The Binocular Site
Binocular Mounts – The Necessary Connection
When buying a binocular tripod, you may find that not all of them include a mount. This is an adapter needed to secure the binoculars to the tripod. Mounting a pair of binoculars to a tripod is a great way to create a viewing post if you plan to observe something stationary for a long period of time. It also allows you to see something from several vantage points while maintaining a steady view. Binocular mounts are important, and you'll find that not every mount fits every pair of binoculars. There may also be times when you need or want to view something from a vehicle.
A drive-through safari is one example, or perhaps you're surveying a large tract of land. Or, if you're a hunter, you need to be able to set up your binoculars on the edge of a blind, or even on a tree stand. In this case, a window mount can come in very handy. There are also specialized mounts for night sky viewing, and to help you avoid neck and body strain. Which type of mount you choose depends on your viewing habits and goals.
It's fairly simple to attach binoculars to a tripod using a mount, and doesn't require any alteration of the binoculars since most binoculars have a tripod screw socket. The mount has a plate that attaches to the tripod with screws, keeping it securely fastened and providing a stable point for the binoculars. At the top of the mount is a screw that is threaded through the tripod screw socket on the binoculars. It is tightened with a large knob, holding the binoculars firmly in place for viewing and short-distance transporting of the binocular tripod assembly. Most bracket tripod mounts will fit onto most tripods, and work with most binoculars, but check to ensure your brand of tripod and binoculars are compatible before purchasing the mount. Bracket tripod mounts range in price from about $20 to $26.
Some bracket tripod mounts are made by optics companies specifically to work with that company's binocular lines. One example is the Swarovski Tripod Adapter for EL binoculars (42mm only). It works much the same way a standard bracket tripod mount does, except that it's meant to be used only with that particular binocular. If you're as particular about your accessories, then a brand-specific tripod mount is the way to go.
Window mounts are like miniature, self-contained tripods. They have top plate to which an adapter can be attached in order to hold a pair of binoculars. On the bottom is an adjustable, padded clamp that can be attached to the window frame of a vehicle, a standard window sill, a railing, a tree stand, or any other slender edge that will fit between the clamp. The top part of the mount swivels, and has an extended handle for easy turning to follow a moving object, or simply change the viewing area. One we like is the Vanguard
PH-304 All-Metal Window Mount with Tree Mount because it accommodates a wide range of uses and locations. Tripod window mounts range in price from about $40 to $60.
Viewing the night sky through a pair of astronomical binoculars is a great way to spend an evening. But astronomical binoculars are very large and heavy. Your arms will quickly tire from holding them up for long periods of time, and your neck will strain from holding a tilted-back position. A mirror mount eases both those issues. Mirror mounts have a standard bracket mount at one end, and a flat, mirrored panel at the other. When the binoculars are attached to the mount, the lenses face the mirror at about a 45-degree angle. The tilt of the mount is controlled at the base with a lever. You line up what you're viewing in the mirror, then look down into the binoculars to see it. The tripod holds the binoculars, saving you from arm fatigue, and because looking downward puts less stress on the neck than looking up, you won't suffer any muscle strain from looking up at the stars. Mirror binocular mounts range in price from about $170 to about $220.
This unique mount is also for large binoculars, and helps reduce strain, but it also makes it easier to view objects while standing or sitting. Parallelogram mounts attach to the tripod at the center, and will usually swivel from that point. The binoculars are attached to one end of the mount, either with a bracket, or a screw for binoculars with vertical mounting posts. At the other end of the mount is a counterweight. You must ensure enough weight is attached to the front end of the mount to counter the weight of your binoculars, and keep the entire assembly from tipping over. By simply adjusting the tilt of the assembly arm, you can comfortably view while standing or sitting, and you won't suffer any arm, back, or neck strain from holding up heavy binoculars and tilting back to see the object you're viewing. Parallelogram mounts range in price from about $180 to about $630.
If your binoculars don't have a tripod screw socket, don't worry. You don't have to try to drill into the binoculars, risking cracking the case, or worse, the lenses. All you need is a universal tripod mount like the Nikon
Binoc Binoculars U Mount. It looks like a little like a bracket tripod mount, but without the top part that would be threaded into the binoculars' tripod screw socket. Instead, a fabric cradle with adjustable Velcro straps is attached to the top of the mount, allowing you to attach just about any type, brand, or size of binoculars to the universal mount. There are sure to be exceptions, so check the measurements of your binoculars before you purchase this type of tripod mount. The Nikon Binoc sells for $56.95.