Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Understanding Binoculars Pt.1 What Size to Buy

If you're like me at some point or another purchased binoculars or looked into purchasing them. Unfortunately when you walk into whatever store you've decided to purchase your binoculars from and see the wide range of options it can be a bit overwhelming.  So I've decided to write two blogs in order to make your decision much easier.  This one is the shortest of the two and it's simply about narrowing down your choice based on what size you need for whatever activity you'll be using your binoculars for.

Compact Binoculars (Common Size 8x25, 8x25): 
Pros:  Compact Binoculars are the smallest of the three sizes which make them easy to travel with and give you less fatigue due to the low weight.  Compact binoculars are perfect for hiking, hunting, bird watching, event viewing and travel where you may not be willing to carry large and costly optics hanging around your neck. 

Cons:  Most compacts have objective lenses of between 25mm to 28mm.  Which means the smaller objective lenses cannot gather as much light as ones with larger lenses and so with all else being equal they will usually not produce as bright an image, which is especially noticeable in poor light conditions.

Mid-size (Common Size 7x35, 10x32):
Pros:  Mid-size binoculars tend to be a little more popular than their smaller and larger counter parts.  Mostly because they're a bit of a balanced option between the two.  The larger objective lens gathers more light which makes mid-sized binoculars a better option for low light usage like hunting in dense woods or early morning surveying.  As well the larger lenses also make mid-sized binoculars far more forgiving to unconscious movement than compacts which are harder to focus and find subjects when moving.  Lastly mid-sized binos have  larger field of view than compacts which gives you a larger viewing landscape making it easier to locate subjects.  Mid-sized binos are a good choice for hunting, bird spotting when fishing, bird watching, 3d archery, hiking and just about anything else you wanna do considering the weight of the binos.

Cons: On the other hand mid-sized binoculars are a bit more cumbersome to carry around when travelling thus not really a binocular you'll be taking on your trip to Europe this year.

Full-size (Common Size 8x42, 10x50):
Pros:  Full-sized binoculars take the strengths of mid-sized binos and amplify them.  Full-sized binoculars give you the larger viewing range and depth of field of the three sizes of binos.  Also they are the most forgiving of movement allowing you to find your subject easier.  The large depth of field and long range is what lends full sized binos to being the go to option for whale watchers bird watchers who are watching birds that are hard to get close to like raptors that nest in high trees or rock facings.   Full sized binos are also a good option for spot and stalk hunting where they are a great alternative to using a single I spotting scope.

Cons: With full-sized binos the size is definitely the biggest con.  Some are not small enough to hand hold and definitely are too cumbersome to travel with.  With some full-size binos you'll definitely need a tripod, bipod or monopod to use effectively.  Otherwise my suggestion is to hit the weights if you plan on free hand using them.

With any binoculars you get what you pay for, more expensive binos will often times have higher end lenses with different coatings which cut back on glare, allow for more light to be brought in and have increased clarity of image.  So keep in mind that the basic differences based on size are just a base of information when it comes to functionality in binoculars.  I'll be sure to go more in depth with the other differences that will help you make educated decisions in the next blog post about understanding binoculars.

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