Should you get Auto Focus Binoculars?
Auto focus binoculars really shouldn’t be called that; even “self-focusing binoculars” isn’t a name that does the product justice. The thing is, when you hear that name, you think of something like a modern autofocus camera – something with a system of motorized lenses, sensors and so on.
With auto focus binoculars, you get a product that’s not even as versatile as regular binoculars that come with a focus wheel. What you get is something akin to the disposable box camera you had as a child – a system where everything is fixed and always in focus, near or far. The more accurate term for this product therefore would be “fixed focus binoculars”.
Buy a pair of these auto focus binoculars, and you find that it acts like a kind of magnifying glass – everything that’s about 30 feet and beyond is magnified for your viewing pleasure and your entire depth of field is always in focus. So should you buy them? Will they serve your needs?
The good thing with these binoculars is that since there are no moving parts involved and no set of lenses to move with precision, they are less prone to failing. These are also much easier to make waterproof or dustproof. If you have an adventure trek in mind – up the mountains or in other harsh places – autofocus binoculars would be an excellent choice. These are what the military usually uses.
These are also extremely convenient when you’re trying to follow fast-moving things. If you’re out bird watching for instance, a darting animal or bird is something you would want to look at in an instant.
You would hardly have time to fiddle with a focus wheel to get the thing in question into focus. You just want to grab something for a quick look. Fixed focus binoculars would be perfect for this. It could also be extremely liberating to just be able to grab something and go with no adjustments to make.
So if you are convinced that this is the product for you, what brand would you go for? Auto focus binoculars were first made for the mass market about 65 years ago by an American company called Jason.
The name Jason even became a generic name for all such cameras. But then, Bushnell bought them out. You could probably not go wrong buying Bushnell 7×50 Marine Binoculars today. These don’t get called Marine for no reason.
They are so waterproof, they’ll actually float. You could also not go wrong with similar products by Steiner.