7 tips how to choose binoculars

It can be overwhelming to choose the right model for you — there are enough options out there to drive most shoppers crazy. But by learning how to choose binoculars, you can save yourself plenty of time and hassle. 

Our editorial team worked hard to prepare this guide to walk you through the process of choosing the best binoculars for you. 

Before you go to the store and start browsing through the countless binocular models available, you need to understand what separates certain models from others. There are standard all-purpose binoculars which are suited to just about every activity. But there are also specialty binocs.

We divided this article into two different parts. In the first part we will give you an overview on how to make sure that you get the right binoculars for you and then in the second part we will recommend some best binoculars that you should consider based on your needs and your budget.

FEATURES AND SPECIFICATIONS

Numbers

Numbers really matter. It is very important to know what the numbers mean so you see those numbers. On any pair of binoculars, they should give two numbers. 

Speaking of specs let’s talk about the numbers on the binoculars. In general, each binocular has got three main numbers you’ll want to pay attention to.

Magnification

The first number is the magnification which is how large the object appears to you through the binoculars compared to if you were not using binoculars at all. For instance, a pair of 10×42 binoculars means that these are approximately ten times closer than what you would see without a pair of binoculars. Everyone’s eyes are a little bit different and that does include the people that design and manufacture these binoculars. However, if you have these and another pair of 10 power binoculars they should look about the same distance  to you. Keep in mind that magnification is not necessarily based on size. There are a lot of very compact high magnification binoculars out there and a lot of very large binoculars with not much magnification at all. The benefit of having binoculars with higher magnification is that you can get a closer view of things that are farther away but beware because there are definite disadvantages of having binoculars of higher magnification.

**Link to articles 4 mistakes when choosing binoculars.**

Disadvantages of higher magnification

Narrower the view and the field of view is basically the window that you look through. so With the larger magnification, you're looking through a smaller window so you see less area. This is pretty important because it can make it more difficult to track the objects that you were looking for. The best way to find birds at least that aren't like super far away is to find them with your naked eye first and then find them through your binoculars after you spot them with your naked eye and this can definitely become more difficult with a narrower field of view

The shakiness. The higher the power and narrower field of view the harder it becomes to keep that image still when you were looking at it through your binoculars

Requires thicker glass. This can let through less light which generally means a darker dimmer image. The effect of this is probably pretty minimal there are other variables that affect this - thicker glass can also mean heavier binoculars so you should just know all of these trade-offs

The lens

The second number refers to the lens opening or how much light it lets in. In 10×42 the opening is a forty-two. Unfortunately, that number is linked to the size of the binoculars. Let’s take two of them10x42 and 8×21. 10×42 are larger than 8×21, so they will, of course, have a much larger opening. That lens opening is going to refer to how much light they let in or how bright they are. 

In a lot of cases, you might not need a larger pair of binoculars, something like 8×21, if you’re using them during the day for hiking or a baseball game or taking out on the lake, these will usually let in about as much light as most people can see during the day. If you’re using them in low light, say for early-morning bird-watching or hunting or perhaps taking to a concert larger binoculars, and the fact that they let in more light is going to be extremely helpful.

By the way, you should be sure that your binoculars are kept clean. But back to the point, the width of the objective lens is really important because with the wider objective lens you let in more light into the binoculars so that in situations with dim or light you will have a clearer brighter image.

An important reminder: water objective lens means it’s going to be bigger which generally means that the binoculars will be bigger bulkier and heavier which could be a disadvantage as well.

NIKON ACULON 8x21NIKON MONARCH 5 10x42

Angle of view

The third number to look for in a binocular is the angle of view or field of view. 

Field of View is the amount of space you can see through your binoculars. Measured in feet,  the Field of View refers to how much you can view standing 1,000 yards away.

If we take for instance NIKON MONARCH waterproof 10×42 has a 5.5-degree angle of view. The best way to think about it is this: if you’re looking through a hole the angle of view is how large that hole is. It’s the same distance, the same magnification, the same brightness, but you’re looking at a very large pool or potentially a very small hole. Like the magnification and just like the brightness, you don’t necessarily always need the widest angle of view. If you’re watching a concert or watching something it isn’t moving very much a compact pair of binoculars with a fairly narrow-angle of view will suit you just fine. But if you’re using them for birding or for watching sports or hunting or anywhere where there might be a lot of things going on you probably want to get the widest angle of view that you can find.

5 simple steps to FOCUS your binoculars

1. Look through your binoculars airplane scene such as sky or grass and move the central hinge until you see a single bright circle;
2. Cover the barrel with the diopter adjustment on its eyepiece which is usually on the right hand side of the diopter. Adjustment compensates for the difference in the strength of your eyes;
3. Look at a fixed object in the distance and use the central focusing wheel to focus the binoculars until the image appears clear and sharp;
4. While looking at the same image cover the left barrel; 
5. Move the diopter adjustment on the right eyepiece to make the image appear clear and sharp.

