This website is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn a small affiliate commission.

How to use a magnifying glass for your purpose

Last Updated: 15.07.24

If you’ve ever read some of Arthur Conan Doyle’s novels, you probably know that the tool of choice for Sherlock Holmes used to be a magnifying glass so if you don’t have one yet, we suggest this fantastic read to help you choose. This gadget has evolved a lot over the years, and that’s because technology is slowly but surely shaping the way we live.

Nonetheless, despite being somewhat antiquated compared to other gadgets that can literally magnify various subjects, be they binoculars produced by a brand like Nikon, monoculars, microscopes or telescopes that can now be connected to a cell phone by using adapters like the ones you will find if you browse around here, magnifying glasses are still quite popular with certain amateurs and professionals. What’s more, they prove their worth under a variety of circumstances where other devices might be useless.

We’ve noticed that there’s a trend going around which basically involves using your iPhone or Android device as a magnifier. The fact of the matter is that, in some situations, smartphones and tablets might not be able to raise up to par. And one of these situations is macular degeneration, which is a condition that affects people typically older than 50.

These individuals do not have the eyesight to handle a smartphone, so they absolutely need a magnifying glass. The same goes for people who make handmade jewelry, who are coin collectors, and even those who like to repair electronic components in their spare time, although they might want to use a dissecting microscope for such a purpose.

We’ve put together a list of things you may want to consider if you want to make the most of your magnifier or magnifying glass. Check them out below.


Just what do you want to use it for?

When it comes to the design of these products, not a single one can be compared to the other. Some are handheld while others can be used conveniently without the operator needing to fiddle with their components in any way. By the same token, some are compact and portable while others need to be utilized at home or at the office.

If the activity you are getting the magnifying glass for involves spending a lot of time using it, we do not recommend choosing a handheld unit. You can get a new magnifying glass for cheap, but try and make sure that it’s self-standing or can rest on something while you tend to your business.

Some models designed specifically for reading, as are those for people with macular degeneration, simply have to be placed on top of the page. We’ve noticed that there are several variations in terms of the design of such products, but most are capable of magnifying up to half of a page.

There are some magnifying glasses that can be attached to headsets, and they prove their worth to people who repair tiny things. All you have to do is modify the position of the magnifier and take a peek through the lens.


How does a magnifying glass work?

Typically, such a product is outfitted with one or two convex lenses. These lenses are capable of either bending light rays so that they come together. The type of magnification actually depends on where the eye of the person looking through the glass is located. Therefore, you can see the subjects smaller if you move away from the magnifying glass and see them bigger as you come closer to it.

As we were saying above, not all models are made the same, and that’s why they have different magnification powers. Some can increase the image of a subject by up to five times, but others can only do this by three times.

With most handheld magnifiers, you can always take advantage of the convenience of their design. What this means is that you can move them closer or farther from the subject or from the page of a book. In fact, that’s what most people should do if their eyesight isn’t particularly accurate.


Most magnifying glasses have a somewhat low magnifying power, especially when compared to devices capable of better performance in this sense, such as microscopes. Low-power types are common and let’s face it; they have their limitations.

One thing that few people consider when they are in the market for a new product in this line is that they shouldn’t solely focus on the magnification as a feature of their gadget. In fact, the higher the magnification capability of the glass, the more likely it is for it to produce optical aberrations, of which spherical ones are most common.

There are several magnifying glass designs you could consider if you really are interested in getting a superior magnification power. These are represented by Hastings triplets and Coddington magnifiers. Due to their design, they are often called loupes.

What is the difference in terms of the magnification between a typical magnifying glass and a Hastings triplet, for instance? This is a logical question you should ask yourself so as to understand whether or not you really need to increase the image that much. A Hastings triplet can boast a fixed 30x magnification power, but that’s the maximum it can achieve. For anything else that goes beyond 30x, we suggest getting another device, even something as simple as a USB microscope.

Using an iPhone as a magnifying glass

Perhaps this is the part you have been waiting for, so we won’t disappoint you. We’ll tell you just how you can use your iPhone as a magnifier. First off, for operating systems like iOS 10 and above, you might not know that there’s a neat feature that can indeed turn your smartphone into a magnifier.

You can find it in Settings->General-> Accessibility->Magnifier. Switch the setting on and then press the Home button three times to turn the camera on and look at magnified images. We’ve tested the feature, and it actually works. Best of all, you can even increase or decrease the magnification as per your needs.



Ioana Moldovan

Ioana’s professional experience in the optics field has helped her understand the value of passing her knowledge forward. Her curious personality helps her gather useful information for her readers and her goal is to make technical information fun and accessible to everyone.

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked * Protection Status