Since their inception, binoculars have helped people of all ages see objects that aren’t clearly visible to the naked eye, personal and up close. Whether you’re using them as a scope for star gazing or taking high-quality shots to document your digital nomad lifestyle, the right model of binoculars can be an excellent accessory to own.
Despite their widespread availability, what are the must-have features in a binocular, what makes one model different to the other, and how to achieve great views with a new purchase is information that’s still mysterious to potential customers. That’s why we decided to create an ultimate guide that educates you on all the bits and bobs of buying and using this handy accessory.
Let’s dive deep into the world of binoculars, shall we?
What to look for in binoculars?
Binoculars are a handy tool for off the grid survival. They have a range of traits and features. The important ones include:
Binoculars generally come in three sizes: full, medium, and compact. Common full size specs are 8*42, 10*50. These binoculars collect more light and are great for using on a boat (or serious wildlife watching). Mid-sized ones are 7*35 and 10*32, and are better for sports and wildlife use. Compact binoculars are the lightest ones with specs of 8*25 and 10*25. They’re the most portable but may become problematic during extended use.
Lower magnification allows you to get up close with the target or object. However, there’s an opportunity cost of going too low. For example, getting a close up view of something means you can’t completely see the environment around the object. The recommended magnification, therefore, is 8x or 10x. Also, it’s important to note that a magnificent power above 10x is going to amplify the hand movement of the user, making it challenging to obtain a steady view.
Field of view
This refers to the area that you can view at a certain design. For example, a binocular model with 250 ft. field of view could allow you to see an object 1000 yards far. Once the object gets bigger in view, you’re going to see less of the environment around. A wide view is preferable for spotting wildlife such as birds. However, you’ll need to compromise on the magnification power as it has a trade-off with field of view.
The viewing accessory comes with various prism styles. These are important, as a binocular without prism would show everything upside down because of the ample rays passing through its lenses. The most popular prisms are “porro” and “roof.” Thee former offer excellent optics, but are a bit heavy in terms of weight. The latter are compact and slim, which makes them a good choice for travel. The downside of roof-prism binoculars is that they’re costlier to buy.
Objective Lens Diameter
Another important feature to consider is the diameter of the binocular’s objective lens. It’s depicted in millimeters. 35mm is the objective lens diameter for binoculars with 7*35 objective lenses. These define how much light can pass through the gadget, with bigger objective lens diameters able to capture more light and provide a clearer view in low-light environments.
This implies how bright the binocular will show an object when it’s placed in low lighting. The greater the number, the brighter is going to be the image. Bigger exit pupils also make it convenient to see the complete picture of an object if the user’s hands shake or move. In most instances, exit pupils are calculated by dividing the objective lens diameter by the binocular’s magnification. Look for binoculars that have an exit pupil number above 7, as anything below will block the light from reaching your pupils.
Like exit pupil, relative brightness defines how bright an animal or object will appear to the user’s pupils. Objects will appear brighter when the relative brightness of the binocular is high. The number is calculated by doing a square of the number for exit pupil.
This shows the particular distance between the user’s eyes and each eyepiece as the entire “field of view” can be seen. Longer eye reliefs, obviously, provide greater comfort by enabling users to hold the gadget away from their face. This specification is most relevant to those who wear eyeglasses. Pro tip: make sure to take off the “rubber eyepiece collar” before using the binocular if you’ve been wearing eyeglasses for a while. An eye relief that’s greater than 10mm should do the trick.
This is another factor that defines the comfort and durability of the binocular. Materials that are of the highest quality last longer, and are a bit costlier than other binoculars. For instance, lightweight binoculars often include magnesium alloy and have durable materials. Affordable models, on the other hand, feature plastics and resins. Although the latter are difficult and less prone to bumps and knocks, they weigh more. At the end of the day, the material you go with will depend on the quality of the image you wish to achieve and and your overall budget.
Fog and Water-proofing capabilities
Waterproof binoculars often contain “O-rings” that wick the moisture away. Also, they keep small debris from entering the binoculars lens. Fogroof models also exist for those who’re always moving between temperatures.
Best binoculars to buy
If you want to be an avid binocular user, close your eyes and pick any binocular from Zeiss Terra. The brand has a great reputation for making high-quality binoculars since a decade. A popular option for enthusiasts is the ED 10*42. It has been designed exclusively for field view watchers, and features an “ED” type lens – these work well to prevent color bleeds. Seeing objects in an enlarged state is also possible because of the 10x magnification. Plus, you get to view steady images courtesy of the 100-110m field of view. The Exit pupil diameter is 4.2mm. The binocular is also waterproof.
