Hiking and Backpacking

Zoom Binoculars and Digital Camera Binoculars
Great Flexibility and Versatility for Hikers & Campers

Hello, hikers, campers and outdoor enthusiasts of all kinds! I'm happy to share some thoughts with you regarding a wonderfully easy way you can literally expand your horizons as you take to the trails and waterways throughout our beautiful land and abroad.

As the technology for outdoor optics has became more sophisticated and precise, a variety of products have burst onto the scene which offer versatility, functionality and economy. Almost every day, visitors to our website ask about the pros and cons of buying two such products — zoom binoculars and digital camera binoculars. Of course, as with most things in life, depending on your need and perspective, there are a number of options to be considered.

Zoom Binoculars
Let's start with zoom binoculars. As discussed in one of my previous articles titled, "How to Choose Birding Binoculars", the specifications for binoculars always include two numbers - the magnification number followed by an "x" and the size of the objective lenses (the lenses furthest from your eyes) measured in millimeters. Therefore, binoculars rated as 7 x 35 provide magnification equal to 7x your normal vision and objective lenses of 35mm. The size of the objective lens is relevant, as the larger the lens, the more light is available, thereby producing better vision, especially in low light conditions.

Zoom binoculars give you the ability to increase magnification with the flick of your finger, thereby offering you the opportunity to see an object or vista in a variety of sizes, quickly and easily. For example, the very popular, lightweight Nikon Eagleview Zoom Binocular offers magnification from 8x your normal vision to 24x your normal vision. So if you are in your canoe or auto, you might want to use the lower magnifications in order to reduce the blurring effects of motion. If you are on a hilltop and want to view details of the magnificent vista before you, or if you want to eavesdrop on a far-off family of elk or bison, you will have the ability to switch to maximum magnification and bring that distant world close enough to touch.

Nikon Action ZoomThe numbers associated with zoom binoculars are expressed in this manner — for example the Nikon Action Zoom model would be described as "Nikon Action 7-15 x 35". That is, its magnification runs from 7 times normal vision to fifteen times normal vision with an objective lens of 35 mm.

Some of the more popular brands of zoom binoculars are Nikon, Bushnell, Galileo and Vanguard. Many are waterproof or water resistant and offer fully coated optics. Most hikers prefer compact models which are lightweight and easy to stow or carry. These generally feature smaller objective lenses.

The standard and extra long models are preferred by auto travelers and backyard birdwatchers — they generally feature larger objective lenses and are more effective in low light conditions, such as dusk or dawn. Prices vary, but you can get a good pair of zoom binoculars for approximately $100 to $250, depending on specialized features.

Digital Camera Binoculars
Now, let's discuss digital camera binoculars — again, a relatively new product which allows you to use your binoculars to bring long-range objects up close and then gives you the added option of saving those images forever on the digital camera built into the binoculars, either as still photos or as video clips.

There are basically two types of digital camera binoculars — both employ megapixels; however, binoculars with VGA systems usually have less than a 1 megapixel capacity. This means the resolution of VGA photos is less than that of digital cameras with higher megapixel capacity. Nonetheless, VGA produced photos are clear and sharp, but usually may not be printed and enlarged beyond a 4"x 6" size without some distortion. Because their resolution is low, VGA camera binoculars are popular among people who regularly share their photos on the internet, where it is desirable to send lower resolution images to insure quick, trouble-free transmission. In addition, VGA camera binoculars are less expensive. some under $100.

Bushnell Imageview camera binocular Digital camera binoculars with higher megapixels can produce higher resolution photos which may be printed and enlarged to greater sizes. However, one must be sure to reduce the resolution on high megapixel photos when transmitting them through emails, as they require much more memory and may not be transportable, depending on the capacities of the sending and receiving equipment.

Digital camera binoculars are great fun, but there are a few things to consider when buying them. First, the camera requires batteries. And as with most electronic equipment, batteries are used up quickly when utilizing large amounts of memory or when left in the "on" position too long. It is recommended that you use lithium batteries because they can last approximately 7 times longer than regular batteries, or invest in rechargeable batteries which may last 4 times longer than regular batteries, but may be used many times over.

Another thing to consider is how and where you will be taking your photos. Remember, you will be taking these images through a magnifying source — the binoculars. So you have to be steady and anchored or the photos will be blurred. If you are hiking or camping, a tripod or monopod may not be practical, but you may be able to stabilize yourself either by locking your elbows against your body when shooting, or leaning against a tree or using some other stabilizing mechanism.

The results can be truly amazing and your memories of exciting adventures can be shared and enjoyed many times over. Bushnell, Simmons and Celestron are popular brand names to explore. If you are intrigued by any of these horizon-broadening products, I invite you to visit our website and browse through one of the largest varieties of binocular options available on the net.

Some of our other optics may be of interest, too, such as night vision binoculars and trail cameras, spotting scopes, gps systems, rangefinders and telescopes. Happy Hiking.

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