The highest magnifying power is obtained by putting the lens very close to the eye and moving the eye and the lens together to obtain the best focus. The object will then typically also be close to the lens. The magnifying power obtained in this condition is *MP*_{0}=¼Φ+1, where Φ is the optical power in dioptres, and the factor of ¼ comes from the assumed distance to the near point. This value of the magnifying power is the one normally used to characterize magnifiers. It is typically denoted "*m*×", where m=*MP*_{0}. This is sometimes called the *total power* of the magnifier (again, not to be confused with optical power).

Magnifiers are not always used as described above, however. It is much more comfortable to put the magnifier close to the object (one focal length away). The eye can then be a larger distance away, and a good image can be obtained very easily; the focus is not very sensitive to the eye's exact position. The magnifying power in this case is roughly *MP*=¼Φ.

A typical magnifying glass might have a focal length of 25 cm, corresponding to an optical power of 4 dioptres. Such a magnifier would be sold as a "2×" magnifier. In actual use, an observer with "typical" eyes would obtain a magnifying power between 1 and 2, depending on where lens is held. An older person might obtain an actual magnifying power of 8 or more with this lens, however, due to the eye's longer near point distance.