Binoculars are considered to be one of the best tools you can use for observation because they are so simple to use and unlike telescopes, they can be carried around easily without the need for a lot of other equipment such as stands and tripods. They aren’t too expensive and they are long-lasting too.
However, not all binoculars are the same and so, as with any other visual aid such as glasses or a new camera, you need to spend some time looking into the different types available and finding the right binoculars for you. Below you’ll find some useful information and tips to help you when looking for your new pair.
Different Types of Binoculars
As we’ve said, not all binoculars are the same, although they fall into two main types. These are classified by the type of prism that they use, and so are known as the Porro Prism and the Roof Prism Binocular respectively. The former is the most common and is a good alternative to astronomical telescopes. The latter are usually more expensive and are effectively two telescopes side by side with a prism system which corrects the image.
Understanding Power and Light
When you look at binocular specifications, you will notice a set of numbers. These refer to the power range and objective lens size, which affects light. Depending on what you want to use your binoculars for, the power range is usually the most important factor. The first of the two numbers listed indicates the magnification (or power range) that you can expect from your binoculars. So, in a pair listed as ’10×42′, for example, the magnification you can reach is 10 times the size of the original image. Don’t be fooled into picking the largest number you can thinking that this will give you the best chance of a clear image, however. The higher you go, the more steady you will have to hold them to get a clear image, so if you plan on bird watching in all weathers, for example, you might not end up seeing that much!
The second figure is the diameter of the lens objective (the larger end) in millimetres, and a larger number will allow more light to enter, which is particularly important if you plan to use your binoculars when there is poor visibility, such as at night or in bad weather. Again, however, bear in mind that bigger isn’t always better. A bigger lens means a heavier pair of binoculars, so if you are going to be carrying them around a lot, this is something you should bear in mind and consider if you actually need it.
When weighing up the different technical specifications of a pair of binoculars, don’t neglect to consider the comfort element. Ensure that you have a wide enough strap or lanyard so that it won’t cut into your neck – and if it does, invest in a new one! Also check what kind of a grip the binoculars offer – a rubber coating is the most comfortable.
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