Finding The Best Binoculars – A Complete Guide
Binoculars offer a VERY personal experience. The average spectator does not appreciate how crucial it is to have exactly the right game for the exact occasion chosen by the user. Read more about the best binoculars. But what if they did it?
They would never look at the horizon the same way again!
You see, when you have the right pair of binoculars on hand, they can totally transform your appreciation of the local environment.
Going on safari and using your eyes is one thing, but being able to see every little detail of the natural landscape in all its splendor and seeing wildlife, the small details of the terrain and generally seeing everything in “HD” vision in motion is an experience that all binocular enthusiasts know only too well – it’s the best way to see the world.
No matter what your landscape or what exactly you want to look for, binoculars are the best way to see it. You can be an astrologer, an ornithologist or even someone who occasionally takes an interest in the local landscape and wants to appreciate it in all its splendor.
No matter who you are, this guide will help you find the set that best suits your needs.
Getting The Right Optics
Let’s find out exactly what to look out for in binoculars to get the best possible pair for your needs.
Keep in mind that you’re not necessarily looking for the “biggest” or the greatest anything when it comes to looking at the following distinct features of binoculars – rather, you’re looking for a set of features that precisely match your tourism goals, whatever they may be.
This can be more than a little confusing, but we will break them down for you to make them easier to understand.
Basically, if you see a pair of (for example) 10×48 binoculars, the first number indicates how many times the object is closer to you in your field of view when you look through the binoculars, compared to just looking through your eyes.
In our example, the first number 10 means that any object seen through your binoculars will be 10 times closer to you than it is without them.
The side number aspect (48) refers to the diameter (field of view) of the lens. In this case, the lens is 48 mm wide.
What do these numbers mean in the real world? They simply dictate the distance an object is approaching and the width of your field of vision. The wider the field of view, the more you can see at the same time. The higher the first number, the closer and farther objects will come to you.
Think about what you’re actually going to do with your binoculars before you rush to decide which pair to buy. For bird watchers, you will need a pair that is able to bring faraway species as close as possible to the user, which requires a powerful magnification capability (the first digit).
In this case, however, there is little point in having an enormous field of vision, as one would only be able to focus on small and singular objects.
On the other hand, if you simply want to observe the landscape in your local field with a little more acuity, you don’t need a large number of magnifications. Depending on the size of the field, however, you may need a large field of view.
Consider the relevance of the figures to the activity at any given time.
The Size Of The Binoculars
It may seem a little odd to point out that the size of your binoculars will have a massive impact on the pleasure you get from them, but you’d be surprised how many people are wrong about that.
In general, the larger the lenses, the more bulky and larger the binoculars will be – but that’s not always a bad thing. It really depends on how you use them.
In an ideal world, if you were, for example, a professional surveyor or even a soldier, you would be able to carry the most powerful lenses possible attached to the smallest possible binocular frame.
Unfortunately, that won’t be the case – you have to try to minimize space while making the most of the lenses.
If this is not possible, you may simply have to consider that the only way to fulfill your function will be to use a large pair, in which case you will need to provide transport space for the lenses.
Similarly, if you’re an amateur who just wants to enjoy the wildlife, then you don’t really need to have a huge pair.
If your lens is not work-related, consider using a pair of more portable and accessible binoculars to make your life easier.
Otherwise, take advantage of the power of a large pair!
If the facets of your binoculars are of the same quality, the level of light you will be able to “retrieve” from the object you are looking at will depend largely on the level of film you have applied to your lenses (coating).
It is possible to lose up to 35% of the light from a distant object when the lenses have no form of protection/coating. Overall, the highest quality coated designs lose less than 5%.
Clearly, this will make a huge difference in your appreciation of your surroundings, so you need to consider how much light you actually need to “retrieve” the objects in your field of view.
If you have to spend a lot of time looking at objects in the late afternoon or early evening, you can safely say that you need a pair of binoculars with a powerful coating system to minimize loss of vision when the sun begins to set.
However, if you have to spend most of your time outdoors in broad daylight, depending on how accurately you need to see the details of your subject, you could probably get away with fewer coatings.
