Binoculars & Spotting Scopes
We carry a great selection of Leica, Nikon and Bushnell binoculars as well as Celestron astronomy binoculars. In addition, we offer spotting scopes from Nikon, Bushnell and Olivon. Come in and try before you buy!
General pointers to consider when choosing binoculars:
- field of view
- eye relief
When most people think about binoculars, the main specification they consider is magnification (but there are other important ones!). Remember that as the magnification increases, even a minimal amount of hand shaking - for example, due to your heartbeat - will be more noticeable. To combat shaky views at high magnification, tripods are available for mounting binoculars and hand-held image stabilized binoculars are also available.
The field of view is another important factor to consider. Typically, as magnification increases, the field of view decreases. Imagine you are observing a bird using a higher magnification (eg - 10X). This may give a wonderful view of the bird, but a less magnified view (eg- 7X) - with a wider field of view - might allow you to also see the snake that is slithering along the branch towards the bird. There are always trade-offs.
Most people will probably not think about eye relief. This specification - given in millimetres - is the distance between your eye and the binocular's ocular lens. Longer eye relief is considered more comfortable (thus the term "relief"). People who prefer to keep their glasses on while using binoculars will need longer eye relief.
Finally, another important consideration is whether you need your binoculars to be waterproof or not. This does add to the cost.
Specifications: how helpful are they, really?
What do these numbers mean? "8" is the magnification and "42" refers to the diameter of the objective lens (in millimetres). Below we compare two great brands having nearly identical specifications. Each brand offers a 42 mm diameter in two versions: 8X magnification or 10X. The diameter can be important as larger diameters gather more light which gives better views when observing in dim light. Notice that when the magnification is greater, the field of view is smaller.
|Model #||Nikon Monarch 7 (8 x 42)||Nikon Monarch 7 (10 x 42)||Bushnell Legend L (8 x 42)||Bushnell Legend L (10 x 42)|
|Magnification||8 X||10 X||8 X||10 X|
|Objective Diameter||42 mm||42 mm||42 mm||42 mm|
|Angular Field of View||8.0°||6.7°||-||-|
|Field of view at 1000 m||140 m||117 m||142 m||113 m|
|Exit pupil||5.3 mm||4.2 mm||5.3 mm||4.2 mm|
|Eye relief||17.1 mm||16.5 mm||19 mm||18 mm|
By specifications, the 8 x 42 Monarch 7 and the 8 x 42 Legend L are nearly identical (same goes for the 10 x 42's). There is a difference in performance and a difference in price, however. We can't stress enough the importance of coming in to actually try binoculars before you buy. There can be very significant performance characteristics that will never show up on a specification sheet.
From an optical point of view, there are very real reasons why one binocular - with the same specifications - can perform better than another:
- use of low dispersion (ED) glass
- manufacturing tolerances
- degree of polish on prism surfaces
- coatings applied to optical surfaces
These differences must be seen; they can't be quantified on a specification sheet.
Perhaps surprisingly, other differences must be felt. For example, do the eye-cups fit your face? Your brow, nose bridge and inter-eye distance can all make one binocular feel better than another. Perhaps you want a small compact binocular for hiking but you have large hands. Will a compact binocular feel right in your hands? Some people might find it tiresome holding a larger binocular. Again, it truly is best to come in the store and test them in person.