I was at a twitch at the weekend. Well, technically it was a big DIP, but let’s not go there. Anyhow, as I stood around seeing a late Sand Martin and practically nothing else, I noted two things. The first was that the average age of the crowd could best be described as “greying”, and secondly that almost to a man (and the three women!) they all had extremely nice, extremely shiny and extremely expensive binoculars. Does anyone use binoculars that cost less than £1500 these days?
I had a look through a friend’s pair the other day, and they were nothing short of wonderful. Whilst mine are no slouches I felt there was an immediate and noticeable difference. Although from the same manufacturer, I put this down to mine being 8x32 whereas these were 8.5x42 and much larger and heavier. Although I have a marked preference for smaller and lighter bins, picking his up and having a quick look has unfortunately resulted in feelings of envy and lust.
I thought I was past all this.
At the peak of my stupidity I had four pairs of binoculars. You will note I have only got two eyes (ish, the actual number is more like 1.2) and therefore cannot possibly use more than one pair at any one time. This key fact did not escape Mrs L, who whilst not quite able to sniff out the introduction of new optics at a hundred paces as they all look the same, nonetheless has a keen understanding of how they work and that they do not stack. She said I was ridiculous and I agreed with her. I had what I like to call my main pair that I use all the time, the aforementioned 8x32s that rarely leave my side. I then had a pair of rather nice 7x42s that were my original “post-mugging” pair that I had justified keeping for – get this – ‘low light situations’. God I am an idiot. Then I had a cheap pair for the car that never got used because my main pair were always around my neck, and finally I had a pair of 10x binoculars for situations where I might need that extra magnification. Don’t say it as I already have….
What was I thinking?! I do not know, but following a dramatic cull I am pleased to be able to say that I now have just one pair of binoculars again. A weight off my mind I can tell you. That’s not to say that I’m not slightly nervous having just one pair, this is almost uncharted territory after all, but so far I have not been found wanting. I just should not have touched that other pair on Shetland is all, that was a big mistake. That said I went and looked at the price online that evening and nearly choked. £1800! Good grief! I know that mine were not cheap, but neither were they anywhere near that. I mused on who might buy binoculars that expensive. The answer, as I discovered on Sunday, is almost everybody. I barely saw anything other than top-drawer brands, the very latest offerings from Leica, Swarovski and Zeiss. Most of them looked brand new, there must have been thousands and thousands of pounds of glass on display. Mind-boggling.
However despite their obscene cost it was interesting to note that these top-of-the-line optics were still unable to prevent the misidentification of Sand Martins as Cliff Swallows. That's poor. If you are going to spend £2080 on the latest Leica noctovid binoculars you need them to perform better than that. To get it right every time. Although my cheaper ones have had their fair share of ID hiccups, they did at least manage to avoid that particular pitfall. So I may save my pennies as it is perhaps not worth getting anything newer until the manufacturers sort this embarrassing defect out once and for all.