The levels of application on your lenses are: coated, fully coated, multi-coated, fully multi-coated or multi-coated, with each respective phase dictating a higher price for the binoculars you choose (multi-coated binoculars are potentially cheap, up to $150 these days, to give you an idea).
Rangefinder binoculars are an optical breakthrough – they have proved to be an absolutely indispensable addition to the arsenal of many optics’ enthusiasts. With a pair of rangefinders, you can find out exactly how far you are from your “target”.
It should be noted that rangefinders and binoculars are (or used to be) two very different products; however, nowadays it is common to find combined items that deliver all the goods in one package.
So what’s the point of finding out the precise degree of space that separates you from the object in your field of vision? Well, it’s potentially crucial.
If you’re a hunter, a military man or a geographer, being able to determine the exact distance between objects in your field of vision is going to be incredibly useful. Even if you’re an occasional explorer, this feature will help you determine efficient and fast paths to advance on your journey.
But if you’re not one of those people, you may find that a telemetry option is more than useless. Base your choice solely on your objectives or even on the extra pleasure that rangefinders might give you.
Now that you know more about what to look for, it’s a good time to examine everything from the best brands of binoculars to some of the best options for different types of users.
A crucial element when it comes to waterproof binoculars is to understand that waterproofing, weather and water resistance are NOT the same as impermeability.
Sometimes even waterproof binoculars are not waterproof.
At certain atmospheric levels, a pair of binoculars can be truly waterproof, but they must be able to tolerate changes in the atmosphere, as they say when climbing a mountain, in order to be considered fully protected from “invading” water.
The best varieties are sealed indoors and offer permanent protection against water, no matter what level you are at. It is also useful to check how deep your new binoculars can be immersed in water (depth, etc.).
You may think that you don’t intend to throw them into a lake, but depending on the nature of what you do and the places you visit (and the importance of your work), you should accept this possibility.
In fact, if you don’t use a variety in these circumstances that can tolerate being dumped in a fairly large body of water, you’re pretty sure it will happen accidentally, to your dismay.
It’s better to be careful than sorry – don’t worry too much about high water protection if you’re just a hobbyist or even a bird watcher working at a certain altitude, but if you have to go on an adventure, this aspect must be carefully considered.
The Best Binoculars
We’ll start this section by talking about the best optical suppliers before moving on to the types of binoculars that will allow you to perform a multitude of different functions.
Which Brands To Look Out For
There are of course hundreds of variations on the brands on the market at the moment, but as with everything else, some offer a much better product than others.
Some manufacturers produce all sorts of different electronic devices and rely on the fact that you already know their brand to make you think that their binoculars are also great.
Unfortunately, this is not always the case; this list will give you a brief overview of some of the best brands out there when it comes to buying great binoculars.
- Upland Optics
- Hawk Nature
Of course, there are many other great brands out there that are the crème de la crème if you want to get the best value for your money.
The Best Marine Binoculars
Finding the right pair of binoculars can be tricky – it’s all about what you need to get out of your new optics.
The captain or an integral member of a ship’s crew needs something that allows them to see far and wide to help them avoid potential danger and plot the safest possible course to their destination.
Technological witchcraft has far surpassed the requirements of traditional optical strategies such as binoculars in the situation described above. Yet sometimes you have to be able to work directly with what is in front of you – at such a critical time, only the best varieties of binoculars are essential.
Similarly, you may be on a sea voyage and be eager to discover the various potential destinations on your journey – everything from winged creatures to whale watching is usually a commonplace for some ocean liner clients, so their satisfaction could be greatly enhanced by the use of some high-amplification optics.
Similarly, you may simply be based near a major waterway and need something to allow you to enjoy the surrounding scenery more.
Consider your lighting needs, as you will be constantly outdoors during the day for the duration of your excursions or sightings – in this case, the lens coating could have a sensational effect if it is of high quality.
If we had to name just one pair out of a vast ocean (pardon the pun) of choice of marine binoculars, then the Bushnell H20 waterproof/fog proof Porro prism binoculars would be the first choice because of its unbeatable price/performance ratio.
Bushnell H20 Waterproof/Fogproof Porro Prism Binocular
Everything you need can be found in this outstanding pair for a great price.
