Tuesday, August 23, 2016

My New Lighting Solution

Sometime last year I picked up a clamp-on magnifying Ott Lite. It had a clamp, ran on batteries, and had two LEDs. I'm thinking, "Hey, an Ott Lite, can't go wrong!"

Wrong. Here is the exact model I bought, so that you know which one to avoid.

There were approximately a half dozen things I hated about the Ott Lite. It ran on BATTERIES. Which means that shortly after I acquired it, I accidentally bumped the on button and drained the batteries because THE LIGHT WASN'T BRIGHT ENOUGH FOR ME TO NOTICE THAT IT WAS ON. More to the point, it ran on watch batteries, of which there are about five thousand different varieties, none of which I keep in the house. I never did get around to replacing the batteries. 

Second, it only had two LEDs. Now LEDs are bright but two is just not going to cut it. The magnifying glass cast more of a shadow than it did illuminate my projects. See point 1 above.

Third, the clamp was weak. It moved way to easily, often resulting in me knocking the magnifier sideways and sometimes it fell off my stand all together, especially when I tried to adjust the position. Which brings us to Fourth, the arm is pretty short and not really that flexible.

Fifth, the lens was 2x with a 5x spot magnifier. Ugh. It distorted everything, the edges were wonky, and that annoying 5x spot really drove me bonkers. 

And thus, after starting The Princess and the Dragon on 32 count fabric and deciding that rather than go blind trying to see the holes, I would just whip out my magnifier, the darn thing ended up being flung across the living room straight into the trash can. 

So begins the Long Dark Road of Moria....

Okay, not really but I had to start searching for another solution. At first I figured I would just drop in at the local drugstore and get a pair of reading magnifier glasses. The problem I ran into with these was that the focal length was so short, I was better off without them. I had to smush my face right up against things to bring them into focus. I'm pretty sure I left nose prints on the mirrors in the store.

Discouraged and forlorn, I wandered back home and began pursuing options on my go-to solution, the Online Retail Giant Amazon.com. I rapidly discovered that there are a lot of options out there. Some cheap like the Ott Lite (and judging from experience, worthless) and some very expensive but with great potential. All with mixed reviews for needlework.

After many hours of wishywashy searching, I finally settled on a Bright Tech brand light, with 30 LEDs. It has a CORD, so none of that battery nonsense. People complained about the clamp being too strong - no such thing in my opinion. The flexible neck looked longer that the previous iteration and there was no 5x magnifier spot.  A couple reviews said that they didn't like it for needlework but I figured (a) it was affordable and (b) if I didn't like it, Amazon will take it back with no questions asked. 

Bright Tech LightView Flex
The utility you will get out of this is dependent upon having a place to clamp it that is close enough to your work to make it useful, and also, being strong enough to work the clamp. I can do it with one hand if I put a lot of effort in but two hands works better. I am able to clamp this directly next to my work on the arm of my floor frame. 

It has rubber grips on the inside of the clamp, an added bonus.

So how bright is it? Really Freakin' Bright - as in I have to angle it away from my husband when he's watching TV with me. 

Here is an example of the magnification. I attempted to take these photos at the same distance away but I suspect the top one is just a few inches further away than the bottom one. 

Regardless, the magnification is good without being overwhelmingly huge. I also find it helpful to have a smaller area of the project on which to concentrate. There is a smidge of distortion around the edges but its not really too bad. 

All in all, this is one of my favorite craft tool purchases. Its much easier to see the project, I have no trouble finding the holes, I can stitch much faster, and my stitches are prettier. 

One thing to note is that the ridged ring you see just outside the magnifying glass actually spins in to hold the glass. The first time I flipped the light over, the ring and the glass fell out, but all I had to do was put it back together and tighten it down properly. I haven't had the problem again.

I feel obligated to inform you that I am not getting compensated in any way for this review, nor have I been asked to write this review by a third party. I purchased the lamp at the advertised price. The opinions here are my own.

I hope this is helpful and gives you some things to consider when you are looking for a magnifying lamp. 


  1. Very informative post Kaelyn. I have Ott Lite floor lamps and really like them.


  2. Great review and the wizard looks fab so far. I have this kit in my stash... Recently picked up a mighty bright book light that clamps nicely to my scroll frame. I need to try it and see if I can get over my aversion to stitching on black.

  3. Interesting. I've never used a magnifier and hopefully won't need one for a while yet! Glad it's helping you with stitching on black. My best tip is to put something white under your stitching - I put a tea towel across my knees. It helps the holes to show up.

  4. Looks good. Glad you found something you like :)