Hello and welcome to another episode of Optics Trade debates. Here, we are going to talk about a distinctive feature found on binoculars, which is the bridge design. When it comes to binoculars, there is either a single bridge or open bridge design.
First, let us talk a bit about the history behind the feature. Binoculars with the single bridge design have been in production since the beginning. They are the most common as well. In 1999, Swarovski introduced the first generation of EL binoculars which featured an open bridge design – a revelation in the field of binoculars.
The first difference between the two is definitely the handling. It is much easier to hold open-bridge binoculars in one hand and still reach the focusing knob with your index finger than it is to hold the single bridge design binoculars. If you have shorter fingers, you will not be able to manage that. If you have binoculars strapped around your neck, it is also easier to lift the ones with the open bridge.
Open bridge design is especially handy when cycling, hiking, or other situations when you often lift your binoculars up and down. For the weight, the open bridge binoculars are more lightweight since the middle part is missing. The single bridge design can be found in all categories of binoculars, but with an open bridge, they are mainly full-size binoculars (8x42,10x42), low-light binoculars (8x56), compact binoculars. There are some hidden gems in the pocket binoculars category, but very few.
But this design with pocket binoculars is not that useful, because you cannot put your whole hand between the barrels. So this design mostly has to do with aesthetics, not so much with handling. If we take a look at the price classes, the single bridge design is found in 50 € binoculars and it goes all the way up to 2.000 €-2.500 €. But the higher the prices go, the more open bridge binoculars can be found, because it is linked to premium binoculars – Swarovski EL, Zeiss Victory SF, Leica Noctivid.
There are exceptions, as we can also find them in lower-priced binoculars like Minox and Sightron. So, what does the future hold? We think that with time, the manufacturers will slowly switch to binoculars with open bridge designs. They are more lightweight, the handling is easier and overall have many advantages.
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Products mentioned in the Single Bridge Binoculars VS Open Bridge Binoculars debate:
Single bridge binoculars: https://www.optics-trade.eu/si/binoculars/shopby/body-single_hinge.html
Open bridge binoculars: https://www.optics-trade.eu/si/binoculars/shopby/body-open_bridge.html
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