Master Your Game – Choosing The Right Hunting Binoculars
Concretely, you are looking for a product that must be able to offer you sufficient amplification to allow you to “frame” your object efficiently while being incredibly easy to maintain.
However, high amplification will make it difficult to define your visual path, while insufficient amplification will not allow reasonable use in a large and open environment.
You need to consider everything from your usual conditions to the conditions under which you will be observing (would you say you are surrounded by a lot of water? ) and the season/time of day from/to which you intend to be outdoors.
Compare your needs based solely on these different factors and you’ll be sure to come to a reasonable conclusion – at this stage, you should simply browse through the available items on a wide range of binoculars to determine which one is best for you.
In case we need to choose a unique optical element to take with us into the wild, we would definitely use the Leica 10×42 GeoVidHD-B laser go binoculars because of their remarkable build and range finding ability, as well as their beautiful line of sight.
Leica 10×42 Geovid HD-B Laser Range Finding Binocular
The Best Things Come In Small Packages – Which Pocket Sized Optics Are Best?
It can be very difficult to find the right pair of small but effective optics for your needs.
If you need something that is easy to carry for general use during your holidays, for example, it will be easier to find a good pair than for someone who needs power AND accessibility in terms of size.
The key is to find a pair that can provide all the optical power you need while not taking up a lot of space – that’s where the difficulty comes in, because the smaller the binoculars are, the more their viewing ability is theoretically reduced.
There are, however, major exceptions to the rule, and you’ll find that the best ones are not only “biting”, but have been cleverly designed so that lens size is not sacrificed too much.
Our favorite choice in this niche is without a doubt the Vortex optics 8×28 viper series waterproof roof prism binoculars – they have a serious punch in a minimal package and are hard to beat in terms of value and quality.
Vortex Optics Viper Binoculars Compact
Into The Wild – The Best Safari Binoculars
Those looking for safari-friendly optics have their work cut out for them: it takes a rugged model with exceptional capabilities to bring a safari adventure to life.
Of these, the most important is, of course, the ability to bring distant subjects closer to you. In this case, you need something that can see reasonably far away, and one could say that there is no limit to the level of “zoomability” required for total enjoyment.
Consider your landscape: you will need to see subjects that are both close enough (land animals) and far enough away (birds for example). So you don’t need to get something that is either under or over-zoomed; you need a balance to be able to see your subjects in as much detail as possible.
Also remember that you will be scanning the horizon at different intervals, so a wide enough field of view will be needed to get the most out of it.
The lens coating plays an important role here, as you will be in varying light conditions. Make sure that your model can offer as much visual clarity as possible in order to get the most out of your trip.
Our best choice of safari binoculars should be the Swarovski SLC range for its unbeatable build and superior quality features. Their price is quite high, but you will certainly get value for your money.
Gazing At The Stars- Optical Perfection For Gazing At The Night Sky With
This binoculars niche is interesting because it goes somewhat against the principles of what would normally make an amazing set of binoculars!
After all, you’re not going to use these binoculars under normal conditions, so it’s only natural that the pair you’ve chosen should meet your requirements and give you the clearest possible view of the stars.
For a start, a decent degree of focal capacity is required as standard, as your subjects are far away from your position – you probably couldn’t get away with a 6x zoom, for example. You need at least a 7 or more to make sure you can capture the finest details.
A super-wide line of sight/cone of sight is also desirable – to see the sky in all its glory, you need to be able to see as much of it as possible and this simply won’t happen if your field of view is too small.
Lens coating plays an important role here as it is crucial that you can capture as much light as possible when looking at your subjects, and at night there won’t be much of that, of course.
The key to an extraordinary set of binoculars for space science is to ensure that you have something in your hands that has enough coating on the focal points to reflect almost 100% of the accessible light as it exists at night – to achieve this, of course, you need a first-rate coating.
You probably won’t have the opportunity to get your hands on small optics in this niche market. This is an opportunity where size really does make a difference and you’ll have to make do with a more robust / “larger” optic to observe the night sky to the highest degree.
There are some portable adaptations, but also tripod-mounted variants. It’s up to you to decide if you want to use a tripod, but it may well make your life easier if you need to get the best possible perspective on the wonderful night sky.
