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How to Use Binoculars

Kyle W by Kyle W Updated on February 26, 2021.

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If you are an outdoorsy person, this is one tool you don’t want to lack in your bag. A pair of binoculars will help you notice more of the world around you. However, there are details you may miss due to incorrect use.

For most people, looking up “how to use a binocular” is the last thing that would cross their minds. You mean how I hold my binoculars matters, and perhaps I have been holding my binoculars wrong all this time?! You ask. Yes, this article dives deep into the details.

How to Use Binoculars

Types of Binoculars

Just before we get into the nitty-gritty of using a binocular, it would be great to understand the different types, where they are used, and their operating mechanism.

Here are six main types of binoculars:

1. Porro Prism Binoculars

These are the very first modern-day bino (binoculars) to be invented by Ignazio Porro in the 19th century. They have since set the benchmark for all modern-day binoculars. They’re the most affordable binos due to their simple design.

They provide clear three-dimensional images with a great field of view. Mostly used for sporty events, astronomy, hiking, and scouting expeditions.

Pros:

  • Provides a wide field of view
  • Affordable
  • Amazing 3D images

Cons

  • Has low magnification
  • Heavy and Bulky

2. Roof Prism Binoculars

The latest prism binoculars, much better than the Porro bino. They are lighter and look simpler but have a lesser field of view. They are more mechanical with a higher magnification power and brighter imagery than the Porro Prism.

They are mostly used for bird watching and hunting. They are complexly designed, causing them to be expensive to make for manufacturers, therefore, expensive to buy for consumers.

Pros

  • High magnification
  • Lightweight
  • Clear

Cons

  • Narrow field of view
  • Costly

Astronomy Binocular

With a pair of these and an interest in stargazing or astronomy, you shall never miss the fast-moving meteors.

Pros

  • Portable compared to a telescope

 Cons

  • The High-end models are extremely costly

3. Night Vision Binoculars

These are different from the rest since they are electronically assisted. The rest are mechanically assisted by natural light and cannot show you clear images in the dark. Night vision binos are mainly used in game reserves to watch wildlife, nighttime exploration, and hunting.

Pros

  • Assists you in seeing in the dark

Cons

  • Fragile due to their electric composition
  • Expensive

4. Opera Glasses Binoculars

Normally stylish and mostly used during theatre performances, sports, and operas with up to 4 times magnification power.

Pros

  • Very stylish
  • Less eye fatigue due to its low magnification power
  • Affordable

5. Marine Binoculars

Designed for in or around water. Usually, water and fog proof. They have a wider eyepiece, and the best to use is a low magnification power bino. High magnification normally causes unstable or shaky images. Mainly used for Marine operations, snorkeling, and whale watching.

Pros

  • Water and fog proof

Cons

  • Easy to get lost, especially while snorkeling unless provided with a floating strap

Other types of binoculars include:

  • Waterproof binoculars. You don’t necessarily need underwater binoculars. All you need is good rubber-coated ones and tight lenses to avoid damage when it rains.
  • Zoom binoculars. Useful, but they provide such a narrow field of view and may deform your images.
  • High powered binoculars. Used to see things from extremely far distances, for instance, astronomy binos
  • Foldable/ mini binoculars. They are foldable/ portable; you may fit them in your pocket. These are the best for hiking, scouting, or hunting.
  • Wide-angle. They provide the widest field of view among all other binoculars. Commonly used by bird watchers.
  • Image stabilizing. One of the priciest due to its special ability to provide more stable, less shaky images
  • Focus free binoculars. Best for medium distances, used as regular binoculars. Commonly handled by starters or children.
  • Tripod mounted binoculars. Some binos need to be mounted on a tripod to get stable images, especially strong powered binoculars.

Parts of Binoculars

Parts of Binoculars

The fundamental parts of binoculars are:

  • Lens caps that cover and protect the lenses
  • Barrels the two cylinders with lenses
  • Hinge joins the right and left cylinder
  • Pivot also holds the cylinders and is used to adjust the eyepiece
  • Dial wheel adjusts eyepiece and focus

A Guide on How to Use Binoculars

Now, let’s delve into how to use binoculars:

How to hold binoculars

Depending on the size, you can either wrap your entire hands on the barrels or hold them with just the tip of your fingers. To get stable images, tuck in your elbows slightly to your body.

How to aim at your target using your binocular

Find what you are looking for with your bare eyes, then without moving the position of your eyes or head, move your binoculars to your eyes

How to focus your binocular

Turn the main focus dial with your right eye closed till you can clearly see your subject. Then, with your left eye closed, turn the adopter dial until you can clearly see your subject. Your image should be clear, and depending on your subject’s distance, you can turn the central focus wheel until your image is sharp.

How to use binoculars while wearing spectacles

Adjust your eye caps to fit the size of your spectacle lens’ frames.

Maintenance and Care for Binoculars

Hang them on your neck during rest periods. Most of them come with a neck strap and hanging it around your neck prevents them from falling and nay consequential damage.

Once you are done using them, make sure you put back the lens cups and then back to the case. The lens cups protect the lenses from scratching, while the case ensures that your binoculars are in good shape and ready for next use.

How To Clean Your Binoculars: A Part By Part Guide

You need to be extremely careful when cleaning your binoculars. Each set has a special way it needs to be handled according to the manufacturer’s recommendations. Therefore, before beginning the cleaning process, read the manufacturer’s manual. Normally, a section is reserved to provide cleaning instructions for the particular type and model of your binoculars.

The Body

First and foremost, make sure you hold your binoculars properly (upside down, avoiding the lenses). Using a brush with gentle bristles, gently dust off the body of the binoculars.

Then, take a dry piece of lint-free cloth (does not give up any fluff or less probable to build up a charge.) or microfiber and wipe around.

If the dirt is persistent, let’s say your binoculars is greasy, you can wet your piece of cloth with tepid water and wipe the body of the binoculars. Remember to avoid the lenses.

The Lenses

Just like we did with the body, dust off the lenses with a soft-bristled brush or a brush specially designed for binoculars or camera lenses. This is to remove dust or any other microscopic particles as not doing so will cause friction while wiping damaging your lenses.

Next, grab a piece of microfiber and wipe the lenses as gently as you can. If dirt persists, use salt spray or warm water and wipe.

Do not use any other kind of solution since it may damage any special coating used on the lenses by the manufacturer to provide better vision protection.

Inside the Binoculars

It is not recommended to take your binoculars apart since they may get damaged. Most of them have nitrogen or other special compounds that may be explosive or harmful to you

Conclusion

Over time, with practice and attention to detail, you will get better at using binoculars even without thinking about it. Always keep your lens caps safely and store the binoculars in its bag for durability. Avoid touching your lenses, and while cleaning them, don’t be rough. If not waterproof, rubber coat them to avoid damage since most of them are used for outdoor activities.

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