How to Choose the Best Binoculars for Whale Watching: A Guide for Beginners
Whale watching is one of the most thrilling and rewarding experiences that nature lovers can enjoy. Whether you are on a boat, a shore, or a plane, witnessing these majestic creatures in their natural habitat is a sight that you will never forget. However, to make the most of your whale watching adventure, you need to have the right equipment. And one of the most essential tools that you need is a pair of binoculars.
But not all binoculars are created equal. There are many different types and models of binoculars, each with their own features and specifications. Choosing the best binoculars for whale watching can be a tough task, especially if you are a beginner. That is why we have created this guide to help you understand the basics of binoculars and how to choose the best ones for whale watching.
Features and specifications to consider when choosing binoculars for whale watching
When you are shopping for binoculars, you will encounter many terms and numbers that describe their features and specifications. Here are some of the most important ones that you need to know:
- Objective Lens Size
- Field of View
- Exit Pupil
- Eye Relief
- Prism Type
- Lens Coating
- Waterproofing and Fog Proofing
Here is a chart summarizing the factors to consider when choosing binoculars for whale watching:
Binocular magnification numbers are important. Choose binoculars with at least 7x magnification for onboard viewing. Higher magnification can result in unstable images with each shake of the boat.
Field of view
For optimal whale watching, it is advisable to use binoculars with a field of view (FOV) of at least 300 feet (91.44 meters) at a distance of 1,000 yards (0.91 kilometers).
Choose binoculars that are not too large or too small for you to comfortably hold and use. A 7×35 or 8×32 is easy to handle and compact. I prefer lightweight binoculars that are comfortable to hold, so I can watch the whales for extended periods of time.
Get binoculars that are equipped with multiple lens coatings, including anti-reflective coatings, to optimize light transmission and reduce glare. Seek out features such as fully multi-coated or dielectric coatings to ensure a superior quality of image.
Waterproof and fog proof
Choose binoculars that can withstand any weather conditions. Search for binocular models equipped with O-ring seals and either nitrogen or argon purging. This feature prevents the infiltration of moisture, guaranteeing clear and unobstructed viewing.
How to Choose the Best Binoculars for Whale Watching
Now that you know the features and specifications of binoculars, you can use them to choose the best binoculars for whale watching. However, there is no single answer to this question, as different binoculars may suit different preferences, needs, and budgets. Here are some general tips and recommendations that you can follow to make an informed decision:
- Consider the Magnification and the Objective Lens Size
- Consider the Field of View and the Exit Pupil
- Consider the Eye Relief and the Prism Type
- Consider the Lens Coating and the Waterproofing and Fog Proofing
The Best Places to Watch Whales with Binoculars in the US
Once you have chosen the best binoculars for whale watching, you need to know where and when to watch whales with them. Whales can be found in almost every ocean and sea in the world, but some places are more suitable and popular for whale watching than others. Here are some of the best whale-watching destinations in the world, where you can see a variety of whales with your binoculars:
Cape Cod, Massachusetts: Nestled along the Atlantic Ocean, Cape Cod offers a picturesque whale-watching experience. Binoculars reveal the playful antics of humpback whales and the occasional sighting of the elusive North Atlantic right whale. The Cape’s rich maritime history adds a unique charm to your whale-watching adventure.
Puget Sound, Washington: The serene waters of Puget Sound provide a backdrop for spectacular orca sightings. With binoculars, witness these majestic creatures breach and spy-hop against the stunning backdrop of the Olympic Mountains. Educational tours provide insights into orca behavior, making it an ideal location for both beginners and seasoned enthusiasts.
Channel Islands, California: Just off the coast of Southern California, the Channel Islands are a haven for diverse marine life. Binoculars unveil the acrobatic displays of dolphins, porpoises, and gray whales during their migration. With crystal-clear waters and vibrant kelp forests, this location offers a kaleidoscope of marine wonders.
Glacier Bay, Alaska: In the icy waters of Glacier Bay, witness the grandeur of humpback and killer whales. Binoculars reveal the colossal tails of humpbacks as they dive into the frigid depths. Glaciers, towering mountains, and the possibility of spotting other Arctic wildlife make Glacier Bay a premier destination for immersive whale watching.
Monterey Bay, California: Monterey Bay is a hotspot for marine biodiversity, making it a prime location for whale watching with binoculars. Peer into the depths to witness blue whales, the largest creatures on Earth, and playful pods of dolphins. The bay’s unique underwater canyon system attracts a variety of whale species, creating a dynamic and awe-inspiring spectacle.
Hatteras Island, North Carolina: Situated on the Outer Banks, Hatteras Island offers a unique opportunity for whale watchers. With binoculars, spot migrating humpback and fin whales as they journey along the Atlantic coast. The island’s tranquil beaches and panoramic views make it an ideal destination for a serene whale-watching retreat.
San Juan Islands, Washington: The tranquil waters of the San Juan Islands provide a scenic backdrop for orca sightings. Binoculars reveal the distinctive black and white markings of these magnificent creatures as they navigate through the archipelago. Knowledgeable guides enhance the experience with insights into the complex social structures of orca pods.
Virginia Beach, Virginia: Virginia Beach is a surprising gem for whale watchers on the East Coast. Use binoculars to spot humpback and minke whales during their seasonal migrations. The city’s vibrant coastal atmosphere, combined with the thrill of whale sightings, creates a unique and accessible whale-watching experience for visitors.
Porro prism vs Roof prism Binoculars For Whale Watching
A 7×35 or 8×32 binocular is the best option for whale watching. Ideally, you are looking for lightweight binoculars which are robust to stand up to marine conditions.
How to Enhance Your Whale Watching Experience with Binoculars
Whale watching with binoculars can be an amazing and unforgettable experience, as it allows you to get a closer and more detailed view of these incredible animals, as well as to observe their behaviors and expressions, and to capture memorable photos and videos.
