the model... I think I just couldn't judge depth when looking through it. However, perhaps it would have gotten better with practice.

    Speaking of practice, the head flipping motion isn't too bad now... I have figured out a "sweet-spot" on my forehead for the headband. When my optivisor sits there, I just have to tilt my head back ever so slightly, and look downwards with my eyes ever so slightly, and I can transition back and forth from "zoom" and "macro" at ease.

    Still, I wish I didn't NEED the optivisor, but my eyes just can't focus up close like they used to. The "macro" setting of my eyeballs is too far gone. I still have killer long range vision (no problems at the range, shooting with iron sights instead of with a scope), but everything gets really blurry when I try and look at anything right in front of me. I'm glad to have the optivisor, but I'd still like my youth back more...

  10. #10


    It's too bad that Lasik is so darned expensive. But if you have the spare cash,.. laser surgery might be an option.???
    It's only a flesh wound!!!

  11. #11


    I've been using an Opti-visor for about 15 years or so (I'm an old goat of 53). To be honest, I do most of my painting with a pair drug store reading glasses. I only bust out the Opt-vior for fine detail work.

  12. #12
    Superfreak!!! Dragonsreach's Avatar
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    I'm also long sighted and NEED reading glasses for anything inside 3feet.
    But I use Clip on magnifiers (+3) on top of those.
    Picked them up via Amazon for about £6. Lighter, therefore less head wobbling, less neck stress and No Sweatband needed.

    For really stupid close up stuff you can hunt up Rolson clip on loupes which 'can' give up to +15 magnification!!
    I believe in Karma, what you give, is what you get returned. Affirmation; Savage Garden
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    , and proud of it.

  13. #13


    I think I'll give the reading glasses a chance. Thanks for the suggestions!

    What power reading glasses should I look for? Any other features I should be looking for when shopping for them?

    As far as corrective eye surgery, I suspect it's not for me. When I was younger and could recover from surgery faster, perhaps. But then again, I didn't have any eye issues back then either. Plenty of people at work have had corrective eye surgery (I work at a Police department, and you have to meet a minimum eyesight requirement before they give you a gun), but all have had it done back in their early 20's, or late 20's at latest.

    Wearing an optivisor or reading glasses aren't that much of a hardship for painting. It's when you're trying to read the super tiny fine print on a medicine bottle or packaging of a food item that it really stinks.

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