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Field of View

by Michael and Diane Porter

You usually get a wider field of view with an 8-power binocular than you do with the same model in 10 power.

For spotting a bird through binoculars, all you have to do is get the bird anywhere in the image. A wider field of view makes it easier to spot a songbird among the branches (or a seabird on the waves).

Cardinal at 8 power Cardinal at 10 power
Seen through 8-power binocular
Seen through 10-power binocular

In the images above, the magification is greater on the right, with 10-power binoculars. But notice that more of the scene is visible in the left picture. You see the whole cardinal.

In the right-hand image, just the tip of the cardinal's wing is visible, at the 2 o'clock position.

In general, it's easier to locate a bird with lower-power binocular. This is one reason that 8-power binoculars are popular among birders, even though 10-power gives higher magnification.

The field of view is determined by the design of the eyepiece, not by the size of the objective lens.

Interestingly, the smaller, lighter-weight 8x32 version of a line of binoculars usually has the widest field of view of all.

Copyright 2007-2013 Michael and Diane Porter

 


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