What’s unique about it?
This binocular comes with hydrophobic multi-coating that produces high-end graphics for the user. It’s perfect for bird watching, tree observation, and several travel-based activities.
This binocular’s manufacturer has used the highest quality material to make the accessory. Consumers get an image quality and image brightness that’s as good as any expensive binocular available in the market. The 71404 from Celestron also comes with Phase and Dielectric coatings that carry Bak-4 Prisms. The high-end prisms technology allows more light to pass via the binocular for enhanced resolution and brightness. Users also get a good field of view, which allows them to take a good look at the subject without needing to move the binoculars. Another lovable aspect of the Celestron 71404 is the 6.5-inch Close Focus; it allows you to see the subject in a clear zoom.
What’s unique about it?
It’s one of the few binoculars out there that has a magnesium alloy body. Plus, it has a durable frame that can make it last an eternity (if handled with care).
You’ll likely find yourself in a situation where you wish your binoculars had a zoom switch. Well, this model from Olympus Tracker ensures your wish doesn’t just stay a “wish.” It comes with an 8-16x zoom which is extremely durable for occasions when you’re aiming to get an upclose angle. However, you do have to compromise the field of view in this instance. Picture quality is quite decent, but your eyelashes might get in the way when it comes to achieving a circular picture (even if you extend the eye cups). With all that said, the zoom feature from Olympus is indeed a great idea.
What’s unique about it?
Its high-index prisms let users achieve a crisp, bright picture. It’s also lightweight and extremely compact.
If you want to buy a top brand and model of binoculars while ensuring you don’t end up financially drained, then this model is one of the best choices. If you rank professional-grade binoculars, the Avalon 10*42 Pro HD come on top as the globe’s lightest. Despite the achievement, they’re affordable and come with a necks strap inside their box. Other amenities include a case and a cleaning cloth. Users would also love the fact that they feature multi-coated optics that deliver high-quality imagery in a range of scenarios. Plus, they can be taken under water. A good use of these would be spotting of airplanes. Considering their light nature, they’re comfortable to hold and easy to move.
What’s unique about it?
The binoculars come packed in a carry case. Users also get an elegant gift box. But the best part is the VIP warranty by Avalon that lasts a lifetime. The 10x magnification on these binoculars also makes them ideal for long-distance viewing.
If you’re going on a backpacking trip, get these binoculars and forget all other models. It has a lightweight body because of its chassis, and also additional protection courtesy of its rubber armor. The rubber also offers a non-slip grip to the user. The magnification strength is 8x and the objective lens is 28mm, which makes it a top binocular pick for 2019 ad beyond. In addition, users get a combo of multi-coating and dielectric that enables light to pass through. Adjustment is also easy with the right eyecup featuring a “center focus wheel.”
What makes it unique?
This binocular has waterproof and fogproof abilities because of the argon purging and rubber armor. Feel free to take it along in severe weather.
This isn’t the most portable binocular on the market, but it works great for star gazing and bird watching. People buying this accessory will get a 42 mm objective lens, which eliminates potential low light and dusk issues. The filed of view is 430 feet, which is “extra wide” according to the manufacturer. Birds are easily visible from even 1000 yards out. Other perks include the 8x magnification and the coated prisms that deliver HD quality imagery, making binocular experiences the best.
What makes it unique?
The binocular from Wingspan was designed using a glass of “low dispersion.” This glass is naturally fog and crystal proof. This particular model also includes a 2M close focus for upclose viewing.
Whoever buys this model manages to get their hands on the optic quality of Nikon (one of the best in the industry). Nikon Aculon A211 is capable of generating crisp imagery when it’s lenses are setup correctly. You have a 50mm objective lens also, and it does a great job at delivering a large field of view. The magnification range of 10-22x along with the robust design ensures users can magnify at their pace and preference. Another notable part of this binocular is the large focus wheel that makes holding the accessory hassle-free even if the user is wearing gloves. Rubber armor housing has also been added and molded to increase durability and grip power against falls and rough handling.
What makes it unique?
It’s clear that the glass part of the binoculars is the most unique aspect of this model. Also, many people aren’t aware of the fact that the manufacturer is using “eco-friendly” elements in the form of the Eco-Glass.
Whether you’re putting together a survival kit or planning to prep up for tiny home living, the binoculars reviewed above should be able to fulfill your requirements. Try getting familiar with the features and technical specifications of these picks, so you can select the best binoculars for your needs. Most importantly, try getting in touch with people who’ve already used them. Word of mouth can get you a better idea of what works and what doesn’t. Also, if you can test a few out at a store, do so!