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Monthly Archives: December 2009

31 Dec

If you were lucky enough to receive a new binocular, spotting scope, telescope or camera for the holidays, you might be wondering if it is safe to use a binocular, telescope and so on in cold weather. The answer is, yes, though cold weather can cause some complications.

The first issue you are likely to encounter is focusing. Cold weather gums up some lubricants, so you should definitely remove any excess lubricant before you go out in the cold. Stiff focusing is especially common with inexpensive telescopes, which are usually loaded up with cheap lubricants when they leave the factory. …

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30 Dec

Happy New Year to all, (just in case I don’t get another blog done before Friday).

It’s been another busy year in the binocular world with two trends developing. The first binocular trend is to replace standard versions of long time favorite binoculars with an HD, ED or similar version of the same model. A good example is the long-time favorite, Bushnell Legend binocular. The Legend now carries on as the Bushnell Ultra Legend HD binocular, which, by the way, is a completely different binocular than the old Bushnell Legend, both in terms of optics and construction. (Nevertheless, if you …

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29 Dec

As a salesperson, one of the things I appreciate about binoculars when we come to the “after Christmas” sales season is the fact that there are so few returns. Let’s face it, a binocular is a simple tool, once you learn the basics of binocular construction, and, as far as using a binocular, there is not much to it. Most returns on binoculars are a matter of a defective product and not a matter of the user’s ability or lack of ability. On the other hand, the “after Christmas” sales period with telescopes is quite another story. Telescopes and astronomy …

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28 Dec

Call me traditional, but I still prefer a binocular that is made of basically metal and glass, with a minimum of plastic … oops … I mean polymer. Not that there is necessarily anything wrong with polymer – polymer can, in fact, be a better choice for some binocular types and some binocular uses – but there is just something about the heft and feel of a binocular made of metal and glass that inspires confidence, not to mention that the concentrated metal weight in the hands tends to help steady the binocular. Now, you might think this metal difference …

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23 Dec

Been so much activity at the bird feeders this week, that there is hardly enough time to put the birding binoculars down to eat. I suspect that may be one good way to lose weight, but it is also a good way for your oatmeal to go cold and who wants to eat cold oatmeal on a winter morning?

The latest arrivals, of all things, has been several Mourning Doves. It’s not the first time I’ve had Morning Doves as my guests in the winter, but it still surprises me that this bird, with its reputation as being a bit …

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22 Dec

As a binocular and birding expert, I get asked, on a regular basis, how much to spend to on a binocular for birding . Now, since I currently own and use only expensive Swarovski binoculars, Leica binoculars, Zeiss binoculars, Nikon binoculars and so on, you might expect me to give a cliche’ answer, such as, “Spend as much as you can afford” or “Get only the best”.

That would be misleading advice at best and downright bad advice at worst. The fact is, you do not have to spend a thousand plus dollars on a birding binocular – not if …

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21 Dec

For the benefit of anyone who reads my blogs, I am no longer a regular employee of OpticsPlanet – I have gone into partial retirement to be with my new husband, here in Milwaukee. However, I will still be doing blogs and answering forum questions for OpticsPlanet, as I have done for these last five years. OpticsPlanet has been such a good home for me, it would just break my heart not to have some connection with all my friends and the staff, there.

In some respects I will have more material than ever for my blogging, since my backyard …

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16 Dec

Okay, what binocular feature becomes less and less important as you gain experience using a binocular? Is it binocular magnification? No. Is it binocular size? No. Is it binocular price? No, definitely not. For most people I’ve known for a long time and seen them go from a binocular beginner to binocular pro, the binocular feature that decreases in importance as time goes by, is field of view. Don’t get me wrong – I love a big wide field of view for the Wow factor, but only if that big wide field of view in a binocular is sharp edge …

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15 Dec

A binocular rule of thumb is that anything over 10x requires some kind of support for the sake of steadiness and for the vast majority of the human race this is true. Even stepping up to 12x binoculars creates a steadiness problem. That bino support, however, does not automatically have to be a tripod. I have successfully used many a 12×50 binocular and even a 14x binocular from a vehicle by simply resting the binocular on the door. I don’t recommend anything more than 10x for field work, but if you find yourself out in the field with that 12×50 …

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14 Dec

I have been a binocular astronomer for over forty years, now, but I am still impressed with how much of a difference it makes to make a move to a site that has less light pollution and a darker sky. Beginners shopping for an astronomy binocular often sweat and lose sleep over the merits of one astronomy binocular versus another astronomy binocular, either in terms of quality or size, but the differences in performance that result from spending more money or juggling astronomy binocular size is actually tiny in comparison to moving to a darker sky. That’s one of the …

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