Perhaps the most essential item for the birder is a binocular, with a spotting scope being a close second.
However, the decision on which one to purchase can be difficult, due to the plethora of models and manufacturers.
This year’s American Birding Expo, which takes place at the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center in Oaks from Sept. 21-23, will help birders and outdoor enthusiasts alike become more knowledgeable in making an optics-buying decision.
This year, the event is expanding to include a large, 8,500-square-foot indoor Optics Range that will replicate the outdoor conditions that birders regularly encounter. This new addition will offer attendees the unique opportunity to field test and make side-by-side comparisons of a full range of optics, including binoculars, monoculars, spotting scopes, cameras, and other optical devices.
In addition to the life-like environment, there will be resolution gages to allow visitors to measure the visual acuity and image brightness of the equipment. Some of the optics brands available include Zeiss, Swarovski, Kowa, Leica, Celestron, Vortex, and Steiner. Photography gear will include products from Canon, Nikon, Tamron, and Sigma. New Jersey Audubon’s Cape May Bird Observatory will serve as the exclusive optics dealer for the 2018 American Birding Expo, and Allen’s Camera is the official photography retailer.
“With hundreds of makes and models of binoculars and other birding optics available, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed,” said Bill Thompson III, founder and director of the Expo. “The Expo Optics Range gives birdwatchers and other outdoor enthusiasts an unparalleled opportunity to try a variety of products, with optics experts on hand, before making that important purchase.”
The Optic Range is just one of the many attractions that visitors to the American Birding Expo will find during the three-day event. The Expo will feature the latest outdoor apparel and footwear, accessories, products for the backyard, books and artwork, and an automotive area that will feature vehicles that are top choices among birders and outdoor enthusiasts. A full schedule of 24 talks on ecotours, nature photography, backyard birding, travel, optics, conservation, and more will be offered as well.
Each day will start with a free morning bird walk in various area birding hotspots. There will also be more than 65 ecotour providers and guides from all over the world.
There will be special keynote presentations, from such renowned experts as Noah Strycker, author of Birding Without Borders, WHYY’s Mike McGrath, host of “You Bet Your Garden,” and Carrie Barron, Assistant Director of John James Audubon Center in Mill Grove. Making a special appearance will be actor and birding enthusiast Lili Taylor, whose presentation centers on how the tools she uses as an actor make her a better birder.
A three-day pass is $10 plus a small credit card fee and can be purchased in advance on the Expo’s website, or at the door. Children 17 and under are free. A portion of the proceeds goes directly to the Expo Conservation Fund, which supports bird conservation and environmental education.
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