Our first choice for astrology binoculars is (again!) the Swarvoski SLC 10×42 model as it is simply perfect for capturing the complex details of the night sky in conjunction with a fantastic field of view and light gathering capability.
Bird Watching – How To Make The Most Of It
To get the most out of your birdwatching experience, you need to strike a delicate balance between several excellent features – there are many factors to consider.
The first mistake many people make is to opt for optics with the highest magnification capacity – which ends up causing huge problems in practical use.
Even if you are observing birds that are potentially far away from you, you also want to be able to observe them in great detail, which means having a steady hand.
If the level of magnification is too high, it will be very difficult to keep the binoculars stable.
Your field of vision is also important. Another mistake amateur ornithologists make is to opt for a wide enough lens thinking that it will give them a better chance of seeing their subjects, but in reality, it makes observation difficult.
If the angle of the lens is too wide, you will not be able to successfully study the finer details of the bird species. The coating of the lens is also important here: at what time of day will you mainly observe?
If you spend time outdoors in the late afternoon or at dusk, you will certainly need a pair of binoculars that can capture as much light as possible.
The size of the binoculars should also be taken into account – do you go on long hikes? Do you have a tripod? If your optics end up being too heavy for comfortable use, it could easily prevent you from enjoying them. We really like the Bushnell Permafocus roof prism range – they’re lightweight, compact and offer a high-quality bird watching experience at a great price.
Bushnell PermaFocus Roof Prism Binocular
Capture The Magic – The Best Binoculars With A Built In Camera
Sometimes it’s not enough to just be in the moment – you have to be able to capture what you see to look at it again in the future or show people who might not believe some of the amazing stories you tell on your travels!
When it comes to specifications, it’s less about binoculars than it is about video recording quality.
Your hobby or field of work will dictate the type of magnification and viewing frame you need – it’s how you then capture what you see that makes all the difference with a video recorder and binoculars combined.
If you’re going on safari, only the best HD recording quality can really do justice to your trip. The same goes for a bird watcher: you need to capture the species in all its glory, with as much detail as possible, while zooming in.
All in all, if you have to travel to many “wide-angle” outdoor locations, you don’t need the same level of precise and intricate detail that a super HD camera can provide. That would be nice, but it wouldn’t be strictly necessary.
Think about what level of camera quality YOU find acceptable and make your choice based on how much importance you place on this aspect (after choosing the right binocular features to meet your needs, of course).
Our favorite binoculars with built-in recording technology are the Bushnell instant replay 8×30 binoculars with 5MP camera.
Bushnell Instant Replay 8×30 Binocular with 5MP Camera
You can certainly pay more for a slightly higher quality camera, but in the end, the image quality and capabilities of the binoculars are quite fantastic considering the price – this pair will meet the needs of most people.
The Best Children’s Binoculars
Determining which binoculars are best for children is really difficult and depends on many, many different factors.
In the end, you make your purchases based on the same criteria as when you try to buy binoculars for your own use. What does your child like to watch? Is he a budding astrologer or does he just like to get more out of his surroundings when he goes for walks in nature?
Whatever his preference, you should look for a pair of binoculars with a similar viewing angle, a high level of safety and, ideally, a stylish look to keep him interested.
We will actually recommend two different models to meet two different needs. We really like the Celestron Skymaster 15×70 Porro prism binoculars because they have a very exaggerated zoom that will make monitoring the night sky for children incredibly enjoyable.
Celestron SkyMaster 15×70 Binocular
They are also safe and robust, which guarantees that they will not be easily broken.
For general day-to-day observation, i.e. hiking and bird watching, and for their exceptional value, this set of kidwinz 8×21 binoculars is sure to satisfy the needs of any curious mini watcher.
Kidwinz Shock Proof 8×21 Binoculars Set
Range Rover – The Best Rangefinder Binoculars
When it comes to rangefinder binoculars, you need something that’s accurate while offering an excellent field of view and clarity.
It’s also important that they’re robust, waterproof and offer the amazing light-capture capability. You’ll probably be traveling in all kinds of weather conditions and over fairly rugged terrain, with varying levels of light and atmosphere.
It’s never easy to find a pair of binoculars that can meet the above criteria, nor is it cheap. But sometimes you have to pay a little more for a little extra, and this is certainly the case in this case.
