Birding in British Columbia

A starting place for birding information for British Columbia, Canada. This web site features a birders discussion forum, links to birding newsgroups, articles and book reviews, checklists, regional hotspots, photo gallery, weather reports, and visiting birder information.
It is currently Nov 23 9:56 pm

All times are UTC - 8 hours [ DST ]




Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 7 posts ] 
Author Message
 Post subject: I am SO confused! (binoculars)
PostPosted: Apr 28 7:56 pm 
Offline
Senior Member
User avatar

Joined: Feb 12 8:30 pm
Posts: 773
Location: Vancouver
Okay, so I'm sorry to bug everyone about this, but I've been trying to do the research on this and I just can't figure it out.

I've just found out that I'm going on a trip to Victoria next week, so I'm going to attempt to mix business with pleasure by doing some minor birding while there. That said, I am trying to figure out if I ought to buy a better pair of binoculars. I got mine on sale (like, seriously on sale--I think they were $15) at MEC a year or so ago. I am not looking to spend an incredible amount on a new pair--less than $200 would be ideal.

Right now I have a Bushnell 8 X 21, with waterproof and fogproof "technology". It's got one focus wheel. I do find that I have a great deal of trouble looking through both eyes at once; typically I end up focusing through my left eye. I don't know if this is me or the binoculars.

I read in a Peterson's Guide that birders tend to stick to 7 X or 8 X magnification. That said, are my binoculars good enough? I can't imagine that they would be since I paid so little for them, but it WAS a good sale.

Can anybody give me any advice? If I were to upgrade, what specifications, etc, would I need to look for?

_________________
"Japanese scientists from Keio University have found that pigeons have self-cognitive abilities higher than 3-year-old humans. " (link)


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: I am SO confused! (binoculars)
PostPosted: Apr 28 10:44 pm 
Offline
Veteran Member

Joined: Apr 20 9:03 am
Posts: 102
Hi Canaduck,

It can be a bit overwhelming choosing new bins. Some things to consider are your budget, how often you plan to bird, the type of birding you like to do. You can get bins that range in price from $100 to over $2000 with an equally huge variation in quality. While it may seem pricey in the long run by the best bins you can afford. There are some good bin reviews on the Cornell Bird website and on the Birders World magazine site. If you live in/near Vancouver, Vancouver Telescope Store has a great selection of bins. What follows is a bit rambling so please don't take offense if I seem to be lecturing.

There are two basic types of bin; roof prism and porro prism. Roof prism bins are simpler to construct and so are generally found in cheaper bins versus the more complex porro prism type. All other factors being equal, at the budget end of the spectrum you will generally get a better image from roof prism bins. The con is that roof prism bins are wider and some people find less comfortable to hold.

Next to think about would be the magnification and the size of the objective lens (the lens farthest from your eyes). Many birders use 7x or 8x bins and are really happy. If you want to do field work 10x might be a better choice (you need this power to see colour bands clearly). As magnification increases your field of view (how much you can see) decreases. It is up to you to decide if you prefer a closer view with a bit less field of view or a farther away view with wider field of view.

The objective lens determines how much light enters the bins and consequently how bright the image is. The brighter the image the better the view, but you don't need a honking huge objective. The rule of thumb is that the objective lens diameter divided by the magnification should not be smaller then 3mm (the diameter of the eye iris in daytime). For example if you have 10x42 bins the magnification is 10x and the objective lens is 42mm, 42mm divided by 10 = 4.2mm. If you had bins that were 10x20 (20 divided by 10 = 2) the cone of light entering the eye is smaller then the iris so the image will appear dim.

Other things to consider are water proofing, fog proofing, nitrogen purged and lens coatings; the focus mechanism; eye relief (important for eyeglass wearers). A bin that is nitrogen purged has had the air between the lens pieces removed and replaced with nitrogen (sometimes other gases) and unless the seal is damaged will not fog and will be water proof in the rain or a shallow dip in the water (water pressure would probably damage the seal). Lens coatings help to correct for the differences in how light splits when going through a lens/prism. Without coatings you might notice halos of colour around objects. Also be sure that the focus mechanism is easy to use. It should be smooth, move easily and go from infinity to close focus within 1.5 turns of the wheel. When you try a pair of bins you should be able to move the two barrels close (or far) enough together so that you see only one image, not two circles - this could be the issue with you old bins.

