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Binoculars are the perfect portable handheld tool for better looking at the world around you. Whether you’re a birdwatcher, an outdoor explorer or a sports enthusiast, a good set of binoculars can get you much closer to the action.

However, if you don’t know how to use binoculars properly, they can be frustrating. You may be left with a view out of focus, or they might be too uncomfortable to use for long periods.

This article will take you through all you need to know to use your binoculars properly. Then, once we’ve finished and you’ve had a practice, using binoculars will be like second nature.

Setting up Binoculars for Use

The first thing you should do to learn how to use binoculars correctly is to take a good look at them at home. It’s best not to be figuring out how your binoculars work right at the moment when there’s a rare bird sighting or exciting sporting activity.

Attaching the neck strap is one of the first things you do. It’s a good idea always to wear this when using the binoculars to prevent any expensive accidents.

If your binoculars have lens caps, remove them and store them safely. The best place is usually in the case that most binoculars come with, so they’ll be there when you want to pack up.

Avoid touching the lenses, or you’ll need to spend time cleaning them if you want a crystal clear view.

Set the Eyecups

The first thing to set is the eyecups if your binoculars have them. These will cut out peripheral light to make what you see clearer and brighter. You should set the eyecups down if you wear glasses and up if you don’t.

Adjust the Width to Fit You

The two barrels will be joined in the middle by a hinge. This allows you to adjust the binoculars to fit the distance between your eyes perfectly.

The best way to set your width is to open the hinge completely, so the eyepieces are as far apart as possible. Bring the binoculars up to your face and look through them. You’ll see two circles in your field of vision. Slowly bring the barrels together until these circles come together into one.

Adjust the Central Focus Wheel and Diopter Adjustment Ring

Now that you have the binoculars set to fit your eyes, it’s time to get the image into sharp focus. Unless you are incredibly lucky and your binoculars happen to be already focused perfectly for what you want to look at, we will need to use the focus wheel to set them for your vision.

The focus wheel adjusts the focus of both of the eyepieces simultaneously. There is also a diopter adjustment ring on the right eyepiece to make up for minor differences between your eyes.

To focus for the first time:

  1. Turn both the focus wheel and the diopter adjuster completely anti-clockwise.
  2. Pick an object in the distance and look at it with just your left eye through the left eyepiece. (Close your right eye or cover the right objective lens with its cap.)
  3. Slowly turn the focus wheel clockwise until you see a sharp image.

Now you’ll use the diopter ring to adjust the right eyepiece individually. Close your left eye and look at the object with just your right through the right eyepiece. If it is a little out of focus, turn the diopter ring clockwise until it becomes sharp again. Don’t touch the focus wheel while you’re doing this.

You’ve now set the diopter ring for your two eyes. You won’t need to adjust it again. However, it’s a good idea to note the position so you can easily reset it if it gets knocked.

From now on, when you look at an object, you will only use the focus wheel to bring it into focus for both eyepiece lenses. You’ll do this with both eyes open, and it will quickly become second nature.

How to Hold Your Binoculars

a woman looking at the view with a long-range equipment

Ultimately it would help if you held your binoculars however is most comfortable for you. Try to handle them carefully and avoid moving the diopter ring or hinge so you don’t have to set them again. It would be best if you were also careful not to touch the glass lenses to keep them as clean as possible. Also, it would be best to use the neck strap to prevent accidents.

Try not to look through your binoculars the wrong way round. It really won’t work well! We’ve set the eyepieces to match your eyes, so if you use the binoculars upside down, you won’t see clearly with one eye when you focus.

Make sure that you don’t put your eyes too close to the eyepieces, or you won’t see the entire field of view. The eye relief number tells you how far the eyepieces should be from your eyes.

Try to hold your binoculars with both hands, one around each barrel. Tuck your elbows in a little towards your body, and you’ll be nice and stable.

If you have compact binoculars, you may be able to hold them securely with one hand wrapped around the body. Try different methods to see what is comfortable and safe. For instance, you may be able to use two hands with your fingertips holding the barrels instead of trying to wrap your whole hand around them.

Aiming Your Binoculars

The best way to aim at distant objects, whether a bird, a person or an interesting geographical feature, is to look directly at them as if you were going to take a photo. Just as you would raise the camera for the picture, bring your binoculars straight to your naked eyes while looking at the object, and it will be perfectly in view.

If it’s hard to make out what you want to look at because it’s small or moving around, pick something obvious close by and look directly at that. Then you’ll be able to find the bird or whatever you’re trying to look at once the binoculars have magnified the view.

Once you have your target in view, adjust the centre focus wheel until it becomes completely sharp.

How to Use Binoculars if You Wear Glasses

When using binoculars with glasses, you need to consider a few things to get the best results.

First, think about if you need to wear your eyeglasses. If you are near or farsighted, it may be possible to use binoculars without your glasses. However, if you have astigmatism, you’ll need to wear eyeglasses with your binoculars, come what may.

Whether you can use your binoculars without your glasses will also depend on your prescription and whether the diopter wheel has sufficient adjustment to account for the differences between your eyes.

For many people taking their glasses on and off to use their binoculars isn’t practical, so assuming you want or need to use your binoculars with your eyeglasses, how should you do it?

When selecting your binoculars, you’ll want to check that they have sufficient eye relief to be used with glasses. Because your glasses create a physical space between your eye and the eyepiece, you should choose a set with an eye relief of 16mm or more so that the entire field of view will be visible.

Set the eyecups down if they are of the simple folding type. Eyeglass wearers should ideally look for adjustable twisting eyecups and allow you to set them in the perfect position.

Are You Excited to Use Your Binoculars?

Now we’ve looked at how to use binoculars. You should be all ready to go. Take the time to adjust them correctly so that your trip will be way easier and more enjoyable.

Keep in mind to practice focusing and aiming, and it will quickly become second nature. Whatever you use your binoculars for, you can be sure that a bit of effort to get used to them and how they work will be worth it.

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