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Mid-sized Binoculars

from "Hands-on field Tests"
in Bird Watcher's Digest, January, 2005
Michael Porter Diane Porter
by Michael and Diane Porter

Pick up a new, top quality, mid-sized, binocular—one with objective lenses of 30 to 32 millimeters—and you’re bound to be impressed. For starters, you need only one hand, because it’s lighter, thinner, and a lot shorter than its 42mm big brother. It’s not just easier to carry—it’s easier to handle, as well. And because it will fit in your purse, coat pocket, or glove compartment, you’re more likely to always have it with you.

It’s got the desirable features of contemporary full-sized binoculars: rugged construction, neatly adjustable eye cups, rubberized armoring, waterproofing, close-focus, and antireflective coatings. And it seems just as bright and sharp, too. Now look at the price tag. It’s cheaper than the big guy.

So why not just forget about full-sized binoculars and buy a pair of mid-sized? Seems like you have nothing to lose but some of the weight around your neck. But what’s the catch? Will a mid-sized binocular fail to serve you as well as a full-sized one?

Well, it depends.

Two things you get less of when you go for a mid-sized binocular: exit pupil size and eye relief

How much these sacrifices will cost you depends on who you are—most especially how old you are and whether or not you wear glasses.

Let's consider (2) How the Human Eye Ages.

Then we'll go into the (3) Eye Relief issue with mid-sized binoculars.

And then we'll (4) Review each mid-sized binocular from our 2005 survey for Bird Watcher's Digest.

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Celestron Noble 8x32
Sharp-shinned Hawk
Zeiss Victory 32mm
Northern Cardinal
Swarovski 32mm