What are the best lamps and magnifiers for model painting?
When painting and assembling miniatures, good illumination and visibility are everything. No matter how good your eyesight is, using the naked eye is sometimes not enough for their intricate detail; and you might have experienced the frustration of spending hours on one just to discover errors or missing spots just when you were about to take a picture.

    In this article, we'll give you some tips on how to choose the best products to achieve optimum illumination and magnification so you can get the best results when painting and assembling your miniatures and models.

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    When it comes to illumination, some people prefer traditional tungsten lamps, as they find they produce a softer, more "natural" illumination with better colour rendering. In this case, however, we recommend LED lamps because they give a bright illumination that's great to enhance contrast and provides accurate colour matching. They also have other great advantages that make us love them:

    • Lower energy consumption, good for the planet and for your pocket.
    • Longer lifespan, which means you won't need to replace light bulbs.
    • They don't produce heat, being safer to use and handle than traditional lamps, especially if you need to move them around while working.

    We also recommend that the light has a colour temperature within 5000 - 6500K (Kelvin). This is called the daylight range, precisely because it mimics daylight. It's not only crisp and clear, but also particularly good to reduce eye-strain.

    Talking now about optics, we've already mentioned that even if your eyes are healthy, an increased magnification can help you see the finer details in your miniatures. There are different options for this, all of them have with their advantages and disadvantages. We'll explore them here:

      Reading Glasses:

      (Daytona Seaspray Ready Reader Reading Glasses)

      They are useful if you just need some extra magnification, and can be a good  option to try before investing in a more powerful magnifier or magnifying lamp. They are great if you paint miniatures casually or if you're just starting out. 

      • Pros
        • They are usually less expensive.
        • They're easy to find.
      • Cons
        • You need to be careful when choosing, as low quality reading glasses might damage your eyes.
        • They might not be an option if you normally wear prescription glasses.

      Headband Visors and Magnifying Spectacles:

      (LaboComfort Magnifying Visor Headband)

      These can be a good choice if you work with miniatures for long periods and also if you wear prescription glasses, as they can usually be worn together. They are more powerful and versatile than normal reading glasses, as we find options with integrated lights or the option to switch between different magnification levels.

      • Pros:
        • They tend to be more powerful than normal reading glasses.
        • Most of them can be worn on top of your prescription glasses or come in clip-on form, so you can just attach them to your glasses.
        • Some of them feature interchangeable lenses, so you can switch between different magnification levels if needed for different types of detail.
        • Some models include lights, removing the need to buy different products for light and magnification.
      • Cons
        • They can be more expensive.
        • If they allow for interchangeable lenses, they'll come with an existing lens, but you'll usually need to buy any extra lenses separately.

        Magnifying Lamps

        (Slimline LED Magnifying Lamp)

        They offer the best from both worlds, providing both illumination and magnification. Those with clamps are more practical, as they won't take much room in your probably already crowded work space. Those with a swing arm or adjustable height are more flexible, as they allow you to position them exactly the way you need them.

        • Pros
          • It removes the need to buy different products for light and magnification.
          • It's easy to keep the adequate viewing distance, as the lamp stands still while you work. 
        • Cons 
          • You might feel that they "get in your way", as you will be painting under the lens and your paintbrush might clash against it, at least at first while you get used to it.
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        We hope to have helped you understand a bit better what makes a lamp or magnifier better for modelling and working with miniatures and that you can now decide a bit more easily! Please, take into account that no matter which option you choose, you might need to "practice" painting with a magnifier. The magnifier's image will show all finer detail clearly, but your depth perception might be distorted, making it seem, for example, that your paintbrush is further away from the miniature than it actually is. After a few uses, you should get used to this.

        Also bear in mind that not all options are suitable for everyone and some people might experience eye strain. You should stop using these magnifiers and check with your eye specialist if you feel like they might be negatively affecting your vision.

        Finally, don't be afraid to explore! There are many forums and communities, especially online, where you'll be able to share experiences with other fans of miniatures and modelling. They might offer you some great tips.

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        We have made a special collection with vision and illumination products we think you'll love for your hobby. You can find them here: 

        If you'd like to have a look at our reading glasses first, you can do it here: Ready Readers Reading Glasses

        Do you have any questions or there's something you'd like to share with us? Get in touch!