With so many types, sizes and specifications of binoculars on the market, it is difficult to know which one to choose. Marta Leocádio, from the SPEA store, gives you 10 tips to help you decide.
1. Establish the available budget and what type of use you are going to give your binoculars
If you know how much you are really willing to pay for your binoculars, this will help you to identify the options available, so you can compare them. It is also important to keep in mind the regularity and the type of use you are going to give to the binoculars. Are they going to be a daily work tool, or are they to be used on weekends? And will you want to watch only birds, or also insects and flowers? Are you going to use them at dawn and dusk? With this in mind, you will be able to identify the most relevant features and thus choose the model best suited to your needs.
2. Try before you buy
Whether in a store, at a fair or event, or borrowing from friends, it is essential to try several binoculars before making your decision. Take the binoculars and observe the same objects with each pair: an object relatively close to you, and a more distant one. When you are trying them on, analyze the feeling of comfort in their use, at the level of the eyes / vision, but also if you are allowed a comfortable, relaxed position, and if they are comfortable with your hands. Another very important aspect is weight: remember that in an ideal setting you will spend several hours with binoculars around your neck!
3. Know the meaning of the numbers
There are two numbers that are usually indicated on the binoculars themselves, for example 8 × 42. The first number refers to the magnification (8x), and the second to the objective diameter (42 mm). The greater the magnification, the closer the bird appears. And the larger the diameter of the lens, the more light enters the binoculars and therefore the sharper the image is and the better it can be seen in dusky situations. But beware: more is not always better! The larger the lens, the bigger and heavier the binoculars will be. To find out more info on binoculars, you’ve to browse Binocularview site.
4. Beware of magnification
Binoculars usually have magnifications between 7 and 12, which means that they allow you to see an object 7 to 12x larger than it is. However, the greater the magnification the smaller the field of view, which means that you can more easily miss the bird, and that any slight hand shake can cause the image to blur. For most conventional bird watching situations, 8x or 10x is perfectly adequate. If you are particularly interested in watching prey, then it is advisable to opt for 10x or more, as they are usually seen further away. Above 12x, it is worth thinking about investing in binoculars with image stabilization.
5. Choose the format that is most comfortable for you
There are two formats of binoculars: the Roof prism, in which the eyepiece lenses (against our eyes) and the objectives (those at the other end of the binoculars) are aligned, and the Porro prism, the “classic” configuration in which the eyepiece lenses are closer to each other, and the objectives are further away. These configurations have to do with the positioning of the prisms that direct the light inside the binoculars; neither is inherently better than the other in terms of image quality. However, Porro binoculars are generally cheaper, but they are heavier and larger, so many users find them less comfortable.
6. Invest in quality glass and coatings
The type of glass used to make binocular lenses has a major impact on image quality. FL (“Fluoride Glass”) and ED (“Extra-low dispersion”) glasses guarantee brighter images with more real colors. There are also coatings for the glass of the lenses and prisms, which help to obtain clearer images: look for the indication PC (“Phase Correction”) next to the binoculars name.
7. Pay attention to eye comfort
This measure (eye relief in English) refers to the maximum distance that must separate your eye from the ocular lens in order to be able to observe the entire width of the image, without the effect of a tunnel. The higher this number, the better your experience will be: the ideal is to look for binoculars from 13 mm of eye comfort.
8. Prefer water-resistant binoculars, with eyepiece and objective protection
Because binoculars are mainly for walking in the field, where there is rain and dust, they should have some degree of protection. Therefore, we recommend binoculars with protective “caps” for both eyepiece and objective lenses, and if possible waterproof. However, be warned: waterproof does not mean suitable for diving!
9. If possible, avoid buying the cheapest binoculars
We all like to pay as little as possible, but the truth is that quality and comfort also pay. An extra investment can mean lighter binoculars, better quality lenses with better finishes, and more resistant materials that are reflected, for example, in more years of warranty.
10. Estimate your binoculars
Keep them in the case when you are not using them, do not leave them in the sun, or in a hot place, such as the car, avoid dropping them and clean them carefully after using them.
Finally, enjoy your binoculars, using them whenever possible!