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How to choose a pair of binoculars?
!!! ALL COMPARATIVE WILL BE MADE ON A BASE OF QUALITIES OF GLASSES EQUAL !!!
There are many optical treatments that can increase the quality, the light transmission, the contrast, the "pique", the restitution of the colors ...
Binoculars are the indispensable tool for travel; to observe nature, the sky and discover both large and small animals as the vast expanses of our wonderful planet. An indispensable tool also to follow sports and cultural events. The small size of a pair of binoculars and the brightness provided by the binocular vision make them comfortable and relaxing to use.
The binoculars are differentiated by two numbers mentioned on each pair, such as 7x50, 10x42, 20x60 ... The first number corresponds to the magnification compared to the view of the man (7, 10 or 20 times in the example), the second to the output diameter of the lenses (50mm, 42mm or 60mm in the example). Some binoculars are equipped with zoom (variable magnification) mentioned as follows: 10-22x50, which corresponds to a variable magnification between 10 and 22 times with an output diameter of 50mm in this case.
A quality of equal glass:
At least the magnification is important, at most the binoculars will be bright and stable;
At most the output diameter is large, at most the binoculars will be bright too.
A. The 2 types of prisms:
There are 2 types of prisms: prisms called "PORRO" or prisms "ON ROOF".
1. Porro's prism is one that is often considered "prehistoric" by the less attractive design it gives to the pair of binoculars; but if it still represents more than 50% of sales at some of the biggest brands, it is not by chance!
Fewer lenses as a rule,
Ergonomics conferring a better stability,
Greater gap between the output lenses having the direct effect of restoring a more three-dimensional vision,
Mechanism less fragile, the focusing is done by displacement of the eyepieces and not internal lenses,
Points 1 and 4 mean that production costs are lower and the final product will therefore be cheaper at equal quality.
System offering the possibility of a preset focus for all subjects between ~ 20m and infinity ("Sport Autofocus") or dual system: manual focus between ~ 2m and infinity and Sport Autofocus (= "Sport Autofocus Plus "). The Sport Autofocus and Sport Autofocus Plus systems offered by Steiner facilitate responsiveness and allow you to follow moving subjects (motor sports, cheetah racing, bird flying, ...) without having to focus but also facilitates considerably observation for children or anyone who may have difficulty in tune-up. The police and the trades related to navigation also particularly like this system.
Allows larger magnifications without increasing bulk and weight.
2. The roof prism is today the one that, impulsively, will appeal most to the consumer who does not master the technical data.
Allows more compact binoculars,
Better and linear light transmission,
More attractive design,
Restitution more "flat".
B. Optical glass and its treatment:
There are different qualities in the glass used for the manufacture of optical observation and a multitude of variants in the treatment of the latter to improve its performance.
Technologies have allowed major evolutions and even revolutions in this area, for both lenses and prisms.
Today's twins are therefore infinitely more powerful than they were 20 years ago.
Multi-layer treatments (multi-coating) are applied to glasses to improve performance. According to the manufacturers and the product range, these treatments may concern only one face of the outer lenses, up to the two faces of all the optics, including the prisms. Just as the materials used to increase yields can be of a very different quality: aluminum-based for entry-level or diamond models for the better performers.
A color treatment can be applied for more specific uses: a bluish treatment will reduce the effect of blue (useful in the aquatic environment), a yellow treatment will increase the contrast, a green layer will attenuate the green to bring out the animal in the middle grassy or in forest ...
The glass used and the treatments are mostly taken into account in the final price of the product.
C. Exclusive features:
To achieve high magnification without endangering user comfort, some manufacturers have designed binoculars with image stabilization. This technique offers a comfortable and relaxing observation despite magnifications up to 18x. Something impossible without, as the image would tremble with such magnification and the eye would get tired and would not encourage long-term observations. This system also greatly improves comfort when the observation takes place in an unstable environment (boat, vehicle). Canon is undeniably the leader in the field with a range of 6 binoculars as ergonomic as effective.
Compass (compass) and reticle: some binoculars, mainly used for navigation or law enforcement, are equipped with a compass (magnetic or electronic) indicating the heading, or even a horizontal and / or vertical reticle allowing a quick calculation of distance or dimensions. Steiner is the first to have integrated a compass on a pair of binoculars in 1979. There exists on the globe 5 magnetic zones and for each of them a suitable compass. In Europe, we are in zone 2.
