Monday, January 6, 2014

Small but perfectly formed: Compact binoculars to go anywhere.

Always to hand.
Compacts are there when you need them.
Most people will have had those moments when you wish you had binoculars with you but bringing
them was impractical or too much trouble. This is where compact binoculars come into there own. As a rule any binocular with a lens diameter of less than 30mm is classed as a compact, with 20-25mm being the most common sizes. Although by their very nature compacts cannot have the brightness of a larger binocular, they can prove to be one of the most useful instruments to own because they can be taken everywhere.

Typically compacts are available in 8x and 10x magnification and the usual factors apply, i.e.10x brings objects closer but produces a narrower field of view and a less bright image than 8x. It mostly comes down to personal preference, but if you were buying a gift for someone else then 8x is a safer bet that most people can get on with.

Pocket size.
A double hinged
compact folded.
The design of compact binoculars is generally focused on making them a small and light as possible, both in use and when folded away. Many have a double hinge, which allows both barrels to be folded into the bridge turning the binocular into a very small package for transport. This style also can be the best for younger children who can often not get full size binoculars to come close enough together for their eyes.


Image quality.

The Swarovski CL Pocket.
It is inevitable that in making a binocular as small as possible the image is compromised to a degree.
As a rule compact binoculars are a little less forgiving in terms of getting them into the optimum position for your eyes than full size binoculars, and the field of view is generally narrower. Compacts are no substitute for a 32mm or larger binocular if you are out birdwatching, but they are more than adequate for incidental use when out walking, in town or walking the dog. While the usual rule of the more you spend the better they get applies, the range of prices is smaller than with full size optics, starting at under £20 and stopping just over £500. The best are very good, and some of the latest, for example the Swarovski CL Pocket range, are offering image quality not far off that of their full size counterparts.

The best way to work out what you want and which binoculars suits your eyes is to test them in the kind of environment you are likely to be using them. The opportunity to do this, together with the best on-shelf range in the UK, is what we offer at Cley Spy. With two shops in North Norfolk, both with impressive views of the countryside, you can test everything you want to in a no pressure and relaxed atmosphere with expert advice on hand.
The view from our Glandford shop. The field being prepared for the conservation nectar and winter bird seed crop last Autumn.

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