Be it out on the game trail, at a concert, the Kentucky Derby, a political rally, football game or the opera, binoculars can come in handy for just about any occasion where getting a closer view of an event is needed. Usually compact, and elegant, spectator binoculars are designed to fit in a pocket, handbag, or messenger bag, and are easily portable.

Binoculars come in all shapes and sizes, and many are specially adapted to fill a particular role or to assist in certain situations. Binoculars are extremely versatile, and have many applications in civilian, professional, and military life.

Made from two identical, mirror-symmetrical telescopes placed side-by-side and aligned together, binoculars grant birdwatchers an incredible depth of field and magnification while retaining the eye’s ability to see objects in three dimensions, something which a monocular telescope is unable to do.

The only thing the beginner should really concern themselves with when they are planning to purchase their first pair of binoculars is to consider the hobby they wish to purchase them for, then decide how much they plan to use them. Make sure you get hold of a pair of reasonably inexpensive optics that that feature variable focus, don't weigh more than a kilogram and give a clear, sharp view – but don’t splash out a fortune unless you are sure that the return will be worth it in the long run. Also, try to try out the binoculars before you buy – dependent on your eyesight, a given pair of binoculars may not be the best option for you to pick. Some binoculars work better with spectacles, for example, while others make it almost impossible to use the two types of optics together.

As you get more advanced, you can begin to worry about things like magnification and objective lens size. Objective lens size is a fairly simple choice to make - the larger the lens, the more light will be collected and the sharper the final image will be. However, large lenses also tend to lead to bulkier construction, and can be less manageable.

Magnification and zoom require a bit more thought and consideration. The theory behind this conundrum is simple - the higher the magnification of the binoculars, the further the distance visible. However, as you zoom progressively closer, the field of view becomes more restricted, and the image may not be quite as clear as a lower magnification could provide. A high magnification is therefore not necessarily a better option. Finding a happy medium is therefore a key part of choosing a good pair binoculars.

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