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Long Guns

Binos–Tips For Getting the Best Glass

by Scott E. Mayer   |  May 31st, 2011 5

Your binocular must be easy to use, not just bright.

Many hunters judge optics by their size. Big mistake. You may be most effective with a small binocular. Note the singular: “Binocular” means two barrels, two sets of lenses. A pair of  binoculars is just that:: two binoculars. You can’t very well use a pair of binoculars unless you have four eyes.

Wayne used a Zeiss 8x32 to find this gemsbok. “More power is seldom necessary – or desirable!”

A binocular with objective (front) lenses bigger than 32mm is helpful at magnifications of 10x and higher. But for hunting, I prefer an 8×32. High power helps you resolve more detail, but it also gives you a reduced field of view, and it magnifies your shakes as much as it does a distant animal. If you’re glassing from a rest in calm conditions, steadiness comes easy. Not so if you’re winded from a climb and must glass with only hand support into a 20-mph breeze. High power also demands big front lenses to deliver the same exit pupil as a smaller binocular of modest magnification. An 8×32 has the same 4mm exit pupil as a 10×42. That is, light transmission is the same. In dim light, they’re equally bright.

My go-to hunting binocular is a Zeiss 8×32. I’m also fond of the superb Leica 8×32 Ultravid. The Swarovski 8×32 EL is in the same class, and that company just came out with a fine mid-priced 8×30. Besides their top-drawer optics, these binoculars are also easy to carry on a single strap, which I prefer to a harness. Binoculars that weigh much over 22 ounces can give a strap a knife’s edge after a long day on the mountain. Compact enough to tuck easily into a coat during a storm, an 8×32 is less likely than a big glass to interfere with other activities. And because it’s lightweight and compact, you’ll almost surely bring it to your eye more often.

The more time you spend in your binocular, the more you see!

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