Binoculars are an important and valuable tool for many hobbyists and professionals alike.
For seeing objects at a distance, nothing beats a good pair of binoculars. Binoculars are the most widely-used optical device after eyeglasses. Since the invention of the telescope in the 1600s, which led to the development of binoculars shortly thereafter, binoculars have come a long way in design, use and capability. Today, there are hundreds of models of binoculars made by many different manufacturers around the world. According to Consumer Reports, birdwatchers in the U.S. alone spend nearly $500 million a year on binoculars and associated equipment, as reported by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Binoculars are used in a wide variety of recreational and occupational applications, including:
Many binoculars are designed for specific purposes. There are currently many types of binoculars available:
There are currently over two dozen manufacturers making hundreds of models of binoculars, with a wide range of special features and in a wide range of prices. Some manufacturers, such as Nikon, offer nearly 100 models, while others, including Canon and Burris, only a handful. Most offer standard binoculars as well as those with the most up-to-date technology.
Manufacturers of binoculars include: Bushnell, Canon, Leica, Minolta, Nikon, Olympus, Steiner, Zeiss, and Zhumell. Many of these and other manufacturers also produce many other products in addition to binoculars, such as film and digital cameras, microscopes, rifle scopes, imaging equipment and digiscopes.
Besides manufacturer name, price and features, consumers should consider power and lens size as well. Most binoculars are labeled with two numbers, such as 8x25. The first number represents magnification. For instance, the number eight indicates that the object being viewed will appear eight times larger than without using binoculars. The second number refers to the diameter of the front lens in millimeters. The higher the lens size, the sharper the image no matter how much magnification is involved, so binoculars labeled 8x40 will produce a better image than those marked 8x25.