Pentax loupe

Discussion in 'Film and Processing' started by warren_sheng, Jan 21, 2010.

  1. I want to buy a loupe this week as I have 9,000 35mm slides, shot mostly with a Pentax, and my mum happens to be in the U.S. on a trip, so she can bring it back for me. I also have a Nikon Coolscan, an X-ray light box and occasionally do slideshows when I motivate myself. I would use the loupe partly to determine which slides are worth scanning and partly when I don't feel like doing a slideshow. (I have only a few 35mm negatives.)
    After research, I realise a Mamiya loupe is excellent but I can't find a single U.S. supplier! The Pentax loupe is available and inexpensive at, so I have 3 questions:-
    1. For my purposes, do you think the Pentax 5.5X at $80 is good enough? One reviewer said it had pin cushion but others didn't comment on that.
    2. I'm curious. Why does Adorama sell the Pentax 5X - 11X for only $50 when reviewers say it is not so good and everyone else seems to sell it at a much higher price than the 5.5X? The pictures seem to show that the 5.5X has a lot more glass. $50 is a bargain.
    Incidentally, the U.K. prices for these Pentax loupes are about 2 to 4 times(!) more expensive, which is crazy.
    3. Any better suggestions, assuming available stock.
    Thanks for any advice.
  2. Sounds like you're in the UK, and so is Calumet. I have two of their brand loupes, made by Schneider- excellent quality. Worth a look- I have no idea what they sell for these days (or if they even still have them, things are changing so quickly).
  3. Yes, I live in London, U.K., the land of the weak pound.
    Thanks Richard. I just checked. Calumet UK only seem to sell just one own brand loupe for ~$6 (yes, six dollars) plus an expensive Scheider for $218!
  4. I think a slide viewer is a lot more convenient than a loupe, especially if the loupe means bending over a light table. I don't know of any currently made slide viewers but EBay usually has several listed. They allow you to view the whole slide at once. Something with a focussing eyepiece is best. I currently have two Zadiix models, a Royal and a Royal Deluxe. They can be disassembled with a screwdriver if (when) you need to clean the insides, the cardboard mounts generate some dust over time.
  5. I've had the Pentax 5.5x loupe for 10 years or so. At that time it was selling for $135. I love it, never had an issue with it. It will almost cover a 6x6 negative so easily covers 35mm.
  6. Schneider, with no doubt. This is one area where it makes zero sence to save money on quality.
  7. I like my Rodenstock and also have misc others in the darkroom and in my desk, etc. I catch myself grabbing an old 50mm slr lens and viewing from the reverse side most often. I actually prefer this myself. It's an old Konica 1.7 with frozen blades. Try it and you may like it.
  8. If you have 9000 slides to sort through, you may as well go all out and get the Schneider. I have the Schneider 10X (has always been expensive), and it is the best loupe for you to see grain and focus on a slide. To have a quick view of the overall composition of a slide, I have the Mamiya 4X achromat (cost $90 back in 2004), and the Rodenstock aspherical 4X (badged as a Calumet for $60). The Rodenstock (plastic body) is probably not as good as the others, but servicable. The Mamiya (metal body) has a large area of coverage, and it's really nice to look in there.
    Before you waste a lot of time scanning a slide, it's best to judge it critically with the 10x loupe. Poor focus, motion blur, etc will become obvious.
    I've never tried the Pentax loupes, so I can't comment. I've read that they may have distortion. The loupes I've mentioned above don't exhibit any noticable distortion.
  9. Thanks everyone (what a great community is).
    After even more research, I found a U.K. supplier selling the Schneider 10X on a special discount. The 10X is the equivalent of $128 and, the even better illuminated 10X is $173. I think I will go for the latter, for added versatility.
    Assuming I look after it well, it should last a lifetime.
  10. 10x is too much power for viewing slides, 4x to 6x is much more appropriate. For editing slides, you need something which will allow you to see the entire frame at once, which cannot be done with a 10x loupe (without compromising optical quality). Furthermore, a 4x loupe is adequate for judging sharpness. At 10x, nothing looks sharp and everything looks grainy.
    If you want a 7x or 10x magnifier, look for an Hastings Triplet (q.v., Edmund Optics or an industrial supply house). Hastings magnifiers are nearly free of chromatic aberation and distortion, but have a short working distance (1/2"). They are used mainly to examine film (and other objects) for defects.
    I'm not sure why you would want an illuminated hood. Slides and negatives are best viewed on a light table, using an opaque hood to exclude room light. Most loupes come with an interchangible transparent hood for viewing prints (and other opaque objects).
  11. syd


    I'm way too late on this but I have owned the Pentax 5.5 for about ten years myself and it is an absolutely stellar loupe to use. I have never had any issues with it and I have not observed any major pin cushion distortion on 35mm or 6x7 viewing off the light box. Bottom line, fantastic product and I don't see needing another loupe in my lifetime, short of dropping it.
    Best, Simon.

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