Birder's Guide

DEC 2013

Birder's Guide is the American Birding Association's newest publication. Each issue focuses on a key subject, providing tips from experienced birders on a wide variety of topics like Travel, Listing & Taxonomy, Gear, and Conservation & Community.

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Page 12 of 51

without a good binocular slung 'round your Mount Horeb, Wisconsin L ooking at birds in the wild just isn't the same Ben Lizdas Binocular 101 neck. A basic understanding of how optics work will put you well on your way to making the most of your birding excursions. But, like the birders who use them, binoculars come in an abundance of shapes and sizes, and prices. So how does a birder pick out the perfect binocular? Is there such thing? A good starting point is to have a solid understanding of how a binocular works, along with the realization that there is no one perfect model. It's all about tradeoffs, and what you choose to gain (and, consequently, sacrifce) is what makes binocular selection such a personal endeavor. The Anatomy of a Binocular Let's start by taking a quick tour of your binocular. There are two dominant binocular designs: Porro-prism and roof-prism. Porro-prism binoculars are the "old-fashioned" or traditional type, with a sharp jog in the barrel; roof-prism binoculars can be identifed by their two straight barrels. Both styles feature the same basic parts. • Prisms. Whether Porro- or roof-prism, these mirrored pieces of glass inside the housing of the binoculars serve the same function: to correctly orient the image vertically and horizontally. Photo © courtesy of Swarovski Optik. December 2013 | Birder's Guide to Gear 11

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