Have you ever used binoculars? Surely a few of you might have used them. Binoculars are a type of specialized telescope that is scaled side by side and is usually utilized to see distant objects clearly by using both eyes.
Through binoculars, you may see activity that is happening off in the distance. Many people love to watch birds or game animals and, as we all know, they are tough to get close too! As such, we use binoculars to see them easier.
If you have purchased a pair recently, you know that it is not easy to choose the best binoculars among so many choices. Various models are available on the market today and you need to know a lot of things before purchasing a pair.
If you are interested in buying a pair of the best binoculars for your money, then you are in luck. We are going to cover many details about binoculars, such as how to purchase a pair, the important features of binoculars, the parts of a binocular, along with other essential things that you need to know.
What are Binoculars?
Binoculars are in essence small telescopes that make it easy for you to look at distant objects or things in a transparent, non-invasive way. They are often utilized for outdoor activities, including bird and game watching. They give you the best experience without facing too many difficulties. Choosing any specific product is not an easy task, and so it is with selecting the best binoculars.
The best thing you can do is to visit the store and test several different binocular models. So, if you are planning to purchase a new pair, consider these following features.
Features of Binocular
To enhance the importance of Binocular, let me elaborate on the topic by mentioning a few features that it contains. The features incorporate:
1- Magnification of Binocular
The first feature that you need to understand is the magnification. There are several numbers that describe the magnification of a pair of binoculars. You will often see numbers like 7×42, 10×25, or 8×30 when they talk about binoculars. What do these numbers mean?
For example, lets look one of my favorites, the Bushnell BS11040 Spectator Sport 10 x 40mm binoculars. The first number 10 represents the magnification power of the binoculars In this case, 10 times magnification or amplification of what is being viewed.
If you have to select binoculars based on magnification alone, then always go for something between 7x to 10x. If you choose more than 10x, then the image has a tendency to become blurry. Magnification between 7 and 10, at least for me, gives the best result.
2- Diameter of Objective Lens
The next feature comes the diameter of the objective lens through which you look at the distant objects. The width of lens measures in millimeters so the best width that will give you the best results will be between 30mm – 42mm.
If we look back at the Bushnell 10 x 40mm binoculars from above, we can see that in this case, 40mm is the diameter of the objective lenses. The size of the objective lens matters a lot because it tells that how much amount of light your binoculars can gather. The larger the diameter, the greater the amount of light.
There are 3 basic size designations for binoculars based on the size of the objective lens
- Compact binoculars are those with an object lens of 32mm or smaller.
- Midsize binoculars have an objective lens size from 32mm to 40mm.
- Full size binoculars are ones with an objective lens greater than 40mm.
The larger the size of your lens, the better results it will give because it means that it can gather a larger amount of light. In short, Bbinoculars who have higher quality optics will tend to have brighter images. Always go for those objective lenses that have high quality.
3- Field of View
The field of view (FOV) means the area where the distant object is present that you need to see from the binocular. If the field of view is small, then you have to face the difficulty trying to keep a fast moving bird in the field of view.
Field of View measured at distance of 1,000 yards (915 meters). There are a few things that you need to consider before making a choice. If you look for the highest magnification, then the field of view will automatically decrease, so always balance magnification with the field of view. Don’t let either of the two decrease.
A few manufacturers will give the Angle of View (AOV) rather than the Field of View. They speak to something related but not quite the same. However, it would help if you changed over the Angle of View to Field of View. To do this, multiply AOV times 52.5. For instance, if the Angle of View is 8 degrees, the FOV would be 420 feet. (8 x 52.5 = 420).
4- Focus of Binocular
The next thing comes to the focus that determines how close you can see your distant object or more specifically, the closest distance the binoculars can accurately focus. I know this may seem as bit unusual but hear us out. If the close focus of your binocular is good, then you can see the distant object with a good picture quality without missing or losing the focus. Additionally, many birders use their binoculars for looking at closer objects to see more details like stripes on the wings or varying colors of the body of the bird.
A close focus of less than 6′ for a full-size binocular is pretty remarkable. Typically, as magnification is increased, the minimum focus distance also increases. For users interested in a short close-focus distance, they should look at larger objectives sizes and keep the magnification at around 7x or 8x.
5- Roof vs. Porro Prism
These are two other essential specifications that you need to consider before choosing binoculars. Let me tell you a little bit about the Porro Prism. When light enters the focal point, it does a bends through the binocular to find a workable point. This style was standard until Roof Prism binoculars were invented.
Porro Prisms are less costly as compared to Roof Prisms. However, they can be a bit awkward to carry Porro Prism as compared to Roof Prism binoculars because of the shape, design, and weight.
If we talk about Roof Prism, then it plays an essential role because it let the light goes straight through your binoculars so that you look directly at the image. For bird viewing, it is one of the highly recommended prisms to use. It is effortless to carry because you can carry in your hands quickly and they are fairly light weight.
6 Eye Cups
The eye cups help cut down on the outside peripheral light during dawn or dusk periods. As well, eye cups are important because many of us wear glasses and we may need to adjust the eye cup so that the binoculars are the proper distance from our pupils (about 10mm to 12mm). So those who need to wear glasses, will need to fully retract the eye cups to get the proper positioning.
