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07 Dec

How far can I see?

Posted by Joannie K on

One of the most frequent questions I get from beginners looking for a binocular is, “How far can I see?” This is understandably the first question that pops into someone’s head when their thoughts turn to a binocular, but when you begin to think about it in a serious way, you begin to understand that “How far can I see?” is an incomplete question and one with no definite answer. To answer that question, you must first specify the size of the object you want to see. For instance, an average 10×42 binocular can see a large ship on open water from a distance measured in miles, under good atmospheric conditions. However, seeing the numbers on the side of the ship reduces the “How far can I see?” to a much shorter distance, often less than a mile. Seeing people on deck of that ship reduces “How far can I see?” to a much, much, shorter distance, often several hundred yards. Actually identifying and recognizing people’s faces on the deck of the ship reduces “How far can I see?” to a drastically shorter distance, yet, typically well under 100 yards. How far can I see with a binocular is always a matter, then, of the size of the object you want to see.

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  1. wondering if you can help me :)

    I have a video camera with 14x optical zoom. If I know the size of an object, and I am at full zoom and the object fills the frame, can I calculate my distance from that object?

  2. Hi Dean

    No, not unless your camera lens is marked with yardage marks for any specifc focus setting. Many older, manual focus lenses were thus marked, but in this day and age of autofocus, that is a rare feature.

    Otherwise, all you can say at 14x is that the object is 14x times closer than what it appears to the unaided eye

  3. Hi,

    Good post first off. :D

    My husband and I will be having family vacation with our two small children at the beginning of July. At the front of the trip we will be watching the final Space Shuttle Launch out of Florida. From the information we know now is that we will be at a distance of at least 15 miles.

    Like you metion in your post, the common question….what should I look for when binocular hunting for this one event? For me and our small kids (5 & 7)? Any suggestions? We are okay with it if we can't read any of the astronauts patches on their suits…lol, but realistically we'd like to be able to see the shuttle 'fire' and smoke building up before and after launch. Any suggestions?

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