Stability of binoculars and binocular-user: "The Venezuela Test"

To: Birding Aus <>
Subject: Stability of binoculars and binocular-user: "The Venezuela Test"
From: Trevor Ford <>
Date: Mon, 14 Mar 2011 12:05:16 +1000

There is one important aspect to consider, often overlooked, when selecting a pair of binoculars. See below some very interesting comments from my good friend, Ron Johns, about his observations when working in London, UK.

"Some years ago whilst I was helping In Focus at their optics / book store in Piccadilly, I developed a quick and easy test to help people buying binoculars to demonstrate that x10 binoculars would not necessarily make it easier for them to see fine detail on birds. The Venezuela Test, as it became known, was to read the names of the authors shown in small typeface on the spine of the /Guide to the Birds of Venezuela/ - the unusual names (De Schauensee and Phelps) would have been unknown to most people, which meant that they couldn't easily guess.

Even using top-rated binoculars at c20 yards in ideal conditions (i.e. very well lit and with no wind shake to contend with) more than 50% of the people couldn't read the details on the spine of the book with x10, but more often than not could with x8. I attributed this to the inability of the majority of people to successfully hand-hold x10 binoculars. Some people couldn't read the detail with any binocular! It was also interesting that when using a newly introduced 10x50 binocular from a leading German manufacturer none of the people tested could read the names, although many could with a cheap pair of Russian 6x30s! By this time I had rather lost faith in claims by avid sea-watchers to be able to see minute detail on distant seabirds in poor light and strong wind."

Cheers - Trevor Ford.

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