Page 3A Plant's Home
WindStar Wildlife InstituteShape directly relates to howeasily and steadily binocularsmay be held, and this directlyaffects image quality.
Mini" binoculars, favored bybackpackers because of theirreduced size and weight, offerlittle to anchor a shake-freegrip so birders generally avoidthem.Large, bulky or
Marine"binoculars force users to holdtheir elbows high and widelyspaced, decreasing stabilityand increasing muscle fatigue.Birders avoid these, too.
Binoculars are literally aweight around your neck. Howmuch you want to bear is up toyou, but in general, 20-30 oz. isabout as much as most peoplecare to consider.The elements contributing tothe overall weight in a pair of binoculars include:
the optical elements;
the body; and
the outer covering.High quality optics, made of barium crown glass (BAK-4),are denser and heavier thanoptics made of the cheaperboro-silicate glass (BK-7). Thequality of the image you see isdirectly related to the quality of the optics.To reduce overall weight,quality binocular bodiesarecast out of aluminum or ruggedspace age synthetics.To help protect the internalelements many binoculars are
covered with shock absorbing rubber orpolyurethane shell instead of aleather-type or guttaperchacovering.
Birding demands binocularsthat focus quickly. Whenattention is diverted from aclose-at-hand warbler, to adistant, fast disappearinghawk, time spent spinning thefocus wheel to go the range of focus is, well, time spentspinning your wheels.
A binocular that can gofrom close focus to infinityquickly and smoothly isinvaluable in the birding arena.
Birding binoculars should becenter focusing binoculars. Thismeans that by moving a wellpositioned wheel, both barrelsof a binocular are adjustedquickly and simultaneously.An individual eyepieceadjustment ring (or knob) isavailable to compensate forthe small differences thatexist between an individual
seyes. It is set once
thennever again.Some military or marinebinoculars offer individualeyepiece focusing
a systemthat employs adjustable ringsthat encircle both ocularlenses. This system is slow,cumbersome, and therefore, illsuited for birding.Some binoculars offer leversinstead of wheels for
quick focus." These are appealing intheory but in fact require atwo-handed grip and a bit of dickering to get a sharp image.They also tend to not be verydurable.Some manufacturers alsooffer permanent focus or non-focusing binoculars. These wouldbe fine, if birds neverapproached closer than 50 feet
which is about as close aspermanent focusing binocularscan offer a clear image.But as birders know, birds doappear closer than 50 feet. Infact, sometimes
in cattailmarsh, dense woodlands, ortropical forest, a bird might beno more than ten feet away,and because of poor light orobstructing vegetation, anidentification cannot be madewith the naked eye.
At times like these abinocular that offers super-close focus may make thedifference between a Life Birdor a shoulder shrug
which isto say, all the difference in theworld.
Birding binoculars should beable to focus down to 15 feet.Binoculars that offer a closefocus down to nine or ten feetare prized.If you do a great deal of woodland birding, or watchbirders coming to your feedersat very close quarters, closefocusing binoculars are a must.
Binoculars come in differentpowers designated by the firstnumber of the binomial legendetched on all binoculars(examples: 8x30, 7x42, 10x42).The second number refers tothe diameter of the objectivelens in millimeters and will bediscussed in the section dealingwith
Light and Brightness."Simply put, a 8x binocular(eight power) makes distantobjects appear eight times