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Bird Watcher's Digest

Mid-Priced Binoculars Review

For Bird Watcher's Digest, January, 2012

by Michael and Diane Porter

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Michael and Diane Porter wrote the following review, which appears in the January, 2012, Bird Watcher's Digest.

This is page 4 of the review.

Testing focus knobs

Focus mechanism. Your primary interaction with a binocular is focusing. It should be an intuitive, transparent experience.

Testing Focus KnobThere should be little or no slack. One achieves the best focus by turning past the sharpest point and then back to it. Slack in the focus mechanism messes with this strategy. Also, if you detect sloppiness while turning the focus knob, it raises doubts about the binocular’s overall construction quality.

The knob should turn absolutely smoothly throughout its whole range. There should be no hint of dragging or noise. The turning resistance should be enough to prevent unintentional movement and give good kinesthetic feedback, but not too stiff. In order to make fine adjustments, you should be able to initiate turning the knob without a jerk.

People vary in how much turning resistance they prefer. Therefore we did not ding a binocular’s score unless we thought the focusing was clearly too stiff or too loose.

The focus knob should have a non-slip surface, so that the fingertip gives a secure tactile feedback and tells your brain that you don’t have to push down hard for traction—just move your finger. A soft rubber surface with a pattern or ridges works well.

NEXT: Testing fit-and-feel

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