We live in a high tech world. You can tell just how high tech we've become by the combination gadgets available to us. MP3 player phones, PDA/GPS units, fishing rods with fish finders? Well, add camera binoculars to the list. These are perfect pieces of equipment for watching birds or other wildlife, sporting events or just acting like a spy. BinoCams, as they are sometimes known, come in different styles with different specs. I'll try to guide you through a few things to look for when shopping for a pair.
- Binocular magnification and aperture size. First off let's examine some features of every binocam you would be getting. The binocular part of the unit is usually compared to other binoculars by their magnification ability, usually a number like "8 x 32". The first number represents the magnification possible and the second number is a measure of the aperture in millimeters. Aperture means "opening" and here it is refering to the size of the objective lens, where light comes in. So, an 8 x 32 binocular has a magnification of 8 times with an objective lens that is 32 mm wide. Now the bigger the aperture, the brighter the image will be but the bigger the aperture, the bigger the binocular. If you want an all purpose set, go for 8 x 32. I find this is the best of both worlds, compact enough and bright enough.
- Camera size and pixel density. The camera part of the binocam can also be compared to other cameras by a number. In this case it is in mega-pixels. A digital image is made up of a bunch of square portions or pixels, that when combined form a picture. The more pixels in a single image, the higher the image resolution and 1 million pixels is equal to a mega pixel. Most cameras these days are in the 3 to 5 mp range. These are great for taking and printing images but are usually at least the size of a deck of cards or larger. When it comes to combining a camera with binoculars usually you will find a lower mega pixel count (around 2 mp) due to size constraints. That's not to say you cannot get a quality camera/binocular combo, just that you might have to shell out some dough to do so.
- Binocam Add-ons. Usually digital cameras come with an LCD screen for viewing images before and after you take them. Many of the better binocams also have these, which usually flip up from the top of the binoculars. If you have the choice, I would always go for the LCD. Digital cameras also need memory to store images. Some binocams have built in memory, some have memory card slots but most have both. If you take lots of pictures or want to use the video capture function on most binocams, you will need a good sized memory card. With the price of these cards falling, I'd suggest a 512 card as it seems this is the maximum amount of memory that binocams are expandable to. If you are going to be using these binocams in an environment where moisture is a factor, look at getting a waterproof model. These won't help you underwater but will be fine in rain, sleet and snow.
- Price. The price of an average binocam with all optional features is around $160. That's for an 8 x 30, 3 mega pixel, LCD, waterproof binocam with built in memory and a memory card slot. Not too bad for a 2 in 1 device. Here is a nice selection sorted by price:
Most everyone sells them for around the same price, you just need to choose which model and features you like. Hopefully by reading this article you can do that with a little more confidence now.