Does anyone have any binocular recommendations?
We have been through several binoculars and have found there can be quite a difference in quality. It's probably worth paying a little more for a nicer model because it will be easier to see things, especially for children. If your children don't quickly have a measure of success using them, they will likely lose interest.
Better quality models also tend to be built to last. It's not unusual to find them with warranties of three or more years.
I recommend going to a store where you can try them out so you can see the difference. A sporting goods store or maybe a camera shop might be a good choice. In our area, Gander Mountain has them available to try. Our local Farm & Fleet used to have a great selection out for testing, but they recently rearranged the store and only have sealed packages on a rack now.
The size of the front lens and the lens quality makes a huge difference. A bigger lens gathers more light so you get a sharper, brighter image, especially in low light. If you're looking at wildlife, morning and evening when the light is lower are often the most active times. The good light gathering capability of larger lenses also makes them useful for basic stargazing.
The lens size is measured in millimeters. You may see them marked something like "8 x 32". That means the magnification is 8x and the lens is 32 mm.
Don't just go for the model with the most magnification power. The lens size is much more important for successful use. In fact, magnification can work against you. With large magnification, tiny movements will shake your image more. That makes use difficult for the smaller, unsteady hands of a child. Large magnification also reduces the amount of light so your image won't be as bright.
A large lens compensates for the down-sides of magnification. It allows you to see more at once. That makes it much easier to find your target object, which really helps children have a successful experience. And the greater light-gathering ability offsets what you lose in magnification. You won't be able to fit a large lens model in your pocket, but the greater size and weight will make them much steadier in the hand and more resistant to small movements.
With Autumn on the way, it's important to remember that metal binoculars can be really cold on the hands in chilly weather. Models with a rubberized coating really help with that and give a better grip. Also look for water-resistant models to keep the lenses from getting foggy inside from the cool weather condensation.
Any decent binoculars should have rubber eyecups that can be rolled down. You need those if you wear glasses.
The last set we purchased was a gift for our daughter who is an avid bird watcher. We got her a Bushnell 10 x 50 with the rubber grip coating and she couldn't be happier. I think it's similar to this model. She also found another advantage to the large lens. You can hold a camera up to the binoculars and get a decent picture of distant birds. That didn't work well with our smaller lens model.
That's probably more than you wanted to know, but I hope it helps.
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