Binoculars are one of those purchases that you may not know you need, but can really make your experiences more enjoyable. For those that enjoy stargazing or birdwatching, owning a pair of the best binoculars will help to make your day in the outdoors even more enjoyable. You may not know where to start in your search but fear not, we are here to help. Our list of the highest quality binoculars will full you in on everything you need to know.
Contrary to what you may think, the best binoculars for bird watching are not necessarily as good if you plan to do stargazing. For that reason, it is best to know the ins and outs of what makes the ideal binoculars for your specific needs. Knowing what to look for will help you in your search for your next binoculars.
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How To Choose The Best Binocular – Buying Guide
Before you get too far in your search for the best binoculars to buy, it is important to have a thorough understanding of the technology that goes into making them. As binoculars are a relatively old invention you will likely have some idea on the esthetics.
Like all technologies, there have been some advancements in recent years making it more important than ever for you to understand what you are buying. Knowing the terminologies to look for will help ensure that you get the right binoculars for your intended use.
This is the reason your buying binoculars – to see farther than you’re able to with just your naked eye. When reading the description of your binoculars you’ll see a rating like 10×35. The number 10 refers to the magnification strength. If there are different variants of the binoculars it will be shown with this number style.
A higher number means that the binoculars will be able to see farther without distorting the image. The rating of 10 times means you’ll be able to see the object 10 times larger than you would if you were to simply look without using the binoculars. Essentially, if an object is 300 yards away you’ll see it as if it was only 30 yards through the lenses.
You can see how this would be great for hunters, birdwatchers, and even stargazers. Being able to see objects as if they were closer gives you the ability to feel as if you were beside the bird or deer. This also allows you to follow sports games in vivid detail.
Objective Lens Diameter
When looking at your binoculars the objective lens refers to the lens that doesn’t go against your eye but rather the one that captures the image. As mentioned, when you look at your binoculars you will see two numbers, such as 10 x 42. That second number is the objective lens diameter. The 42 would then refer to the diameter of your objective lens.
Now that you know how to find how big your objective lens is, you should know why this is important. There are a few advantages to having a wide objective lens, as well as a few drawbacks. When looking for your next binoculars, we recommend finding a happy medium between size and function.
The diameter size of your objective lens is where light will enter your lens. Much like in your camera, the more light that is able to enter your lens, the clearer and brighter your image will be. For those looking to go stargazing or use their binoculars for other nighttime activities, a lens with a bigger diameter becomes even more important. This is because the wider lens will allow more light into your binoculars and allow the picture to actually be visible.
The quality of your picture isn’t the only thing that will be improved with a wider lens size. Much like a TV screen, a wider lens size (or screen size) will provide for a larger field of view. This means that your picture won’t get cut off and allow you to get more into your frame.
While the benefits of a large diameter size may be very appealing, it does come with one very real drawback. Larger optical lens’ make for much bulkier binoculars. This can limit the functionality of your binoculars as you will not be able to cart them with you wherever you go.
The optics of a set of binoculars will have an exit pupil measurement. This is referred to as a diameter. It is essentially the amount of light that reaches your eyes through the lens. To get this measurement the company divides the lens size by its magnification. A higher exit pupil diameter means objects will appear brighter as more light will travel through the binoculars. To find the perfect balance look for binoculars that have a high magnification along with a big lens.
This is a specifically important area for those that wear glasses to consider. The eye relief refers to the distance in which you can hold the binoculars away from your eyes. This is an important feature for those who wear eyeglasses as it allows for a gap between your face and the eyepiece.
As you may guess, the eye relief that binoculars have is very much related to the field of view. Binoculars with adequate eye relief will allow someone who wears glasses to have the same experience as those without.
Field Of View
If the amount of magnification is too focused you won’t have a wide field of view. For example, if you’re looking at an object that is 1000 yards away your field of view would be around 400 feet. This is the amount of area you can see around the object without moving the binoculars.