The only sensible choice here, depending on our preferred option for hunting, is the exceptional Leica GeoVid 10×42 HD-B set, which is almost unbeatable. If you’re looking for high-quality construction, amazing accuracy and the best specifications you can get, whatever your activity, this pair of binoculars won’t disappoint you.
Leica Geovid 10×42 HD-B Ballistic Rangefinder Binocular
Value For Money – The Best Cheap Binoculars
When you are looking for a cheap product, you will always be faced with the difficulty of finding something that offers a really high level of quality while not making a huge hole in your wallet.
In fact, when browsing some of the more expensive ranges, you sometimes pay a high price just for a name, and by using only the raw materials, some manufacturers can come very close to offering you an exceptional optical experience for a fraction of the price (but without the name and pedigree that goes with it).
We think the Hawke ED 8×42 Binoculars are at least one of the best choices for those who need a cheaper but high-quality set of binoculars.
Hawke Endurance ED Binoculars
At about $180, they are not yet the cheapest on the market, but they may be the best in that price range and are likely to meet the needs of most, if not all, occasional users of optics.
Their coating, workmanship, weight, and size, to name but a few, are easily as good as some models that cost twice as much – it is hard to argue with the quality of their rounded shape, even for binocular enthusiasts.
What Are The Best Binoculars For Under $100?
This category has always been difficult to classify. Once you get into this price range, the list of viable choices really starts to get longer and longer among the “fillers” available on the market.
Fortunately, there are still binoculars of incredible quality in this range!
At first, we were going to opt for the Skymaster 15×70 binoculars in the children’s section (they are actually a very high-quality pair and effective for everyone) but the range of lenses may be a bit inaccessible for “general” use.
Celestron Skymaster 15×70 Binoculars
As a result, we’ve instead opted for the excellent Bushnell Falcon 133410 binoculars, which offer high magnification, coated optics and high-quality workmanship for only $30. Who said thrills couldn’t be cheap?
Bushnell Falcon 133410 Binoculars
Decent Binoculars Under $200
It was a pretty easy choice for us to make, even though there are actually at least six pairs that are close to second place in the under $200 category.
We’ve once again rolled with the Hawke ED 8×42 Binoculars because of their almost unbeatable price/performance ratio. You can search for another pair according to your specific needs, but in general, this pair is an excellent choice.
Hawke Endurance ED 8×42 Binoculars
The Best Binoculars On The Market
If we took a group of people, all looking for the best binoculars on the market, we can say that their idea of “best” would probably be very different from each other.
What does “best” mean to you? Are you looking for the most expensive ones? The best to meet your needs? The best quality of construction? The most technologically advanced?
It’s hard to say, but we think we’ve found a pair of binoculars that meets all of the above criteria. They’re not encrusted with jewelry, they’re not even packed with crazy technology compared to some of the choices.
We can say that they are inaccessible because of their field of vision… You could find several defects if you wanted to, but what you can’t deny is that they are quite exceptional in terms of quality of construction and function.
The Zeiss Optical 20×60 image stabilization binoculars may be the best in the world if you prefer a clear, sharp vision that is probably unbeatable.
Zeiss Carl Optical 20×60 Image Stabilization Binoculars
At just under $6,000, they won’t suit everyone… …but for those who can, they won’t disappoint.
The End Is In Sight
During the course of this buyer’s guide, you should be able to find a pair of binoculars that suits your needs – whatever they may be.
Thanks to the information provided here, you now know exactly what to look for when buying binoculars and which models are best suited to the “tasks” to be performed.
We know how personal binoculars are – they allow you to transform your environment so that you can fully immerse yourself at the moment and enjoy the world with a “new” pair of eyes, in many ways vastly improved.
That’s why we wanted to make sure you make the right decision when you buy.
If you’re new to the world of optics, we really hope this guide has helped you make the right decision when you buy your first or even your next pair of binoculars.
If you are already very experienced and want to take a new path, we hope you have now discovered which pair of “binoculars” you will need to make your journey a success.
No matter who you are or your optical interests, make sure you enjoy every moment you spend with your new purchase and most importantly, SEE as much as you can with your amazing new pair of eyes!