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Submitted by on Jul 14, 2021

Binoculars, also known as field glasses, are two refracting telescopes set side by side and oriented to look in the same direction, allowing the user to observe distant objects with both eyes (binocular vision). Most binoculars are designed to be carried with both hands. However, sizes range from opera glasses to huge military versions mounted on a pedestal.

Binoculars, unlike a (monocular) telescope, provide a three-dimensional image to the user: each eyepiece displays a slightly distinct image to each of the viewer’s eyes, and the parallax allows the visual cortex to produce a sense of depth.

The benefits of placing two binoculars side by side for binocular vision appear to have been explored almost since the creation of the telescope in the 17th century. The majority of early binoculars used Galilean optics, which meant a convex objective and a concave eyepiece lens. The Galilean design has the benefit of displaying an upright picture, but it has a restricted field of vision and can’t magnify very far.

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This structure is still utilized in low-cost versions as well as opera and theatrical glasses. Because they may be relatively short and generate an upright picture without additional or unique erecting optics, the Galilean design is also employed in low magnification binocular surgical and jewelers’ loupes, saving cost and total weight.

They also have big exit pupils, which make centering less important, and a limited field of view, which is ideal for certain applications. These are usually attached to an eyeglass frame or custom-made for the wearer.

Binoculars with Keplerian optics achieve a better image and higher magnification by seeing the image generated by the objective lens via a positive eyepiece lens (ocular). Different approaches are needed to flip the image the right way up since the Keplerian arrangement creates an inverted image.

Between the objective and the ocular in aprismatic binoculars with Keplerian optics (also known as “twin telescopes”), each tube includes one or two extra lenses (relay lens). The picture is erect with these lenses. Binoculars with erecting lenses have one major flaw: they are excessively lengthy. Binoculars like this were popular in the 1800s (for example, G.& S. Merz versions), but they became outdated once Carl Zeiss produced better prism binoculars in the 1890s.

Adding optical prisms to the design allowed the picture to be shown correctly without the use of as many lenses, reducing the overall length of the instrument (usually using a Porro prism or roof prisms).

Ignazio Porro, an Italian optician, patented the Porro prism image erecting method in 1854, and it is named after him. Other binocular manufacturers developed this technique subsequently, most notably the Carl Zeiss firm in the 1890s. To construct the picture, these binoculars utilize a pair of Porro prisms in a Z-shaped configuration. This results in broad binoculars with well-separated and offsets objective lenses from the eyepieces, offering a superior sense of depth. Porro prism designs also fold the optical path, making the physical length of the binoculars less than the focal length of the objective. Binoculars using prisms began with porro prism binoculars, which were designed to erect a picture in a tiny space.

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