Both the magnification strength and the size of the lens will play significant roles in determining the field of view. A higher amount of magnification will mean a smaller field of view but a larger piece of glass will mean a larger area of sight.
Understanding these factors will help you in determining the right configuration of binoculars. If you’re looking for the largest field of view you should look for the largest lens diameter while limiting your magnification. Or if you need the magnification you will have to look for the largest lens diameter you can find.
There are actually two types of field of view. The actual field of view will be displayed on the binoculars while you may have to calculate the apparent field of view. Luckily it isn’t that difficult. You take the magnification strength of the binoculars and multiply it by the actual field of view.
Both of these will be translated into feet. Essentially, if you see a field of view rating, like 350 feet, it will represent how much area you can see when looking at an object at 100 yards away. So if you have a pair of binoculars with a field of view of 500 feet you will be able to see a 500 foot ship from 1000 yards away completely inside your binoculars.
The coating on the lens will help to distinguish higher quality binoculars from their cheap counterparts. This is because cheap binoculars often don’t feature films or coatings over their lenses. This is far less desirable as it makes the binoculars far less durable. This means that any scratch or blemish will directly affect the picture quality for the rest of your binoculars life.
In higher quality binoculars will instead feature at minimum one layer of coating over the lens. This makes this type of binocular much more durable and allows for a longer lifespan. This is because if a layer get scratched or has a blemish, it can easily be removed to have your binoculars looking like new again.
Rubber Coating And Waterproofing
In today’s world, we are moving towards many technology advancements – one of the biggest being waterproofing. When you are using your binoculars you will most often be in the outdoors. For this reason, ensuring that the binoculars you choose are durable is incredibly important.
You will want binoculars that can be used throughout the changing weather conditions. In the rough terrain that you may be in, having binoculars that are able to handle prolonged exposure is important. A thick protective layer surrounding your binoculars will help to ensure it lasts for many seasons.
When looking at how your binoculars will hold up in wet conditions, you are going to be looking between water resistant and waterproof binoculars. It is worth noting that this feature is not something that every binocular will have and is, therefore, a key factor that should be considered before deciding on the one that is right for you. You will also want to consider the degree of water resistance the binoculars have.
We have talked about magnification and the distances at which your binoculars will be able to grab pictures from but we have yet to talk about how close. As the name suggests, close focus does just that. This refers to how close you can be to your object while still having it in focus.
You will want to pay attention to the close focus if you are someone who enjoys getting a good look at flowers or bugs that are within a close range. For this, it is important to get binoculars that allow for focusing on close up items. We recommend looking for one that allows for a close focus of 1.5 meters away from you.
The lenses of a pair of binoculars are highly susceptible to creating fog between the two lenses. Companies have spent lots of time and money ensuring their products don’t do this as it renders binoculars useless. If they were to fog you wouldn’t be able to see through them.
Care, Maintenance, Use
Lenses need to be cared and maintained properly. Anyone who has worn sunglasses or reading glasses knows how horrible it can be if they get scratched. To combat this companies will usually include a lens cap and cleaning cloth. This will allow you to simply put them in your backpack without worrying about scratching or damaging this sensitive part of the unit. Ensuring your lenses are clean and free of debris before storing them will ensure they will be able to be used for years to come.
If you are a stargazer binoculars can help you see the stars. You won’t get the detail that a telescope will bring, but will be able to get a much better view of them. The issue with stargazing is the low light environment. Binoculars usually need a high amount of light to illuminate the subject.
A 10×40 binocular is generally accepted as a great configuration for gazing at the stars. If you can get a pair that can be attached to a tripod you’ll be able to see them with much more detail rather than trying to hold the binoculars with your hands.
Bird Watching And Hunting
Bird watching and hunting are where binoculars excel. Being able to see your prey or a rare bird will be your goal and with a set of 8×30 binoculars you’ll achieve that goal. This setup will give you enough magnification and a great field of view allowing you to set your eyes on your subject. In fact, you can expect to see around 400 feet with ease. We strongly suggest looking for a pair of waterproof binoculars, especially for the hunters. Not having to worry about your gear getting wet will ensure you see your target.
