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The internet has opened us up to a virtual world that pretty much offers everything. It is also a seller's & buyer's paradise. Even people with no websites can hop on the internet bandwagon to unload their stuff. Websites like ebay are like giant flea markets. Basically anyone can sell whatever they want within reason. Though that line is being more blurred everyday. On the sites people have the option of bidding on products or simply buying them. If this is the way you want to shop for your binoculars keep a few things in mind:
- Make sure you read what other people have written about the seller.
- Try to get as much information about the product you are buying
- Make sure you understand how they will be shipping your binoculars.
The armed forces usually has privy to the most high tech equipment available. This means that they are constantly updating their inventory. So what do they do with their old stuff? They give it to Army surplus stores. These are stores that sell all kinds of military gear to the public at low prices. You can find everything from clothes, knives and yes, binoculars. Plus, since it was army issued you know it is of high quality.
There are certain common sense laws that usually apply to whatever you are shopping for. It doesn't matter if it's for clothes, a car or binoculars. If you really look around you could probably find discount binoculars that are of decent quality for a regular price range of $30 - 40. And that is a very good deal. If you see them advertised for a lot less (and they are not on sale) then you should be skeptical. Something that cheap would probably break pretty easily. The magnification would also be so low you'd get a better view using a magnify glass. So before you buy be aware.
One of the ways stores offer the advantage over online shopping is the ability to demo the product. For something like binoculars this could make all the difference in the world. Plus, a store also has a rep to assist you and answer any questions. Though, one of these questions you might not think to ask is,
“how much for the demo?”
Usually, if a store is running low on inventory they will actually sell their store models. Some places will even go so far as to have sales consisting of only demos. Since these models were handled by all kinds of shoppers they will probably be discounted more than the gratuitous 10%. Though also keep in mind that some people might have fiddled with it pretty badly. So make sure the pair is in working condition before you take it home.
When you are using binoculars for professional reasons like law enforcement chances are they need to meet certain specs. However, if you are looking for binoculars for recreational use -- you make the rules. Buy what you want. Though, just remember that if you really want a certain feature for your binoculars it might come at the expense of another feature. This is probably the most obvious if you are in the market for compact binoculars. Bigger binoculars can accommodate higher quality lenses and offer you a wider field of view. These are things that compact binoculars would take a back seat to. Their smaller design means the image range would be narrow and less crisp. If this is a problem then mid-size binoculars might be better for you.
Hybrid technology is all the rage. Basically designers take 2 established things and slap 'em together. Like the TV and the mp3 player. Even Binoculars can't escape the grip of these techno-mad scientists. Today, you can find binoculars that also double as a camera. So while you are watching these incredible views you can capture them too. If you're an amateur photographer the cheap brands can be a pretty cool toy. However, if you are a bit more serious with the photo arts then you might want to stick with a higher-end model or go with a digital camera with incredible zoom lenses. The problem with cheap hybrid technology is that most of these cool new gadgets have multi features that don't really super excel at either task. So if you can't afford to spend a couple of bucks more for the better binocular camera (for now) you might as well go separate ways.
If you belong to a hiking or camping club you might have a fair number of members that need a decent pair of binoculars. Most stores would probably jump at the chance to service a group like yours. So use it to your advantage. Ask them if you can get a group discount. In most cases they will offer you either a percentage of the sale or even free extras. If the store won't offer you anything, just take your business elsewhere.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|