Buying binoculars

2024-01-21

Last Sunday, I decided to buy a pair of binoculars to take with me on hikes. I have a history of taking too much time to choose my purchases, so I resolved to make this one fast and simple. In and out.

First, I spent a couple of hours poring over articles and spec sheets online, learning terms like magnification, exit pupil size, and eye relief. Then I made a table to compare several models, exploring the balance between price and quality. Eventually I narrowed the field down to four models available at my local REI, where I peered through each one trying to spot the differences: Did I prefer 8x magnification or 10x magnification? Was the claimed wider field of view of one model noticeable in real life? What about the lighter weight of another model? After nearly 30 minutes of evaluation, I felt increasingly bad about how long the REI employee had been waiting for me, and so I finally picked one and completed my purchase.

Then, standing outside REI with my new and unopened binoculars, I decided that I chosen the wrong model. So I made the walk of shame back inside and exchanged the binoculars for the other model.

In total, it took me about three and a half hours to go from “I’m going to buy binoculars” to having my new pair of Nikon Prostaff P7 10x42 in hand. Speedy!


While I was in the store waiting to exchange my purchase, there was another shopper examining the binocular display case. He, too, was buying binoculars for the first time, and he started to ask me about the basics of binoculars. I had barely begun to share what I’d learned when an employee came over to unlock the display case for him. My new friend quickly grabbed a single model from the case; after looking through it for all of five seconds, he grinned and said, “Cool, I’ll buy these.”

I guess I don’t need my new binoculars to see that I still have much to learn about fast and confident decision-making.