One of the first bird watching accessories you will wish to process after an I.D. book is highly lightly
to be a pair of binoculars to get close up views of birds, you will have a wide range of manufactures to choose from with a few
different designs so what should you consider when deciding which to purchase.
For Bird watching in my opinion the two main considerations should be the weight and the magnification
you wish subject to your requirements. As to the weight you need to remember you could be carrying them
around all day along with other essential items as lunch, raincoat, etc. with them hanging around your
neck all day, can cause strain problems if your muscles are not used to carrying any weights, the
magnification in my opinion increase your understand of the feather structure, and colour patterns of
the bird, but starts to blur out the further away you get from the subject because there is a smaller
image appearing through the lenses.
First of all you need to decide what you wish to see through your new optics; binoculars generally have
from a 6 to 12 times magnification the larger the enlarged image the heavier the binoculars will be,
the other thing is binoculars generally are only useful for observing birds up to about 100 meters and
ideally 50 m with any clarity after that distant you are better switching to a telescope with greater
magnifications generally starting at 15 x and often up to 60 x. The other use of binoculars is to get
close views of butterflies and other insects such as dragonflies, if this is something you wish to use
your glasses for then check how close they will focus down too.
One thing you should always do before buying is to try out a number of different binoculars which are
often referred to as glasses, you can do this at either your local shop or on one of the many
occasions when manufactures exhibit and allow you to try plus being able to ask any questions about
their products you may have. The best for Birdwatchers is the Rutland Birdfair in August, were all
the major optic companies servicing the birding community exhibit, plus a great day out for anyone
interest in Birdwatching, personally I need at least two days there.
I have often had people that have never used binoculars before say they cannot see anything, generally
this is because they have not set then up for their eyes, remember to asked how the glasses you are
using are set up when you try them out, generally one of the pair of barrel of the optics to the eye
can be rotated, so close the other eye and focus by twisting that adjustment, generally your left eye,
on a subject, about 30m away, then open both eyes and with the centre adjuster between the two barrels,
focus both eyes again at about 30m, you should then be able to quickly get a rough focus at most
distances you will be using the binoculars for and only need to fine tune with the centre focus to
sharpen the image up.
The other problem is finding the bird in the binoculars even more so with telescopes because of the
smaller angle of vision, the best way to sort this out is look at the bird, and without taking your
eyes of the bird lift the glasses to your eyes moving the glasses till you see the subject, with a
little practice you should soon be picking out birds whilst in flight. If you are having problems when
you first start, then practice by using a tree, then a bush and finally a flower, these static subjects
will not move away as the birds often do.
You will find binoculars will have an 8 x 32 or 12 x 50 set of numbers; the first number is the
magnification of the particular binoculars the second number is the diameter of the lens, by dividing
the lens diameter by the magnification you get a light factor number the 32/8 is 4, any number over
3.5 will give you a good degree of light to produce a reasonable image during normal daylight, the
higher the number the duller the light can be to give a clear image, the other factor that effects the
quality of the light is the quality of the optic, which generally improves when you pay more, but in
my opinion today’s optics, from the birding companies are all very good and it only pays having the
top end, when birding either early morning or late evening and on the few very dull days we sometimes
get in winter. The other benefit of the more expensive binoculars is that they generally have a closer
focusing ability then the cheaper ones. Other then that it is down to design and feel that works best
for you. I have one of the top end Telescopes and a couple of low end binoculars. One pair being an
8 x 32 the other a 10 x 50.
Birds Birds Birds
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