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Garnet films of high Faraday rotation are applied as magneto-optical sensors to visualize the spatial distribution of magnetic fields. Using specific orientations, the induced anisotropy can generate an easy plane of magnetization which is inclined with respect to the film plane. If the magnetization lies in this plane a very high sensitivity can be achieved. The dependence of the geometrical orientation of the easy plane on the growth direction is calculated and the sensitivity and dynamic range are derived. Experimental results of a  oriented garnet film are in good agreement with calculations. © 2002 American Institute of Physics.