How to choose binoculars
Binoculars are the second most used optical apprentices used other than eyeglasses. Whether you are bird watching, hunting or star gazing, having the right set of binoculars can enhance your experience and make your hobby more enjoyable. A good pair of binoculars can make your viewing experience more personal by bringing the objects up close. They are designed to give you a better long-distance sight.
There are thousands of different brands and models to choose from on the market. Buying the right binoculars for your needs can be as confusing as buying any piece of equipment. Choosing the right binoculars for your needs should be handled with as much care as buying eyeglasses.
There are several things you should keep in mind when buying binoculars. Use the following tips on how to choose the best binoculars for hunting.
- The first thing to consider when choosing binoculars is to decide on your price range. You want to pick the product that will be best suited for your intended use and hobby and remain within your budget. The price of binoculars can range from a few dollars to a few hundreds of dollars, depending on the product’s construction, quality, viewing range, features, and brand. Your budget will determine the brand, quality, style, and durability of the binoculars you can purchase. However, there are binoculars on the market to fit every budget.
- You will need to pay close attention to the materials used to manufacture the binoculars you select. Like glasses, binoculars are can be made using various materials. The materials used in making the binoculars are very important in terms of durability and product quality. The different materials used will weigh greatly on the price of the product. For instance, lenses can be made from durable plastics or glass. Plastic lenses tend to be more durable. Glass lenses give a clearer view of the images. The body of most binoculars is covered with a durable rubber membrane. The shell underneath is most commonly made from either Aluminum, Poly-carbonate plastic, or Magnesium.
- Next, decide the magnification you desire. The magnification specifications of binoculars are represented by two different numbers. The first is a set of numbers. These are the magnifying specifications. These numbers that are usually are usually represented like this, ( 8x40mm). These numbers indicate how large the image viewed will be in comparison to viewing the object with your natural eyes. The first number in the set tells you the magnification power of the binoculars. For example: When viewing an object that is 10 feet tall with your naked eyes, the same object will appear 80 feet tall when viewing through 8x binoculars. The second number in the set of numbers indicates the size of the large lenses in millimetres. The size of these lenses determines how bright and sharp the image will be. The second number to consider when choosing your binoculars is the FOV (Field of View). This number represents the width of the area at a specific distance you can view through the binoculars. For instance, 124 meters at 1,000 meters, means the binocular displays a 124 meters width view at a distance of 1,000 meters. This number may also be expressed as a percentage, ie. 50 degrees.
- Next, you want to check the eye relief on the binoculars. This refers to the position of the eye-cups that retract to accommodate people who wear eyeglass or extend to provide shading for those who do not. These eye-cups are designed to help you seat the binoculars over your eyes when in use. They keep your eyes at the correct distance from the ocular lenses so that you can view the full image. Eye-cups normally range from 5 to 20 millimetres (0.2 to 0.98 inches). Experts suggest if you wear glasses, you will need an eye relief of 14 to 15 millimetres (0.55 to 0.59 inches) or greater.
- Pay attention to the Lens Coating and Lens Quality. Most binoculars have some sort of coating placed on the lenses. This coating is to protect the lenses. It also reduces glare, unwanted reflections as well as improve light transmission and contrast.
- Binoculars fall into two broad categories that are differentiated by what type of prism they use inside to correct the image and turn it the right side up after it has passed through the objective lens. The two different categories are Porro Prism and Roof Prism. Porro prisms have their main lenses spaced wider than the eyepieces. And Roof Prisms have the main lenses rest in line with the eyepieces. Roof Prisms make the binoculars more compact but usually at the cost of image quality.
- You want to test the focusing function of the binoculars. Some binoculars are “focus-free”. They cannot adjust the focus. Others have a centre-post mechanism, as well as a diopter corrector. This type is better if one of your eyes is stronger or weaker than the other. The focus adjustment mechanisms should move freely and have enough resistance so once set they stay in place if the binoculars are jostled.
- Next, you want to choose the weight of the binoculars. Binoculars come in three sizes: full size, mid-size or compacts. Usually, high-magnification and large-lens binoculars weigh more than standard binoculars. You want to choose binoculars that are easy to hold and comfortable to use.
- Consider buying waterproof versus water-resistant binoculars. If you are going to use your binoculars while hunting, rafting or skiing, you may want to buy waterproof binoculars. They will get wet often and you will need extra protection. Otherwise, water-resistant binoculars will be just fine for basic, non-water sports usage.
- Another key while shopping for binocular is to test a lot of different brands and models. Make sure to look for brightness, crispness, and true color of the images you are viewing. Looking through various brands will give you a better sense of the quality of each instrument.
- Last but not least, check the manufacturer’s reputation and guarantees. Consider what other products the manufacturer produces and how long they have been in business. Also in case of damage you want to have a warranty or guarantee from the manufacturer that will make it easy for you to get them replaced.
Keep in mind your intention of use for the binoculars you choose to buy. Experts recommend using high magnification binoculars for hunting or viewing long-range. Larger lenses are more useful for low-light viewing activities and bird watching. And binoculars with 7x to 10x magnifications are suggested for general use.
With these steps in mind, finding the right binoculars for your viewing pleasure should be less complicated. Beware of fancy frills and extra features. They are not necessary for typical binocular use.
Image stabilizing binoculars tend to be more expensive because they automatically compensate for handshaking or trembling. You can mount your binoculars on a tripod for stability when viewing. Zoom binoculars, that can zoom from 7x to 20x, also tend to be more expensive. They also tend to be less reliable than fixed lens binoculars because of their many moving parts.
In any case, do some comparative shopping of the different brands, models and styles available. Make sure you choose wisely and the binoculars you purchase have all the standard features you desire. I hope this checklist helps you find the perfect binoculars for your intended use and gave you insight on how to choose binoculars. Let us know what you think about our article in the comments and feel free to share this article if you liked it. Have a good time shopping, choose wisely and enjoy your new binoculars and your viewing experiences.