Scanning the horizon for movement, experienced birders lift their binoculars to their faces, never taking their eyes off the birds. But sometimes even pros don't have enough time to identify an unfamiliar species. Come November, Sony will release binoculars with built-in video capability, easing the pressure for identification in the field.
Sony's DEV-5 and DEV-3 binoculars can film video in full HD and take still photographs at 7.1 megapixels, which means photos will look sharp printed in an 8-by-10.
Features for birders
Birder-friendly features include up to 20x magnification, both electronic and manual focus, optical image stabilization (so that wavering hands don't result in blurred images), an optional 3-D shooting mode, and automatic geotagging via integrated GPS.
Sony refers to its video controls as "stealth mode" because the simplified controls are placed to minimize finger movement, knowing that the slightest movement can startle a nearby bird. The controls are designed to be used both with and without gloves.
Birding videos and photos can be viewed on any HDTV through an HDMI cable connection where the size of the image is limited only by the size of the TV.
The binoculars will be available in November 2011. The DEV-5 has a suggested retail price of $2,000 and the DEV-3 is priced at $1,400.
How to use binoculars in the field
Mastering a pair of binoculars is one of the first skills a birder must learn.
"The most common mistake people make after finally finding the bird with their naked eye is looking down at their binoculars," Georgann Schmalz, president of Birding Adventures, and three-time former president of the Audubon Society in Atlanta, told TechNewsDaily. "Don't look down at them; they are not going away. The bird, however, will go away."
"Watch the experienced birders in the field," Schmalz said. "They walk and stand like gunslingers; ready to shoot, bringing their binoculars up to their face, aiming and focusing instantly."
"Don't take your eyes off the bird until it flies away, especially if you don't know what it is," she said. "Don't even think of looking it up in the book until you have memorized every feather on its little body and it has disappeared."
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