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Venture’s guide
to buying binoculars
Whether you’re in search of big game on an African
Venture a little further into our world…
safari or looking to pinpoint a miniscule bird in the
jungles of South America, a good pair of binoculars is
worth its weight in gold. Here, Venture looks into the BEST PLACE TO…
matter to help you focus in on the perfect pair.
Each year, from July through October, half a
million wildebeest migrate between Kenya’s
Masai Mara Reserve and the Serengeti
in Tanzania. With powerful lions, speedy
cheetahs and greedy hyenas feeding on
the traffi c, this is defi nitely no ordinary
rush hour. Some of the most memorable
moments occur when the moving mass
attempts to cross the muddy, crocodile
fi lled waters of the Mara River. This natural
highway is sublime in its own right, with
dramatic escarpments and sweeping plains
uying binoculars for the fi rst time is always a daunting dotted with acacia trees. The migration
task. Most people’s eyes blur when confronted by the spectacle is rightly called the greatest
shop’s cursory descriptions of the varying models: 7x40, wildlife show on earth. The Masai Mara
8x25, 10x50… Reserve in Kenya is featured on several of
What do these numbers, which more resemble elementary our African overland tours, as well as on
school equations than any sort of helpful information, tell you some of our lodge based options.
about the binocular in question? Much like maths, the answer to
this question involves an explanation.
The fi rst number is simply the power of magnifi cation.
For example, looking through a 8x25 binocular will magnify
everything by a factor of 8, and thus look 8-times closer.
You’d assume that a larger magnifi cation factor would equate
to a better binocular, but you’d be wrong. As magnifi cation
increases, the steadiness and brightness of the image decreases,
as does the fi eld of view. If you plan to hold your binoculars in
your hands, rather than on a tripod, you don’t want to exceed a
magnifi cation factor of 10. If you do, the slightest twitch in your
hand will cause your image to careen out of view.
The second number in a binocular is the diameter (in
millimetres) of each front lens, not the fi eld of view as many
salespeople may tell you. A 10x50 binocular will have front
lenses with diameters of 50mm. This number is directly linked to
performance. If two binoculars of equal quality have the same
magnifi cation, the pair with the larger second number will have
a brighter and sharper image.
On the downside, a binocular with large front lenses also Trekking to Everest Base Camp, set at over 5300m 8850m summit is something nobody can forget.
makes it bigger and heavier than a similar model with smaller elevation, is probably the highest in the sky While the lack of oxygen in the air is always a
lenses. While a 7x35 may not be as optically profi cient as a 7x40, you’ll ever get outside an airplane. Without a reminder of your lofty place in the world, your
it may be easier to travel with. Remember that a small set of doubt, the highlights of the journey are the awe- shortage of breath is a testimony to your personal
binoculars in hand is always better than a big set left at home. inspiring views of some of the world’s biggest achievement. Treks through the Himalayas
The fi eld of view – which equates to the width of the image mountains as you venture through the Khumbu to Everest Base Camp are available on two of
fi tting into the binocular’s lens – varies with distance to the Valley. Setting your eyes on Everest and its Kumuka’s Asia itineraries.
image in question. To put it more simply, if you’re looking at a
fence crossing your path 100m away, and you can see 30m of it
through the binocular, the fi eld of view would be 30m at 100m.
If the fence was 20m away and you could see 6m of it, the fi eld
of view would be 6m at 20m. Whether it’s a chilly winter evening or a warm
A binocular’s fi eld of view is determined by two things: summer afternoon, there’s nothing like the appeal
magnifi cation and eyepiece design. In general, the higher of a freshly prepared Parisian crêpe. As the vendor
the magnifi cation, the lower the fi eld of view. If we looked whirls his spreader elegantly, and oh so quickly,
at the same fence 100m away, but with a binocular of higher around the hotplate to ensure the correct thickness of
magnifi cation, you’d expect to see a smaller area, perhaps 15m, your dessert, your mouth truly starts to water. After
in more detail. This would equate to a fi eld of view of 15m at watching the creamy Nutella, melted chocolate or
100m. Wide-angle design eyepieces of good optical quality also lemon and sugar being spread on its insides, you can
give a greater fi eld of view, but they are expensive. barely contain the excitement. The fi rst mouthful is
Last, and not least, are lens coatings, that allow more light to quickly yours. There’s no better treat while wandering
pass through the binocular and thus improve its performance. through Paris’ historic streets on one of Kumuka’s
From best to worst, your options are ‘fully multi-coated’ (FMC), European tours.
‘multi-coated’ and ‘fully coated’. Happy hunting!
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SUMMER / AUTUMN 2007 Venture Venture SUMMER / AUTUMN 2007
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