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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 7 of the review.

Testing Resolution

Resolution ChartResolution. As in previous reviews, we tested optical resolution using a USAF-1951 optics resolution chart. We used a beanbag rest that let us carefully compare two binoculars side by side. A halogen floodlight provided consistent lighting. In case of ties, we had a 2x doubler handy to place behind the eyepiece.

The human eye’s ability to resolve detail can change due to fatigue or time of day. As a control for consistency, we used a high-end binocular to continually check the level of details that our eyes were able to see.

We mapped the resolution results so that the top score was 5. One should note that the resolution scores in this chart are very close. Adjacent gradations represent differences that can be seen only from an absolutely stable platform, and possibly only with a doubler.

We know you’re curious how these mid-priced binoculars stacked up against our high-end reference binocular, so we’ll tell you. The high-end binoculars’ resolution score would be a 5.5.

It’s wisest to use the chart data as a rough guide and not to obsess overly on a resolution score difference that you might be unable to see in the field. Furthermore, it’s possible that the one sample of each binocular we studied could have been atypical. The best use of this chart data is to help you narrow down your choices to a few binoculars that you can test personally and find out which one suits you best.

Choosing a binocular is always a very individual and holistic task.

NEXT: How we scored the test

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