– Pankaj Lad;
A pair of binoculars is the most important piece of equipment for a birder. The world of birds appears transformed when viewed through a good pair of binoculars.
However, once again, the type of binoculars you purchase will make or break your experience. As a result, it’s critical that you go through the following checklist before making the right purchase decision.
When a person takes up birding as a hobby, he or she goes through several stages. And we are fortunate today to have a pair of good binoculars just a click away. A basic pair of decent binoculars start at less than Rs. 5,000/-. I used the basic porro-prism binoculars by Olympus for the initial 6 years of my career as a bird guide, which lasted about a decade. Later on, I switched to a very good pair of Nikon Monarch 8X40 binoculars.
- Magnification is one of the first factors to consider when purchasing a pair of binoculars. I recommend a magnification of 7x to 10x. Binocular specifications are written as 8×40 or 10×50, where the first number represents the magnification of the binoculars and the latter refers to the diameter of the objective lens in millimetres.
- The light-gathering capacity of the binoculars is calculated as a function of the diameter and magnification. This is an especially important consideration because the number must be 5 or greater for the binoculars to be useful in low light conditions.
- The weight of the binoculars is also an important consideration. The larger the objective lens, usually the heavier the binoculars. SO choose carefully.
- Is it weather sealed? Moisture is a major factor that compromises the durability of any optics in tropical conditions, due to fungal growth on the lenses. As a result, it is best to select a pair of weatherproof binoculars. This also reduces the possibility of the binoculars becoming fogged from within in low-temperature conditions.
- The clarity of a binocular has a significant impact on how one perceives the world through it. However, the higher the price, the clearer the optics. Regardless, you can start with basic porro-prism binoculars from Olympus and then settle around Nikon Monarch or Nikon Prostaff for a few years before upgrading to Zeiss, Swarovski, Leica, or any of the higher range binoculars.
- Observe caution while choosing low-budget binoculars. When purchasing a binocular in the beginner price range, you must exercise extreme caution. It must be tested by focusing on multiple objects, both close and far, and adjusting the adjustable eyepiece to suit your vision. It’s also important to keep an eye on the edges of the objects you’re focusing on for any kind of dispersion effect. You must also check for parallax. If there is discomfort while viewing an object that is well focussed, and the same can’t be fixed with the adjustment of the adjustable eyepiece, DO NOT buy such a piece.
Post-purchase Care: It’s important to take care of your optics once you have purchased them. Here are a few tips that you can exercise every time you use your binoculars.
Always wear a strap around your neck, or get a good harness for yourself. Dust your binoculars and use the caps to cover the objective and eyepiece, every time you return from the field. It’s also a good idea to keep the optics in a dry place. You could buy a dry cabinet to keep all of your optics in.
With you following the above tips while choosing the right binoculars and taking good care of the same after purchase, you are all geared up to take your hobby to the next level.
Book a birding camp with us if you would like to go for an easy birding tour while enjoying some of the endemics of the Western Ghats.