[Tweeters] Binocular Advice
tweeters at dartfrogmedia.com
Sat Sep 16 18:22:08 PDT 2006
When we shopped for binoculars about five years ago, I did lots of
research online. We didn't have a lot to spend: our budget was around
$200. But we ended up with some 8.5 x 40 ( I think!) Swift Ultralites
that we've been extremely pleased with. We got them locally for only
a bit more than online retailers were charging. They were light,
clear and bright, and have worked flawlessly. And if we lose them (as
we've come close to doing several times), it's not a financial catastrophe.
I think the selection process is pretty much cut-and-dry. Here's what
we considered, aside from cost:
The power (the "8.5" in 8.5 x 40) will determine both magnification
and field of view. Higher powers show a smaller area and thus are
harder to sight through and more affected by jiggle. So 10 power is
probably out unless you have a very steady hand and are adept at sighting.
The objective lens size (the "40" in 8x40) will determine the amount
of light collected. Compact models with smaller objective lenses
gather less light. I found the difference between 35 and 40 to be dramatic.
Optical quality will determine clarity, how much light passes through
the lenses, and chromatic aberration (such as purple fringing around
backlit subjects). All other things being equal, this is what extra
bucks should buy.
Eye relief affects comfort for eyeglass wearers. Even if you don't
wear glasses, you may want to sell these someday, or your
eyeglass-wearing friends may want to borrow them.
Comfort of grip and ease of adjustment counts for a lot. Some binocs
are just too stiff in the focusing aparatus.
Ruggedness and weatherproofing adds to cost and usually to weight as well.
Overall weight can determine if you'll be fatigued after ten minutes
of watching a bird atop a tall tree, and whether you'll even be
inclined to bring the binocs along in situations where you don't
necessarily expect to see anything.
Warranty is self-explanatory. Of course, a long warranty on a set of
binoculars that don't work well is of dubious value.
We didn't care about snob appeal, but I suppose that can be a factor too :)
Good luck and have fun shopping.
mailto:tweeters at dartfrogmedia.com
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