Take it from a visually impaired photographer who’s legally blind; these three tools have helped so much.
There was a time when I honestly thought I’d need to give up on photography. As long term readers will know, I’m legally blind. I have keratoconus, which makes a lot of things difficult. So taking photos and getting details can be complicated. It also means that I need to get closer to things than others would to understand. It never occurred to me to use binoculars and scopes to help me, but I’ve been doing so in recent times. At least one of those will accompany me when I’m doing adventure-style photography. Being able to see helps a whole lot. It’s nice to get a zoomed-in view of something from above or far away. Then, I can typically get up closer to whatever I’m going to photograph. Here are three items that have helped me and that I strongly recommend to other Visually Impaired Photographers.
Fujinon Techno-Stabi TS12x28 Image Stabilization Binoculars
Why is it special?: The Fujinon Techno-Stabi TS12x28 Image Stabilization Binoculars are positively wonderful. The magnification is useful in most situations, though it’s not the strongest we’ve seen. The best part of these binoculars is image stabilization. If you’ve got shaky hands, this will mitigate that. What’s more, they boast weather sealing. So you can go into the rain and tough weather with them. Beyond this, it’s compact and lightweight.
Image stabilization can really help visually impaired photographers who sometimes see multiples of something. With my condition, I sometimes see eight of something instead of just one. So when things are moving fast, it’s even tougher to keep my eyes focused on the real one, so to speak.
How they’ve helped: These binoculars are incredibly bright. We’ve used them in the day and at night with solid results. Once, when doing a review, we used them to find birds that were otherwise too difficult to find. Typically, I can hear birds a whole lot better than I can see them. But by listening and then pointing the Fujinon Techno-Stabi TS12x28 Image Stabilization Binoculars directly at the source, I can find them. An autofocus telephoto zoom lens with shallow depth of field doesn’t really let you do that.
The Stand Out Features: The single best thing about these binoculars is the image stabilization.
Buy Now: $449
Olympus Explorer 8-16×40 Binoculars
Why is it special?: The Olympus Explorer 8-16×40 Binoculars are new to the scene. They’re not the higher-end, professional option, but they’re still quite good. There’s a handy zoom function near the eyepiece. But they’re also incredibly comfortable for your eyes when they’re correctly adjusted. Mind you, they’re pretty large. They also lack the weather-sealing of the Fujifilm binoculars, but they’re still cool because they’re fully analog. That’s right, there are no electronics in them.
Being able to zoom in is the most obvious aid here for visually impaired photographers. We can see great details from miles away. And that can help with setting up or planning a hike that Google won’t necessarily help plan.
How they’ve helped: These binoculars have a handy zoom function in them. The obvious aid is for birding, but we’ve also used them for scouting better areas to set up for hiking.
The Stand Out Features: If money is a problem, then go for these. They’re incredibly affordable even though they lack a lot of the bigger features you might need.
Buy Now: $139
Canon Powershot Zoom Monocular
Why is it special?: The Canon Powershot Zoom is an extraordinary entry here. It’s the only digital option and around the size of large chapstick. It boasts a 100-400mm zoom lens and extends to 800mm beyond that digitally. By all means, it’s not really a good camera. But it’s used for scouting and sporting events to see details better.
If you’re a visually impaired photographer, the Canon Powershot is an obvious choice. The zoom power lets you scope-out so many fine details that you’d otherwise not see.
How they’ve helped: This thing usually comes with me on busy streets. I can’t always see and understand details farther away. So I’ve used this to figure out how packed a restaurant might be during social distancing times.
The Stand Out Features: It’s incredibly small.
Buy Now: $299