For every special hobby there’s loads of special equipment. Car collectors have garages full of windshields, drop cloths and steering wheels, while stamp collectors have rooms full of stamp albums, mounts and watermarking fluid. Still, if you’re a Trekkie or a techie, there’s one item that every enthusiast can use: Binoculars.
Binoculars are a hugely useful tool for many hobbyists, and not just the bird watchers. Whether your hobby involves 1968 Mustang parts, stamps or unicycles, there’s undoubtedly a great pair of binoculars for you.
Best for Bird Watchers
Bird watchers often observe their target from far-away distances. Because of this, you might assume that the higher powered the binoculars the better, but that’s actually not the case. Your field of view will be smaller with high-powered binoculars, which can make it difficult to observe what the bird is doing. Higher magnification binoculars also tend to shake more because every movement is magnified.
Most birders find that an 8X magnification works best. It offers a bigger field of view as well as greater stability; plus, they’re easier to use with eyeglasses.
Best for Sports Fans
If you’ve ever attended a football game, golf event or soccer match, you’ve probably been frustrated by your lack of up-close views of the action. One solution is to bring binoculars with you as you indulge in your hobby.
Again, a wide field of view is best for this pursuit. In fact, you may want to investigate some wide angle binoculars, because they’ll allow you to see more of a play or a golf swing than regular ones, which limit the width that you can view. You may also be interested in a more compact pair of binoculars so you don’t have to waste the effort of carrying around a bulky pair, as you often have to take a long walk from your car or subway to a sporting event.
Best for Star Gazing
Yes, most star gazers have a high-powered telescope. But it’s also good to have a pair of reliable binoculars on hand for looking at stars when you want to see a wider field. In fact, there are larger binoculars that you can put on a tripod for star gazing; they aren’t as powerful as a telescope but they reveal much more than the naked eye, and they’re very portable for camping trips and the like.
Best for Theater Goers
If you love the theater but can only afford the back-row bargain-basement seats, then you should invest in a pair of opera glasses. These are generally cheaper than the higher-powered ones that are used outdoors, and they’re smaller as well. With a lower-powered magnification, they also don’t shake as much as the higher-powered versions used for sports or bird watching.
Most experts recommend a magnification of 5X or below. Some opera glasses even feature dim built-in lights, which can be helpful in darkened theaters for checking a program for a performer’s name during the performance.
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