Selecting a binocular that fits one’s strengths and limitations can be as
important as choosing one with good optical qualities. A binocular is a tool that
should give a person a better view for a lifetime. If a binocular is too heavy,
unbalanced in the hands, does not fit one’s face, is too hard to hold, too
difficult to focus, then ultimately, it will not get used by its owner no matter
how excellent its optics are. In some instances, a binocular must compensate not
only for our vision, but also for other aspects of our physical nature. If you suffer
from upper back strain, sore shoulder(s) and/or an aching neck, have poor strength
in your wrists, hands, or fingers due to injuries or arthritis, have a tremor (slight
or advanced), cannot grasp heavy objects; have a missing limb; or have a limited
range of motion in the upper limbs or torso, these are all conditions that govern
what kind of binocular you should choose. Singly or in combination the following
guidelines might help you make your purchasing decision or help you adapt the binocular
you now own.
Once you have read the articles and reviews on this site,
you should be able to narrow down your optics choices. If you have physical limitations,
try to field-test any binocular or spotting scope you are interested in to see how
they work for you physically as well as visually. Nothing will tell you more about
the suitability of an optic than to use it in the field. Most of the sport optics
companies – including Optics4Birding – attend birding shows, festivals
and symposia to give people an opportunity for hands-on experience with their product
lines. Another resource for trying optics is your local bird club or Audubon chapter.
Attend an outing or two and look for people with the optics you'd like to try.
Adapting a binocular to alleviate neck pain or strain and/or upper back weariness
can be as easy as changing the strap that holds it. Straps and harnesses designed
to evenly distribute the carrying weight of a binocular across the back are inexpensive,
easy to attach, and an easy solution for this vexing problem. Many styles and price
ranges are available. See the article under ‘Miscellaneous’
in our All About Optics section for some alternatives.
Selecting a lighter weight binocular can also make a difference.
Look for a binocular model that is lighter, with a grip that has a comfortable barrel
diameter that is easily held to compensate for limited strength or mobility in the
hands. As an alternative to a traditional hand-held binocular, consider using a
binocular or monocular mounted on a monopod. Monopods provide additional support
for greater image stability, and can compensate for a lack of hand or upper body
strength or even for a missing limb.
Limited mobility in the fingers and hands poses another problem: focusing. To someone
who cannot roll the focus knob easily to focus in on a bird, this can be a major
problem. Some binoculars require only a full turn or less to focus, or feature particularly
smooth focusing mechanisms. Other binoculars may feature a flipper or lever focal
mechanism instead. Unfortunately, at this time, few high-quality binoculars have
a flipper-type focusing mechanism, so if looking for higher quality, read through
our reviews to learn what our reviewers have to say about ease of focus.
How a binocular balances in your hand is frequently more important than the weight
of the instrument, but not when you have a tremor. The higher the binocular magnification,
the less stable the image you are viewing becomes. If you have a tremor, you want
to look for a lightweight, low magnification binocular that you can hold more easily.
Another way to compensate would be using a tripod-mounted binocular or spotting
scope, but this would be difficult to quickly set up for quickly finding and focusing
on an image. Selecting a binocular for a limited range of motion in the upper extremities
or an inability to lift a binocular to the eyes presents another problem that can
be solved with a monopod mounted binocular or monocular.
There are a number of image-stabilizing binoculars on the market today offered by
many of the noted optics manufacturers. These binoculars are no longer novelties
or offered only for the narrow range of nautical use. In other locations on this
website, you can research a selection of these that were meant for birding applications.
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