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Monthly Archives: June 2011

30 Jun

“Do I have to wear my glasses when I use binoculars?” Thanks to improvements in binocular design in terms of eye relief, that’s a question I hear less often these days, but it is still a good question.

If you are simply nearsighted or far sighted, the answer to the above question is no, you don’t have to wear your glasses when you look through binoculars, because you can simply use the binocular focuser to compensate for the correction needed. If you have astigmatism on the other hand, the answer is probably, yes, you should use your glasses with your…

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30 Jun

I am currently reading a mystery novel that is actually quite good, but, like so many mystery novels I’ve read, a bit lacking in technical accuracy about things optical, in this case, binoculars. Here we have adversaries unintentionally spotting each other on a regular basis due to the glare off their binoculars, which, of course, they are also using at ridculous distances to see detail that even a spotting scope could not see. Oh, well, the written media is no better than Hollywood when it comes to accuracy about optics.

But what about that dreaded glare? Is there something to…

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29 Jun

Like so many Americans, I long for the days when products with the label, “Made in the USA” were commonplace. The harsh reality in 2011, though, is that darn little is still made in the U.S. in any product category of any kind and, when it comes to binoculars, well … zilch, nada, nothing. The closest we had, recently, was the excellent Leupold Gold Ring binoculars, but the Leupold could only claim “assembled in the U.S.A”, on these fine binoculars simply because they still had to rely on foreign made components to get the binoculars made. Now, sad to say,…

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28 Jun

Someone once asked me how often waterproof binoculars leak or fog up, internally, even though binoculars advertised as waterproof by the manufacturer are guaranteed not to do that. It does happen, of course, even with the most expensive waterproof birding binoculars and hunting binoculars, but that’s what binocular warranties are all about. Still, no one wants a leaky binocular.

In my forty plus years of using binoculars of all kinds, waterproof and not waterproof, from compact binoculars all the way up to giant astronomy binoculars, I’ve only had one binocular that actually leaked and, yes, it was a waterproof model.…

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27 Jun

Yes, summer is one of the hardest times of the year to see birds in the binoculars, simply because plant life is in full foliage and that makes it tough to spot birds, let alone track their movements in birding binoculars as they move through the cover. Things are especially tough in summer when it comes to working forest birds, so my summer birdwatching for these species is as much by ear as it is visual – I rely a great deal on identifying birds by their calls. . That’s easier said than done, of course, if you are a…

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24 Jun

“If a little is good, more is even better” is an attitude that works for some things, but can actually be self-defeating for others. This is definitely the case for binoculars and magnification.

The main issue is steadiness – the higher the magnification, the less the steadiness, simply because out binoculars magnify not only the objects we wish to see, but also our body’s movements – breathing, shaking and so on. In other words, when you increase your binocular magnification, you also increase the effects of our body’s inability to keep things steady. This means that, at some point as…

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23 Jun

I am sometimes asked if there is any way to make binoculars do the job of spotting scopes, most often by using higher magnification binoculars and less often by using a binocular doubler, which are available for some specific models of binoculars. I can certainly understand wanting to do this. Yes, it would be wonderful to get it all in one instrument and/or get the added comfort of using two eyes to observe when using spotting scope type magnifications. I’d also be thrilled to leave the tripod at home and still be able to use 40x effectively.

Unfortunately, it’s not…

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22 Jun

Are astronomy binoculars different than ordinary binoculars? That can be answered in any number of ways, depending on how you define different.

First, any binocular can be used for astronomy. I’ve used birding binoculars, hunting binoculars, marine binoculars and even small compact binoculars to do astronomy. The idea, here, is that any binocular will show you more in the night sky than no binocular at all, so whether a binocular is labeled an astronomy binocular or not is somewhat irrelevant as far as whether you can use it for astronomy.

Second, the vast majority of binoculars that are labeled as…

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21 Jun

Our area of northern Wisconsin is only now recovering from an eight year drought. Things are looking better, this year, with the weekly heavy rains we have been having. I am relieved and grateful, of course, for the wet weather, but it has had its effects on my outdoor activities.

Fortunately, my birdwatching really hasn’t suffered with all the rain. I’ve been doing some limited bird feeding, so I do get to watch birds at the feeders with my compact binoculars and birding binoculars on a daily basis. Down on the dock on our lake, some Eastern Kingbirds have established…

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18 Jun

Okay, this is a blog on binoculars, not canoes and kayaks, but I do get asked to make some recommendations on binoculars for use in kayaks and canoes and, of course, I own and use canoes and kayaks, so here goes.

I like compact binoculars, rather than full size binoculars, in canoes and kayaks, simply to keep things manageable with all the other gear that I am likely to be carrying – fishing gear or digital cameras – and also because small binoculars don’t get in the way while I am paddling. On the other hand, you could make a…

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