Binocular Basics

Welcome to the first edition of the Alpen Optics Chronicle. Today, we’ll be sharing some valuable tips on setting up, focusing and using your binoculars to ensure a crystal-clear and immersive viewing experience.

Let’s dive right in!

Find the right fit:

At the start of any observing session, make sure you properly adjust the distance between the barrels — which is known as interpupillary distance (IPD) — to fit the distance between your eyes. To do this, hold the binoculars up to your face and slowly push or pull the barrels together as you look through the eyepieces until you see a single, circular field of view with no black edges.

Before observing, you will also want to twist the eye cups up or down to maximize field of view. It is at this point that eye relief comes into play. Eye relief is all about a comfortable viewing experience because it is the distance at which you need to position your eye from the eyepiece’s outermost surface to enjoy the full field of view. This specification is of special concern for those who wear glasses because a long eye relief is necessary to allow room for glasses without compromising field of view. If you wear glasses, twist the eyecups up or roll them down to ensure that you maintain the proper distance between your eyes and the eyepieces. This will allow you to see the entire field of view without any vignetting. Fully retracted eyecups offer the widest field of view so those who wear eyeglasses will get a better view when the eyecups are retracted.


Find the right focus:

The diopter adjustment feature allows you to compensate for any differences in vision between your left and right eyes. To set the diopter take the following steps. If the diopter adjustment ring is near the right eyepiece, close the right eye while looking at a distant object through the binoculars. 

Adjust the center focus dial until the view through your left eye is sharp. Now close your left eye and look through the right barrel with your right eye. Adjust the diopter ring until the view through your right eye is crisp.

Once you have established your diopter setting, open both eyes and make additional focus adjustments using the central focus wheel located between the two eyepieces. It controls the focus of both barrels simultaneously. Look at a distant object with both eyes open and turn the wheel clockwise or counterclockwise until the image becomes sharp and well-defined. Take your time and make small adjustments for precise focusing.


Find your target:

To make the most of your observing experience, practice targeting objects with your binocular before you head out into the field. The best way to practice is to find a bright distant object, lock your eyes onto the object and then bring your binoculars up to your eyes without moving your gaze from the object. The more times you do this, the easier it will be to hone in on targets quickly in the field.

Remember, practice makes perfect! Experiment with different focusing techniques, and don’t be afraid to adjust your binoculars to suit your individual needs. Taking the time to properly focus your binoculars will greatly enhance your viewing pleasure and make your outdoor adventures even more enjoyable.

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