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The Binocular Advisor

Optics Myth 8:

I can just buy what my friend has. He's an expert birder.

REALITY - Binoculars need to fit the individual, just like shoes. Everyone is different, and what works well for your friend may not work at all for you. Here are a few issues to consider in choosing your own binocular.

  1. Eagle Optics Ranger SRTIf you wear glasses, long eye relief is paramount. You can immediately eliminate any binocular that does not accommodate your glasses, because a binocular with insufficient eye relief only gives you tunnel vision, shows you only the center part of the full image. Binoculars with long eye relief, such as the Eagle Optics Ranger SRT 8x42, let you see the whole picture while wearing your glasses.

  2. Consider the steadiness of your hands. Everyone's hands introduce a certain amount of motion. If your hands aren't as steady as they once were, you will see more with an 8-power or even a 7-power binocular than you will with a 10.

  3. Leica Ultravid Compact 8x20BCLSome people feel comfortable with a large binocular that gives them something solid to hold on to. If that is you, by all means, get a full-sized binocular. Others want something as small and lightweight as possible. These are the folks that compact and pocket binoculars are made for, such as the superb Leica Compact Ultravid.

  4. There's something tangible but hard to define in the way a binocular fits a person's hands. It's a good idea to try a binocular personally before buying. Make sure the binocular will spread wide enough or close in narrow enough for your eyes. Notice the way the eyecups fit against your eyes or glasses. See whether you like the way the focus knob turns. Feel how your thumbs fit the shape of the binocular's body. Do you like the texture of the binocular's covering? In short, does this binocular fit? Does it feel right for you?

Copyright 2006 Michael and Diane Porter


Sharp-shinned Hawk

Optics Myths and Misconceptions