Object of Desire: Sony DEV-5 Digital Binoculars

October 24, 2011

By Dan Havlik

The concept of a decent pair of digital binoculars that can not only zoom in on bald eagles and whales, but also snap good photos of them seems to resurface as frequently as, say, personal jet packs and flying taxi cabs. But this time, a company may have finally figured it out and they’ve added HD video and 3D to the mix.

Sony, which is new to the digital binocular game, recently introduced the DEV-5, a pair of binocs that can capture 7.1-megapixel still images and record full 1920 x 1080 HD and 3D footage for playback on most 3D TVs. To cap it off, Sony’s DEV-5 can also record stereo sound, all with the touch of a button.

The binoculars have a selectable, variable zoom that lets you scan a wide area at low magnification to spot a subject and then zoom in quickly if you see a soaring osprey or swooping pelican. Maximum magnification is 20x but that includes a boost of digital zoom at settings over 10x, which degrades image quality somewhat. Focal length also varies depending if you’re recording movies or stills and whether it’s in 2D or 3D, so check your local listings.

Those quirks aside, the DEV-5 does a nice job of offering ways to view and record wildlife in both 2D and 3D while not sacrificing too much on quality. The binoculars have electronic autofocus, which helps keep moving subjects sharp. There’s also a built-in GPS receiver, which automatically geo-tags your video clips and photos. Optical SteadyShot stabilizes what you’re viewing and shooting even when you’re all zoomed in.

Transferring all those great pics and clips is easy: a USB port will let you connect the binoculars right to your computer for fast downloading. And despite all the technology that’s housed in the DEV-5, the fancy binoculars weigh only three pounds.

Cost: $1,999
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