How to Choose the Best Binoculars
Binoculars give you a clearer, closer look at objects that are far away. They are a must for avid bird-watchers. They can also be useful for general outdoors and sports use. Some people use binoculars even for a zoom lens for smartphones when they are in a pinch, or as an inexpensive, lightweight way to stargaze without a telescope. Binoculars are available with different specifications and at a range of price points. How do you know which binoculars are worthy of spending your hard-earned cash on? This guide will help you figure that out!
Size and Intended Use
The binocular size and intended use are two considerations that go together and will have a big influence on the type of binoculars that you ultimately choose.
For regular outdoor activities that take place during the day, you should get smaller, compact-sized binoculars. These can be a good choice for backpacking since they are so small and lightweight. They’ll usually have specs of 8 x 25 or 10 x 25.
For bird watching, boating, and wildlife viewing in a wider field of view, you may want to choose full-size binoculars. These binoculars are large so they aren’t the best choice for backpacking, but you’ll get an amazing view. You’ll likely see specifications for these binoculars such as 8 x 42 or 10 x 50.
A good compromise between compact and full-size binoculars is mid-size binoculars. These binoculars provide you with a good view while not being too heavy. That doesn’t mean that these binoculars are compact and light, but it’s a good middle-ground. You can use these for sports and wildlife viewing. You’ll find that these binoculars often have specs like 7 x 35 and 10 x 32.
What Do Those Numbers Mean?
When you see specifications like 8 x 25, you’re probably wondering what exactly those numbers mean. The first number (the 8 in this example) is the binocular magnification power. That’s how many times closer the object will appear to you as compared to the naked eye. So, if you’re looking at a bird with 8 x 25 binoculars, the bird will appear 8 times closer to you with these binoculars than without.
The second number (the 25 in the example above) represents the binocular objective lens diameter. This is the lens that is closer to the object you’re viewing (such as a bird), and the measurement is in millimeters. The diameter affects how much light is let in, which provides a brighter view. This is important for viewing in dimmer conditions.
Field of View
The field of view tells you how wide of an area you can see while looking through your binoculars. The width refers to the range about 1,000 yards out from where you are standing. For example, your field of view may be 450 feet wide when looking 1,000 yards in front of you.
Binocular lens coating reduces light reflection so that you get a clearer, brighter image. Fully multicoated lenses are the best choice.
The binocular focus is generally a wheel that can be spun to sharpen blurry images. There may also be a diopter ring that can be adjusted to compensate for any differences in visual acuity between your two eyes.
If you plan to be using your binoculars on a boat, waterproof binoculars are a must. There are also water-resistant binoculars, but these won’t fully protect against water and the possibility of submersion. Some binoculars are also fog-proof. If you wear glasses, you’ll want to choose binoculars that are compatible with that, featuring at least 15 mm of adjustability for eye relief.