Birding binoculars are the most important piece of equipment in the birder toolbox. A well selected pair of binoculars will give years of service and bird watching pleasure. Here are seven tips that the avid birder can use to select the binoculars that are right for them.
1) Get the instant focus option
When observing birds at long distance, the quicker you can focus your binoculars, the more likely you will make a successful sighting. Be sure to include an instant focus option for your birding binoculars.
2) Make sure the eyepiece is designed for high magnification
The eyepiece is the key to a comfortable viewing experience. Eye relief, the distance between the eyepiece lens and your eye, is critical for reduced eye strain and increased comfort. Make sure the eyepiece you select is designed for high magnification ranges. This will ensure a good match for long range bird watching activity.
3) Use coatings rather than size to achieve desired brightness
In the design of binocular options, coatings on the lenses have a greater effect on brightness than size of the binocular. Since birders tend to hold their binoculars for long periods of time, a lightweight model with fully multi coated lenses will provide a brighter image of the birds being sighted. There are lesser degrees of coatings, but fully multi coated lenses give the best results.
4) Look for the sweet spot for binocular size and daylight observation
For daylight birdwatching, binocular size can improve brightness levels up to a point. The 32mm size is the sweet spot for brightness gains from increase of size. Above 32mm, increases in brightness are minimal. If you do much of your bird watching in daylight, you can save on weight by limiting the binocular size to 32mm.
5) Increase your field of view with lower power settings
Within a given family of binoculars (Nikon, Bushnell, etc), as the size and power of the binoculars increases, there is often a decrease in the field of view. The wider the field of view, the easier it is to point at your intended target and get a fix on the bird you are seeking. Be aware of this characteristic as you look at different models within the same family of binoculars.
6) Waterproofing design is a necessity
Bird watching can take place in a variety of conditions, including fog and rain. You will be making an investment in your binoculars purchase, and you don’t want to lose that investment due to bad weather conditions. Look for binoculars that are nitrogen filled or nitrogen purged, this is a dry gas that is unaffected by temperature or moisture. Also, make sure the nitrogen is present for the eyepiece as well as the objective lenses.
7) Use a tripod or lower power binoculars to solve hand movement problems
Long range bird observations can be difficult if there is significant hand motion. The first way to combat this movement is to use a tripod, which provides a fixed base for viewing. The second option is to use a lower setting for magnification (7x-8x) instead of high magnification (10x). These choices will ensure that your viewing opportunities will be rock solid.
I hope that these tips will guide you in your selection of birding binoculars that are right for you!