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Monthly Archives: April 2010

30 Apr

Binocular manufacturers often load up their ads with a ton of high tech data to impress someone looking to buy binoculars. Hey, if it sounds “scientific” it must be good, right? Actually, no, not unless you know the basics on optics. All that high tech jargon can just as easily confuse a customer that wants to buy a birding binocular, for instance and needs to compare one binocular model to the next.

Field of view, for instance, is one spec that is sometimes posted in a variety of ways. When birdwatching, for instance on birds at short range, a wide …

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29 Apr

As I sit at my kitchen table every morning, writing this blog, I sometimes struggle to find another topic on binoculars. After all, just how many things can you write about when it comes to binoculars? The birds I see, outside my kitchen window at my bird feeders, sometimes provide topics, but, more often they are a pleasant diversion as I rack my brain for another binocular topic. I view my feeder birds as companions as I write and take sips of my coffee. They may be unaware of my presence, but I am certainly not unaware of theirs as …

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28 Apr

Whatever happened to 7x binoculars? There was a day, many years, ago, now, when 7x was actually the most common binocular magnification, followed by 10x. If you wanted easy to hold and nice wide fields of view, you choose the 7x binocular. Indeed, the 7×35 was considered the “universal binocular”. If you wanted more detail or “power” you chose the 10x binocular, but only if you were steady enough to handle it – only the “experts” used 10x binoculars. 8x binoculars were a distant third. 12x binoculars were rare as hens teeth. Life was once simple when buying a binocular.…

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27 Apr

We are approaching full moon and, for many astronomers, that means their telescopes and binoculars won’t see action, tonight. That *&%^ moon is the way I’ve heard some astronomers refer to our big bright satellite in the sky. Yes, the moon’s light does ruin the view when we are looking for those faint deep-sky objects; in fact, it puts most examples of light pollution to shame. So, how do you cope with a full moon in the sky when you want to do some astronomy?

It’s simple – you just observe the moon, instead. The moon is anything but boring, …

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26 Apr

Windy, cool and lots of rain over the weekend, so the astronomy binoculars and telescopes had the weekend off. The weather wasn’t exactly favorable for birding, either, but, of course, there will always be some birdwatching regardless of the weather. It’s just a matter of how you go about it.

I’ve been meaning to add a finch feeder in the yard for the Goldfinches for quite sometime. It’s not like I don’t get Goldfinches – they are regular visitors to my feeders – but a successful finch feeder is kind of a status mark among folks who feed birds. Goldfinches…

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23 Apr

What makes for a good astronomy binocular? In truth, the requirements for good astronomical binoculars are not as specific as, say birding binoculars. In fact, any binocular can be used to do some astronomy; any binocular will show you more in the night sky than your unaided eye. However, that doesn’t make any binocular a good choice for astronomy.

In general, a good astronomy bino will have mid-size to large objective lenses. I have done quite a bit of astronomy with typical birding binoculars with 40mm or 42mm objective lenses (large front lenses on a binocular). This is what I …

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22 Apr

What makes for good birding binoculars? Good optics, of course; that goes without saying. More specifically, though, what most birders and birdwatchers want in the way of optics is good color correction. We want to see those sometimes very subtle color differences that can separate one bird species from another. That may seem to be a given, but, in fact, it is not. There are many binoculars that have mediocre color correction, though that is most likely to happen with cheap binoculars. Even the binoculars that feature good color correction can show some bias toward one color tone over another,…

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21 Apr

The weather, this past week, has been sunny, but quite cool, so not much in the way of insect activity. That translates to not much action in the way of birding, in general, and warblers, specifically. Still, I make my daily bike ride, birding binoculars at the ready, just in case some birds are in the area. To be honest, I don’t mind the cool weather or even the slow birdwatching; it’s all just part of life in a northern state. Besides, there is always something to do for us outdoor folks, this time of year.

Although the moon is …

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20 Apr

When it comes to binocular lens covers, I am hot and cold. Binocular lens covers can be invaluable binocular accessories or they can be more trouble than they are worth; it all depends on where you use binocular lens covers.

Eyepiece covers, either in the form of individual caps or in the form of a one piece cover known as a rain guard are, for me, at least, essential binocular accessories. The eyepiece lenses on binoculars take all the abuse of weather, dust and dirt; you must keep binocular eyepieces covered when things get nasty, outside or your binocular no…

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19 Apr

On binoculars, there is always a way to adjust interpupillary distance, which is a fancy way of saying the distance between your two eyes. The only exception would be toy binoculars and they don’t count. This interpupillary adjustment is almost universally accomplished in binoculars with a center hinge that allows the two halves of the binocular to pivot and open and close as needed (see pics). A binocular is properly adjusted for interpupillary distance when you see a single circular field of view rather than two or parts of two, as typically depicted in a movie when our hero is …

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