Friday, May 14, 2010

Binocular Basics

What should one know about magnification?

Most binoculars are either 8x or 10x. 8x magnification is well suited for most purposes. It will afford you a view of the item as if you were one-eighth of the distance to it. 10x will give you a little advantage in that it you will now be seeing the object as if you were one-tenth of the distance.

There are other magnifications to consider. 6.5x might be good if one will be doing a lot of hiking or bicycling as these magnifications result in lighter weight binoculars. 12x would be considered if one were checking out large open fields or open water.

What should one know about field of view?

Field of View (FOV) relates to how much area can be viewed in the objective lens. Most of us would do well to look for, at least 300 ft FOV at 1000 yards. If you are a novice, look for something that may have at least 400 ft FOV at 1000 yards as it will make it easier to locate your object.

Should one desire water and fog proofing?

Yes! You want a clear view, with crisp images and color trueness. You are investing in a tool you want to last a long time. The best water and fog proofed binoculars are using argon gas. Argon gas, a noble gas, does not attack the seals and O-rings and, therefore, extends the life of the binocular. For instance, all Vortex Optical binoculars are argon purged.

What should one know about the size of the objective lens?

First, manufacturers use this to classify their products by size. Full size is 42 mm or larger; 32 mm is considered mid-size, and anything less is a compact.

Second, the size of the objective lens is an important aspect of the light gathering power of the binocular. A 42 mm lens gathers quite a bit of light, a 32 mm lens less. In moving from 8x to 10x magnification the light gathering power is diminished. This can be compensated by using a larger objective lens, such as a 50 mm lens.

Finally, in choosing a binocular, consider how it will be used and how often. Also, and importantly, consider the manufacturer and the warranty offered.

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