Learning Curve

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IN THE STORE Make sure to set the diopter control, which corrects for vision difference between your eyes, before passing judgment. If you don’t know how, ask the salesperson. More power doesn’t necessarily equal better optics—7x with well-crafted lenses will deliver better detail than a low-grade 10x. Grade image sharpness by taking several pairs outside the store and reading distant street signs. Don’t let tech specs override feel: It’s OK to fondle.

IN THE FIELD Always wear the neck strap. If you loan your magnifiers to Sweetie, even for “just a quick look,” insist she wears it, too. Don’t set your binocs down on the roof of your car, ever. Trust us: You will forget you did, until you hear them skidding across the sunroof.p

IN THE FUTURE In the next couple of years, top-of-the-line makers will roll out the first binoculars that effectively integrate high-end optics and sophisticated digital-image capture. As is, current models fall short.