If you find that you take more than a passing interest in the birds in your garden, wonder what the Latin name for a robin is, and fight to get the remote control from your partner when a documentary about birds is on, the chances are that there is a bird watcher in you dying to get out!
You’ve done a bit of research and decided you need to invest in a good pair of binoculars. So you’ve been to the shop and chosen a good power range and a comfortable weight.
Now you have to make the compact binoculars work for you – and don’t be swayed by what your friends tell you or what the salesperson tells you. Get the fittings right for your eyes and get the focus nice and clear. Make sure you have a good clear view and your eyes feel comfortable.
Do they feel ok hung around your neck? Is the strap too thin or not strong enough? You’ll be carrying them around your neck like this, remember, so they need to feel comfortable.
Try them up against your eyes. Check that they feel balanced in your hands and that you can reach the central focusing wheel.
A good tip for glasses wearers is to choose binoculars that have fold-down eye-cups.
Once you have found the right pair, paid up and gone home, it’s worth remembering a few pointers for everyday care of your bird watching binoculars:
1. Keep them clean and dry
2. Treat them gently – they are often more delicate than they look
3. Look out (excuse the pun) for health problems such as eye strain or headaches.
Bird watching isn’t all about hiding in bushes. In recent years it has thrown off it’s frumpy image and is even recruiting the support of celebrities like comedian Bill Bailey.
Bird watching is a relatively low fuss activity – all you really need is some wildlife, patience and a pair of bird watching binoculars. However great your eyesight and observational skills might be, bird watching binoculars really are essential to help you see as much of the bird as possible, in as much detail as you can and without scaring it away.
Choosing a good pair can be tricky though, especially if you are just starting out. Power ranges are the first things you need to get right. Every pair of binoculars will have two numbers on it e.g. 8×24 which refers to the power range.
The first number refers to the magnification. While you might think the higher the number the greater the magnification and therefore the better the binoculars, it’s better to go for a 7 or 8 as any higher than that and the binoculars might be uncomfortable to handle.
The second number refers to the objective lens – the bigger the lens, the more light comes through and therefore the more you can see. Again, while a larger objective lens suits darker conditions like poor weather or night time viewing, it does also mean the binoculars are going to be heavier.
The best thing to do when deciding on what power range to settle for, is have a good think about what conditions you are going to use the compact binoculars in and how much carrying you are likely – and willing – to do.
You might think it is silly needing a guide to using binoculars – surely all you do is put them up to your eyes and squint in the direction of what you are looking at?
Well, yes. But if you’ve ever found yourself squinting out of binoculars or closing one eye, then you really aren’t making the most of this wonderful piece of optical equipment.
So, let’s begin.
Consider this situation. You are on holiday in a beautiful place renowned for exotic species of birds. You are going for a walk, bird-watching binoculars in hand, when you suddenly spy movement above you. In a flurry of excitement you reach your binoculars up to your face and smack yourself in the head. The shock makes you drop your binoculars, they fall and one of the lenses cracks.
While you are busy kicking yourself, the bird has long gone.
The best place for binoculars, whether they are full size or compact binoculars is always on a strap around your neck. It keeps them safe but within easy reach.
You should never have to squint when looking through binoculars. Make sure they fit by adjusting the barrels to the correct width of your eyes. Your view should be a perfect circle.
Get them in focus by manoeuvring the central focus wheel while you focus on something in the distance. Further improve your focus by using the diopter adjustment to fine tune your vision.
Look out for signs of eye strain or headaches. This might be a sign that your pocket binoculars are out of alignment. If this is the case, contact the manufacturer who should be happy to help remedy the problem.
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Registered Office: The Arden Centre, Little Alne, Wootton Wawen, Warwickshire, B95 6HW - Registered in England No.00666856
Prices, availability, appearance, product descriptions, and accessories are based on available manufacturer information and are subject to change without notice.