UNDERSTANDING BINOCULARS

Birdwatchers love to have a good pair of binoculars.  They can enhance our viewing experience allowing us to view birds in so much more detail.  Maybe it’s time to upgrade your binoculars, but you’re intimidated by all the numbers and terms.  Here is a breakdown of their meanings.

Binoculars will have 2 numbers that are important to understand.  These numbers are pronounced with the x meaning by and will look like these examples –  8x(by)25, 8×42, 10×42, 12×50 etc.  The first number you see is the magnification.  This makes the object appear that much larger or closer than it actually is.  The second number refers to the size of the objective lens in mm.  The larger the number means more light is gathered, and the brighter the object will appear.

The eyepiece is the lens you look into to view images through the binoculars.  The objective lens is closest to the subject you are looking at and furthest from your eyes.

Close Focus is how close the binoculars can focus on an object.  You will want to look for a pair that gives you a close focus of 6-12 feet.  This is an important consideration if you are observing small birds or butterflies.

Field of View is the area that can be seen when looking through the binoculars.  A large field of view makes it easier to locate the subject.  Binoculars with a higher magnification will have a reduced field of view.

Eye Relief is the distance from the outer surface of the eyepiece lenses to the position of our eyes. This is important if you wear glasses or contact lenses.  You will want a minimum of 15 mm eye relief, or even 17-20 mm.

The Diopter is a ring found on the right eyepiece or central focus wheel.  By adjusting the diopter you can compensate for the differences in clarity and focus between your eyes.  You should cover the left lens with the eye cap while adjusting the diopter.

Now that you have a better understanding of binocular terms, you can begin to find the best binoculars for your needs.  Binoculars come in a wide range of prices – $100-$300, $300-$700, $700+.  Once you decide on your pricepoint, you can look at different brands to see which one suits you best.

Vortex binoculars offer a diverse price range and lifetime warranty.  There are many models to choose from including lower priced Crossfires, mid-priced Diamondback, mid to high priced Vipers, and the ultimate high definition Razors.

I hope this information helps you the next time you’re shopping for binoculars!  

Happy Birding,

Jane Paradis

Brand Ambassador

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