WORDS ON BIRDS
Compare Binoculars at Optics Event
April 07, 2018
By Steve Grinley
hosting a Swarovski Optics Day tomorrow, Sunday April 8. A
representative from Swarovski Optik will be at the store with their
latest products, including their new BTX binocular eyepiece module
for their ATX Scope, and they will answer all of your questions.
This is a FREE event where you can view and compare Swarovski
products, and any of our other binoculars and scopes, in all price
ranges, from Zeiss, Kowa, Nikon, Ricoh Pentax and Opticron, as well
as Manfrotto Tripods.
this a good time to repeat my annual refresher on binocular and
spotting scope basics:
If you watch
birds at the feeder outside your window, the birds are usually close
enough to see with your naked eye. But if your feeders are away from
your window, or you want to see a bird in a tree further away in
your yard, you may want to invest in a pair of binoculars that will
bring birds closer for easier viewing and identification. If you
venture into the field, binoculars will enhance your enjoyment of
birds and other wild creatures. Binoculars are versatile for many
other uses as well, such as sporting events, concerts, hunting and
Today’s optics are
lighter, brighter, and sharper than they were even ten years ago.
You don’t need to start out with the best optics - there are many
fine lower priced binoculars and scopes, and you can always graduate
to better optics as your interest grows. Or, as most experts advise,
you can invest a little more money now and buy the best optics that
you can afford and they will bring you many years of enjoyment.
The most popular size binoculars for
birding are 8x42 or 10x42. Binoculars with magnification of 8 or 10
power, the first number that you see printed on the binocular, will
bring birds 8 or 10 times closer. Higher power may sound better, and
it can be, but the higher the magnification, the more difficult it
might be to hold the binocular steady. The lower power usually gives
you a little more light, and a wider field of view. The wider the
field of view, the easier it is to find a bird in a tree. Ten power
does bring birds closer, but it is the practical limit that even
experienced birders can hold steady without the aid of a tripod.
The second number (i.e. 42) is the
diameter, in millimeters, of the objective lens - the lens that is
furthest away from you. The larger that lens, the more light will
enter the binoculars. More light is particularly important when
birding in the shade, on cloudy days, or at dawn or dusk. Larger
objective lens (i.e. 50mm) let in more light, but the added glass
also adds weight. So 40 or 42mm are the most popular.
Be careful of going to the other extreme with smaller compact
binoculars such as 8x20 or 10x25. Compacts are great for hiking or
for a second pair to leave in the car, but they are not practical
for general field use. The small objective lens limits both the
field of view and the brightness of the image. But for those who
just want to carry a pair in their pocket or for a sporting event,
they might do just fine. Binoculars with 30 or 32mm objective lens
are increasing in popularity due to their lighter weight while still
providing good light and field of view.
Other factors to consider are the close focus (how close you can
focus to see birds and butterflies only 5 to 7 feet away),
waterproof capability (for birding in the rain, in the tropics, or
in a kayak), and eye relief (important for eyeglass wearers to be
able to have the full field of view).
Another important consideration is your budget. Binoculars come in
all price ranges, from under $100. to $2500. You pretty much get
what you pay for. The higher the price, the better the lens and the
better the coatings that are placed on every glass surface to allow
light to transmit through to your eyes rather than reflecting off
the glass. The result is brighter, sharper images that are more
comfortable to your eyes.
vary greatly and these factors, as well as how they feel to you, IS
important! It is best to try them before you buy them, not only to
match the binocular to your need, but also to get one that feels
good to you!
magnify 8 or 10 times and will allow you to spot even the most
distant bird, a spotting scope will bring birds 15 to 70 times
closer – important for seeing the color and detail of shorebirds in
the harbor or an eagle perched in a tree across the river. Such high
magnification requires the use of a tripod, so scopes are less
portable. But they are necessary for long distance viewing and they
are great for taking photos through with a camera or a smart phone!
Like binoculars, you get what you pay
for in spotting scopes. You can get a decent spotting scope for a
few hundred dollars or you can pay $4000 or more. The latest scopes
are amazing, drawing in distant birds for you to see detail that you
never thought was possible. Again, you will want to look through
different brands and models to see which works best for you.
If you would like the opportunity to
look at and compare binoculars or scopes, drop by our store, Bird
Watcher’s Supply & Gift, tomorrow April 8 from 11 am to 3 pm. There
will be discounts and specials, and WE will pay the sales tax on all
optics purchased during our Swarovski Optics Day. So whether you
come to just look and learn, or to purchase, we hope to see you
Bird Watcher's Supply & Gift
Route 1 Traffic Circle
194 Route 1
Newburyport, MA 01950
years of service to the birding community!
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