Why would anyone invest in a high-quality optics when you can get ok-quality binoculars at a lower price? When I am choosing binoculars, I think about my practical needs as well as my hopes of a comprehensive nature experience.
Nature and birds have always been close to my heart, and my skills and understanding have mainly been focused on sea birds because they live in a place where I spend a lot of time: at sea. Binoculars have represented something that I just need to have to be able to see all the spar buoys in the distance. If you haven’t tried anything better, you don’t even feel the need to, that is the truth. I have had just my ancient binoculars, and I’ve done just fine with them.
The danger of every new equipment purchase lies in the fact that once you try something that is actually great, there’s no going back to the past – and that’s fine, because excellent features inspire you to do your thing even more and expand your hobby to different directions. Doing something with good equipment is enjoyable and fun.
…And what have binoculars to do with it?
I got my hands on excellent Swarovski binoculars that inspired me to try and see what this kind of high-end devices are all about, and the realization was as immediate and clear as the image in the binoculars. I watched and wondered on my yard anything that moved around in the distance. If nothing was moving around, I looked at some faraway leaves that I could see very clearly through my binoculars. And when there were these little feathered things flying around in the distance, I could see them as clearly as if they were next to me.
It escalated quickly.
Birdwatching on my backyard offered some amazing moments in the world of birds, but I started to feel the need to get to places where I could see more of it and also species that I had only seen in bird books before. My new binoculars leaded my without my noticing to national parks, canebrakes and birdwatching towers.
Thanks to my new binoculars, I made a late-spring nature and bird trip to Valkmusa National Park. I could see ospreys and their spring courtship clearly. Curlews flew and sang in the distance, and it was an amazing feeling to get a clear, detailed image for the flying form and the sound that were the only things I could perceive before. Because of the binoculars, I also joined a local ornithological society to participate in their activities and learn more about the birds. This is how things go forward thanks to one excellent device.
I don't need to wait anymore that a bird swimming in a lake starts to make sounds. With a quick glance, I can look whether it is a loon or a diver. I have also seen a goshawk’s victorious battle with a crow through my binoculars and saved it in my nature memories.
Thinking of these experiences, what is the benefit of spending a couple of thousand instead of a couple of hundred euros for binoculars? For many, an important theme on nature trips is seeing and experiencing and, in that way, also understanding nature and learning about it: if you cannot see, this is not the way to go. It is a little bit pointless to go watch if you cannot see properly.
I have now some experience about high-end binoculars, cheap binoculars, and some awful binoculars. Based on my own evaluation, I can relieve that my nature experiences have been much stronger with high-end binoculars: all the sales talks about image sharpness, reproduction of colours, contrast and visibility of an object in dark conditions are absolutely true. The best way to see the differences is to compare products with each other: with high-quality binoculars, the image remains clear and good also on the edges of the lens without stretching and distorting. Objects in the distance are not blurred or misty but are reproduced properly and brightly.
High-quality accessories take the use to a whole new level: with good and easy-to-use lens protectors, you don’t have to worry so much about the lenses, and with a harness, the binoculars are always ready to be used if something exciting comes into sight. With a camera adapter, you can place the camera (even a mobile phone camera if the adapter matches with it) in front of a high-end lens and take great photos of faraway creatures.
When choosing binoculars, think about what you are going to do with them. If you need them for a hunting trip, invest in binoculars with good or excellent dark-vision or low-light features. By looking at different models in our web shop, for example, you can compare and decide which model would suit you best. Two factors you can think about are the strength of magnification and the diameter of the front lens. The magnification strength of my Swarovski EL 8x32 is 8: an object that is 100 m away can be seen eight times bigger, or as if it was at a distance of 12,5 m. The number 32 refers to the diameter of the outer lens. In practice, the more there is light in the binocular, the faster it is. For example, the outer lens of the above-mentioned binoculars is quite small, so the lens speed also relies on a high-quality optics. So, why not choose the biggest magnification strength and the largest outer lens diameter right away?
Well. It depends on what you are going to do with the binoculars. The larger the lens, the bigger and the clumsier the binoculars. But it doesn’t matter if you are mostly staying still and it is necessary to get light into the device.
With the magnifications from 8 to 10, you can use the binoculars by keeping them in your hands without the image moving too much. With bigger magnifications, you need a support or a tripod to keep the image still. The main features of the binocular model I have used and presented here are small size, robustness, and lightness. In practice, if you buy it, you get the smallest possible binoculars with high-end features for active and moving activities.
If I had had a camera adapter with me on this trip, you would see a couple of ospreys mating in the upper left corner of this picture, and later some curlews having fun and lapwings flying skilfully in the middle. And if I had been quick, I could also have taken some close-ups of cranes flying above me.