The fact that high-quality binoculars can run hundreds of dollars, yet they don’t come with any type of operating instructions can be frustrating for beginners. If you’re new to using binoculars and want to learn how to adjust them correctly for birding, you’ll find some great tips here regarding how to do just that, in addition to learning what you can do to get the most out of your binoculars on your next outdoor adventure.

 Using binoculars, in the beginning, can be difficult, especially if you don’t know how to adjust them correctly, or you’re having a difficult time quickly locking onto a target. Remember, prior to use, the binoculars should be cleaned. Next, you should adjust the eyecups, depending on whether or not you wear glasses and ensure that no peripheral light is able to enter. The next step is adjusting the diopter and keeping track of the setting, so in the event that the adjustment gets bumped out of proper alignment, you can quickly reset the diopter and get right back to birding.

Read on to learn more about the proper way to adjust your new binoculars and how you can quickly lock onto a moving or still target with a technique that’s used by many experienced birders.

How to Adjust Binoculars

Before you go birding with your new binoculars, you’re going to need to learn how to adjust them correctly. Basically, all makes and models of binoculars will come equipped with a variety of features that will allow them to be tailored to work for different users. The eye relief, which holds the lenses, must be adjusted correctly at the perfect distance from the eyes in order to cut out any peripheral light and maximize magnification, so the image is much brighter and clearer. If you don’t wear eyeglasses, you can extend the eyecups. Eyeglasses will keep the binoculars away from the eyes and can allow peripheral light in, so if you do wear glasses you will want to retract the eyecups.

The next step is adjusting the binocular’s barrels in order to match the distance between your eyes. To do, you’ll look through them and adjust the barrels until you can clearly see a solid image with both eyes. If the width is set incorrectly, then the image will black out.

Most binoculars on the market these days, such as the Swarovski Optik EL Swarovision Binoculars, will have center focusing. The center focusing lever or knob is what controls the focus for both eyepieces. Since the eyes are rarely precisely matched, binoculars come with a diopter adjustment located near the lens on the side of one of the barrels. It can also be part of the focus knob. Making diopter adjustments is simple. These adjustments are usually numbered from +2 up to -2.

Making Diopter Adjustments

making diopter adjustments

Locate the diopter adjustment on your binoculars and set it at zero.

  • Next, find a target that’s located a decent distance away. It should have clean lines. Often, some type of sign with letters can be a great choice.
  • Cover the objective lens using your hand or the lens cap on the side that’s controlled by the diopter. Then, focus on the sign with the focus knob. When doing this, make sure you keep both of your eyes open.
  • Now, switch hands and uncover the lens with the diopter and cover the other lens. You will need to focus again, using the diopter this time instead of the focus knob.
  • This process should be repeated a couple of times to ensure you’ve made the correct adjustments.
  • If done right, you should be able to clearly see the sign and read what it says.
  • Pay attention to the number setting of the diopter. The adjustment knob can accidentally shift during normal use. Because of this, you’ll want to make sure it’s set at the correct number prior to use, each time.
  • Last of all, ensure that the neck strap has been adjusted as short as possible while still allowing you to comfortably use the binoculars. A longer strap can cause the binoculars to bounce around too much, thus increasing the likelihood that the diopter adjustment will get knocked out of place.

Locating a Bird

Many beginners tend to run into problems when it comes to pointing their binoculars directly at a bird, this can even be an issue when the bird is perched perfectly still. However, you can practice using a few proven techniques that can help you learn how to focus much faster.

Here’s how:

Without the binoculars, locate a spot on a distant building, or a bright leaf on a branch and lock your eyes on it. Without removing your eyes from the target, bring the binoculars up to your eyes and align them with your view. This technique really works well for most birders and it can help you to easily find birds with your binoculars, even if your target isn’t moving.

Making Sure Your Binoculars are Ready for Duty

bird watching

Whether you’re using a lower priced pair of binoculars, or you’ve spent a pretty penny for the best, one thing remains the same: binoculars must be cleaned before each use. Never clean them by using your sleeve or shirttail, as this can actually scratch the lenses or damage the lens coating. While you may not notice any scratches after cleaning them in this manner, over a period of time, these little scratches can actually significantly reduce clarity. In order to ensure the best viewing experience when birding, the binoculars should be properly cleaned before each outing using a cleaning cloth and cleaning solution. To learn how to clean your binoculars the right way, click here to read our article on how to clean binoculars.

Related Questions

Is it More Difficult to Sight a Moving or Still Bird?

Some birders will tell you it’s more difficult to locate a still bird, while others will struggle with locking onto a fast moving bird that can’t seem to settle down. Birding can be a challenging and fun hobby, even for the experienced birder. But if you’re a beginner, then you may need more help learning about the right sighting techniques to use and what gear to bring.

Which Type of Prisms are Better Porro or Roof?

For birding many experts recommend using roof prisms, however, binoculars with this type of prism are usually fairly expensive. Yet many birders can agree that they provide the best viewing experience. To learn more about birding binoculars and prism options, click here to read our birding binoculars buyer’s guide.

Final Thoughts

Binoculars will be the most important tool you’ll use for birding. Because of this, learning how to correctly adjust them and sight with them is extremely important.

Using binoculars the first few times can be tricky, especially if you’re trying to quickly lock onto a bird that’s moving from branch to branch. However, our tips on how to properly adjust your binoculars, and the fastest and easiest way to sight a bird, should make it much easier for you to learn how to bird just like to pros.

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Using Binoculars: A Guide to Adjusting Your New Binoculars
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Using Binoculars: A Guide to Adjusting Your New Binoculars
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Learn how to properly adjust your new binoculars for birdwatching, and check out some great techniques that can help you to sight birds easily and quickly. 
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