A pair of binoculars is a practical piece of equipment perfect for someone who loves the outdoors and basks in the beauty of nature. Having binoculars handy helps you get a better view of far away objects and details. But choosing your binoculars isn't easy because there are a lot of factors you need to consider to make sure you're buying one that you'll put to good use. Read through this checklist and use it as your guide when buying your binoculars.
- Know what you're going to use it for. There are different kinds of binoculars available for specific purposes to all sorts of outdoor enthusiasts. There are binoculars used for bird watching, stargazing, viewing sporting events, or simply for sightseeing. But first, you should have a specific activity that really requires the use of binoculars before deciding you do need to buy one. For example, once you decide to try stargazing at night, join a bird watching club, go hiking or camping, or travel someplace for sightseeing, that's the perfect time to buy binoculars. For stargazing and bird watching, you need a more specialized type of binoculars. But for sightseeing or viewing sports events, you don't have to buy an expensive one with fancy features.
- Consider power, diameter, field of view, plus image brightness and steadiness. Binoculars have "formulas" or attached number labels. Take for example, 7x42 or 8x25. The first numbers, 7 and 8, stand for the magnification power-simply the number of times your binocular can enlarge the image. The result is that when you use your binoculars, whatever you see would appear 7 or 8 times larger or closer. The second numbers, 42 and 25, stand for the diameter or the width of both front lenses, measured in millimeters. Take note of these numbers because they are very important and affect the overall performance of your binoculars. The higher the first number doesn't necessarily give you the best view. It is a rule in binoculars that when the number for magnification goes up or down, important factors are affected like field of view (refers to the scope of space or background that can be seen through the binoculars), brightness, and image steadiness. If the magnification is higher, the field of view is more limited, the brightness goes down, and the image becomes more unsteady. Ideal magnification would be 7 or 8. If you need to focus more on details, consider binoculars that can provide you with the right FOV (field of view). On the other hand, the higher the second number or the diameter of the lenses, the better the performance. With a high number, your images are seen brighter and sharper. For example, 8x45 binoculars undoubtedly give you better, sharper images than 8x20 ones.
- Choose between coated and non-coated lens. Binoculars with coated lens help give you a better image because they allow for more light to pass through the lens and into your eyes. The catch though is that coated lens make binoculars more expensive. A simple, non-coated lens is cheaper of course, but the performance is markedly more inferior to one with the coated lens.
- Consider the size and weight. If you're going to use your binoculars for hiking, camping, walking, or simply sightseeing, you also need to choose one that's not too heavy and bulky-something that can fit in your backpack, can be carried easily, or worn with a strap will not pose as a hindrance whenever you walk or engage in any activity.
- Consider waterproof or water-resistant quality. Using your binoculars primarily outdoors leaves it vulnerable to the elements like rain, snow, or simply water. Choosing waterproof or water-resistant binoculars should also be a priority if you intend to use your binoculars out near the water or even through the rain. Waterproof binoculars of course, cost more.
- Choose between brands and models. For some people, brands and models do not figure at the top of their priority list. For them, quality and performance are more indispensable traits to look out for. But some people can't help having an affinity with brands or the latest models. To each his own, right?
- Ask about warranty. Check if your new binoculars come with a warranty, especially if it's expensive or an exclusive brand. Also ask for service centers where you can have your binoculars repaired if it unfortunately meets with an accident. Another important thing to ask is whether the warranty applies regardless of the shop or the location where you bought the binoculars.
- Consider your budget. If you're on a strict budget, you might want to consider a porro prism binocular. It's less costly to make than a roof prism binocular, but they do not have significant differences in performance. The only thing to watch out for is that porro prism binoculars are heavier, and much more vulnerable to the elements. When you think about it, you might get more value for your money when you invest in a roof prism binocular that's not only lighter and easier to carry around, but also more durable.
- Try on some pairs. When you see something that interests you, try how it feels in your hands. Note the comfort and ease when you handle a pair. Discover the adjustments and knobs for yourself and see how it works. Try focusing on some objects or anything within range. This can help you compare and choose one that's better suited to your needs, and also superior both in quality and performance. If focusing is a breeze for you, that just might be the binoculars you need.
Whether you're a bird watcher, star gazer, hiker, camper, traveler, or simply a tourist and spectator, you'll need binoculars that suit your needs perfectly. You don't need to replace your binoculars every now and then whenever an updated or more specialized model comes out. You also don't need to buy the most expensive one. You just need a reliable pair that can perform well and serve you for a long time.
A zoom binocular has three numbers. For example, 7-15x40. This means that you can adjust the zoom feature from 7 to 15. The image then can appear 7-15 times larger or closer.
The highest number of magnification you can use without compromising the stability of the image would be 10. Anything higher than that would require the use of a tripod to steady the image.
Do you use eyeglasses all the time, even when looking through binoculars? If so, look for binoculars that allow for eyepieces and have added features of eyecups that can be retracted, rolled down, or twisted when you need to use it. Some eyecups can be replaced when damaged. Just check with the seller to be sure.