Digiscoping is a popular method among birders of capturing images, both still and video. With the advent of digital cameras whose resolutions often surpass those of film cameras, a need arises to find scopes and binoculars with complementary optics to take advantage of the camera's increased imaging capabilities. Binoculars remain less popular than scopes, but they have their place. In fact, those who use them often refer to themselves as "digibinners." The field is wide open.
Binoculars and scopes both present an image to the viewer that appears rightside up. Scopes have a single eyepiece while binoculars, by definition, have a pair. Adaptability of the binoculars to the camera is such a critical factor that it may just be that the choice of camera to use will depend upon the choice of binoculars, and not the other way around. It's almost a necessity to chose a camera with a lens that fits almost exactly into the eyepiece of the binocular. Binoculars are not typically attached to a tripod, and adapters cannot be permanently attached to either the binoculars or the camera without sacrificing the convenience of use of either.
The Case for Binoculars
Binoculars provide an advantage when the birder needs lightweight equipment that doesn't consume a lot of space as, for example, when the prime viewing area requires a long hike or a difficult climb. The same conditions may also favor binoculars because of their more rugged construction.
Both Porro prism and roof prism models are a good choice. Porro prism designs, though, tend to be somewhat larger and bulkier than those with roof prisms but also are less expensive for an equivalent level of optical quality. The entire issue of quality optics is mitigated somewhat by the nature of the process, which is usually performed holding by hand, inherently less stable and with a lower degree of magnification than when using quality tripods.
Finding the Best
The price-performance ratio with binoculars is such that the quality increases in line with price until a point of diminishing returns is reached at the top of the scale. At the top end, the added expense will buy better performance in low light conditions and truer color rendering. With binoculars, it is possible to obtain good results by staying with equipment in the middle of the price range. A good set of binoculars with a Porro prism construction in the price range of $400 to $600 will produce excellent results, assuming that the camera of choice will fit neatly into the eyepiece of the binocular and that the shooter can hold relatively steady throughout the process.
Article Written By Garrison Pence
Garrison Pence has been a midwest-based (ghost)writer for three decades, taught university-level literature, and has written articles and white papers in trade publications of the Material Handling Institute, Engineering Today, Pharmaceutical, Food and Beverage Science, and Semiconductor. Pence holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and a Master of Arts in Literature.