Choosing a pair of Binoculars can be daunting. At the RSPB, we're committed to helping you find the best pair for you. So, here is some useful tips to get you started.
Things to consider first.
The first thing to consider when buying Binoculars is they must be comfortable. Comfortable to hold, use and ultimately, comfortable on your eyes. You shouldn't feel like you're straining your eyes when using them. After that, things to consider are:
- Price - choose a price range your comfortable with.
- Size - do you want a compact pair or a full size pair. Is weight an Issue?
- What magnification would you like?
What do the numbers mean?
Binoculars should all state a set of numbers on the body.
The first number, usually 8x or 10x, refers to the magnification. These wont give you the exact distance you can see but refers to bringing images 8 or 10 times closer. Other magnifications are available.
The second number, 32 or 42, refers to the size of the objective lens - the larger lens. Generally, the larger the lens, the brighter the image. BUT, a larger lens will make the binoculars heavier.
Which magnification is best?
There a a few pros and cons with going for different magnifications. At the RSPB, we generally stock 8x and 10x magnifications, even though other magnifications are available.
8x Magnification are generally:
- Lighter to carry
- Provide a lighter, brighter image
- Provide a wider field of view which gives you a wider vison.
- Easier to hold
- Focuses to closer images
10x Magnifications are generally:
- Heavier to hold and carry
- Harder to hold still
- Brings images slightly closer than 8x magnification
- Have a narrower field of view.
10x Magnifications are better when used over larger areas such as estuaries or lakes. 10x Magnifications are also useful when in a hide and carrying isn't an issue.
8x Magnifications are more useful when on the move, let more light in and are generally recommended for birdwatching, especially if you are using a telescope.
Types of binoculars
Binoculars come in a range of shapes and sizes which can be a bit daunting when purchasing your first pair.
Porro - Prisms - a more traditional, chunky size. Can be heavy.
Roof Prism - recognised by the straight through appearance. Lighter and more compact than porro-prisms.
Compacts - smaller, lighter binoculars with a lens size of 25mm or less. Great for weight and small compact sizes but loose out on brightness because the smaller lens lets less light in.
Full Size - Larger lens typically with a lens diameter of 32 mm, 42 mm or occasionally larger. Full size binoculars are heavier but benefit by letting in more light which gives a brighter image.
How Much Should I Spend?
This is always one of the toughest questions and the best answer is, however much you can afford.
We split our RSPB range into 3 price range categories.
Up to £150 - beginner, entry level binoculars. Ideal as a first pair or for light use.
£150 to £350 - intermediate level, ideal of enthusiasts.
£350 plus - Export. This level includes are top range HD binoculars which provide excellent vision and quality. These are suited for enthusiasts who are wanting something for heavier use and a wider range of light conditions.
We also sell top brands such Swarovski, Leica and Zeiss. Prices for these can be much higher but with the higher price comes much better lens and better build quality.
Binocular Open Weekends at RSPB Fairhaven Lake, Lytham.
At the RSPB Fairhaven Lake Visitor Centre and Shop, we run regular, monthly Binocular and Telescope open weekends.
These are run on the 1st weekend of the month, with the next being the 5th and 6th June. The weekend will be staffed with impartial experts from the RSPB and is an ideal opportunity to learn more and get some hands on experience.
The best bit of advice we have is to try Binoculars before you buy. Everyone's eyes are different, so it's important that when you've made the commitment to buy some binoculars, you try them first.
Hopefully see you all down at the RSPB Fairhaven Lake Visitor Centre and Shop soon.
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