Last Updated on December 28, 2020
Remember trying to burn a blade of grass using just a magnifying glass and the sun? While they still look the same as you may remember, magnifying glasses have come a long way since then.
Today, they do a lot more than just help you read the fine print. Some provide multiple levels of magnification, even going as far as to include a second lens in the handle! Others have built-in LED lights that will illuminate what you’re looking at so you can even read in the dark of night. Though they all look pretty similar, they vary drastically in capability and quality.
To help you figure out which one you can count on, we’ve put together the following reviews comparing eight of our favorites. By the end, you should know exactly which one fits your needs and budget.
|Best Overall||Fancii LED Handheld Magnifying Glass||
|Best Value||Insten Magnifying Glass||
|Premium Choice||MagniPros Magnifier||
|MagnifyLabs Handheld Magnifying Glass||
|Carson Handheld Power Magnifying Glass||
Equipped with three different magnification levels spanning from 2X to 10X, the Fancii handheld magnifying glass is an impressive tool that we think outclasses the competition. The oversized lens is 5.5 inches in diameter to give you plenty of room to see what you’re looking at. The magnification was very clear and free of distortion, making it very easy to read the fine print. It’s also very lightweight, so even when reading for extended periods, it didn’t start to feel heavy.
One of our favorite features was the built-in LED that allowed us to read in any light conditions. Our only real complaint was with the 10X magnification lens, which is situated in the handle. Unfortunately, it’s very small and we didn’t find it to be of much use. But overall, we thought this magnifying glass from Fancii was the best one available.
Inexpensive but high quality, we think the Insten MOTHXXXGLAS4 is the best handheld magnifying glass for the money. Its no-frills design makes it easy to use and helps keep the cost so low. Your arm also won’t get tired thanks to its ultra-lightweight of just two ounces. We would like to see some additional features such as LED lights built-in, but at this price, it’s hard to complain. The lens is made of high-quality optical glass with a 5X magnification. It enlarged every subject we studied to make it clear and crisp. We didn’t notice any visible distortion and the blurring around the edges was kept to a minimum. Altogether, we think it’s a great tool for a low price, making it the best value on this list.
With an elongated rectangular shape that’s ideal for reading, the MagniPros magnifying glass has earned our premium choice recommendation. The 3X-magnifying lens increases the size of what you’re viewing by 300% without any optical distortion. It’s a bit heavy because of the size and robustness, but it feels very good in the hand. This magnifier features two bright LED strips that fully illuminate whatever you’re looking at, up to 600 lumens. They will run for 100,000 hours on a single set of AAA batteries. What’s more, they’re actually dimmable, so you can adjust them to meet your needs at any given time. With such great features, it should be no surprise that this is one of the more expensive options, but we think it’s worth the slightly higher price tag.
The unique diagonal handle of the MagnifyLabs MAG0005 handheld magnifying glass means that it’s equally comfortable to use vertically or horizontally. The elongated rectangular shape is perfect for reading, but the image wasn’t as sharp as we’d prefer. When reading, the words came out too blurry compared to some of our top-testing models. We were also surprised that it didn’t magnify as much as we hoped with the 3X magnification optical-grade glass lens.
On the plus side, MagnifyLabs does back their product up with a lifetime warranty. That said, we think you’re better off getting something that provides a higher-quality viewing experience such as the Fancii model that earned our top recommendation.
The Carson SG-12 is a pretty basic magnifying glass overall, though it does feature an 11.5X spot lens, which we thought was pretty nifty. The main lens is made from acrylic instead of glass and it only magnifies up to 2X. This was sufficient for some of our testers, but others required more magnification than this for reading fine print. We did appreciate the padded pouch that came with the Carson product, but it wasn’t enough to redeem it. When using this for extended periods, expect your arm to begin tiring out, thanks to the hefty weight of this device. At a little over 10 ounces, it’s one of the heaviest we tested. In the end, it’s a decent tool, but definitely not the one we would recommend.
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At first glance, the Dicfeos Shatterproof magnifying glass seems pretty indestructible, thanks to the rubber coating that surrounds it. The price should have given it away though. It’s one of the cheapest models we tested, and the build quality is on par with the price tag. The glass lens was covered in small scratches when we pulled it out of the box, even though it’s advertised as having a non-scratch lens. We also weren’t impressed with the lens quality at all. The edges are extremely blurry, and only a very small area in the center of the lens provided any sort of clear image or decent magnification. Despite the low price, we don’t think the Dicfeos provides enough value to warrant purchasing it.
If you’ve ever had difficulty reading the fine print on a menu in a dimly lit restaurant, then you’ll appreciate the built-in LED light on the SeeZoom magnifying glass. We think it’s a very helpful feature, but it wasn’t executed well on this model. It takes three AAA batteries to run, which makes the magnifier very heavy. That would be acceptable if the LED wasn’t such a weak point. It worked great for the first few days but very quickly developed a flicker that made it unusable. We prefer to read in solid light instead of a strobe. The 45X jeweler’s magnifier that’s built-into the handle was a nice touch, but we don’t think it’s something that most people are going to need very often. For the price, we think there are much higher-quality magnifying glasses available that you’d get much better value from.
It’s hard to miss the unique looks of the Landnics handheld magnifier. If you want to look like Sherlock Holmes or Nancy Drew while you read, explore, or look at bugs, then this is the choice for you. On the other hand, if you want a quality magnifying glass that will help you see things clearly and last for a long time, then we suggest staying away from this one. It does have a 10X magnification lens, but in our experience, it didn’t magnify as much as expected. Worse, the glass has lots of ghosting that makes it very hard to use at all.
The worst problem is the cheap construction. Ours fell apart within the first week, something we’d be disappointed about at any price point. Unless you’re looking for a prop to play a detective, we’d suggest steering clear of the Landnics handheld magnifier.
The best magnifying glass will allow you to see things that may be beyond your natural abilities. While they still look similar to the tools used in days long past, the technology has increased exponentially. Hopefully, our reviews have helped you to determine which one is the best tool for your needs. To make sure it’s fresh in your mind, we’re going to quickly summarize our recommendations. We think that the best magnifying glass overall is the Fancii handheld magnifying glass. Featuring three separate levels of magnification and an oversized lens, you’ll never have trouble seeing the fine print. Moreover, the LED lights will illuminate your subject, even in the darkest of rooms.
For the best magnifying glass for the value, we think it’s hard to beat the price and quality of the Insten MOTHXXXGLAS4. It’s simple, easy to use, and ultra-lightweight so it never wears out your arm. Finally, the MagniPros magnifying glass was our premium choice recommendation. The rectangular shape is perfectly built for reading. The real draw was the ultra-bright 600-lumen dimmable LED lights that make it easy to get the perfect illumination in any light conditions.
Robert’s obsession with all things optical started early in life, when his optician father would bring home prototypes for Robert to play with. Nowadays, Robert is dedicated to helping others find the right optics for their needs. His hobbies include astronomy, astrophysics, and model building. Originally from Newark, NJ, he resides in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where the nighttime skies are filled with glittering stars.
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