From classic binoculars to newer models such as binoculars with camera, repairing your optical instrument can be a scary endeavor until you actually get to it. All that you need in order to fix the lenses, prisms, and the focus knob is a set of proper tools, our step-by-step guide, and a bit of patience.
Repairing binoculars at home
If you notice that your binoculars are no longer working properly, that does not always mean that you will need to discard them and go purchase a new pair since many of the damages that can occur to them either by falling or heavy use can be fixed in the comfort of your own home.
With that said, not everyone will feel comfortable with disassembling their expensive device and doing repairs on it by themselves. In this case, going to an authorized workshop or repair service may be the better choice.
If you want to get an idea of what disassembling and repairing an optical instrument entails, there are tons of video tutorials on video sharing platforms such as YouTube. Seeing the entire process makes it easier for you to assess if you have the skill, patience, and finesse to repair your trusty pair of binoculars yourself.
For people that are ready to get their hands dirty, there are lots of guides to help you repair some of the most common problems with binoculars, and we will present some of them below. Video tutorials are also recommended since they can help make some of the complicated steps easier to understand.
We’ve found that YouTube, in particular, is full of videos that detail how to repair numerous types of binoculars. We recommend using some of those videos in conjecture with our written instructions so that this way it will be less likely for you to feel like you’re not in control of what you are doing.
Having some clear and straightforward videos that are supported by written instructions can make even the most complicated steps a lot easier to understand, especially if you have no prior experience with repairing binoculars.
The repair tools that you will need include a screwdriver, tweezers, the owner’s manual of your device, a scale, cleaning cloth, and some tissue rolls. For collimation, a binocular collimator is better than a screwdriver, but if you do lack it, a standard screwdriver can still fulfill this purpose.
Repairing the lenses
The most delicate and significant part of any binoculars are the lenses, and these are also the components most prone to damage be it from a fall, heavy use, or harsh weather conditions such as a sand storm. If they have moved away from their original spot, and you are now having problems focusing, you can repair them at home by following a few easy steps.
The first step is to locate the tiny screws that keep the lens together. You should consult the owner’s manual to see if your model does not have some nearly invisible screws that are carefully hidden from sight under the rubber coating. You should use a piece of paper to note their location so that you don’t forget where they are positioned.
Once you have opened up the lens screws, before you begin to re-align them, you should first take the time to clean them properly. Use a clean and dry piece of microfiber cloth if they are not extremely dirty. If they are, you can wash them gently in a soapy solution.
With the lenses cleaned and dried, measure the central position of both lens cups and mark it with the scale. Then place the lens exactly at the center point. Placing the lens back in place can be a tedious process, and you will need to use tweezers since using your fingers will leave fingerprints.
When you feel that the lenses are in the correct position, you can look through them to see if they are in the exact place. If not, you will have to continue adjusting them until they are.
Once you begin to tighten the screws back on, it is time for the decisive test. Take the scale and begin to measure the center of the two sides and if they are equidistant from both sides, it means that your repair process was a success. Don’t worry if you don’t get them in position from the first time. Since you will now be familiar with the screws, it will be even easier to follow the entire process again.
Repairing the prisms
The prisms are the second most important components in a pair of binoculars. The prisms help collimate the images coming from both sides, and when they are perfectly aligned they make our brain see one clear image.
When the alignment of the prisms is disturbed, the image quality will get affected considerably. This condition is also known as de-collimation, and it usually occurs due to an internal fault in the instrument, which means that it can be hard to prevent or anticipate it – the only thing one can do is try to repair it.
For this repair process, you will need a tripod stand and a target to help you check the accuracy of the binos while you’re repairing the prisms. The target should be around 100 meters away (110 yards) for 10x binoculars, 50 meters (55 yards) for 5x binoculars and so forth.
The screws controlling the prims are usually hidden under the covering, so you will have to remove it. You can do it using a penknife to peel the covering down until you see the screws. Check the owner’s manual to see how many screws there are on your model, but usually, there are two for each prism, making them four in total.
One screw is for increasing the zooming power, while the other is to align the path of light. You should begin to pinpoint the fault by aiming the binoculars at a target (a straight line or a wire) and if the fault is present, then you will see the target line on different heights through both sides.
If the target line appears lower through the left side, you will have to tighten up the screws on the left side. Each time you move the screws a little you should test your target again. Keep going this until the two lines merge.
When both sides are de-collimated and the lenses show different images, you will have to use your eyes entirely. This process is more time-consuming and it requires you to have sharp eyes since you will need to match the two sides using your eyesight as a tool.
Repairing the focus knob
Once the lubricant used by the manufacturer to ease the movement of the screws in the focus knob fades away with time, it can be difficult to use the knob. Thankfully, this can be solved quite easily in the comfort of your own home. It is also one of the easier fixes.
For this process, you will need grease, and the best one is the colorless and odorless type, which is usually available at optics and automobile shops. Some cotton buds are also necessary to help you apply the grease thoroughly.
The first step is to open the focus knob, and you can generally do it by unscrewing the large screw on the top that holds it in place. As always, take a look at the owner’s manual to see if your model uses a different design.
With the focus knob opened, take a cotton bud and clean the inside until there is no debris left. Then apply the grease on a cotton bud and start applying it gently and thoroughly. With that step completed, you can now put the screws back on and the knob should be fixed. You might have to tighten the screw from time to time since the extra grease might make it a bit slippery.