When looking for best binoculars you get countless models and versions so things can get very confusing and tricky.
As a result, most people stick to the ones they find best fitting their needs and budget. Some people even buy binoculars based on design and aesthetics, but that doesn’t provide them with the best vision.
Then, what is the proper way to buy binoculars? When you’re considering the factors to get the ‘best binoculars,’ there has to be a definitive selection process. The good news is that this guide will help you understand this selection process. More importantly, you will learn about the factors that matter. You’ll learn to shuffle through the options available and get the one that fits your needs.
Additionally, you will get information about some terms, numbers, and mechanisms that binoculars use. Overall, it will all work to be your ultimate buyers guide for binoculars.
As mentioned above, we are going to dig deeper into the considerations. There will be pertinent information in laymen’s terms to ensure you understand what everything is. After providing you useful information, the guide will narrow down towards more simple considerations.
In simple words, these factors cover technical knowledge and a simple guide to help you make the best choice for binoculars. Of course, if you don’t want to get into the technical spectrum, you can skip through it. However, it could prove to be highly beneficial and an interesting read.
Before you begin the guide, remember to determine your budget, the purpose of the binoculars, and who will primarily use it. It will enable you to have a more precise and personalized approach to the selection process. With that in mind, let’s begin:
When buying the binoculars, the first thing to notice is the numbers. These numbers can be something like ‘5-12x100.’ To break down, 12 is the magnifying power, and 100 is the lens’s objective diameter. The number 5 is related to the zooming factor. Of course, these numbers will vary significantly from one binocular to another.
Several factors, like the size and quality of binoculars, will determine this number. However, these are the determining factors for you to buy the right binoculars. Here’s a quick overview of how or why:
Magnifying power determines how closer an object will appear for you than it is. For example, a magnifying power of 5 means it will appear five times closer, while 12 means it will appear 12 times closer. So, if you have something at a distance of 500 meters and your binoculars have a magnifying power of 5, the object will appear as if it’s 100 meters away. That’s the level of clarity you will get.
Generally, for personal use, magnifying power anywhere between 7 to 12 is good. Anything above that will most likely require support like tripod stands and such because the binoculars get heavier. Most of the people stick around to 10 as it seems to be the perfect number.
Of course, you also get zooming power as an additional perk you will learn about.
An objective diameter determines the image’s clarity as it depicts the lens’s ability to collect light to focus on the image. From the above example, 100 is the objective diameter, and that number is usually in millimetres. Of course, the larger the number, the more board the lenses will be. Therefore, the number of 100 mm is just too significant for anyone’s good.
As a general rule of selection, the objective diameter can be five times the magnifying power. So binocular with 10x magnifying power should have 50mm diameter. It brings the best clarity. However, for dim-light (low light) vision, wider lenses are preferable.
When you get the number 5-10x100, it means you have adjustable binoculars. These will enable you to set magnifying power from 5x to 10x, and that’s what zoom is all about. Almost every model today comes with a zooming capacity, and it’s a good idea for you to buy one, as well. It will enable you the flexibility to set magnifying according to your requirement.
Remember, if you get a higher zoom, it can impact your field of view, which you will learn about below. Similarly, the ‘zoom’ adjustments often come with a trade-off for image quality. That’s why most of the people who love crisp image details don’t use adjustable binoculars.
Eye relief is the distance you can make from the binocular lenses and still get a clear view wherever you look. This is generally not a consideration for a typical person. However, if you wear glasses, it becomes crucial to consider eye relief.
Some people who can’t keep their eyes shoved into the eyecups also consider this aspect to determine the space they can maintain from binoculars. Either way, if you wear glasses, you might have to consider eye relief of around 11mm, at the least.
Apart from the diameter of your lenses, the exit pupil also determines the brightness of the image. The higher the exit pupil, the brighter the image will be. The general rule of finding an exit pupil is dividing the lenses’ diameter by the magnifying power. For example, if the magnifying power is five and the lenses are 20 mm, then the exit pupil will be 4mm.
For darker areas, an exit pupil of 5-7mm is accurate, while in brighter areas, anything below 5mm would be a better choice.
To put it in simple words, the field of view means the amount of ‘area’ or ‘scenery’ you catch or view through binoculars. Higher zooming or magnifying powers often narrow down the field of view. If you get lower power, you will have a more expansive field of view. Therefore, it would depend on your requirement.
