Monday, October 17, 2011

Optivisor - Answering My Own Question

A while back I was doing a bit of research and considering purchasing an Optivisor to help with painting my miniatures.  In doing so, I solicited advice from other painters who use an Optivisor, and though I received several emails stating interest in also purchasing one, actual advice or reviews from current users were lacking.  Well, I did a little more research and purchased one a few weeks ago.  And now that I've had some time to get used to the added magnification and its effect on my painting, I thought I would post a review to help others who may be considering a similar purchase.

A #2 Optivisor
There are several different styles of Optivisors on the market (and other companies make similar devices).  Some are lighted while others have additional attachments, etc...  I really didn't need anything special so I decided to go with the basic model.  The one I purchased consists of a comfortable headband adjustable to any size via a rotating knob on the back and a swivel mounted visor containing the lenses that is easily moved out of the way for normal painting.  Despite a good amount of time on the internet researching the appropriate magnification for painting miniatures, I was unable to find a solid answer.  So basically I just made a slightly educated guess and ordered a model with 1.5 times magnification.  Other flavors include magnification that goes from 1.5 to over 3 times normal size.  My eyes are still in very good shape though and I only needed a bit of help for the tiny details that grace today's intricate models, so I went with the lower power visor.

The Optivisor in action on a Halloween WIP

I have not tried any of the higher power lenses so my review may be biased, but I am quite happy with the purchase.  With the aid of the Optivisor, I've noticed an increase in the detail on my minis and the ability to place paint in the smallest of areas.  I'm also able to make less of a mess when I need to outline or freehand.  The additional magnification has also helped me avoid finding flaws in the metal AFTER I've primed and base coated.  I absolutely hate having to go back and file or fill a spot after I've already started painting.  Note:  I hate prepping miniatures anyhow.  I wish they came ready to paint!

A word of warning though.  Until you get used to the additional magnification, be very careful with brush placement.  I had several accidents where I thought the brush was further from the model than it actually was and ended up putting a blob of paint in random spots.  After a few days of use however, those little incidents vanished.

A privateer WIP seen at 1.5 times magnification

Though the focal length listed for the #2 model is listed at 20", I find that measurement difficult to believe.  Through careful measurements, I've found that the miniatures come into focus around 6 inches from the lens and begin to blur when moved closer than 3 inches.  Now I'm not an optometrist and do not know what other factors may effect focal length, but these are the numbers that work for me.  It's fortunate that the numbers are what they are since that is about where I hold my miniatures when I paint anyhow.

Another WIP seen through the lens

I was concerned about the comfort of wearing the visor while painting but I've adjusted quite easily.  Since I do not use the magnification the entire time I'm painting, I have had no issues with eye strain. I do leave the visor on my head though and just flip the lenses out of the way when not in use.  At first I would get little headaches from the pressure of the headband but either they have loosened a bit or I've simply become used to it because I no longer even feel the unit on my head.

So in conclusion, I'm quite happy with my purchase.  Though I'm certainly not the best painter out there (or even close), I've been able to take my miniatures up a notch with a fairly inexpensive investment and that is always a good thing.  It would be nice to try some of the higher power models though, just to see what they are like, but for now I'll make do with these.  After using them for some time now, I feel good about recommending this particular model to other miniatures painters.  But remember, however, that depending on your eye sight, your mileage may vary.


  1. Good review. Thanks.

  2. I've often thought about buying something like this, thanks for the headsup!!