Dial Calipers vs. Digital Calipers: Which is better?

Posted by Kristen Wood on

Dial Calipers versus Digital Calipers; Which is better? Image showcasing a dial versus digital caliper faces.

Digital Calipers vs. Dial Calipers: Unveiling the Precision Showdown

In the world of precision measurement, the battle between digital calipers and dial calipers has been ongoing. Both are crucial tools in a machinist's arsenal, each with its unique strengths and applications. Both can be used for different applications, depending on your needs. 

Let's delve into the intricacies of these two measuring instruments to determine which emerges as the superior choice for your precision needs.

1. Digital Calipers: The Modern Marvel

Digital calipers, equipped with an easy-to-read LCD display, have revolutionized the precision measurement landscape. Their digital readout ensures quick and accurate measurements, often with the added convenience of metric-to-imperial conversion at the touch of a button. The clear, error-free readings make them ideal for applications where time is of the essence, and precise measurements are crucial. 
Mitutoyo 500-171-30 Caliper LCD Display; showing image face.


  • Instant digital readout on an LCD display.
  • Fast operation, showing results immediately.
  • Easy conversion between metric and imperial units.
  • Can be zeroed at any opening size for convenient comparison measurements. Resistant to knocks due to the absence of a rack-and-pinion system.


  • Relies on batteries, which can die unexpectedly.
  • Susceptible to moisture, requiring extra care.
  • Limited readability in bright sunlight.


*Tip* For Hands-Free measuring, we recommend taking measurements with a footswitch!
Click Here to check out our footswitches.

We also have complete Caliper to PC Interface Packages, for seamless data collection.
Click Here to check out our Caliper to PC Interface Packages.

Here at GreatGages.com we offer a wide variety of options for our Digital Calipers from Digital Calipers with SPC output, Long Jaw Digital Calipers, High Resolution Digital Calipers, and more!

Click Here to check out our full collection.

2. Dial Calipers: Time-Tested Tradition

Dial calipers, on the other hand, embody a time-tested tradition of precision. With a mechanical dial indicator, these calipers provide a visual representation of measurements. The smooth, gear-driven dial is a favorite among machinists who appreciate the tactile feedback and the ability to "feel" measurements. Dial calipers are reliable in environments where digital components might be susceptible to damage.


  • No need for batteries, making them reliable in any situation.
  • Works well in bright sunlight.
  • Mechanical design allows functionality when wet.
  • Generally accurate when kept free from debris.
  • Typically less expensive, making them budget friendly.


  • Slower than digital calipers.
  • Can be affected if dropped, requiring careful handling.
  • Limited to either metric or imperial, not both.

We offer a wide range of Dial Calipers from Insize, to SPI, and a variety of different face colors from white, yellow, red, blue and black depending on your preference. 

Click Here to check out our Dial Caliper collection. 

Which is Better? The Verdict: Precision Tailored to Preference

The battle between digital and dial calipers ultimately comes down to personal preference and the specific demands of the task at hand. Digital calipers shine in scenarios requiring rapid, error-free measurements and easy conversion between measurement systems. Dial calipers, on the other hand, appeal to those who value the tactile nature of mechanical dials and seek reliability in diverse working conditions.

Whether you choose the modern marvel of digital calipers or the time-tested tradition of dial calipers, GreatGages.com offers a comprehensive selection to cater to your precision measuring needs. Dive into the realm of accurate measurements with our range of dial calipers, digital calipers, and vernier calipers, each crafted to elevate your precision game.

Discover the perfect tool for your workshop at GreatGages.com and embrace the world of precision with confidence!


Click Here to check out our full collection of calipers!




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