Binoculars are one of the most important investments for the outdoors person. Whether you enjoy hiking, hunting, water sports, bird watching of any outdoor activity that gives you the chance to view and enjoy nature, binoculars are a must have investment. There are thousands of different binoculars brands and models to choose from. They come in different sizes and prices that range from a few dollars to thousands of dollars. It can be overwhelming trying to choose the perfect pair. Wondering how to buy binoculars? This detailed guide will provide all the information you need.
Binoculars size is usually measured using a pair of numbers, for example 7X35. These two units are an indicator of the binoculars magnification and diameter of the objective lens. Here's a brief description explaining why the they matter when you're buying new optics.
The magnification determines how close the object your viewing will appear to be. For example, if you're using binoculars with 1oX magnification, the object you're viewing will appear to be ten times closer to you. This means that you might need to consider buying optics with higher magnification if you'll be viewing objects at a distance such as birds and wildlife. Alternatively, you might also consider zoom binoculars which allow you to adjust magnification to suit different viewing conditions. Higher magnification often results in a smaller field of view which is the total area you can view at a glance.
The diameter of the objective lens is measured in mm. It usually determines how much light the binoculars can capture. This in turn determines how bright the object you're viewing will appear. Optics with a larger objective lens are recommended if you'll be using them in low light environments.
The exit pupil determines how much light actually gets to your eyes when viewing an object. lt's measured in mm and is attained by dividing the objective lens diameter by the magnification. Ideally, the exit pupil should always be larger than the diameter of your eye pupils. This allows for as much light to get to the eyes giving you a rich bright image. However, there's a catch. Human eye pupils can dilate depending on the lighting conditions within the environment. In well-lit conditions, the pupil is usually about 1mm in diameter meaning exit pupil doesn't play a significant role if it's above 1mm. However, in low light conditions, the human eye pupil can dilate to 7mm. For the best viewing experience, binoculars with an exit pupil of 7mm and above are recommended.
Exit pupil is also used to calculate another important factor when you're determining how to buy binoculars? This is the binocular relative brightness which determines how bright the object in focus will appear. Relative brightness is calculated as the square of the exit pupil.
Binoculars work by magnifying the object in focus, bending light rays, and correcting its orientation both horizontally and vertically before delivering the final image to your eyes. Correction of orientation is achieved by built in prisms. The type of prisms used in binoculars largely determine how streamlined or bulky it appears. There are two type of prisms, Porro and roof prisms. Porro prisms are usually set at angles to each other. The resulting binoculars are usually bulky but offer greater fields of view. Roof prisms on the other hand are set along a single line with each other. The resulting binoculars is usually streamlined and less chunky compared to the Porro prism type.
While still on prisms, you might have to consider the type of glass used to make them. Binocular lens and prisms are made using a wide variety of glass ranging from generic optical glass to specialized glass. Binoculars that use special glass prisms often offer better quality images. However, they tend to be more expensive.
Several factors determine how comfortable binoculars are to use. Eye relief is the distance between the eyepiece and your eye. If the eyepiece is set too close or too far from your eyes, it might result in eye fatigue due to straining. A perfect eye relief ensures that you get a clear and sharp image when using the binoculars. Eye relief is especially important for people who wear glasses. If you wear glasses, consider binoculars with adjustable eye cups or, come with adjustable dioptric. The latter feature allows you to use the binoculars without wearing your glasses.
As light passes through the lenses and prisms, some of it is reflected out. Lens and prism coatings help to retain as much light within the binoculars which in turn ensures that you get bright, high contrast images. Binoculars are usually rated as coated, multi-coated or fully multi-coated. Fully multi-coated binoculars have all surfaces of the lenses and prisms coated and offer the best image quality. It's worth noting that a binocular being rated as coated doesn't necessarily mean that the coating serves a useful purpose. Some are usually coated for aesthetic reasons. It's therefore advisable to check for reviews or even test a pair of coated binoculars before investing in it.
Binoculars are designed for different viewing environments. For example, water proof binoculars are great for viewing in humid, wet and even under water environments. Considering your viewing environment allows you to select a pair of binoculars that is easy to maintain and reduces risk of damage. Some of the ratings to look out for include water proof, weather resistant and, fog proof.
The aforementioned features are what you should essentially consider when choosing any type of binoculars. However, there'll come a point where you're comparing among just a handful of binoculars. Some of the important features you should consider include the weight, housing design and material, focusing mechanism, cleaning kits, straps and additional accessories. The brand, make and model are also important considerations to make if you want a quality pair that offers the best value for money. You can also use consumer reviews that answer specific questions about how to buy binoculars?