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Care and Use of your Binoculars

You will recall that last time I talked a bit about how to choose binoculars when you eventually buy a pair or upgrade the ones you already have. Today, I’d like to help you set up your binoculars so they work best for you. There are three things you need to consider when setting up your binoculars. The first is to adjust them based on whether or not you wear glasses. Remember that your binoculars cannot correct your vision. If you wear glasses push the eyecups in all the way and leave them like that. If you wear contacts or don’t wear glasses at all, pull the eyecups out all the way–done! See Figure 1: where the right eyepiece is set for those who wear glasses and the left is set for those who don’t. If you don’t have sliding eyecups, your binoculars might have soft rubber cups so just push them down or leave them up depending if you wear glasses or not. The second setup step is also easy–adjust for the distance between your eyes. Everyone’s eyes are different so you must adjust for your eyes. Hold the binoculars up to your eyes and slowly move the two halves closer or further apart by pivoting them along the central column. When you see only one image, they’re set for you. The third set up technique is trickier. It involves adjusting the binoculars to compensate for slight vision differences between your eyes. You will notice that on the right eyepiece there is a small ring that turns (see Figure 2)–this is called the diopter. So with your LEFT eye only, find a small sign to read and slowly focus the bins until the sign is in sharp focus. Now don’t touch the focal ring. With your RIGHT eye only turn the diopter ring until the same sign comes into sharp focus. Look at the little scale on the ring and note carefully exactly where it is. If it is at ‘0’ then your eyes are both the same, but if it varies from that centre point your eyes are not the same. But once you know the variability, remember it. To keep your binoculars personalized check once in a while to make sure the little mark on the diopter is always in the same place. You also need to protect your binoculars. Here are some tips: When travelling keep the lens caps on and store the binoculars in the case they came with. Keep them clean. Check not only the lenses but also the small focal wheel and the joints. Never rub dirt off your binoculars–use a small camera brush to dislodge any gritty materials and then lint-free cloth and lens cleaning solution to clean them. Use a Q-tip to clean hard-to-reach places. If you take care of your binoculars, they could last you a lifetime. Now go out and enjoy your new (or old) binoculars! Geoff Carpentier is a published author, expedition guide and environmental consultant. To learn more visit Geoff on-line at and on LinkedIn and Faceboo

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