Binoculars are made of two lenses fastened together to cause images to appear closer to the user. A decent pair will help to decrease the visual distance between the observer and the desired viewing area. Binoculars are sold in two sizes. These include compact and standard models. Monoculars are also available from a few companies.
Compact Binocular and Standard Binocular Models
Compact binoculars are the perfect size for a pocket, backpack, or purse. They are portable and convenient, and offer good viewing as well as easy to carry. Most compact binoculars feature a weight of less than one pound. In comparison, standard binoculars offer a higher image resolution and are handy to watch birds, track animals, or even view distant objects on the horizon. Standard binoculars usually weigh from 20 to 35 ounces.
A few companies also manufacture and sell monoculars. These have only one eye piece, and are ideal for the user viewing objects from a stationary position. Monoculars can be mounted on tripods and used for photography. Spotting scopes like these are especially suitable for bird watching, tracking animals, and still or landscape photography. Some have powerful magnification capabilities and deliver high-resolution imagery. Smaller, more compact monoculars are also available for less frequent use.
Photography with Binoculars
Binoculars do much more than merely enlarge far-away images. Some even feature an internal digital camera with a memory that can be transferred straight into a computer. A few models even support video recordings. The Meade Capture View II and the Celestron Vista Pix are two examples of binoculars with these capacities.
Night-Time Viewing with Binoculars: Visual Clarity in Darkness
Some binoculars possess night-vision capabilities, amplifying ambient lighting and emitting green-hued images that users can see more effectively in darkness. These are helpful for people who plan boating trips after dark, night-time wildlife-viewing excursions, or just want to keep their homes secure after dark. Three different types of binoculars used for night-vision are available for purchase. The type depends on the light-intensifying tube used by the device. If you're serious about buying a pair of binoculars that provide night vision, choose a model that features one of these generations:
- 1st generation binoculars: These are the least expensive, and offer decent image resolution for night vision.
- 2nd generation binoculars: These are in the moderate price range, and provide fairly high quality image resolution for night vision.
- 3rd generation binoculars: These are very expensive, but offer incomparable superiority with respect to night vision imaging.
Note: Some models of binoculars do feature good low-light viewing, but they are not truly considered night-vision binoculars. If the model does not specify first, second, or third generation, it is probably a decent low-light set of binoculars, not night-vision binoculars.
Considerations for Binocular Features
This brief guide will help you to consider what features are necessary and to make better sense of a product's features.
Magnification: Binoculars are designed to cause distant images to seem closer to the user. The degree of closeness is dependent on the level of magnification. For instance, binoculars that offer 10x magnification will cause the focused image to seem to be ten times nearer to the user than it is. The majority of people purchasing binoculars will require only models with magnification capabilities that range from 7x to 12x. Persons using a pair of binoculars with magnification levels greater than 12x should mount these binoculars on tripods to obtain image stability.
Zoom: This adjusts the level of magnification, usually between 7x and 12x.
Aperture: Aperture reflects the front (objective) lens diameter. The degree of aperture, which is measured in millimeters, determines how much light can be captured in the image. Binocular models with apertures between 20 and 60 millimeters are good for amateur or recreational use, while models with larger apertures, for example between 70 and 80 millimeters, are best for stargazing.
Binoculars use two numbers to designate their settings and capabilities. As a case in point, a 10x60 set of binoculars will offer an image magnification of ten levels and have apertures of 60 millimeters.
Field of View: This refers to the amount of area seen through the binoculars. Users describe the result in a measurement referred to as degrees of field. Alternatively, some measure this in linear feet as the object is viewed from a distance of one thousand yards. Wide-field binoculars allow the user to see a larger amount of landscape, which helps with tracking rapidly-moving targets, searching for planes or birds flying in the sky, or a more thorough observation of the landscape.
Prism: These function like mirrors, to reverse and flip an image. They are situated between the front lens and the binocular's eyepiece. Two different designs are used in binoculars. Roof prisms are small prisms that are used in smaller models of binoculars. In contrast, porro prisms are larger prisms that yield a wider viewing field and are used in the manufacture of larger models of binoculars.
Focus: Most models offer a single focus, allowing the user to adjust the lens to his or her visual needs. Two other options are available with some models. Diopter control focus allows the user to adjust the vision to accommodate each eye. These are especially helpful for persons whose eyes differ greatly with regard to visual acuity. Individual focus allows the user to adjust the focus to view a single object within the landscape. This is a typical option featured on models sold for the purpose of aquatic observation or astronomical purposes.
Weather: Those who are planning to use binoculars for the purpose of water-related sports such as boating or water-skiing, or those who are planning to use them for camping or alternative outdoor activities, should consider choosing waterproof binoculars. Another option is fogproof binoculars, which allow some degree of visibility in the event of light drizzling rain or dense fog.