If the eye cups are in the fully extended position, this puts the eye about 20mm from the optic’s lens and protects the ocular lens while blocking peripheral light. However, it also limits the field of view. In binoculars with the most dramatic eyecup extension, the field of view can be limited by about 15-20 percent, effectively turning your 10X binocular into a 12X.
Protective Features for Binocular
Protective features are important because you will be in the outdoors and not always in perfect weather conditions. Let me explain a few of the more common protective features of binocular. The protection features include:
1- Water Proof or Water-Resistant
The first feature that falls in this category is water-resistant or water-proof. Sometimes, it is raining out or your environment is just plain damp and you need to carry your binoculars with you. We had this exact situation in our recent trip to the Peruvian Amazon Rain Forest.
If your binoculars don’t have some sort of water proof or resistant protections them you will suffer a loss when they get damp or water inside and they can’t be repaired. If you purchase binoculars with water-proof protection, then you can keep it with you anywhere without any too much worry.
However, be attentive when you look for these features. Sometimes a manufacturer sells it by describing it as a water-proof binocular, but in reality, it is not. Water-proof binoculars ordinarily use rubber O-rings to seal out dampness/water. They can endure a short quick splashdown, however not a lengthy submersion. Binoculars with this degree of assurance, regularly incorporate “water-proof” in the model name. Moreover, remember that water-resistant binocular doesn’t mean they are entirely water-proof. It means that they can handle a little water but not heavy rain or long term or deep submersion.
2- Rubberized Coating
If your binocular has a rubberized coating, then you may protect the lenses and binoculars from heavy scratches, bumps or bruises. However, it won’t guard your binoculars completely, yet it will become the most significant support system for your binocular. So, it’s always better to have a rubber coating especially if you will be in harsher outdoor conditions.
3- Fog-Proof Binocular
Fog Proof is another protection feature for your binoculars. Sometimes you need to travel from a warm to a cold environment that results condensation and that can damage your binoculars. For this purpose, we recommend purchasing only Fog proof Binoculars. Basically, the manufacturer replaces the air inside the binoculars with Nitrogen. Nitrogen does not contain any moisture content and therefore, no chance for condensation.
It will help you to protect your internal lens and will save your Binocular microscope from any severe damage. However, remember that it is only for the protection of internal lenses, not external. For the external lenses, we use an anti-fog spray or wipes similar to what we use with our ski goggles.
4. Anti-Reflective Lenses
This might be the most confusing feature we cover in this binoculars buying guide. Lens coatings have very specific terminology but let’s try to simplify. Simply put, lens coating will give you a clearer image. The better the coating, the less glare you get and the less light loss there is. And that’s a good thing!
There are 3 kinds of anti-reflective coatings. These are presented as:
- coated lenses,
- multi-coated lenses, and
- fully-coated lenses.
Coated lenses usually have a thin coating on one of the lens surfaces.
Multi-coated lenses on the other hand have the coating on multiple surfaces like the name says. This will usually provide a clear enough image. High-end binoculars might have fully-coated lenses. This means that all surfaces are coated and the best possible anti-reflection is provided.
Only go for the last option if you are a true professional as it will usually increase your budget quite a bit.
How to Focus Your Binoculars
If you have ever purchased binoculars, then you might know that each barrel contains a central focus. In contrast, it likewise consists of ‘diopter’ adjustment ring that helps in focusing a barrel independently. In case you are wearing glasses, then make sure to roll the eyecups down or twist them down.
I am going to mention a few steps that might help you in focusing your binocular.
- To keep the focus on binocular, cover your right lens with a cap and put your all focus on center control to see the distant objects.
- In the next step, cover your left lens with a cap and keep your focus on the diopter control to see the same distant object or animal.
- Once you are done with the points mentioned above, keep the adopter as it is. It will keep your focus on the center control. In this way, you can entirely focus your binocular.
Why Price is Different Among Binoculars?
Here is another essential debate that people often encounter before purchasing any product. We all know that for a single product, prices vary. I am going to mention those factors that bring a massive gap among the costs of unique merchandise.
1- Type and Quality
I think this factor is undeniable. The quality and type of specific product matter a lot in the price difference. The more quality components, the higher the price, whereas the lower the quality, the low the price. I think everyone will agree on it that the high price is due to the quality of the product. You can’t expect a high-quality product at a cheap rate.
The reason behind the difference among prices is the quality of a product. So if you want a quality based binocular, then you need to pay more. However, remember that the price doesn’t affect the features of benefits.
If we talk about binoculars, most of the price depends on the quality of object lenses and the prisms. If you want high-quality lenses and prism, then it will be costly.
The next thing that makes a massive difference in the price of binoculars is the coating. The coating helps you in various ways. It helps you not to lose the light of binocular. Many companies create quality-based coatings to keep the binocular safe from any massive loss, so when you purchase one with quality-based coating, you will pay a bit higher.
Every company develops their unique coatings. There should be multi-coating on any of the surfaces of the lens. If it not coated, then it means it is not perfect for you.
