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Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Gadget Bag: Compact Binoculars

Get a different look at your surroundings and spot unique photo opportunities with a pair of lightweight, high-quality binoculars

Labels: Gadget BagGear
This Article Features Photo Zoom

Zeiss Victory Compact 10x25 T*
Another consideration for wildlife shooters, but not so much for landscape specialists, is minimum focusing distance. If you're going to be looking for little birds perched in relatively nearby trees, be sure to get binoculars that can focus close enough. Speaking of focusing, some binoculars have a focusing unit on each eyepiece, some on just one. With the former, adjust each tube for its eye. With the latter, use the central-focusing knob to adjust the nonadjustable tube until it's sharp, then use the focusing unit on the other tube's eyepiece, if necessary, to make that eye's image sharp, as well.

All of the binoculars featured here are roof-prism models, meaning the prisms are configured so the front lenses are basically aligned with the eyepieces. This makes for a more compact unit. There are also porro-prism designs, in which the front lenses are offset outward from the eyepieces. This provides better "3-D" depth, but results in bulkier units.

If you work in rain, fog or mist, you should opt for waterproof/fogproof binoculars. They have all the moisture removed using nitrogen, with O-rings to seal against the elements. Otherwise, treat your binoculars like your camera in terms of exposure to the elements. Rubberized armor coating protects against impacts, but doesn't necessary imply waterproofing.

Like cameras and lenses, better binocs tend to cost more, but provide better performance and longer life. BaK-4 barium crown glass produces brighter, sharper images than BK-7 borosilicate glass.

Pentax DCF SW 10x25
A Sampling Of 10x25 Binoculars
A number of companies offer 10x25 compact binoculars; here are some with the kind of image quality OP readers are likely to appreciate. All prices are estimated street prices.

Low-priced, but full-featured, the Celestron Nature DX 10x25 ($99) is waterproof and nitrogen-purged to eliminate fogging, and features a polycarbonate frame. Field of view at 1,000 yards is 315 feet; minimum focusing distance is 6.5 feet. Dimensions are 4.3x4.5x1.6 inches; weight is 12.1 ounces. www.celestron.com

Kenko's 10x25DH ($229) is a waterproof model with a large focusing knob for easy use. Field of view is 87.3 meters at 1,000 meters; minimum focusing distance is 6.6 feet. Dimensions are 4.3x4.2x1.5 inches; weight is 13.8 ounces. www.thkphoto.com

Leica's Ultravid 10x25 BR ($749) features a rubberized exterior; there's also a BL model with a leather exterior. Nitrogen-filled to prevent internal fogging, the binoculars are waterproof to depths of 16.5 feet, have a field of view of 270 feet at 1,000 yards and can focus down to 10.5 feet. Dimensions are 4.4x4.4x1.5 inches; weight is 9.0 ounces. www.leica-camera.com

Featuring a rugged ABS body with waterproof rubber coating, the Minox BD 10x25 BR ($199) has a field of view of 264 feet at 1,000 yards and can focus down to 9.8 feet. Dimensions are 4.4x2.6x1.7 inches; weight is 10.2 ounces. www.minox.com


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