[Tweeters] Close-focusing Binoculars

jeff gibson gibsondesign at msn.com
Sat Oct 12 16:44:07 PDT 2013

Just got back from a trip to Seattle Audubon's Nature Shop, where I bought some new binoculars. The trip was a great success.

You see, several years ago, my last binoculars, a nice pair of Audubon Equinox 8x42's were stolen from my truck at night, no doubt by that category of hominid known as the Common Everett Junkie. Those were the best binoculars I ever had! Boo hoo.

One of the endearing qualities of those binoculars was their close-focusing ability - to 5 feet. I greatly enjoyed the stuff I saw up close with those binoculars, and ever since, with a series of borrowed units, I sure have been frustrated. Largely because I'm a naturalist, not just a birdwatcher. Close focusing binocs are very useful for good looks at bugs (butterflier's like 'em), plants, poisonous reptiles, fish, etc. And also birds.

There is a safety aspect of close-focusing binoculars that I think may be overlooked. Let's say you're at Deception Pass State Park and you see a very interesting wildflower growing at the cliff edge. Without close-focusing binoculars, you edge a bit too close to nail that I.D., and oops, over you go. Or maybe, on the mainland side of the same cliff edge trail, you see a little greenish bird in the Salal. " Is it a Ruby- crowned Kinglet, or a Hutton's Vireo?" you wonder, and if you have 7x50 marine binoculars (like I have had , borrowed from my boat worker wife), you have to back way off the little bird, since those binocs only focus to 20 ft or more. Off the cliff you go, before getting a clear look at the bird. (Safety note: don't walk backwards in the Great Outdoors).

Sure, it's great getting close-up views of cliff dwelling plants (above and below reach) , or of poisonous reptiles from a close but safe range, or of skitterish small creatures (bugs, lizard's ), whatever, but also birds. Seeing a Ruby-crowned Kinglet blowing his stack from five feet away thru 8x binocs is pretty cool. Might wanna try it.

Another helpful tip for the far-sighted: close-focusing binocs can help you read if you misplace your reading glasses. With my new close-focusing binocs I can read the finest print of my Sibley guide with ease, without reading glasses. Of course you have to stand five feet away , or whatever, and need to prop up the book - but hey, if your'e alone in a I.D. emergency, it works, even if mildly ridiculous.

Reading the printed word thru binocs is a great way to test any binoculars - you can read the print or not. Trying out my new Vortex Diamondback 8x42's (the Audubon Equinox replacement) I gave them the reading acid test. "What is the finest print I can find?" I thought. With a minute of deep thinking I realized it - the sleazier the deal, the finer the print, so I went to the backside of my VISA bill ("Important Information"), a bit of print designed to be nearly illegible, and found I could read the print great at close focus in good light, and see well enough to read it under very dim interior light.

So I highly recommend the Vortex Diamondback 8x42's, focus about 5 ft. Very clear in all ranges. A pretty good deal at Seattle Audubon @ 219 bucks. The folks at the Audubon store were very helpful, and offered to let me test the close-focusing distance with several of the Vortex's - there can be some variation. I went home and watched some bugs and birds and now I feel better

Jeff Gibson

with a new focus, in

Everett Wa

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