How to choose a binocular that's right for you!
The Fat Robin Binocular Case
Choosing a binocular is not as simple as it once was when a 7x35 was the basic choice. No one binocular is right for everyone and there are many factors involved in making the right decision such as magnification, size, weight, eye relief and prism design. Every person is different and what feels perfect for one person may feel awkward to another. We are here to help answer any questions you might have so you can make the choice that's right for you.
"Bottom line.... you can get a far better binocular today for the buck than you could 10 or even 5 years ago! How often do you hear that!"
The following is a simple explanation of the different features offered in binoculars today as well as what all of the numbers mean. All of this is good to know but picking them up and trying them out is the only way to be sure you get the binocular that is best for you.
What do the numbers mean? For example 7x35. The first number (7) represents the magnification or power. The second number (35) represents the aperture or diameter of the front lens in millimeters.
ROOF VS. PORRO PRISM
Porro prisms are generally larger and bulkier than roof prisms. They also cost less than comparable roof prisms, mostly because the tolerances required in construction are not as close. Newer porros are sometimes lighter than roofs even though they are larger. Higher quality roofs have internal focusing that helps make them less prone to alignment problems when being knocked about and also tend to be sealed better from the elements (rain and dust). On the plus side for porro prisms is that because the barrels are offset, the image is more three dimensional than with roof prisms.
Magnification generally ranges from 7x to 10x. Which one you decide upon is somewhat of a personal choice but there are some factors to help you make the decision.
If your viewing is mostly at close range such as backyard or woodland birding, 7x or 8x may be your first choice. They usually have a wider field of view which helps you keep fast moving subjects in view and they are generally lighter in weight.
If you spend a lot of your time shorebirding or hawk watching which involves greater distance viewing, you may want a 10x or at least an 8x. The drawbacks are that they are sometimes (but not always) larger and heavier. In addition to magnifying the image, any hand shake will also be magnified and some people are not comfortable with that. (Note: 7, 8 and 10 are the most common magnifications).
The ideal situation would be to have two binoculars, one 7x and one 10x to use depending on the situation, but not many of us can afford that. Many find that 8x is a good all around power for most situations.
The aperture (the second number) is the diameter of the front element of the binocular and determines the brightness (7x50 will be brighter than 7x35). The larger the diameter, the more light it can gather. Brightness is also affected by the coatings on the lenses and the construction of the prisms. If you are frequently using binoculars under low light conditions, a larger aperture model should be considered.
FIELD OF VIEW
The field of view is usually measured in feet at 1000 yards, 7x models usually have a greater field of view than 10x. The field of view is not affected by the aperture as many believe, rather it is determined by the design of the eyepiece. Wide angels are desirable for locating objects but are often heavier and bulkier.
SIZE AND WEIGHT
Size and weight are usually determined by the size of the front objective and prism type. Compacts may be considered if these factors are of importance but for general birding, standard size binoculars are superior. Compacts are great for those times when it is not practical to carry full size binoculars but they will not perform as well as full size, especially under low lighting conditions.
Eye relief is the maximum distance your eye can be from the eyepiece and still see the entire field of view. Eye relief is a very important factor for those who wear eyeglasses. Binoculars vary widely in how well they perform for people who must wear their glasses. Near and farsighted people can usually adjust binoculars so that glasses are not needed but those with astigmatisms usually need to wear them.
Now that you have the basics, the only way to select the right binocular is to try them. You can read all you want and get the opinions of others but in the end you will have to make the choice yourself. We are here to answer any questions and help you make your decision. We stock over 50 different models of binoculars so you can compare them side by side until you find the one that is right for you at a price you are comfortable with. Our prices are very competitive, they are discounted between 20-50% off MSRP EVERYDAY!
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