Gear Guides: Binoculars, Scopes, and Cameras

Photo: Cee Rose, Flickr Creative Commons

Migration’s in full swing, and with the weather warming up, now’s a great time to get outside and seek out some birds! In need of the right gear? Audubon magazine has you covered, with advice about binoculars, spotting scopes, tripods, and cameras.

“The Audubon Guide to Binoculars,” from the Nov-Dec 2009 Audubon

Tips from Wayne Mones:
- A wide field of view makes it easier to find birds and to follow them when they fly.
- If you pay more than $200 for binoculars, make sure they’re waterproof and nitrogen purged, so they don’t get fogged up in humid conditions.
- Don’t clean your binocular lens with tissue, toilet paper, paper napkins, paper towels or newspaper—they will all scratch and eventually destroy the lens coating crucial to your binoculars’ optical performance.

Spotting scopes
“The Audubon Guide to Spotting Scopes,” from the Mar-Apr 2010 Audubon

Some questions to ask before purchasing one:
- Will you purchase a scope with a straight or angled body? (Mones strongly recommends the latter, for its ease-of-use and convenience when sharing with others.)
- What size scope will you choose?
- Will you buy a zoom or fixed-power wide-angle model?
Before you make a final decision, attend field trips and birding festivals, and ask a lot of questions. “Since a spotting scope is a major investment, and since you will probably buy only one (okay, maybe two—three at the outside) in your lifetime,” reads the pullout intro, “you will really want to get it right.”

“The Audubon Guide to Cameras,” from the Nov-Dec 2010 Audubon

Some key pointers from writer David Schloss for picking out camera equipment:
- Decide between an SLR, a compact, or a hybrid
- Choose a camera with enough resolution to capture the level of detail you desire, whether that’s a hummingbird’s wings or an elephant’s wrinkles
- Pick a lens that’s appropriate for the type of shooting you plan to do (e.g., landscape shots fare much better through wide lenses)

“Legs to Stand On,” web exclusive, accompanying Nov-Dec 2010 Audubon

Check this out for Schloss’ picks for tripods, tripod heads—the mechanism that connects the camera and the stand—and other must-have gear for taking beautiful wildlife pictures.

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