Roof and Porro Prisms 

Most binoculars use prisms along with lenses to enhance the image’s color, quality, and size. The light enters the lens, gets reversed and magnified through the prisms, and eventually enters your eyes. And believe it or not, your eyes are also binocular instruments. This means they take two images and bring them together to form a single, high-quality image. 

The two most common types of binocular prisms are Roof and Porro. 

Roof Prism Binoculars 

These use small prisms—hence the compact nature of the binoculars in which they are found.  They are much lighter than those used in Porro prism models, too. The objective lens is offset from the eyepiece they provide greater depth perception and generally offer a wider field of view but in roof prism binoculars the prisms overlap closely allowing the objective lenses to line up directly with the eyepiece so this is an example of roof prism binoculars. And it is interesting because these generally appear simpler than Porro prism binoculars but inside they actually have a way more complex light paths and require much greater optical precision and manufacturing so as a result, they cost more.

Vortex Optics Diamondback Roof Prism BinocularsAthlon Optics Midas Roof Prism

Best to use Roof prism binoculars for daytime hunting and long range spotting

Porro Prism Binoculars

 Using prisms that are designed in a double-Z shape, these binoculars need more room to house the inner workings.  The Porro prism binoculars are generally bigger and heavier than roof prism ones. The pearl prism design is actually simpler and more light efficient and the image actually shows better contrast. But nevertheless, the roof prism design is favored by most customers probably because it’s more compact so manufacturers went all-out to perfect it.

Leupold BX-1 Rogue BinocularVortex Optics Raptor Porro Prism Binoculars

Best to use Porro prism binoculars for hunting regardless the time, short range birding, stargazing, general outdoor

Reminder: just know that with Porro prism binoculars you generally get more bang for your buck than Roof prism binoculars. If you’re on a budget all seriousness Porro prism binoculars could be the way to go.

Coatings

Coatings on lenses were discovered in the last century. Those basic open ocular lenses with magnesium fluoride actually let in more light. Basically the higher quality coatings that you have the more light is let into the binoculars which makes a brighter, clearer image. And it’s not only the quality of the coatings, but the more lenses inside the monoculars that are coated as well will allow a higher percentage of light to go from the beginning of binoculars all the way to your eye which again results in a better image. 

Reminder: when you are shopping for binoculars pay attention to how many coatings there are and the quality of the coatings and obviously the more coatings there are and the higher quality in there the more expensive your binoculars will be.

Defense: Fog proof and Waterproof 

If you plan on taking your binoculars  fishing or into potentially nasty weather,  you need to  make sure they are waterproof. Many models are water-resistant, but you can only keep them safe from damage if they’re one hundred percent impervious to  water.

Eye Relief 

Eye relief is the distance that light travels from the eyepiece lens to your eye. A lot of binoculars will have eyecups. Based on all the dimensions of your face in your head you can usually adjust these so that your eyes are the right distance away from the islands.

Specially for people who wear glasses: if you wear glasses you should look for a minimum of 11 millimeters of eye relief. You need to have some room to get close enough to see the whole image without your glasses hitting the eyepieces.

Reminder: make sure that you pay attention to the eye relief when you’re trying on your binoculars and deciding to buy them.

Zoom

We’ve seen many opinions on binoculars with zoom. Too many people who have gotten zoom binoculars and are just so disappointed with them it’s because the problem is that binoculars are essentially two telescopes right next to each other that need to sync in unison perfectly with each other to get a crisp image. 

Reminder: if these types of binoculars are not super high quality then you might not get a good image so unless you’re on like a really high budget we recommend not to get zoom binoculars.

Size 

What you can look for in a new pair of binoculars? The first and most important thing is that the binoculars are comfortable to use and fit you. Many compact binoculars have a very small space in between the eyepieces while some larger binoculars have a very wide space. It’s not uncommon to find a pair of binoculars that just won’t fit your face, especially for those of us, that wear glasses. The most important thing regardless of the specs or how clear the binoculars look is – that they fit you and they’re comfortable to use and they’re not too heavy to carry around. If they’re too heavy you won’t use them and then they’re not very good binoculars. 

Compact vs Standard models

It’s important you choose the right pair for you. So what are the key differences?

Compact models are smaller than standard size models so they’re great for a city break or a day trip out they can easily pack into your hand luggage or fit into a coat pocket. Standard size models are larger in size and tend to be heavier in weight. One visible difference between compact and standard size models is the size of the objective lens. This is the lens at the end of the binoculars where light enters.

Why might you want standard size binoculars?

Standard size models have a larger objective lens diameter. This means that if all our factors are equal then this should produce a brighter image. In low-light conditions compact models have a smaller objective lens diameter this means they tend to perform best in brighter daylight conditions.  The objective lens diameter it’s usually written as the second number on the body of the binoculars as we mentioned earlier in the lens section.

