Guide to Binoculars

| Binoculars
Guide to binoculars
Binoculars, often associated with bird watchers and opera, can also be invaluable for photographers. Imagine being able to spot the distant deer in the woods, or the cascading waterfall on the hillside. Any serious landscape photographer will also find carrying a pair of binoculars saves loads of boot leather, because you can pinpoint footpath signs and exit routes from the other side of a field to help you navigate a more direct course.

Size matters!
Binoculars come in wide variety of shapes, sizes and colours, but they can be grouped into two main types-traditional porro-prism and roof prism. Porro prism models have the common stepped body shapes and tend to be quite bulky, while roof prism designs have lenses arranged in a straight line in the body tubes making then smaller, but often more expensive.

When looking at binoculars you will find there are two overall sizes - full size and compacts. Full size model gives a much brighter image and are the best choice if you intend using binoculars seriously, but they weigh much more and can soon become uncomfortable to carry or hold up to your eye for long.

If you opt for a full size pair look at attaching a Neoprene strap. These stretch to give an apparent reduction in weight, which can make them feel up to 50% lighter, while giving a really comfortable support.

Guide to Binoculars: Guide to Binoculars Better still, choose a compact pair- they will often fit into a coat pocket, pouch of a camera bag or glove compartment of a car. There is a trade off in brightness and they are often more fiddly to hold and use than a full sized model, but they re fine for general use and far more convenient to have with you at all times.

Numbers game?
All binoculars are marked with two numbers, i.e. 10x40 or 16x50. The first figure, (10x or 16x) is the magnification. Multiply this figure by 50 to get the equivalent power of your 35mm camera lens. The second number (40 or 50) is the diameter of the lens furthest from your eye, in millimetres. A combination of a small magnification and large lens produces a brighter view. A 7x50 pair, for example, gives a brighter image than a 10 x 50, but the image magnification is smaller.

Guide to Binoculars: Guide to BinocularsMany binocular buyers make the mistake of choosing the most powerful pair they find, but a smaller, sharper and brighter image is generally better than a large, dull, blurred one. It's also better to have a wider angle and less magnification when watching nature, as it's easier to keep up with a bird in flight or a leopard on the prowl if your binoculars have a wider field of view.

Is it worth paying more?
You can pay less than 20 for a pair of binoculars so why do people invest over 1000? The main benefit of paying more is optical quality-images from more expensive pairs are usually sharper and brighter-top models can even out-perform our eyes.

Guide to Binoculars: Guide to Binoculars The best models produce excellent image quality across the whole field of view, unlike cheap models that often show colour defraction at the edges of the scene and a blurred image. You'll also find expensive models have better build quality, protecting the elements from the accidental knock with seals preventing dust or water damage. We are not suggesting you take out a bank loan to buy a pair, but it is worth paying at least 100. The beauty with binoculars is that you can give then a through test while buying. Ask the shop assistant to let you take them outdoors to view up the street and if you can't spot a difference with one pair that's twice the price of another go for the cheaper models and save yourself some cash.

If you buy mail order chose a reputable name and check that you can exchange them if they are not satisfactory.

Protect them.
Keep your binoculars in their protective carrying case to prevent dust and grit getting into the mechanism. This can clog up the oils and make the controls grind which could eventually seize up. Also avoid knocking them-prisms are often mounted lightly and a bump can misalign one, causing double vision. For the best view keep the front and rear lens surfaces clean with optical cleaning fluid and a soft lint free cloth.

For news on binoculars go to: News related to binoculars

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sebard Avatar
HI there! This is a very interesting and informative piece on binoculars. As mentioned in the text, there are literally hundreds of binoculars on the market. I happened to run into a binocular website where they offer you the opportunity to narrow down the list as it were. All you need to do is refine by magnification, aperture, price, brand and property. The website then produces a shortlist of suitable viewers for you. For those who are interested, here is the link:

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