How to focus binoculars

Sent by Jonathan Stark on December 9th, 2017

Imagine you're out walking around. There's a blue jay in a tree across the way. You point your binoculars at it because, hey... you're into birds.

You turn the dial to focus your view. You dial too far one way, then back off a little too much, etc. Eventually after some back and forth, success! You can see every feather on the blue jay.

This approach to focusing your binoculars is an intentional, iterative, predictable practice that results in a sharp focus on your object of interest.

But there’s another way to focus binoculars.

Instead of pointing them at something you're interested in and twisting the dial, you can leave the dial alone and swivel your head all over the place until something random happens to be in focus by accident.

Blue jay? Nope, blurry.

Mountain top? Nope, blurry.

Fence post? Yep, perfectly clear!

This “swivel head” technique is inefficient, unpredictable, and arbitrary. But none of these issues are the biggest problem with this approach.

The biggest problem with this approach is that you’ll almost certainly end up focused on something that you don’t really care about.

Yours,

—J


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