Using binoculars with a tripod is a great idea for extended birding sessions. Tripods also work well for larger sized binoculars and for anytime you want to view birds completely free of image shake.
To get set up quickly and easily for these sessions, you want to be clear about how to attach your bird-watching binoculars to a tripod. We’re happy to say you’ve reached the right article!
Mounting your binoculars on a tripod takes a few steps, so we will walk you through what to do with full explanations.
If you are looking for a full discussion of the benefits of using a tripod to support the weight of your birding binoculars, feel free to take a look at this article – When do I need to use a tripod with my birding binoculars?
Which kind of adapter do I need to attach my binoculars to a tripod?
The tripod adapter can also be known as a TPA. Normally a tripod adapter is made of metal or hard plastic. Metal might be more secure and hardwearing for larger binoculars.
The adapter looks like a kind of bracket. At the top there is a bolt to attach to the binoculars. On the bottom plate there is a ¼ inch screw hole, which attaches to the tripod.
It’s important to make sure that you buy the correct width of tripod adapter for the particular model of binoculars that you have. While all adapters have the standard screw fitting, some have a wider neck, which may or may not fit between the barrels of your binoculars.
Porro prism binoculars do well with wider neck adapters
For example, when the objective lenses of the binoculars are larger, the body is correspondingly larger. This means that some of the adapters with fatter necks just don’t fit between them.
An adapter with one of these wider necks is more suitable for use with a Porro prism binocular. The reason for this is that there is more space between the barrels to allow it to be fitted.
Roof prism binoculars need thin neck adapters
Roof prism binoculars will generally require an adapter with a thinner neck because their barrels have less space between.
If you are switching between binoculars and spotting scope on your tripod then this might be the top option.
How to attach binoculars when they are tripod adaptable/tripod ready
Attaching the tripod-compatible binoculars to the tripod takes two steps. The first is to fit the tripod adapter to the binoculars. Next, you fit the binoculars onto the tripod using the attached adapter.
Screw thread adapter
Binoculars with this kind of fitting have an adapter located on the hinge or bridge between the barrels. This is visible from the front end.
The tripod adapter will fit onto the tripod either:
- Directly onto the tripod head, or
- Onto a tripod head mounting plate.
STEP ONE – fit the tripod adapter
The adapter is usually covered with a dust cap or socket cover. These dust caps might unscrew or just pop on and off.
First remove this dust cap. Then line up the tripod adapter onto the fitting. It will need to be screwed on firmly, but not overtightened.
STEP TWO – fit the binoculars and adapter onto the tripod
- Remove the tripod quick release plate from the tripod head
- The ¼ inch thread on the bottom of the tripod adapter will fit the screw head on top of the QR plate. Line these up and screw the plate on.
- Once this is securely attached, put the binoculars on top of the tripod, and the QR plate should attach easily.
How to attach your binoculars if they are not tripod adaptable
If your binoculars do not have the tripod adapter usually located at the front, between the barrels, then there are other options to mount them onto a tripod.
You will need to buy a different kind of tripod adapter. There are various formats available.
Some adapters work with the use of a rubber strap that fits over the top of the binoculars to secure them a platform fitted onto the tripod head.
Other types of adapters are more of a clamp design.
Summary of how to attach binoculars to a tripod
Hopefully birding will be more comfortable, more successful and more enjoyable with the addition of a tripod adapter to attach your binoculars to a tripod. Once this is done, the weight will be lifted off your hands, arms and shoulders. What great news for those extended birding sessions!
With the added stability of a tripod, images seen through your binoculars will be much more steady. It will be easier to share the views with others. For our top choices of tripods to use with birding binoculars, take a look here.
The tripod adapter is so small it can be taken along just in case. Like this, it adds an extra level of versatility to your birding kit.
The advantage of using this type of adapter for your binoculars, in combination with a quick release plate, is that you can simply change from one kind of optic to another. This lightweight addition makes it much easier to switch from binoculars to spotting scope and vice versa.
If you do this when you’ve locked the tripod head in the same position, then the binoculars or spotting scope remains aimed at the same field of view. For information on quick release systems, feel free to check this article on Arca-Swiss and Manfrotto’s RC2 plates.
- 1 Which kind of adapter do I need to attach my binoculars to a tripod?
- 2 How to attach binoculars when they are tripod adaptable/tripod ready
- 3 How to attach your binoculars if they are not tripod adaptable
- 4 Summary of how to attach binoculars to a tripod