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Binoculars Gift Guide

by Daniel J. Gansle
August 2008

Walk into any sporting goods or big-box retail store and you'll see a vast array of various kinds of binoculars. Some are compact binoculars (best for kids); others are bulkier; some have zooming capability while more advanced binoculars even sport an on-board digital camera. With all the choices out there, how to you find the right binoculars? Use this handy buying guide to binoculars for birthday, Christmas, and general gifts.

* Determining Use
What will the binoculars be used for? Night vision, digital camera, bird watching, hunting, military, marine, travel, or stargazing? Should they be waterproof? Choose binoculars that match the intended use of the person you're gifting them to.

* Determining Measurements
You'll first notice the "x by x" measurement (e.g., 8x25 or the popular 25x100) on the binoculars' packaging. The first number represents the magnification; the second represents the diameter of the lenses. Choose a higher magnification lens to make objects appear closer. Choose a larger lens diameter for applications that require the object to appear brighter with increased detail, such as bird watching binoculars.

* Determining Field of View
Field of view means how much area to the right and left you can see through the binoculars and is expressed as "xxx feet @ 1000 yards." Choose 200 feet @ 1000 yards for a narrow focus or 400 feet @ 1000 yards for a wider field of view.

* Pricing
A good rule of thumb in buying binoculars is the old saying, you get what you pay for. Pay under $70 for a pair for casual use or for your kids binoculars; but expect to pay between $150-$200 or more for a quality pair of bird watching or star gazing astronomy binoculars.

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