Birdwatching is a fantastic hobby and it is one that can be done by anyone in any location. Not only does it give you the opportunity to get up close and personal with the natural world around you, research has also shown that it can reduce stress and improve your overall well-being. That isn’t even to mention the fact that it gets you out in the fresh air and provides the opportunity to connect with nature in a uniqueway.
Although it certainly is possible to spot birds with the naked eye, most people are going to want to take things to the next level by getting a pair of binoculars. When you first start looking at binoculars for birding, you might be surprised with the number of different options that are available. When you consider the fact that it is one of the most significant expenses that you will have with this hobby, the need to make the right choice from the start becomes obvious.
There are many things that you will want to get out of the binoculars to help enhance your hobby of birding. They will allow you to see more details in the birds you are watching and will also allow you to identify those that may be just out of range for your naked eye. With a little bit of practice, you can begin using the binoculars as almost an extension of your eyes and it will take no time at all to get the bird into view, even if it is on the move.
The following are some of the different things that you should look for when choosing a set of binoculars. It will allow you to enhance your enjoyment of the hobby while at the same time, maintaining your comfort without breaking your budget.
1. Choose your price range – Although this is not the most important thing to consider when choosing binoculars for birding, it certainly does deserve a spot at the top of the list. Like most people, you are probably trying to buy a set of binoculars on a budget and you will find that there is a wide range of options available, depending upon the price range that you choose.
First of all, choosing the best budget binoculars for birding does not mean that you need to compromise when it comes to quality or features. There are always going to be options available but you do need to be cautious about the quality of the binoculars, as they may use lower quality components to keep the price low. Have your budget in mind first and then move on with the other options.
2. Consider the Magnification – The most common options available for birdwatching are 8x and 10x binoculars. More than likely, you are going to choose a handheld set of binoculars that is within this general magnification range. It is possible to get binoculars that are higher magnification but as the magnification increases, the steadiness decreases. Unless you are going to be using the binoculars on a tripod, which is not common with birding, stick to 10x or lower.
Most people choose a 10x unit because it gives them the opportunity to see birds at a greater distance. As you increase the magnification, you are also narrowing the field and darkening what you see through the lens. If you choose 8x, you will have a brighter image but slightly less magnification. It is best if you test both in the field if possible.
3. Aim for Bright, True Colors – Depending on the binoculars you choose, you will see a difference in the crispness, clarity, color and brightness. It really has to do with the quality of the lenses, so as you look through binoculars that have a better image, you are likely going to spend more for them.
This is where it is necessary to choose the best budget binoculars for birding. You need to balance between the quality color and crispness while at the same time, considering the amount of money that you have to spend. When you balance those factors properly, you will be closer to the particular set that is right for you.
4. Test As Much As Possible – It may not be possible to take new binoculars out in the field for a test run, but you should try to test as much as possible before you make your purchase. It may also be possible to try the binoculars of other birders when you see them in the field. Most birdwatchers will be more than willing to give you their advice and let you have a peek through the lens. At the same time, be sure that you respect their equipment, because it is probably the only equipment they use.
5. Consider the Eye Relief – Another consideration are the eye cups on the binoculars. These need to be durable but it is also beneficial if they are adjustable. If you wear glasses, it can be inconvenient to take your glasses off every time you want to look through the lens. If the eye cups retract, you can look through the lenses without having to remove your glasses every time. You can also keep the eye cups out to look through without glasses. If the eye cups are matched to the binoculars, you should not see a black ring surrounding the image when you look through them.
6. Weight Matters – Most beginning birders will automatically choose a lightweight binocular for birdwatching. Having lightweight binoculars is beneficial, especially if you are going to be looking through them on a regular basis. It can get tiring if you are constantly holding a heavy set of binoculars throughout the day.
At the same time, the choice of a lightweight binocular for birdwatching may not always be the first consideration. Lightweight binoculars tend to shake more when you are holding them, but heavier binoculars are easy to hold steady. Be sure to consider the weight when you are doing any testing and you will be able to see the difference.
7. Take a Look at the Features – With any pair of binoculars for birding, you will see various features available. Some binoculars are going to be specific to the hobby and these are typically the ones that most people choose first. At the same time, you should also pay attention to other features that may be available, including the ability to focus on closer items, the field-of-view and even the warranty. Those factors are often going to make or break the deal when you are choosing between two similar pairs of binoculars.
8. Know How to Care for Your Binoculars – Although this is not going to make a difference in how you choose binoculars, it certainly can make a difference in your enjoyment while using them for birding. Never clean your lenses with paper towels, napkins or toilet paper. You should also never touch the lenses with your fingers. Handling the lenses improperly could scratch them and make a difference in the optical performance.
You should also clean the lenses with a high quality lens tissue or microfiber cloth. A can of compressed air can also go a long way in helping to keep your lenses free of dust.
These are a few of the options to consider when choosing binoculars for birdwatching. Birding is an excellent hobby, and adding a pair of binoculars is a great way to enjoy it even more. When you choose the set that is right for you, you would be amazed with the difference it makes.