I’ve soldered for a long time, but I wasn’t always good at it. Better equipment, solder and practice has made me better of course, but good magnification is an instant level up in your soldering skills. Finding good magnification can be a challenge though. Here are the things I’ve tried:
This thing did work, but just barely. The magnifying glass doesn’t provide enough magnification, the light is weak and the optical quality is not great. Not recommended.
This worked better, and I still use this for some things, but not for soldering. For soldering you really want something that provides a good stereoscopic view, and looking with both eyes through a single magnifying glass tends to not work that well.
This is a gigantic step up from the desk magnifiers above. It’s also a big step up in price unfortunately. Soldering with one of these lets you see exactly what you’re doing. The base is magnetic, so you can attach helping hands to it, and I used to velcro my brass soldering cleaning sponge to it. I highly recommend using something like this when soldering.
After my first run of proffieboards, I decided to upgrade some of my equipment, so I bought the best stereo microscope I could find. While it is definitely better than the one above, and having a camera on it is very handy at times, it is much more expensive than the microscope above. So I wouldn’t recommend it unless you have cash to burn. The difference while actually using this and the one above is just not enough to warrant the high cost.
Head-mounted magnification is cheap and seems to work well for a lot of people. There are a lot of versions of this, I just linked one that looks what I have seen recommended elsewhere.