Selecting Optics to Compensate for Physical Limitations
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
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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