The next factor that involves the difference in price is ‘Engineering’. Apart from all the elements, adantages, andenefts, the engineer or manufacturer plays a significant role in making a specific product unique and successful. So if yu are urchasing a binocular, make sure to have proper information about the manufacturer.
If a great company like Leica, Barska, or even Celestron has manufactured it, then it will be costly or expensive. The manufacturer plays an essential role in making a product successful.
How to Choose the Perfect Binocular?
1- Try Out Several Models
It is one of the foremost things that you can do to purchase the best binoculars. Visit a few locals store where binoculars are being sold and try them out. You may select the best binocular after testing. Only then will you know what type or size you want for your needs. Always remember that binoculars that fit your friend doesn’t mean they will be a fit for you too. It would help if you had proper testing before purchasing it.
2- Relief for Your Eyes
Make sure to obtain a pair of binoculars that provide relief for your eyes. Most binoculars contain eyecups that can create minor difficulties for those who wear glasses or don’t always fit the shape of your eye sockets. If you are not comfortable with them, then what’s the need of purchasing it. Right?
Various multi-adjustable eyecups are available; you should always look for eyecups that better fit on your glasses or eye sockets so that they don’t bother you. Sometimes when you look at a distant object through the binoculars, a black ring tends to appear around the image due to these eyecups. That is a sign that they don’t fit your properly. Make sure it doesn’t happen with you.
3- Bright and True Colors
Viewing quality and color is of major significance. How impressive are the colors? Check that how sharp is the viewing image? How evident are the color hues? How well do they show the subtleties in an illuminated picture?
Most optics stores are well lit compared to your normal backwoods. As such, when you go to a store, then try to discover some darker area to look at low-light views. Try to give uncommon consideration to the Clarity/Crispness score to choose picture quality. The brightness and colors of binoculars are significant, don’t compromise on it.
4- Decide on a Price Range
Simply put, money doesn’t grow on trees, So, price is another critical factor. You can’t expect unlimited features or benefits at a bargain bottom price. If the benefits are high, then the price will also be high. It doesn’t mean that at a flat rate you can’t find a good binocular. You can but not with additional features or benefits.
5- Review Features and Warranty Period
When you go to purchase the binocular, don’t just agree on the size or shape of it. Don’t forget to review all its features, advantages, and characteristics before finalizing it. The view or focus of the binocular plays a significant role. If you are unable to clearly see the distant objects, then it is a waste of your money and subsequently, time.
Apart from its features or benefits, make sure to review the warranty period offered by the manufacturer Sometimes things just aren’t as durable as we would like. Make sure to purchase binoculars that include an extended warranty period so that if any issue occurs, you can return them, have them replaced, or have them repaired.
You may check the great options in a limited range after checking all the models from the stores.
How to Buy Binocular for Specific Uses
We all know that binoculars used for various purposes, and for each task, you may need to consider different factors. Here are a few ways that might help you in purchasing binoculars for different tasks. Let’s proceed.
1- Best Binoculars for Backpacking and Hiking
Binoculars commonly used when we go hiking are where we need to see various objects off in the distance. If you have to purchase binoculars for hiking purposes specifically, then you need to focus on the size and weight of the binoculars. For hiking purposes, you want to have a lightweight, compact binocular that should have the magnification of 8x and 10x.
If we talk about the diameter of the lens, then it should have 8 (8×25, 10×25, 8×28, and 10×28 are all excellent choices).
2- Best Binoculars for Bird Watching
It is another purpose for which people buy or need binoculars. If you want a pair of binoculars for bird viewing purposes, then we recommend 8×32 and 8×42 binoculars. If we talk about the magnification, then go for 8x or 10x power.
For me, I watch a lot of Sandhill Cranes and other migratory birds in Nebraska near Kearney. As such, binoculars with a larger field of view are important for me. As well, bird watching during the migration, I am often in mist or light rain so water-resistance is important along with anti-fogging.
3- Best Binoculars for Whale Watching
Next comes whale watching for which people often purchase binoculars. For whale watching we recommend 8×32, 8×42, 10×32, and 10×42, you may select any of your choices that best suites your style.
However, for this event, I am not a big fan of eight magnification; I prefer to go with ten power magnification. If the animals are far from you, then always select a mid-size lens. You will get a clear and visible vision of animals. One more thing that is essential in this is a water-resistant model. It will be useful if you go with a water-proof model.
4- Best Binoculars for Paddling
In case you are out on the water on a kayak, paddle board, SUP, or whale-watching boat, you might need to stay with a lower magnification, for example, eight or less because a higher (10-power) amplification can make consistent survey testing. Picking a water-proof model is a smart thought here, as well, for evident reasons. 8×32 is a mainstream size.
Final Thoughts on Buying the Best Binoculars
Ok, so do you feel a bit more comfortable after this detailed review of binoculars? I have mentioned all the points that might confuse you before purchasing it. So if you are about to buy the binocular or thinking of buying it then don’t forget the points mentioned above.
Make sure to check out our selection of great binoculars and spotting scopes!