Binoculars and scopes are great tools for getting closer to those objects you want to see in more detail. But, how do you know which you need, and what do you look for in both. In general, choosing between them is all down to the size and distance of the object you are trying to see. The smaller it is, or the further away it is the more likely you are to need a scope rather than binoculars. But, there is a little more to choosing the right binoculars and scopes.
Managing the Magnification
Magnification refers to how much bigger the Binoculars and Scopes makes an object appear. If the binoculars state they are X10 magnification, then the object will look ten times bigger through the binoculars than it does with the naked eye. Magnification requires light to work and the higher the magnification the more light that is needed. In turn, the more light required, the larger the objective lens that is needed. Not only does this make the binoculars increasingly unwieldy, but it also affects the steadiness of the image. For most experiences a magnification of X8 or X10 is more than adequate.
Working Out the Brightness
The amount of light and color your need will depend very much on what it is you are observing. If you take wildlife as an example. In this situation it helps to have as much brightness and color as possible. You can work out the brightness by dividing the diameter of the objective lens by the magnification. So Binoculars and Scopes with a X8 magnification with a 42 diameter objective lens would have a brightness of 5.25. This is the base score; some of the more expensive binoculars increase the base score by adding coatings to the lenses and using more highly engineered glass.
Weight and Size Do Matter
When it comes to Binoculars and Scopes there is a definite link between weight and quality. That is because the better quality binoculars have better quality lenses and these are by definition, bigger and heavier than their cheaper counterparts. However, before going worrying that you will never be able to carry a high quality binocular, or putting a set down because they are too light, check the material that the body casing is made from. Some manufacturers are getting wise about weight worries and are using lighter weight alloys to counter the heaviness of the lenses.
Other than these models, lightweight or compact models have very limited uses. They are great if you are out hiking all day, or you have a medical condition that prevents you carrying any weight, but what they lack in weight they also lack in focus and clarity. This is because of the smaller diameter of the objective lens. So using these models effectively really relies on great light levels and a very steady hand.
Finding Your Field of View
Your field of view is basically the width you can see when using Binoculars and Scopes. The wider the field of view the easier it is to track moving objects that you are watching. This is particularly useful when wildlife spotting. Testing them is the best way to understand what you can see. As well as the size of the visible area you want to check the sharpness of the whole image. In a higher quality pair, the view at the edges of the field will be almost as sharp as that in the middle of the viewing area.
Telling the Tale of the Telescope
As was discussed right at the start the scope, or telescope offers more power than the binoculars. It is great for seeing over much larger distances. But, its power and the weight that comes with it makes it much less portable than the binocular, so you are less likely to take it bird spotting. There are three main elements of a scope that you need to be aware of to ensure you get a good deal.
The Body of Binoculars and Scopes
The body of Binoculars and Scopes holds its most important component, the objective lens. The rule here is the same as it is with binoculars, but on a bigger scale. So, the bigger the objective lens, the better and brighter the view. You would expect a large objective lens to be around 70 to 100mm in diameter and a small one to be closer to 50 or 60mm. At the top end of the price scale you will find lens coatings and expensively engineered glass, just in the same way as with the binoculars. However, another clever trick used in the more expensive models is the addition of nitrogen gas to the body. This prevents the lens from fogging up.
The Eyepiece of Binoculars and Scopes
The eyepiece is the part that you look through to see the image you are trying to see. It is also the part that provides the magnification of the image collected by the lens in the body. There are two main types of eyepieces; fixed and zoom. As its name suggested a fixed eyepiece is exactly that; it provides one specific magnification that cannot be changed. Zoom, well again, the clue is in the name. It’s magnification setting can be changed. Whether you need a zoom eyepiece will depend on whether you intend to greatly vary the circumstances and conditions under which you intend to use the scope.
The size and weight of a telescope makes it almost impossible to use without something to lean it on. This is where the tripod comes in. It is important to spend a reasonable amount on your tripod; it could be the difference between a lovely steady view, and your scope crashing to the ground. Ask about the maximum weight load of any tripod you are considering and remember it is better to be safe rather than sorry, even if it does mean spending a bit more.
Weighing Up the Information
Now you have the basic information you need to decide between binoculars and a scope. You also have a better idea of what to look out for when buying either, or even both of these items. As with many things in life, you really do get what you pay for, and skimping now could mean further spending in the future.