Give it a try

This comes out from the previous feature. Make sure you try on your binoculars before you buy them. No two binoculars are the same and no two humans are the same no. As no two humans are the same shape as the face – no two humans have the same eyesight. You will not really know exactly how binoculars feel until you actually pick them up and see how much they weigh, how much they weigh on your neck. 

Reminder: just make sure that you have sufficient information about your future binoculars, find an opportunity to try them, test them out before you have to permanently buy them.

Handling

What matters just as much as the quality of binoculars is how will you take care of them and how well you know how to use them. 

Reminder: 

  • Make sure you give sufficient care to your binoculars. Put the lens caps on when you’re not using them
  • Clean them with the right fluid with the right cloth that you’re supposed to do
  • Adjust your binoculars 

**ARTICLE how to clean and adjust your binoculars**

THE BEST BINOCULARS BY USE

Now  you’ve learned how to make sure that you get the right binoculars for you,  you need to figure out which are the best. There are different types of binoculars by their use available today. The binoculars used by sportsmen, travelers, hunters, and nature-loving people. They are ergonomically designed to suit the needs for those who just love to bring the action closer to their eyes.

To give you a head start on your  hunt for the perfect specs, let’s take a look at the best binoculars in a variety of  categories: 

Best  Binoculars for Bird Watching 

Birding binoculars are the number one must-haves for people who love the outdoors, especially those who enjoy seeing birds. It is difficult actually seeing birds in complete details without the right pair of binoculars. Most people often think that there is a great difference between bird watching binoculars from birding binoculars. To clarify these doubts, there is really no difference between both. They are just the same; only they are using two different terms. So do not confuse yourself between the both. So how do you choose the proper and the right birding binoculars?

Your options for  birding field  glasses are virtually limitless. But the best model out there has got to be the Swarovski 8.5×42 EL binoculars. 

These have high quality BAK-4  prisms, a large Field of View (390 feet), and premium diamond bright optics for the best in clarity and color. No bird has ever looked more beautiful than through a pair of these first-rate binocs. More about how to choose binoculars for bird watching 

Best Hunting Binoculars

Hunting has been a passion and hobby for most people who love the outdoors. Young or old alike, it is one way for them to enjoy the serenity of nature away from the busy life in the city. Hunting binoculars are a necessity with hunting because hunters make it a point to get some clear sights on the things around them.

Setting your sights on your quarry is essential before you make a move. If you do so with a pair of Bushnell Fusion binoculars, then you’ll be shooting straight. 

This is a fully waterproof model with RainGuard HD water-repellent coating on the lenses, high quality BAK-4 prisms, and a laser range finder capable of sighting a target from 10 to 1,760 yards away.

Best Marine Binoculars

Marine binoculars are those that are being used onboard ships and boats. The conventional and classic 7×50 millimeters binoculars are being widely used, though there may be some variations on some features.

Magnification on these marine binoculars should be kept low since ship and boat decks do not have stable observing platforms. Apparently, by doing so, steadiness can be well achieved. The typical 7” binocular is very convenient to hold but it is strong enough to be an observation tool. You can also try using higher magnification binoculars but it must be taken into consideration that they may lose image details or unsteadiness if not collaborated with image stabilization.

The Bushnell 7×50 Marine models are fully waterproof, submersible, and floatable specs. They come with a built-in digital compass and range finding scale. These are the perfect glasses for water-bound fun. 

Best Astronomy Binoculars 


There’s one stop to make on your search for the perfect astronomy binoculars: the Celestron catalog.  And the Celestron  SkyMaster Giant 15×70 binoculars are unmatched in amateur stargazing. 

The large  objective lens is perfect for night  sky viewing and they’re light enough that you can operate them manually for short periods of time. Celestron knows the stars and the Giant 15×70 binoculars will take you right to them.

Best Compact Binoculars 


Ideally, compact binoculars are those that have lenses smaller than 30 mm.The concepts behind them is still the same as telescopes except that it has two small telescopes physically attached together. Each telescope contains an objective lens, an exit pupil and an eyepiece. What makes compact binoculars easier to use is that they have smaller objective lenses which makes them the top choice for some amateur outdoor enthusiasts. They are also foldable which makes them portable and convenient to store in any container. Like big binoculars, they are also protected with rubber to improve its durability. When you buy a new one, they are contained in a case and will have a hanging strip.

For those  sight-seers on the go, you can’t do better than a pair of Zeiss 10×25 Terra ED Compact Pocket binoculars for lightweight,  compact portability. And they’re more than just  small — these binoculars are incredibly  tough. 

Made with rubberized metal  casings and fully waterproof  designs, you can take  these pocket-size glasses with you anywhere. 

SUMMING UP

We hope that this guide was really useful for you and will help you to make your best choice. Enjoy your purchase and make your journey fun and full of sense.

 

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