Most of the rest is comfort and aesthetics. Try a bunch of bins out, sneak a peak through other birders bins, read reviews and get a pair that you like. Vortex, Pentax and Nikon make some good mid-priced bins.

Cheers

Birder Girl


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: I am SO confused! (binoculars)
PostPosted: Apr 29 7:15 am 
Offline
Senior Member

Joined: Dec 08 7:11 am
Posts: 1156
Do you regularly check the diopter settings and change them as needed on your current binoculars? This is the first thing that you should do each and every time you go birding.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: I am SO confused! (binoculars)
PostPosted: Apr 29 7:31 pm 
Offline
Senior Member
User avatar

Joined: Feb 12 8:30 pm
Posts: 773
Location: Vancouver
Thanks for the responses, guys!

Birder Girl, you certainly needn't apologize for sounding as if you are lecturing. That was a VERY detailed and helpful answer and I really appreciate it!! I almost want to print it out and carry it with me when I go to Vancouver Telescope (yes, I am in Vancouver). My impression from their website is that they are pretty good at assisting people in figuring out what they want, so I hope I'm right.

Hi Guy! My binoculars don't have a diopter "setting". Not a good sign, eh? At least, I don't think they do. I can basically pull the two lenses apart and push them back together, but I don't think that's what you're referring to. Am I right? If so, you've given me something else I need to include in my criteria for a new pair of binoculars!

_________________
"Japanese scientists from Keio University have found that pigeons have self-cognitive abilities higher than 3-year-old humans. " (link)


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: I am SO confused! (binoculars)
PostPosted: Apr 29 10:14 pm 
Offline
Senior Member

Joined: Dec 11 12:13 pm
Posts: 207
I suspect that you'll find that you can twist one or the other of the eyepieces on your current binoculars which will focus that eyepiece. The way to set it up for the differences between your two eyes would be to use the main focus to set it up for the side that doesn't have the rotating eyepiece then use the rotating eyepiece to adjust that eye on its own. Once that is done you shouldn't have to do it again very often.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: I am SO confused! (binoculars)
PostPosted: Apr 29 10:53 pm 
Offline
Senior Member

Joined: Dec 08 7:11 am
Posts: 1156
Yes, I'm sure you have a diopter setting on your binoculars. They will not work unless they are properly set.

Every single time you go birding, check to make sure they are properly set. Get into the habit of doing it, and you will have far more success in finding and identifying birds. Most of the more economic models of binoculars have diopters that wander and change over the course of a day. Sometimes you may have to change them two or three times a day. Even with top end binoculars, you should at least be regularly checking them, even if they are staying set.

Take it from somebody that uses binoculars A LOT; No binocualrs will work properly if you don't set the diopter properly.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: I am SO confused! (binoculars)
PostPosted: May 01 9:36 pm 
Offline
Senior Member
User avatar

Joined: Feb 12 8:30 pm
Posts: 773
Location: Vancouver
Thanks again to everybody for your advice.

Yes, my lousy ol' pair of binoculars most definitely have a diopter setting. You were absolutely right!

But!! I went out today to Vancouver Telescope Centre and picked up a pair of 8 X 42. This is a WORLD of difference from the 8 X 21 I was using before. They are great and I cannot believe how much better I can see!

And so thanks again for all the info!

_________________
"Japanese scientists from Keio University have found that pigeons have self-cognitive abilities higher than 3-year-old humans. " (link)


Top
 Profile  
 
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 7 posts ] 

All times are UTC - 8 hours [ DST ]


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: jodelak and 1 guest


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum

Search for:
Jump to:  
Powered by phpBB © 2000, 2002, 2005, 2007 phpBB Group