Usually, the field of view is given in the form of degrees. It will correlate to the distance, as well. For example, 1 FOV means 52.5 feet Field of View in 1000 yards. That’s the best way to put it. So if you get 6 FOV, just multiply it by 52.5 feet, and you will have the result as the viewing field you can get at 1000 yards (315 feet) and so on.
The image that binoculars capture and produce to your eyes would be upside down if it wasn’t for the prism in the binoculars. That’s right! The prism is an essential component of the binoculars that connect the parts (lenses) and ensure light waves’ transportation. It enables you to view them.
However, the type of prism is also responsible for the compact size of the binoculars. You will understand a little more about it as you read below.
Binoculars with Porro prism have a broader design that makes them look bulky. Roof prism shrinks the binoculars’ width and makes them look more ‘elongated.’ That’s the critical difference in a design you get when you consider the type of prism in use.
The prism effect a lot more than meets the eyes. You might think that it’s just the design, but that’s not true. Even though Porro prism uses more components, it’s cheaper. Roof prism drastically increases the cost of binoculars because of the different construction requirements.
Additionally, it is the primary determinant of the size and design of the binoculars. If you want sleek binoculars, you might want to consider roof prism, which adds to the cost. Additionally, the Porro prism is most likely to break and get a damaged component more quickly as too many prisms and lenses connect. Even a fault in a single part would mean complete malfunction. Despite that, Porro binoculars might be a more budget-friendly alternative.
Two binoculars of the same size, length, and virtually identical design might cost different. It’s due to the quality of the components in them. Therefore, if you decide to choose Porro Prism Binoculars, you can save a lot of money while scoring high-quality binoculars.
By cutting down the unnecessary cost of a Roof prism, you can focus that money on getting a better quality of Porro binoculars. However, it would mean that you will have that chunky piece, which might even be heavier. If you don’t mind the trade, it’s one of the best options available.
Now that you understand everything about the binocular’s mechanism. It’s time to look at the actual tool in hand to consider the factors that matter. Remember, the prism aspect already covers the size and elaborates on its importance. After that, these are the attributes that matter:
If your binoculars don't have coated lenses, it will develop glares. The water reflecting from water or direct sunlight will produce glare and make it highly uncomfortable for you. Thus, you won't be able to enjoy the view.
If you want high-quality images without the light’s abrupt interference, you might want to check for coated lenses. These reflect excess light and prevent your vision from damage. Thus, it can protect your eyes in the long run.
There are three different materials available for the frame of binoculars. The industrial standard is aluminum as it is cheap, lightweight, and durable enough. Many manufacturers will also bring you magnesium due to its corrosion-resistant prowess and high strength to weight ratio. Remember that magnesium will cost much more than aluminum. It is even a high-end material.
Polycarbonate or synthetic material is also ubiquitous, which is lightweight and generally used in low-end binoculars. High-end binoculars also use it for its temperature-neutral appeal as in extreme cold or heat. It will remain the same. It lacks protection against sunlight but has excellent corrosion, rust, and water resistance. It would be an ideal material to look for. synthetic
Eyecups are where you will rest your eyes. The quality of the eyecup’s material will determine how long you can keep it on. More importantly, it will decide whether the vision is comfortable or not. If you want comfortable binoculars, eyecups should be soft on the eyes and fit around them without providing any leakage of light rays from the side.
In some cases, like if you have glasses, you can eliminate the eyecups as you will mostly put the binoculars on your glasses. In this case, how soft it would be against your glasses would matter to prevent damage like scratches to your glasses.
Binoculars can be a very costly investment, especially if you’re buying high-grade with good coating and everything. Therefore, it becomes paramount for you to consider appropriate protection for it. Here’s a quick overview of things for you to consider when getting binoculars. It will determine the durability, longevity, and other similar aspects:
Water and moisture can be the primary factors that could degrade your binoculars. If you are using binoculars at the beachside, while kayaking, fishing, or in a humid climate, it is pivotal for you to check waterproofing attributes.
Many manufacturers will sell you ‘water-resistant’ binoculars, and that’s not what you would want to have. Water-resistance is suitable for splashing water, but it won’t protect your binoculars from moisture or dip of water. As a result, water will go inside and start corroding your binoculars from inside.
It’s hard to protect the lenses and prism from damage due to blunt force. Any bump or shock at the right place can break them. Therefore, you should always carry a protective case with a fixed cushioning or padding to ensure your binoculars can last long. It is crucial for high-end binoculars you spent hundreds of bucks on.
