10 Myths of Birding Optics

Ruby-coated lenses confer night vision: False. Ruby-coated lenses filter out red light, which makes the resulting image appear greenish, much like true night vision. This is not night vision, however, and it should not be mistaken for such.

Bigger binoculars are more powerful: False. The size of a pair of binoculars does not really affect their power; only the design of its eyepiece does. However, a bigger objective lens does affect the binoculars’ size… but bigger objective lenses simply let in more light, not improve the magnification.

Bigger binoculars give a brighter image: Partially false. Bigger binoculars (and thus a larger objective lens) make a difference when lighting conditions are dim. In brightly lit conditions, there’s no real difference. The lens coating has a much greater effect than a binoculars’ size; small but well coated lenses will let more light through than poorly coated large lenses.

Bigger binoculars give a wider field of view: False. The size of a binoculars’ field of view depends on the eyepiece, not the objective lens. Additionally, the higher a binoculars’ magnifying power, the smaller your field of view will be.

Powerful binoculars let you see more: False. Since the field of vision varies inversely with the magnifying power of a pair of binoculars, a powerful pair of binoculars may actually let you see less. In addition, the maximum usable power of a pair of binoculars is limited by the steadiness of the binoculars.

Rubber armor makes binoculars waterproof: False. Rubber armor makes binoculars shock resistant. To truly waterproof a pair of binoculars, you would have to seal off the entire focusing mechanism within the binoculars’ body, in addition to filling it with nitrogen gas that contains no water vapor and thus impedes the growth of mold or fungus.

Roof prism binoculars are better than Porro prism binoculars: Partially false. This myth is only true at the highest price ranges, where the most expensive roof prism binoculars rely are smaller, lighter, brighter and sharper than Porro prisms. However, at lower price ranges, it is not uncommon to see Porro prism binoculars outperform roof prisms in one or more of these areas, at the same cost.

I can share my binoculars: False. Each person will have a pair of binoculars that suits them best. Others will have difficulty using them, and this will impede the enjoyment of using the binoculars.

Good binoculars are expensive: False. Many moderately priced binoculars are out there which give good performance.

I don’t need waterproof binoculars because I don’t go out in the rain: Condensation can still form inside binoculars when damp air seeps into the mechanism.

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