The Steiner Commander 7x50 Global is equipped with an electronic compass that adapts automatically to the area in which you are navigating.
For military use only, Steiner also developed in 1988 a multilayer treatment filtering the laser beams to preserve the eyes of the soldiers under observation.
In 1992, Steiner once again developed high-contrast lenses to dramatically improve the quality of the observed image.
In 2006, thanks again and again to Steiner, the "nano-protection" technology appeared on the binoculars market, facilitating the trickling of drops of water on the lenses, again improving the quality and the comfort of the observations.
Some binoculars are now equipped with a laser range finder for accurate measurement over long distances (up to 2500m in clear horizon conditions). Steiner offers the most compact models on the market at 1700m and the only ones equipped with a scan mode to sweep an area and get instantaneously and accurately the distance from immobilization on a subject, then the next and so on.
D. Which magnification to choose?
We are often tempted to enlarge to better see. It's not always the case.
Indeed, always equal quality glass, light transmission and stability are inversely proportional to the magnification. So at most the magnification is strong, at least the binoculars will be bright and stable; thus reducing the quality and comfort of observation. If you want a high magnification, it is therefore important to opt for a larger output diameter (so more bulky binoculars) and / or a model equipped with an image stabilizer (Canon).
Finally, at most the magnification is important, the more you reduce the field of vision.
Once again, you can not have the butter, the pie and the smile of the creamer ...
E. The price! ...
An important criterion in any purchase. However, think that a pair of binoculars is usually mechanical, therefore robust and reliable and therefore you will use them for many, many years. As proof, the guarantees offered by the builders: 10 years for some twins, 30 years for others. So it's there, usually a purchase for life; especially with the technological developments that give today's binoculars exceptional optical characteristics!
Who does not have at home the pair of a still functional grandfather, even if the optics of the time are now outdated?
The price will have its importance, but do not focus just on him: with 30 years warranty, a pair to 1000 € will cost 0.10 € just a day. And your children and grandchildren will still use them ... which is far from the case of smartphones, cars, computers and other expensive items we buy.
F. Who, when, how ...?
Some thoughts that I want to share and that could affect your choice:
How often will you use them?
Alone or with family?
In what light conditions?
Regular family use, exceptional family trip (safari for example): all will want to use the binoculars at the same time. Consider if possible a pair for 2 or 3 people maximum so that everyone can enjoy the show. Opt for complementary rather than identical models.
For example :
1 very powerful in magnification of 8 or 10x with an output diameter between 40 and 56mm (Nikon Monarch 8 or 10x42, Steiner Ranger Xtreme or Skyhawk 8 or 10x42 or Wildlife 8 or 10x44, Pentax SD or ZD 8 or 10x43 ...)
1 equipped with Sport Autofocus (+) mode (Steiner Safari Ultrasharp 8 or 10x30)
1 compact possibly with macro mode (Pentax Papilio, compact Steiner Wildlife, compact Nikon HG-L)
With young children? Choose a Steiner pair equipped with "Sport Autofocus" or "Sport Autofocus +" mode that does not require focus and allow everyone to enjoy the observation. This mode is also very nice for tracking animals or moving subjects that will stay neat all the time.
Use in difficult light conditions? Choose a bright pair (see relative brightness and twilight index in the characteristics). For example, the Steiner Nighthunter 8x56 are the binoculars offering the highest brightness on the market with a minimum of 96% light transmission, the Nikon Monarch 5 8x56 or more reasonably the Nikon Action EX 7 or 10x50 or Pentax SP 10x50 WP.
Thus, depending on your output, you will also always have the model adapted to it.
Do not hesitate to contact us for advice.
Do not forget to take care of your binoculars to ensure even better longevity.
The rubber coating can suffer from high temperatures, sun products, hydrocarbons and prolonged exposure to light.
The lenses should be cleaned to ensure optimal observation. Only use suitable products and soft microfiber cloths so as not to scratch the lenses.
We recommend the care kit "binoo-care" including a lens cleaner and its microfiber and a maintenance product for rubber and microfiber.
These products are recommended by leading brands: Steiner, Nikon, Pentax and Canon