Binoculars in focus

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nairobi-safari-camp-guide_1024We asked Christine Percy from Swarovski to give us her guide to this essential piece of kit

Binoculars bring nature’s finest details right up close when you’re on safari. But as with cameras, there are a multitude on the market. So how do they all compare? In brief: the pricier the binoculars the more you get in terms of optimum optical and mechanical quality.

How to choose your binoculars
1. Understand the numbers and letters: the first figure is the magnification; the second is the size of the objective lens in millimetres. A ‘W’ equals a ‘wide angle’ field of view and ‘B’ means that the eye cups are suitable for spectacles.
2. The larger the magnification the closer the observed object becomes but the narrower the field of view.
3. Go for binoculars with good dioptric compensation. This will enable you to adjust the barrels separately to accommodate any visual impairment.
4. If you wear spectacles, look for twist-in eye cups.
5. Make sure that the lenses and prisms have decent coatings for better colour reproduction and greater light transmission.
6. Pick binoculars with HD (high-definition) glass, which will reduce colour fringing.
7. Investigate the ergonomics and weight thoroughly. This will determine how they feel in your hand over long periods of observation.

“Binoculars are indispensable on safari. Much of what you see will be distant or half-hidden. If you’re a first-timer, practise before you set out. And bring your own: don’t rely on borrowing other people’s, who may, understandably, refuse to share them at a critical moment.” Avid birder and travel journalist Mike Unwin

First published in Travel Africa edition 72, Autumn 2015

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