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7 Alarming Things You Must Know Before Buying Binoculars

“UK’s top bird watching expert reveals his secret checklist and common misassumptions that could cost you £100s and stop you from seeing or identifying birds clearly.”

— by Joseph Hugh from Avalon Optics

1. Astonishing Binoculars Advice No Retail Shop Will Tell You

Whether you’re a lifelong birder or a complete newbie, there are a few fundamental principles you must know before buying binoculars.

The biggest issue I see with the binoculars market today is that there are simply too many options. It feels as if brands, advertisers, and shops almost intentionally try to confuse us with endless models, features and specs.

Some turn to the internet for answers just to find even MORE choices, along with an abundance of technical info, comparison sites, reviews, and screaming sale offers. For crying out loud.. all we want is to buy a pair of binoculars! With so many choices, how do we even start?

Luckily there is a solution to this complicated buying decision – a remarkably simple one actually. The trick is to first know where the new binoculars will be used:

What will you be looking at with the binoculars? If they are a gift to your spouse, children or grandchildren then what will they be viewing?

This might sound like the obvious place to start – right? But this is where so many people get it wrong. They jump straight onto Google focusing their search on price, technical features or the products currently on offer. Instead, first determine and focus on your intended use.

The type of binoculars you’ll need simply depends on what you’ll be looking at. Know the job at hand, then choose the best tool for it – simple. Once you know exactly where they will be used, you can narrow down the choices to a single type of binoculars. Lastly, search for the best models of that type within your budget.

For example, the best type of binoculars to look at birds, nature, wildlife, landscape, safari, and sports is generally “10×42”.

For those of you who are new to the world of binoculars, 10×42 means binoculars with 10x magnification and 42mm objective lenses. A perfect balance between magnification and size (I will dive more into this in the following sections).

A great example are the Avalon 10×42 PRO HD Binoculars which were designed for birding, wildlife and nature viewing. They are suited to any type of viewer, elderly or child, beginner or pro. Ideal for seeing and identifying birds or wildlife clearly, from any distance and in extraordinary detail.

2. Think All Binoculars Can Be Used With Glasses? Think Again!

Let’s face it, we’re not getting any younger.. and most of us already have or will eventually need glasses.

A very common concern when buying binoculars is whether they will be suitable for use while still wearing your glasses. This is an excellent feature that some binoculars do offer, but in reality not always deliver.

In fact, many people find that their binoculars already magnify and enhance the image, eliminating the need for glasses. This applies to both nearsighted and farsighted vision impairments. You’ll simply need to experiment in order to find out if your binoculars work better with or without glasses. If you do plan on using your binoculars with glasses then be sure to follow these easy steps:

  • Never buy budget or pocket-size binoculars, they are nearly impossible to use with glasses
  • Never purchase high magnification binoculars
  • Check the specification referred to as eye-relief. Anything under 12mm is NOT suitable for use with glasses
  • Ensure that the binoculars feature twist-down or at least fold-down eyecups. These are essential when using binoculars with glasses

3. Poor Eyesight, Arthritis or Shaky Hands? The Truth About Binoculars Magnification

People use binoculars to get a closer look at something. Birds, animals, boats, beach, the neighbour next door.. anything that sparks their interest. So the first thing they look for when choosing binoculars is their magnification (or their power, or zoom).

It is awfully tempting to assume that the more magnification they have – the better. This cannot be further from the truth!

When holding binoculars, every little shake of your hands is also magnified, as much as the image is. As magnification increases, the image becomes less stable. This is a well-known issue with any type of binoculars and guess what.. it gets even worse if you are anything like me, with arthritis or just unstable hands.

Besides image shakiness, high magnification binoculars also produce a narrow view – this is how optics work, regardless of which brand or binoculars you choose to use. If you already have poor eyesight, there is nothing more frustrating than trying to look through a narrow “keyhole” view.

The bottom line is, and this comes from my many years of field experience and personally testing dozens of different binoculars:

Always choose binoculars with either 8x or 10x magnification. No more, no less.

The only exception to this rule would be single-use astronomy binoculars, mounted on a heavy-duty tripod.

4. Should You Buy Binoculars Without Trying Them First?

Even at this day and age, where the internet offers us a tremendous amount of information, photos, videos, and reviews, it can still be intimidating to buy a product without having a good look at it first.

It would be nice if you could touch, feel and test the binoculars for yourself before committing to buy. If you’re lucky, you might find a few models collecting dust on the back shelves of camera shops.

