Friday, November 26, 2010

binoculars for long distance viewing?

Q, from Bruce:

I wear eyeglasses and I am looking for a reasonably priced set of binoculars that will allow me to see the horizon clearly.

I live in Key West, Florida and often would love to zoom in on the ships/boats that pass in the distance. What are your recommendations?


A: Thanks for the inquiry, Bruce. Getting a clear view at the horizon is going to present some challenges on occasion, regardless of the quality or magnification of the optics you are using. When you are magnifying an image over great distances, the atmospheric distortions, heat waves, etc. also become magnified. Depending on the conditions, it can be easy to see these distortions with the naked eye. When you add magnification to the situation, it doesn't get any better.
As the temperature cools you will generally see less of this effect so longer views over water are possible during the right conditions, usually in the evenings or early mornings.
One of the nicer, mid-priced binoculars that we sell is the Atlas Intrepid ED.
The 10x42 is a great distance viewing piece and the ED glass provides excellent resolution. While I can't promise that anything will consistently allow you to see clearly at the horizon, this is a model binocular that will perform excellently given good viewing conditions.
If you are looking for even more magnification than 10x, I would recommend considering a spotting scope.
These are like astronomical telescopes only they present the image with the correct orientation. Because spotting scopes work at such high magnifications (up to 60x) they do require the use of a sturdy tripod to achieve a useable view.

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