By Dave Domin
Binoculars aren’t just for hunters. Bird watchers, security teams, and outdoor enthusiasts of all types find them beneficial as well. Binoculars come in many shapes and sizes. Feature sets vary widely due to specific user needs and budgets. It has long been thought that “you get what you pay for” when it comes to buying observation optics. While this saying has merit, technological advancements in optical production have been bridging the gap between price and performance.
Let’s begin with understanding the terms that are associated with the features and benefits of today’s most common binoculars.Prisms
Prisms are the optical glass that will correctly orient the image when looking through binoculars. The most common prisms used in binoculars today are Porro and Roof.
The quality of glass used in prisms and how finely it is ground can affect the sharpness of images. The two more common types are BK-7 and BAK-4. Generally, BAK-4 is more expensive, but considered better than BK-7 for several reasons. One such reason is that BAK-4 gives a nice round exit pupil, which produces edge sharpness, while BK-7 can produce distortion around the edge of the exit pupil.
Porro prism binoculars can be identified by their offset body design, meaning that the eye piece lenses are not in line with the objective lenses. Due to the relative ease in manufacturing, porro prism binoculars tend to be more economically priced than their roof prism counterparts and offer a superior image when compared to roof prism binoculars in the same price point. Porro prism binoculars also offer better depth of field, meaning the image will have a more “3D like” appearance.
Roof prism binoculars have a straight body design, where the eyepiece lenses are in line with the objective lenses. This design makes them more compact and generally lighter in weight. However, due to the complexities in building roof prisms that deliver a superior image, these binoculars are typically more expensive.Lens coatings
Lens coatings help reduce glare and improve contrast and overall image quality. There are several different levels of coatings. “Coated” means a single layer of antireflection coating has been applied on at least one lens, usually it will be applied to the exterior ones. “Fully Coated” means that all air to glass surfaces are coated. “Multi-Coated” means that some lens surfaces have multiple layers of antireflection coatings. Finally “Fully Multi-Coated” means that all glass to air surfaces have multiple layers of antireflection coatings applied.Collimation
Collimation is the mechanical and optical alignment of the binoculars. Binoculars that are not properly collimated will cause eye strain and possibly headaches.Exit pupil
The diameter of the binocular objective lens divided by the magnification determines the size of the exit pupil. This is relevant because the size of the exit pupil determines how much light is being delivered to the users pupil. This is not very critical when glassing in the middle of the day. However, if the binoculars will be used mostly in low light conditions, a 5-7mm exit pupil is recommended.Field of view
The field of view is the area that can be seen through binoculars. This can be expressed in two ways, linear field of view or angular field of view. Linear field of view will tell you how much of an area can be seen at a given distance, for example, 425 feet at 1000 yards. Angular field of view is shaped like a cone and is defined in terms of degrees.Twilight factor
Twilight factor is a calculation that claims to reveal how much detail can be seen through binoculars in twilight conditions, the higher the number, the better the image. However, today’s advanced lens coatings have made binoculars brighter than their twilight factor would indicate.
Now that we have an understanding of binocular lingo, let’s take a look at Leupold’s Mojave Pro Guide HD binoculars. Just because they were designed with the professional guide in mind, doesn’t mean that the Leupold Mojave Pro Guide’s are just for hunters.
That said, Leupold has taken their extremely popular Mojave roof prism binocular and given them an HD boost. The Mojave Pro Guide HD’s are available with 8x, 10x, and 12x magnification and 42mm and 50mm objective sizes. All Mojave Pro Guide HD binoculars feature a tactile center focus wheel with a lockable pop-up diopter adjustment which makes focusing a breeze. They are also available with three finish options, Kryptek® Typhon™ and Highlander™, as well as traditional black. Weighing in at 23-28.5 ounces, depending on model, the well balanced, open-hinge body design makes them comfortable and easy to hold, even for extended periods of time or even with a single hand.
The fully multi-coated, high-definition, extra-low dispersion lenses of the Mojave Pro Guide HD’s help reduce glare, as well as, improve contrast and overall image quality, while the innovative BAK4 cold mirror coated prisms take performance further by improving reflectiveness for exceptional color reproduction, resolution, and clarity. Regardless of the conditions, the Mojave Pro Guide HD’s deliver a razor-sharp image to easily pick out game in heavy brush or in the deep shadows. 100% waterproof and fog proof, and backed by the Leupold Gold Ring Full Lifetime Guarantee, the BX-3 Mojave Pro Guide HD is a must-have addition to any pack.
To compliment and protect the Mojave Pro Guide HD’s, Leupold has introduced the “GO” Afield Binocular Harness, as part of the new “GO” Series Pro Gear line. This well thought out harness is constructed out of highly water resistant and durable 500d nylon with laminated backing and non-elastic harness straps to keep the binocular pouch secure to the chest. The harness features 4-way adjustable harness straps, a front zippered cell phone pocket, mesh side pockets, an overlap lashing system to attach a rangefinder, and a tension free, quick release tether system. Instant access to the binocular is simple with the use of the one-handed shock cord/hook closure.
So there you have it. The next time you are in your local Sportsman’s Warehouse looking for a new pair of binoculars, ask to see the Leupold Mojave Pro Guide HD’s, the bino’s that guides demanded and Leupold delivered.