I find that retail shops only stock selected models (typically the ones that sell or bring them more profit). The salespeople in those shops are usually youngsters who have never held a pair of binoculars in their lives. They know very little about them and usually won’t let you take the expensive ones out of the box.

Even if you do manage to handle some binoculars, where will you be testing them? Inside the little shop, at a distance you can’t even achieve a clear focus from? The mall? Not ideal, not at all.

Avalon binoculars are tailored to be extremely easy to use, by any viewer and from any distance. They are easy to hold, easy to adjust to your eyesight and easy to focus. But there will always be exceptions as not all human eyes are the same.

For this reason, they include free delivery and a 90-days, no questions asked, money back return policy. This allows you to order Avalon binoculars online, risk-free and test them around your environment. If you are not 100% thrilled with their razor-sharp images – simply return them for a full refund.

5. Pocket Binoculars. Reliable Travel Companion or Money Down The Toilet?

Binoculars come in many shapes and sizes – too many actually. When looking at the binocular model name you will always notice two numbers. For example “10×42”. The first number relates to the magnification and the second to their size. The diameter of their objective lenses in millimeters, to be precise. The most common binocular sizes are:

  • Pocket size: 20mm to 25mm
  • Compact to Medium size: 30mm to 42mm
  • Large size: 50mm and over

Pocket size binoculars, as their name suggests, are very compact and light. Unfortunately, due to their small lenses, they often fail to provide an enjoyable viewing experience. Their image can be dark or fuzzy.

This gets worse while viewing at dawn, dusk or on cloudy, foggy or rainy days. Cheap pocket binoculars will also have a very narrow view and are nearly impossible to use with glasses.

Unless you are going to the opera and need them to fit in your purse, I highly recommend avoiding pocket binoculars. Instead, invest around £100 to £200 in better quality ones.

But what if you want a smaller size, lightweight binoculars that will deliver crisp, bright images such as the larger ones? Well, the Avalon 8×32 Mini HD Binoculars do exactly that.

They’re NOT pocket-size binoculars yet are still compact and light. They will fit in a small backpack compartment for example, or in a coat or jacket pocket.

6. Heading to Africa? Exclusive Tips for Choosing the Ultimate Safari Binoculars

Good binoculars can truly enhance your African safari experience (or your cruise to Alaska or Antarctica). Choosing the best binoculars for these adventures is surprisingly easy. There are a few things to consider:

  • You will be viewing wildlife or birds which are often on the move. Safari vehicles get surprisingly close to the animals – so you won’t need extreme magnification. 8x or 10x is plenty.
  • You will most likely be using your binoculars at low light conditions such as dawn or dusk. This means
    you should opt for 32mm or 42mm lenses for better brightness.
  • You might use your binoculars with glasses or sunglasses and might share them with others.
  • It will be beneficial, but not a must, to choose binoculars that are water-proofed and fog-proofed. These models are also sealed from dust. If you’re heading to Alaska, Antarctica or Canada, it is wise to choose fog-proof binoculars. Their lenses do not fog-up in extreme temperatures.

The Avalon 10×42 PRO HD Binoculars would be an ideal choice for African safari trips.

The Avalon 8×32 Mini HD Binoculars would be the best choice for a cruise ship holiday. They are proven and guaranteed to provide a stable image while used onboard ships.

7. How to Quickly Identify Birds in Your Garden or When Out on Walks

Birding is a fascinating hobby as well as a great opportunity to enjoy the outdoors. It’s fun and easy to get started at any age and around any habitat – urban spaces included. You don’t need to travel the globe searching for rare birds during migrations. In fact, some of the most beautiful species can often be seen right in your garden or when out on a nearby walk.

New to birding? Here are a few practical tips to get you started:

  • Hang up a bird feeder or two around your garden. You can use different types of food for each feeder, depending on the type of birds you wish to attract.
  • You should always fill up the feeder regularly. Once local birds discover your feeder, they will likely return to it if refilled consistently.
  • To start identifying birds simply use a field guide or otherwise a bird identification mobile App. These include “field marks” which help you ID a bird instantly by observing its unique coloration or markings.
  • You can record your observations in what birders call a “life list”. Include the date and location of the first time you saw a particular species.
  • Birding is even more fun with others. Bring a family member or friend along or even join your local birding club. Fellow birders are always thrilled to welcome new members to their outings or assist beginner birders.
  • Above all, take your time, be patient, enjoy the outdoors and have fun!

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