Sunday, December 22, 2013

Buy a new pair of Binoculars!



December, before Christmas 2013

What's better a new pair of high quality binocs or the older top-listed Zeiss?

Ok, I have been using binoculars for over 30 years. But the fact is I know next to nothing about this technology-  and I just kept to an old pair of Zeiss 10x40 B GAT. My brother Kosta bought me the Zeiss in 1987. They've gone a long way. I have seen amazing things with them - from bears in Canada, dolphins in Mexico, endemic drab forestbirds on Hawaii, flocks of Socotras in Qatar, Monk Seals on Euboea's south-coast, woodpeckers in Amsterdam, etc etc etc. (...yes I would like to show-off like this for pages...). Of all the wry experiences, I never lost the binocs! However they were damaged on Mount Ochi in October 1999 when I got into a brawl with local terrorists (a long story). I got them fixed in Patras; an old deaf man near the Harbour did a great job. And they work fine and are beautiful, hard to part with.

This year I bought two pairs of Binocs for our lab since we are now going to do more wetland work... maybe and also for fishwatching (yes...from bridges you can watch fish with binocs!!!). They had to be waterproof... I chose the Nikon Monarch 7; 10 X 42.

The reason I am deliberating now is the following:

1) By comparison the 600 Euro Nikons 10 X 42 Monarch 7's are superior in many respects to the Old Zeiss! (Which 20 years ago were labeled to be the best-in-the-world and back then cost twice the money). The feel and wider field of vision, the clarity and light-gathering capacity are superior in the Nikons. The Nikons are amazingly comfortable, the ergonomics are smooth, perfect.

2) I highly recommend a good new binocular for anyone. Binocs have become underated since the digital revolution I think. Don't be cheep with this tool. Its more important to a naturalist than a  really expensive camera or smart phone. With a good binoc you learn to savour experiences and really study wildlife - not just collect it by shooting photos. Photos are great too but sometimes the camera gets in the way of really studying and enjoying wildlife moments.

I discovered that walking here in our Athens neighbourhood with the new binocs really got me re-enthused in wildlife watching. With the new binocs in hand I now study landscape and vegetation in-depth again. Much more than with any camera. I have started counting birds from our "backyard" at my workplace (HCMR) by the sea. How else can you really appreciate the sea's horizon?
And looking for a chirp in the dense curviture of pine trunks and in drop-like leaves of a Eucalypt's crown...there you really need a top-quality glass! ...And the glass brings out extreme beauty in a magpie or a house sparrow in the morning light. Everyday things sparkle again.






(But...Just look at the beauty of West German engineering in the Zeiss - techno-craft perfection - a collectors item. Thanks Kosta)

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