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Leupold�s Guide to Binocular Selection

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: January/06/2006 at 14:10
Chris Farris View Drop Down

Joined: October/01/2003
Location: Texas
Status: Offline
Points: 7790

Which binocular is best for me?

When choosing the right binocular for you, many things need to be considered. What you are doing, what you are watching, and where you are watching it.

It�s also important to consider a few things about yourself. Do you wear eyeglasses? Do you have small or large hands? How old are you? Have you ever had trouble in the past fitting a binocular to your eyes� interpupillary distance so that you saw one single picture rather than two partial circles?

With all this in mind, we�ve put together a few outlines of products you might want to consider based on the answers to these questions.


General purpose binoculars

Let�s face it � sometimes it�s just nice to have a binocular on hand. It may not be for any specific purpose. It may simply ride in the vehicle glove box or sit on a home window sill. Once in a while it gets taken to a game or along on a vacation to the mountains. Often in such cases, the primary users of the binocular might not be what would be called �intensive� optic users, thus a lower magnification level will make it easier to use by those less accustomed to locating an object through an optic. As the binocular may not be frequently used, keeping the purchase price to a fairly modest level is often a factor in the choice. Therefore, something fairly straight-forward and easy to use by a wide range of people is the best idea.

Recommended models:

  • Olympic 8x42mm
  • Katmai 8x32mm
  • Katmai 6x32mm
  • Cascades 8x42mm
  • Cascades 8x42mm Internal Focus Porro
  • Mesa 8x42mm
  • Mesa 8x23mm Compact
  • Yosemite 6x30mm

 Will children be the primary users of the binocular?

There are a few too seldom considered facts about selecting binoculars for use with children. First, while there are inexpensive toy binoculars on the market, they should not under any circumstance be used by children for any lengthy amount of time viewing anything; the strain placed upon the eyes is simply too great.

Second, children (and for that matter, many adults � both men and women) have an interpupillary distance (abbreviated IPD � the measurement between the pupil of one eye and the pupil of the other to which the two halves of a binocular must be aligned by the hinge if a single binocular image is to be seen through the optic) that is too small for compatibility with ordinary binoculars. While 60mm to 70mm is often the standard range, even 60mm is not reached by many young people until their teen years and others never reach it at all. Overall physical size is not a factor here � some six foot tall adult men do not have an IPD of more than 60mm.

Third, all beginners experience difficulty locating objects in the field through a binocular. Think about it � the optic is magnifying the image 8x or even 10x larger than it normally appears, with the subsequent limitation of field of view occurring at the same time. There are simply too few points of reference in the field for a beginner to quickly locate a reference point and move from it to the object desired to be in view. This is solved by lowering the magnification level and allowing the field of view to be wider.

Fourth, smaller hands require a smaller overall binocular body to allow the controls to be easily reached and manipulated. (This same smaller body is also very useful if gloves are being worn on an otherwise average size hand.)

Finally, never, ever use compact binoculars with children. Even though it may seem like a good idea due to the smaller size of compacts, the magnification levels are too high and the objective diameters are too small, offering a smaller exit pupil, for children to use successfully.

Recommended models:

  • Katmai 6x32mm
  • Yosemite 6x30mm

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