Welcome to another episode of Optics Trade Debates. Today, we are going to be discussing a question that was sent to us by one of our viewers, that is: What are the most common problems in binoculars’ lifetime?
Let us begin with the most obvious one, which is internal fogging or fungus. This happens because of the build quality. More affordable binoculars have a lower build quality than the premium ones. All the seals wear off faster because of the lower-quality materials.
The air and water can come inside the optics more easily. If you do not solve the problem of internal fogging fast enough, fungus will grow. This is an issue that cannot be fixed at home, so your binoculars need to be serviced. If your binoculars are made in Europe, this is solved quite quickly. But if they are made elsewhere, like in China or Japan, you might need to start looking for a new pair.
There are some manufacturers that solve this problem a bit differently, namely Athlon and Vortex. These two offer lifetime VIP warranties. If something happens to your binoculars, they simply replace them with a new pair. Most often, the best bet is to simply buy high-quality European binoculars which you can get serviced if needed.
Moving on to the next problem. Namely, collimation and double vision. Again, European binoculars can be serviced. But when it comes to those from Asia, you would most likely need a new pair.
It is normal for rubber and other surface materials to lose shape, be damaged, or wear off with use. Swarovski and Steiner replace all rubber parts. Steiner produces marine binoculars, which are especially exposed to harmful elements like salt water and sun. These affect the rubber most. For a repair fee of 150 €-200 €, you get binoculars that are as good as new.
Some issues with the eyecups and the bridge may occur. Usually, when the binoculars get older, you'll notice that the bridge loses its compactness and doesn't stay in chosen position. What about the eyecups? If you lose them or they're torn, premium manufacturers like Swarovski order new eyecups and simply replace the rubber parts. Note that this not common practice with more affordable brands.
Next, the issue of focusing. Improper focusing is often connected with a focusing knob that needs maintenance. There is grease inside the knob that ensures smooth movement. After some time, it dries out and the focusing is no longer fluid. If you are using binoculars at different temperatures, the grease will change its physical properties, and the focusing can become extremely stiff.
People often clean the lenses improperly with harsh fabrics or acidic cleaning solutions. Many unrepairable scratches can happen this way, which even the majority of European brands do not fix. Replacing the lens varnish is simply too expensive. All in all, binoculars do not need special maintenance but do be careful when you are cleaning them.
Binoculars have an extremely long lifespan, so naturally, after years of use, some issues can occur. But do not worry, most manufacturers offer after-sales services. These repair services are especially attentive and easy to arrange if you own a premium brand.
Products mentioned in the Common Problems in Binoculars' Lifetime debate:
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