How To Use Binoculars

Binoculars are a great tool for hikers, birdwatchers, hunters and more. They are essentially made up of two telescopes designed to be placed directly in front of each eye, so you can see things instantly through both eyes, unlike regular one-eyed telescopes.

They’re also great because they can be handheld and easily transported, unlike stationary telescopes. So, people can take them on hikes etc. without having to factor in transporting a big, heavy object.

Like any form of telescope, the purpose of binoculars is to magnify objects in the distance, so you can get a better view.

They sound more complicated than they actually are, though, so if you’ve just bought yourself your first pair of binoculars, don’t be intimidated. Once you get the hang of it, you’ll be able to get the most out of your binoculars.

This article will work as a guide to the basics of using binoculars, including how to get started and how to adjust some of the settings. Keep reading to find out.

How To Use Binoculars

How to aim your binoculars

When you first use binoculars, it can be hard to know how to aim properly at what you want to see, particularly if you’re birdwatching for small birds.

A handy tip is to purchase a harness for your binoculars, so they can hang from your neck while you walk. This will free up your hands if you were to carry them, so you can carry a drink or other items instead.

It will also make it easier and faster to use them than if you were to store them in a bag instead, as you won’t have to go looking through your bag to find them, by which time what you wanted to get a look at would be gone.

So, once you’ve got your binoculars in their harness, and you’re ready to go, just try going for a walk and start off by practicing with inanimate objects like a statue in the distance, or a distinctive window on a building. 

Once you’ve picked what object you want to view through the binoculars, look at them without the binoculars first and then slowly bring the binoculars up until they meet your eyes. That way, you know you won’t accidentally lose the object you wanted to look at when you look away to pick up the binoculars.

When you feel you’re ready to do it with moving animals, another handy tip is to take note of what is around the animal to use as points of reference when you go to look through your binoculars. This will make it easier to locate the animal.

If you’re birdwatching or on the lookout for other wildlife, you can also use your binoculars to spot animals rather than spot them first then use the binoculars to get a closer look. 

To do this,  hold the binoculars to your eyes and slowly scan the area, focusing on areas that are more likely to have animals near, such as fences and tree lines etc.

How to adjust the barrels

Binoculars consist of two barrels in which the lenses are situated, along with an eyepiece with a prism inside. Adjusting the binocular barrels will improve your view. You can make them closer to each other or further apart, depending on what feels most comfortable.

To bring the barrels more narrow, hold the barrels, one in each hand and press down so that they move towards each other To make the barrels wider, gently pull them away from each other until they click into place. Be careful not to pull too wide, as they could break.

If you’re not sure which will work best for you, play around with the barrel placement until your view is fully circular. If you notice the edges of your view are blacked out, you should move the barrels closer to each other until the black bits disappear.

How to adjust the eyecups

The eyecups affect your field of view. When you buy binoculars, they will typically come with the eyecups in a neutral/middle position to give you the most flexible view. This setting will allow you to work with all distances and views.

There are other options though. Retracting the eyecups will give you a wider field of view. This will improve your vision in certain situations. So, if you want to look at something specific that is either side of your direct line of sight, widening the field of view will enable you to see that object. 

Additionally, this feature will come in handy when looking at a vast open space, a wider view will allow you to see more of it. To do this, you need to press down on the eyecups as far as they can go in the barrels. This will also be useful for those who wear glasses.

If you need a more focused view, you can extend the eyecups. This will place your eye closer to the lenses. To do this, you need to pull them as far away from the barrels as possible. This feature will come in really handy when you want to just focus on a bird or small animal.

How to adjust the diopter

The diopter will either be situated on the right or left barrel and is designed to adjust one of the lenses to match your eyesight. So, if one eye is stronger than the other, you can compensate for the weaker eye by adjusting the diopter.

If you need to do this, it’s best to adjust it while you’re looking at something specific. So, focus on an object in the distance and cover the diopter lens. Then, to adjust the diopter, just focus on the object in front of you and adjust the settings until you can see that object in as much detail as possible.

Once you’re happy with the diopter setting, look at the object again through both eyes to make sure your view is crisp and clear.