Whether you use the best binoculars for hunting or the best kids binoculars, these optical instruments come with a variety of features that affect the performance delivered. From the types of lenses used to the coatings applied, we have described below what you need to know about binoculars.
Hobbies come with great benefits and, thanks to today’s technology, you can enhance many of your outdoor experiences significantly. If you’re into bird watching, hunting, stargazing, or spending time in the middle of nature to enjoy its beauty, binoculars, spotting scopes, and monoculars are a must.
These optical tools will help you see things and animals that are far away in greater detail. You will thus get the things of interest closer to you without getting physically closer to them. For example, when it comes to hunting, you most probably don’t want to get too close to the target. Binoculars will help you do that by enabling you to see them magnified and in greater detail.
Therefore, they are compulsory in some cases such as hunting in order for you to stay safe. If you’re new to binoculars and want to learn more about them, the way they work, and why they have colored lenses, this post might be of help.
Binoculars might seem simple pieces of optical equipment yet it took hundreds of years from the discovery and invention of glass for people to create functional binoculars, with lots of noteworthy scholars and inventors being involved in this long process.
Everything binoculars include counts as far as the performance delivered is concerned yet the most important part is the lens used. Binocular lenses come in a variety of shapes and sizes and their role is to focus light rays from a great distance so you can get a clear image of things that are far away.
However, there are different types of lenses that do different things. Convex lenses bring distant light rays into focus making them come together, the reason why these lenses are also known as converging lenses. Concave lenses make these light rays diverge; therefore, they are also called diverging lenses.
Converging lenses are used to make things look bigger, so, you will find them in magnifying glasses and tools that are designed to magnify. Diverging lenses can be found in different pieces of equipment such as movie projectors.
Binoculars, lenses, and prisms
Many outdoor activities require the use of optical tools to enable people to see distant things clearly. To enjoy that, you need two convex lenses placed one in front of the other, though. The first lens is designed to catch the light rays from the distant object and make a focused image behind the lens.
This is the objective lens, called so because it is the nearest lens to the targeted object. However, a second lens is needed in order to see the distant target clearly and properly. It’s the second lens the one that basically picks up that image and magnifies it. This is how a telescope works and binoculars are two telescopes placed side by side.
However, there is a catch. If you’re familiar with magnifying glasses, you might have seen things upside down when using one. This happens because light rays from a distant object cross over when passing through a converging lens and, unfortunately, the second lens in binoculars won’t solve that problem.
Yet here is where binoculars are different. These optical devices come with two prisms in order to deal with this problem. These large wedges of glass are used to rotate the image so you can see things the way they are and not upside down. The first one rotates the image by 90 degrees and the second one will do that again so the image you see is as in real life.
Still, the lenses employed for binoculars receive various other features in order for the user to enjoy a good image quality. Different models come with different features, hence the difference in the image quality delivered. Lens coatings are part of those characteristics that count a lot when it comes to image quality.
Since light might be negatively affected and thus lost when transmitted through a lens as it may reflect off its surface, manufacturers use chemical coatings to enhance light transmission and reduce reflective loss. Given the fact that binoculars and spotting scopes feature various lenses, coatings gain even greater importance.
Up to 5 percent of the light transmitted through an uncoated lens can be lost. The coatings won’t just help reduce light transmission loss but they will also enhance basic color transmission. High-end binoculars sport multi-coated lenses and some models feature up to 80 thin coatings for enhanced results.
There are different types of coatings used and thus different results delivered. Some binoculars come with lenses that are simply described as being coated, which means that only one thin anti-reflective coating has been applied to one lens surface or several surfaces of the lenses used.
In the case of fully-coated lenses, though, at least one thin anti-reflective coating has been applied to both the objective lens and the ocular lens systems. This coating is applied to both surfaces of these two systems as well as to the long side of the prism.
Then there are multi-coated lenses that, as the name suggests, feature multiple layers of coating on one or several lens surfaces. Binoculars with fully multi-coated lenses feature several layers of coating on all lens surfaces.
Today’s market also offers phase-coated binoculars. In such cases, a phase-correction coating has been applied to one side of the prism featured. This dielectric material reduces interferences and improves brightness and sharpness.
Why do binoculars have red, green, or orange lenses?
If you’ve already browsed the web for binoculars, you’ve probably seen that they come with different lens colors. Actually, this is how you know if coatings have been used or not. Simply check the objective lens and the reflections of artificial light in it.
If you see orange, red, green, or even purple, then the model you have in front of you features coated lenses. When you see no color and the light is clear, then the binoculars have uncoated lenses.
Now, different coating colors deliver different results. For example, orange coatings will cut down glare and enhance contrast so you can see better even in hazy conditions. Other coatings are employed to remove blue from the image and improve contrast. However, such coatings might leave the image with a yellow tint.
Ruby-colored lenses have become popular lately. One reason behind their popularity might be the fact that they look cool yet the image delivered might have some drawbacks. First featured on Steiner binoculars, these coatings were employed to help hunters get a better image of their target.
Therefore, the red-lens binoculars were developed for hunting purposes and, thus, might not be an ideal option for other activities that require the use of binoculars. These coatings were used to enhance various wildlife colors and help the prey look distinct in foliage by blocking out red.
While ruby-colored lenses did a good job when employed for hunting purposes, they failed to deliver noteworthy image quality when used for general purposes or other outdoor activities since the images got a bluish or greenish tint.
Reducing red or cutting it out is great in certain conditions such as hunting but it is not recommended when the binoculars are used for other purposes. For example, if you’re a bird watcher interested in evaluating plumage, seeing true colors is vital; therefore, neutral lens coatings are a better choice.
You might also consider water-repellent coatings if you intend to use the binoculars even in less pleasant weather conditions. Such coatings will help the water form beads, which means that they will make it easier for you to clean the lenses since dirt particles won’t stick too easily.
That’s why it is best to try out the binoculars you want to buy and consider the activities you want to use them for. Red-colored lenses might look nice yet they are designed to deliver enhanced results when employed for hunting sessions. For general use, other types of coatings are better. Pay attention to the image quality delivered. That’s what matters.