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Three Things to Know About Binoculars
You may want to tote some binoculars along to make sure you take in all the sights. Read on for some tips on finding the ideal pair.
1. Binoculars are basically two telescopes stuck together. Each side is made up of a convex lens that magnifies distant objects and a prism that flips that image so it appears right-side up. Unlike the flat image of a telescope, however, the two images presented by binoculars give the illusion of depth, making it easier to get detailed, up-close views of a rare bird or an especially challenging Magic Eye poster.
2. Bigger is not always better. Binoculars are characterized by two numbers, such as 8x32. The first number describes the magnification—in this case, the image is enlarged eight times—and the second describes the diameter (in millimeters) of the objective lens, located at the wide end of the tube. Although increased magnification produces a sharper image, it also narrows the field of view and amplifies small hand movements, making it difficult to keep the image steady and follow moving objects. A larger objective lens lets more light in, producing a brighter image, but it can also make the binoculars a burden to carry on long treks.
3. Different activities require different binoculars. Just as opera glasses are different from the coin-op viewfinders of Broadway theaters, the type of binoculars you’ll need will vary based on the activity. Consider different variables when selecting a pair such as larger lenses for detailed bird watching or a more compact design for casual walking tours. Always test out a pair (with your glasses on if you usually wear them) before making a purchase.