i'm after some binoculars as i live at the top of a hill with a stunning view for 60kms or so. it would be great to be able to see the view with more detail. i've looked at binoculars but don't understnd how far i'll be able to see with them, or even if they would not be able to see very far so would i need a teloscope. can someone enlighten me please? i'm not looking to spend lots, 2nd hand is fine, and they don't have to be very small or even new. thanks.
It depends what exactly you want to look at. Right out at the horizon? Just over the land below? Basically you have three options - binoculars, refracting telescope, or spotting scope.
For binoculars, for a start, don't go buy any off the shelf at The Warehouse, or Dick Smiths. Go to a photographics store, or somewhere which specialises in optics. Last time I looked at some 10x50 binoculars (quality ones), they were around $100 for the cheap end of the scale. Personally, for viewing what you're looking at, I'd get a pair that had a mount point on them, and a tripod, so you can use them hands free.
As for a telescope, you would want a refractor. This is the type that uses lenses, instead of the ones that use mirrors. A simple second hand refractor off of Trademe can be around $200, and has the advantage that you can to look at Jupiter, Saturn, or the moon! For land-based viewing, make sure it has some sort of Barlow lens, otherwise you'll be viewing the land upside down. Also, be aware with a telescope that the image you will see will be flipped, so moving the scope left, means the image will move right, and vice versa.
A spotting scope is a nice combination of both. They sit on a tripod, and are great for general viewing, be it the bird flying in the distance, or taking a peek at the moon. They are more like a telescope in the fact they are monocular (one eyepiece), but like a pair of binoculars in the fact they are generally one piece, with a simple focusing knob.
Out of the three, for your situation, I'd go with the spotting scope. Have a peek around Trademe, a photographics store, or a gun shop.
thanks very much Tahii, you have explained it very well. there is no really good photographics shop (as far as i'm aware) in hawkes bay but maybe when we're next in wellington or auckland could go into a shop. i love the idea of being able to see some planets as well so maybe we will save up for a teloscope. the main thing we want to look at is the 50-60kms we see in front of us and to be able to see the sea. i don't expect to be able to see people on the beach or anything just the view a lot closer.