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Monthly Archives: July 2009

29 Jul

What is the difference between a birder and a bird watcher? Both carry birding binoculars and both may even use a spotting scope or add a digital camera to their spotting scope and do some digiscoping. Okay, there is no official definition to distinguish between these two, but, in general, a “birder” actively seeks to identify birds, typically keeps lists of birds seen and identified and will usually travel beyond their local neighborhood to see and identify birds. Some birders, in fact will travel worldwide in order to see and identify new birds. In a very general sense, birders tend …

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28 Jul

I had a very long commute home on the bike, the other day, of about 15 miles after a side trip to see the doctor for some follow up work. Nice enough ride, when the weather cooperates, but this was not one of those times. With ten miles to go, the sky opened up and the rain fell in torrents. Not being a total imbecile, I took refuge under an overpass and waited for the storm to pass … and waited … and waited. So, there I was, sitting under an overpass with my bicycle, watching traffic roar by in …

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27 Jul

It is a mistake to wait on birding until you can afford an expensive, premium grade binocular. Why? Several reasons. Birding is a skill developed over years of experience, so get out there, now, and get that experience. What’s more, you do not need to mortgage the house to get a binocular that will do a good job when it comes to simply identifying birds. Yes, hard core birders, myself included, typically have a love affair with expensive binoculars. Do we identify more birds because we carry very expensive binoculars? No, at least not directly. We carry such expensive binoculars …

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22 Jul

I’ve always been a fan of compact binoculars. No, an 8×20 compact binocular won’t offer quite the performance on an 8×42 binocular, all else equal, but the difference, for me with my forty years of experience using a binocular, is not enough to justify carrying the larger binocular. Maybe it’s because I am a gal,but I just like things a bit on the petite side when traveling. Besides, we all know that compact binoculars are much cuter than big binoculars, right? My Swarovski Crystal sure is. Besides, we gals have enough to carry, as it is. The last time my …

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21 Jul

Funny how something as simple as a tripod can cause so much confusion and generate so many questions, but tripods do just that. So, if you are thinking of adding a tripod to a binocular or spotting scope, here is some help. Astronomy binoculars are a special case, so I wrote an article for this in How to Choose Astronomy Binocular Tripods. For spotting scopes and digital point and shoot cameras and the typical DSLR camera, I wrote Tripod Guide – Choosing the best Tripod Okay, that should answer most of the basic questions on tripods for binoculars, spotting scopes …

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20 Jul

I just had some surgery to repair an injury incurred while mountain biking. Last year, I was doing some gnarly single-track back in the Forest preserve on a little used trail, getting swatted by low hanging brush as I went. It could have been somewhere on the Appalachian Trail or the Rockies, dense as it was. Heading down a hill at a good clip, my earring in my right ear snagged on a limb and OUCH! The earring didn’t pull all the way out, just almost. I ended up with a much elongated hole in my ear. Not good. Then, …

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15 Jul

As a user of binoculars for over forty years, especially birding binoculars, I have become sensitive to some features more than others. Number one sore spot with me is focusing. I cannot abide a binocular that focuses too slowly or a binocular that has rough or uneven focusing or a binocular that cannot be focused with one finger. I’m a birder and have no time to stumble or waste when a rare bird pops into view. Seconds count in the birding game. Yes, it is hard for me to be objective about an otherwise good binocular if the focusing is …

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14 Jul

What do you get when you cross the Nikon 10×25 Prostaff compact binocular with an environmentally conscious marketing and engineering? You get the Nikon 10×25 Ecobin, which I just tested and really enjoyed. The Nikon Ecobin binocular is basically a Nikon Prostaff 10×25 in terms of optics and design and that is a good thing. Optics on the Nikon Prostaff binocular are as good as it gets for your compact binocular dollar. To turn the Nikon 10×25 Prostaff into a Nikon 10×25 Ecobin, you use lead and arsenic free Eco glass, instead of the standard optical glass used in the …

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13 Jul

I can’t remember ever having a customer sending back a binocular with the complaint that the binocular was “too good”. I suppose it can happen, but spending a bit more when buying a binocular can pay for itself. In fact, buying a premium binocular, like the Nikon EDG or the Swarovski EL or Steiner Peregrine XP can actually be the best value if you expect to use a binocular hard and expect years of good service. Premium binoculars are made for that very purpose; the best binoculars in the world stand the test of time. I’ve carried Leica binoculars, not …

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08 Jul

In the world of binoculars, the porro prism binocular has lost ground to the roof prism binocular in all but a few specialty binoculars. One place the porro prism binocular has held undisputed reign has been with military binoculars, especially military binoculars that use a rangefinding reticle. That leadership is now being questioned by a couple of roof prism binocular upstarts. Leupold, for instance, makes a version of their Leupold Green Ring Olympic binocular in a military version with reticle called the Leupold Tactical 10×50 and at a very reasonable price for a serious military binocular. Steiner, long the biggest …

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