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Monday, 6 December 2010

How to choose an ideal pair of binoculars?

To choose a right pair of binoculars, you would need to consider your main purpose of use. Here are some examples:

If you are looking for a handy pair of binoculars to carry around easily in your handbag or in the pocket, and to use it in numerous occasions such as stadium sports, indoor or outdoor concerts/plays, travel and birding, and you also want to keep the cost down, you may choose a compact model such as 8x21, 10x25 or 12x32 compact binoculars (Fig.1), depending on which magnification level you wish to choose. Such a model has all the functions required for these purposes and they are light in weight. These products have a unique feature with new optical coating technology (fully multi-broadband coated green lenses) which greatly reduces light reflection over a wider spectrum and increases image sharpness.

Fig. 1: 8x21 Compact Binoculars

In addition to the applications as mentioned above, if you wish to obtain a brighter image over a wider observation range while keeping the binoculars reasonably small, you could choose a pair of binoculars with bigger objective lenses, such as 8x35, 10x40 or 10x42 compact binoculars. The larger the objective lenses, the more light they let in, thus the brighter the images. These binoculars have advantages of observing objects under low lighting levels over a greater distance. In addition, some of these binoculars are built with large eyepieces (15mm diameter or larger) to provide a very comfortable and clearer view.

Fig. 2: NIPON 8x35 Binoculars

A top choice of this category is the NIPON 10x42 waterproof model which gives you the best image quality and tracking performance, and it is water/fog proof (Fig. 3). But it is also slightly more expensive. The prices of these binoculars reflect the optical quality and overall manufacturing costs of these products.

Fig. 3: NIPON 10x42 Water/Fog Proof Binoculars

If you care more about the image clarity over a further observation distance and do not mind a slightly larger size of the binoculars, you may well go for a 7x50, 10x50 or a 12x50 binoculars model (Fig. 4). These binoculars have larger objective lenses (50mm diameter) which allow more light into the eyepieces, making them ideal for seeing more object details and also for use in dim light conditions. The Nipon 7x50 and 10x50 binoculars are built with large 20mm eyepieces for a much more comfortable view. These binoculars are considered to have the best balance between magnification, image brightness and image stability.

Fig. 4: NIPON 10x50 Binoculars

If you would like to have an added function to zoom in/out during the observation, you may also consider a pair of zoom binoculars such as a 6-13x22 or 10-30x50 model. These binoculars have an adjustable magnification (power) ranging from 6x to 13x for the first example or 10x to 30x for the second model. Therefore, you can get a closer view of the target being observed. Please note that the zoom binoculars always perform better at the lower power level than they do at the higher power settings. This is because the front objective lens cannot enlarge to let in more light as the power is increased, so the view gets dimmer as the power is increased. In addition, given the same specification (i.e., size of objective lens and power level), the image clarity of a fixed power binocular is almost always better than that of a zoom binocular.

Overall, it is often not recommend to have a pair of hand-held binoculars with their magnification power greater than 30x. This is because that along with the magnified object, any movement or vibration will also be enlarged, including your own shakes and tremors. So the higher the power, the harder to hold the binoculars steadily. 10x or 12x power are adequate for most people for observations over a reasonable period of time, and zoomed function to higher powers is ideal for relatively shorter time observations.

Larger binoculars with greater magnification power should be fitted to a tripod. The NIPON 20x80 giant observation binocular is a typical example with amazing performance.

Fig. 5: NIPON 20x80 giant binoculars

If you want to view targets over a distance which is beyond the reach of binoculars, a spotting scope or a combined spotting scope/telescope is designed for such a purpose. Please view the "Scopes FAQs" page for more information.

by Nipon Optics

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