Friday, May 16, 2008

Birding Binoculars: Getting Ready for the Bird-a-Thon

This afternoon I bit the bullet and finally got a pair of binoculars. Since I'm a novice user I figured I would go for a lower end and now that I'm home and have done a little research I'm pretty pleased with my purchase.

I ended up with a pair of Nikon Action 8x40s.I paid $74 so at least that's not too far off Amazon's price. Larry at The Brownstone Birding Blog gave me some helpful advice on purchasing binoculars, but I regret to say I didn't have much of a chance to shop around. I went to Hunt's Photo after work thinking they'd have a great selection based on what I had seen on the website. Unfortunately they did not. I learned that the Harvard Square location I went to was actually a satellite store and they don't carry a full inventory. Just mostly point-and-shoot and SLR cameras. Oh, and just 2 pairs of binoculars! I had the option of driving to their main store in Melrose or checking out the Nikons. I knew they were a strong brand and honestly I just wanted to get a pair and be done with it.

As I was saying to my friend Dave last night- I equate it with the experience of buying a musical instrument. I started playing the flute when I was 12. I started out with a 'band' issue flute- I think it was a Selmer- and once I had actually mastered the technique I was in a position where I could appreciate a quality flute and purchased a silver Yamaha. Flute World in Michigan actually shipped my flute teacher several for me to try and then I simply had to choose the one I liked, and send back the rest along with my payment. What a difference there was! In addition to the Yamaha I tried a Jupiter, Gemeinhardt, Armstrong and maybe one more (it was almost 15 years ago so my memory's a little fuzzy). I was able to play each one and actually notice the differences in clarity, tone, weight, keys etc.

Somehow I don't think I could accomplish this with binoculars in my price range so the first pair I saw was the first pair I bought! I hope none of you are disappointed in me. At least I'm using binoculars now!

1 comment:

Leah Labrecque: spying on birds since 2007. said...

I feel like you probably got a good pair for your money's worth. Anyway, now that you broke down and bought a piece of equipment, you must realize you're in this for the long haul. You'll probably upgrade in a few years when the thrill of just seeing a new bird comes less frequently and you want to see more detail. My starter pair was a gift, a set of 10x25s, and when I started trying out new pairs in the store, I couldn't believe how much I had been missing in terms of clarity, brightness, and in particular, field of view. I've got a pair of 8x42s now and unless something tragic happens to them or I come into a lot of expendable money, I can easily see myself happy with them for 10 years. A lot of people make buying binoculars a weighty issue, but as long as you can see birds, well that's the whole point, isn't it? Plus having a set of Nikons gives you a little status as a real birder and not just a casual nature lover, so good going there. :) Happy birding!