Coupling binoculars with a digital camera is one of those ideas that is long overdue. Bushnell, which has produced many a hard-working set of binoculars, has made this idea a reality with the ImageView ($100).
Created for those who like to watch wildlife and sporting events, the ImageView handles its dual task admirably. The binoculars, at 10X strength, have been augmented with a digital camera located in a module between the two lens barrels. The camera does not shoot photographs through the binocular lenses but has its own 8X lens for pictures with focus at 40 feet to infinity.
Two buttons sit on top of the module. The Mode button turns the camera on and off as well as selecting several different shooting modes - such as being able to take multiple shots so that all you need to do is hit the shutter button rapidly to get three continuous shots.
High-resolution mode creates photographs of only 640-by-480 pixels, so you won't be blowing up any images to 8-by-10 inches for your walls. But you will be able to e-mail and display images on the Internet. The pictures are accurately colorful but could use sharpening.
Though just two AAA batteries provide the juice, I had no problems shooting scores of photographs before the batteries died. The 64 megabytes of memory will hold quite a few images in the highest resolution setting as well as up to 300 images in the low-resolution, 320-by-240-pixel sizes.
This device is best used outdoors because there is no flash. And the lens focuses from 40 feet to infinity. You also can't see what you've shot as with most other digital cameras.
Not all is perfect with the ImageView. You'll need to load drivers and an accompanying program, Roxio Photosuite 4, onto your computer to save the images that you shoot with the binoculars, in contrast with some of the better digital cameras around. I've been spoiled by devices that automatically appear as a disk drive when you plug them into your computer by a universal serial bus connection, when your computer is running Windows XP.
Loading the software was easy, but the instructions were inadequate, leaving out what to do after you plug the binoculars into your PC.
Information: 800-423-3537 or www.bushnell.com.