Lens Binoculars

Every time I take to the field lately, I find myself thinking of the differences between the gear I once carried and that which I carry today. Suffice it to say, those differences are substantial.

My first binoculars were a gift my father gave me when I was a boy. Dad was career Navy, and on one of his voyages to the South Pacific he procured these binoculars. That alone keeps me from disposing of them. They occupy a space of honor on my top shelf, though there are some in the house who think that I should "get rid of the darn things". I understand that sentiment somewhat as those binoculars are not the only ones. I have a collection, small but none-the-less apparent.

The binoculars are Manons 7 x 50. They have porro prisms and coated lenses. How extensively they are coated, I do not know. When Dad gave them to me, I didn't know enough to care about those things. I just knew that I could see things in the distance and the field of view (another term unknown to me at that time) was great. In fact, the field of view, 383 feet at 1000 yards, was perhaps the single reason I carried them for so long.

But the size and weight are the issues, 7.25 inches by 8 inches and more than 2 pounds. I learned early that I could steady them by leaning them on the side of a tree. Holding them free hand was challenging.

Today's binoculars are so much better in so many ways. The Audubon Equinox HP is smaller, 5.8 inches by 5.1 inches and weighs only 23.6 ounces. To top that, the magnification is a full power higher (8x) and the objective lens is smaller (42mm), but the field of view is comparable at 336 feet at 1000 yards. The Stokes DLS 8 x 42 has a field of view of 383 feet (same as those old Manons) but are 5.5 inches by 4.875 inches and only weigh 26 ounces. Both of these newer binoculars are using the more modern optical technology, roof prisms.

Roof prisms have several advantages over the porro prisms. One is the newer binoculars are more ergonomic and feel more comfortable in hand. Roof prisms allow for internal focusing which is very important. Internal focusing means that a binocular can be waterproofed and fog proofed easily. Both the Equinox HP and the DLS are Nitrogen purged so one does not have to worry about being in the field in rainy, moist conditions.

Another advantage of today's binoculars is the ability to close focus. The DLS has a close focus of 4.5 feet, making them wonderful instruments for those interested in butterflies as well as birds and other wildlife. I wouldn't even dream of trying to view butterflies close up with the Manons; I'm afraid it is just an exercise in futility.

I stare with fondness at Dad's gift, but I carry those newer binoculars to the field. The images and detail I now observe are so much better. Had I possessed today's binoculars when I was a boy, I might have learned to identify much more quickly. Technological advances have their day, and we should be glad for it.

Roy Smallwood is the owner of Kingbirdfeeders.com. Roy began this enterprise after a 26 year career as a teacher of science. His love and enjoyment of the outdoors and birding in particular is the impetus for the company. He is an active member of the Central Texas Audubon Society. He encourages everyone to participate and enjoy birding whether in the backyard or in the field. Visit http://www.kingbirdfeeders.com for , binoculars and spotting scopes and happy birding!

IWhere can I purchase various sized binocular lens and eyepiece caps?

II have several Minolta binoculars of various sizes. The plastic dust and dirt caps are what I need.

camera stores...

Birding Tips 2: Cleaning lenses in the field




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