Selecting the Right Binoculars
Binoculars, sometimes known as field glasses, are popular outdoor optics that allow you to magnify distant objects for better viewing. They have many applications, including viewing wildlife, watching sports, hunting, and use in the military. It's imperative to be aware of the different types available when choosing a pair.
Types of Binoculars
Binoculars are simply two telescopes joined together. A drawback of a conventional telescope is an inverted image, so manufacturers use various techniques to turn the image around. The Galilean system is the simplest, and uses a convex object lens and a concave eyepiece to rotate the image the right way up. These glasses have a maximum magnification of four, and a narrow field of view. Most binoculars use a Porro prism, which is easily recognized because the eyepiece is not in line with the front objective lens. An alternative construction is the roof prism, which produces a powerful but compact pair of field glasses. Image-stabilized binoculars reduce image shake; this helps with high magnification and when the device is used in a moving vehicle. Another innovation is digital camera binoculars that allow users to record images.
There are several things to consider when choosing optics, including:
- Magnification: A higher magnification means a larger image, but there's a trade-off between image size and how much the image moves as your hands shake
- Field of view: The wider the field of view, the easier it is to locate the object
- Close focus: The ability to focus on small objects that are nearby, such as insects and birds
- Eye relief: The distance between the eyepiece and your eyes; if you wear glasses, you need more eye relief
While most binoculars are effective outdoors, they're not very suitable for indoor use because their magnification is too great and the image is too dark. This is where opera glasses are ideal, as they're compact, provide moderate magnification, and work well in poor light.
For viewing the sun, browse solar viewing binoculars, which have 100% UV and infrared eye protection for looking directly at the sun. These glasses are useful for safely viewing solar eclipses.
Taking Care of Binoculars
It's important to provide protection against the weather, dampness, and mold. Keep your optics safe and dry when on the trail or at home, with binocular cases. Other binocular accessories, such as replacement caps, rain guards, and eyepieces, are available in case of loss or damage. To prevent damage from drops, invest in a high-quality strap. Finally, when you're done for the day, clean your device and store it in a case or bag.