How to avoid common problems and challenges when using binoculars for whale watching
Binoculars can also cause some problems and challenges for whale watching, such as:
Motion sickness: Binoculars can make you feel dizzy, nauseous, and unwell, especially if you are on a moving boat or plane, or if you are looking at a moving whale. This can ruin your whale watching experience and make you feel miserable. To avoid motion sickness, you can try to:
- Choose a stable and comfortable platform
- Use anti-motion sickness medication or devices
- Use proper binocular techniques
Eye strain, Glare & Fogging: Binoculars can also make you feel tired, sore, and irritated in your eyes, especially if you use them for too long, too often, or too intensely. This can affect your vision, your mood, and your enjoyment. To avoid eye strain, you can try to:
- Choose the right binoculars
- Use proper binocular techniques
- Take care of your eyes
How to Photograph Whales with Binoculars: A Guide for Amateur and Professional Photographers
Whale watching with binoculars can also be a great opportunity to photograph whales, as it allows you to capture their beauty, diversity, and personality, as well as to document their ecology, biology, and behavior. However, photographing whales with binoculars can also be a challenging and demanding task, as it requires a lot of skill, patience, and luck. Here are some tips on how to photograph whales with binoculars:
Challenges and opportunities of photographing whales with binoculars
Photographing whales with binoculars can be both rewarding and frustrating, as it involves many challenges and opportunities, such as:
- Capturing their movements, expressions, and colors: Whales are dynamic and expressive animals, as they move, jump, splash, and communicate in various ways, as well as display different colors, patterns, and markings. Photographing whales with binoculars can help you to capture these aspects of their appearance and personality, as well as to create stunning and dramatic images.
- Dealing with the distance, lighting, and weather conditions: Whales are distant and elusive animals, as they are often far away from the shore or the boat with binocular, and only surface briefly and sporadically. Photographing whales with binoculars can help you to overcome these obstacles, as well as to create more intimate and detailed images.
How to choose the best camera and binoculars for whale photography
Photographing whales with binoculars requires a good combination of camera and binoculars, as they can affect the quality and the outcome of the image. Here are some tips on how to choose the best camera and binoculars for whale photography:
- Choose the best camera: If possible, choose a camera that has a high resolution, a high zoom, a fast focus, a good stabilization, and a good compatibility with binoculars, as they can provide more quality and versatility for the image. For example, a digital SLR (DSLR) camera or a mirrorless camera can be a good choice, as they have a large sensor, a powerful zoom, a quick focus, a steady stabilization, and a flexible compatibility with binoculars.
- Choose the best binoculars: If possible, choose binoculars that have a low to medium magnification, a large objective lens size, a large exit pupil, a wide field of view, and a good waterproofing and fog proofing, as they can provide more light, clarity, and stability for the image. For example, 8×42, 10×42, or 10×50 binoculars can be a good choice, as they have a good balance between magnification and objective lens size, as well as a large exit pupil, a wide field of view, and a good waterproofing and fog proofing. However, they can also be heavy and bulky to carry and use. At the same time, 7×35, 8×32, or 8×40 binoculars can be a good choice, as they are lighter and smaller to carry and use.
- Other Equipments: Take necessary tools for your binocular and camera for the best experience. You can use Binocular Harness and Camera Strap together for an effortless usage.
Best techniques and practices for taking stunning photos of whales with binoculars
Photographing whales with binoculars requires a lot of technique and practice, as they can affect the style and the result of the image.
Find the right angle, timing, and composition: When you are photographing whales with binoculars, try to find the right angle, timing, and composition for the image, as they can make the difference between a good and a bad photo. For example, some of the best angles, timings, and compositions for photographing whales with binoculars are:
- Side view: This is the angle that shows the whale’s side, from the head to the tail, or from the fin to the fluke. This angle can help you to capture the whale’s length, width, and curvature, as well as to avoid the glare and the reflection of the sun, the water, or the sky. This angle can also help you to capture the whale’s movement, expression, and behavior, such as breaching, spouting, or tail slapping. This angle can also help you to capture the whale’s context, story, and emotion, by including the horizon, the landscape, or the other whales in the background, or by leaving some space in the direction of the whale’s movement or gaze in the foreground.
- Front view: This is the angle that shows the whale’s front, from the mouth to the eyes, or from the nose to the blowhole. This angle can help you to capture the whale’s height, depth, and symmetry, as well as to avoid the glare and the reflection of the sun, the water, or the sky. This angle can also help you to capture the whale’s movement, expression, and behavior, such as spy hopping, vocalizing, or smiling. This angle can also help you to capture the whale’s context, story, and emotion, by creating a direct and intimate connection with the whale, or by showing the whale’s interaction with the other whales, the boat, or the humans.
- Back view: This is the angle that shows the whale’s back, from the dorsal fin to the tail, or from the hump to the fluke. This angle can help you to capture the whale’s shape, size, and perspective, as well as to avoid the glare and the reflection of the sun, the water, or the sky. This angle can also help you to capture the whale’s movement, expression, and behavior, such as diving, splashing, or fluking. This angle can also help you to capture the whale’s context, story, and emotion, by creating a sense of mystery, suspense, or anticipation for the whale, or by showing the whale’s relation with the water, the air, or the sky.
We hope that this article has helped you to understand and appreciate the beauty, diversity, and mystery of these amazing animals, as well as to support and participate in their research and conservation. Whale watching with binoculars can be a fun, educational, and rewarding experience, as long as you do it properly and ethically. So, what are you waiting for? Grab your binoculars and head to the nearest whale-watching spot, and enjoy the sight and sound of these magnificent creatures.. Happy whale watching!