However, as for the binoculars themselves, rubber covering or coating can be a great choice. It will add to the grip and even enhance water protection. More importantly, the rubber layer would reduce the amount of force binoculars will receive if you hit them or drop them somewhere. As a result, you will have better protection. It’s worth looking into.
If you’re in an area prone to fogging and your binoculars are becoming prey to it, you might want to consider the anti-fog aspect. It prevents moisture from building inside and outside the binoculars. However, these cost slightly more than standard binoculars because they are more well-sealed and have nitrogen gas inside instead of air. As a result, you get entirely fog-proof binoculars.
These are some of the features you will find in advance or high-grade binoculars. All of these are worth considering but not immediately required for you to use binoculars.
Many modern binoculars come with an option for you to connect them with your phone. Some even come with an extra tool or component to attach to your phone’s camera and increase the magnifying power. That would work well if you want to capture images.
Many binoculars also have built-in cameras, even a memory card to store whatever they record. That’s right! Binoculars are essentially becoming cameras you can use to view longer distances. You can look for it if you want these qualities.
Most of the advanced binoculars will come with infrared sensors’ capabilities to pinpoint an object’s distance from you. Of course, it will compromise the ‘vision’ with a little coloring (usually red), but that’s not necessarily true.
Many modern cameras even come with the ability to show you angular measures, like how elevated the binoculars are and whatnot. Most competitive golfers, military experts, and even hunters utilize these types of binoculars.
Imagine stabilization helps binoculars provide you more stable images, especially if you’re walking. It is an excellent choice for people on a boat or traveling in a vehicle for sightseeing. Either electrical or manual, there are two types of image stabilization techniques binoculars come with.
A built-in pendulum-like design is manual and would help by moving the lenses somewhat and balancing the vision. Alternatively, a gyroscope is another option available in binoculars that will balance the lenses but require some power source like batteries.
Most marine-grade binoculars will cost more, but they are built for heavy-duty performance, especially in the rain, storm, moisture, and cold. These binoculars are usually buoyant to prevent them from sinking and utilize high-grade components to ensure they can last very-well.
Often, marine-grade or military-grade binoculars come with various features like IR sensors, digital or analog compass, and much more. That’s what makes them robust and well-versed performers. However, these usually focus on light capturing and providing more depth or details in the distance. So, they might even have colored coatings to increase depth perception for tracking.
A: Focusing is a process of adjusting binoculars according to your eyes. It is to add comfort and prevent any distortion or stress around your eyes. Many people underestimate focusing, but it’s the same as wearing the right pair of glasses for your eyes. If you have the wrong focus, the experience will be bad. Therefore, before using binoculars, everyone should ‘focus’ their binoculars according to their eyes.
A: There are two adjustment modules available in any binocular. Their location might change, but these are indispensable and available in every model. There would be a dial for the ‘center’ focus of the binoculars. It is usually located in the center of the binoculars and will adjust both sides of the lenses. There will be another known as ‘diopter,’ which is situated around the eyecups of your binoculars.
A diopter can be on either side of the binoculars. Some even have it on both sides. Let’s say the right side has a diopter for ease of understanding, and the left doesn’t. So, close the right eye first and look through the binoculars, around 50 feet away and focus through the center dial until the image is clear.
Then close the left eye and look through the right eye. If there is still distortion or lack of focus fifty feet away, then use the diopter to adjust for that eye to see in the distance. Once done, open both of your eyes. The binocular’s focus should be accurate. If there are still some problems, use the center pierce. In binoculars that have a diopter in both, you don’t have to use the center focus dial at all.
A: The rule of finding the perfect size ratio is similar to the ‘exit pupil equation.’ Your lenses’ diameters should be five times the maximum magnifying power of the binoculars. In other words, if you have a magnifying power of 5, you should have a lens diameter of 25.
A: It would come down to the quality of the binoculars. Often, the quality of optics and lenses would determine the cost significantly. The type of prism is another factor. If you look at it, two similar binoculars may have a price margin of hundreds of dollars between them.
For example, BAK-4 is a very high-grade prism available for binoculars. If you use that, it will drastically enhance the image sharpness and clarity. Additionally, the type of coating on the lenses and prism, like ‘Phase’ coating, would amplify the cost. It all comes down to how much image clarity and quality do you like.
Some additional features may also increase the price of binoculars. So, that’s worth noticing.
Choosing the right pair of binoculars can be a daunting task. Many people look at various binoculars and think they are the same in every aspect, except design.
That’s not the case at all. Now, with the help of this guide, you learn about everything that makes a difference. You can go out and get your perfect pair according to the activity you have in mind under your budget.
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