Q: What’s The Difference Between A Porro Prism And A Roof Prism?
A: The Porro Prism design is the kind most commonly found in binoculars and is, therefore, the type you have most likely heard of. This design operates using a Z shaped optical path. Due to this type of prism, this style of binoculars often carry the chunkier design that you so commonly come across.
With the large design comes a wider optical lens. This delivers a wider field of view for you to see. It also, perhaps more importantly, allows for more light to enter the lens and, therefore, gives clearer pictures. This is especially desirable in lower light situations.
While this all sounds appealing, the Porro Prism design does come with its own set of disadvantages. The large design is quite fragile and is quite prone to alignment issues. This means that it is not very durable and can break easily if dropped. This older style of technology does also not typically have the ability to be waterproof. This makes them not a very good option for those looking to bring them along for a day on the water.
You may not know that there is another option. The roof prism design is a more modern design option that has become quite popular. This popularity is due to one main reason – it is quite compact in design. This is due to the objective lens being in line with the eyepiece rather than having to make room for a Z shape.
This more simplistic design allows for binoculars to carry a much more desirable, and compact, shape. Due to the simple design, these binoculars don’t risk the same alignment issues. This makes them much more durable in design, another great benefit. The only downfall you are likely to come across with these binoculars is that they tend to come with a hefty price tag.
Q: What Type Of Binoculars Should I Buy?
A: In order to know the type of binoculars that are best suited for you, you should first be able to decode how these are advertised. When shopping for your binoculars, you will see 2 number written somewhere on them. This should look something like # x #, for example, 8 x 42.
The first number represents the level of magnification the lenses have, in our example an 8 times magnification. This means that your picture will be enlarged 8 times its perceived size. The second number shows the objective lens size, for our example 42mm lens size. This refers to the size, in millimeters, of the lens in that is grabbing the image.
When deciding on the ideal lens for you, it is important to closely consider these numbers. The numbers that are right for you will depend on how you intend to use your binoculars. If you plan to be using them in times of low light, a larger objective lens size becomes very important.
Lastly, before making your decision we recommend you consider all of the other features that your binoculars will come with. If you are looking for binoculars that can go wherever you go, you will want to narrow your search to only pocket sized binoculars. If you think you will be spending some time out on the water, water resistant features may be desirable. Binoculars intended for use with kids should have extra security for durability such as a shockproof design.
Q: What Is The Best Magnification Level For Bird Watching?
A: Many people have binoculars specifically intended for bird watching. In fact, it is so popular that many manufacturers have geared their designs specifically for this activity. We typically recommend going for a magnification of 8 times when looking for binoculars for bird watching. This is because this degree of magnification offers a broad field of view while still holding a relatively stable picture.
With an 8 times magnifying view you won’t experience a distracting shaking picture when zooming in on the wildlife. Higher magnifications, such as 12 times, are better for further distances such as stargazing. This is because up close you will experience natural shaking with your hands which will greatly diminish the experience.
Q: What Are The Benefits Of Buying Binoculars With Bigger Lenses?
A: There are many benefits worth considering when looking to buy your next binoculars, a big one being the lens size. A larger lens is most desirable as the lens size will play a large part in determining the quality of picture you will see. Similar to a camera lens, the larger the lens size the more light will be able to enter your lens. This will result in a clearer image that is bright enough to be able to see the details.
It is important to strike a balance between lens size and practicality. While a small lens size will deliver a dim picture, too large of a lens will make the binoculars too bulky to be easily transported. For your standard pair of binoculars, we recommend an objective lens size of 42mm. When looking for a compact pocket binocular, 25mm or 32mm will prove most beneficial.
The size of lens you decide to go for should depend on how you intend to use the binoculars. If you are planning to take your binoculars with you on a walk through the forest to do some bird watching, you will likely want a compact magnifier that has a smaller lens. On the other hand, if you plan to only use your binoculars for stationary activities such as stargazing, a larger lens will prove much more beneficial.
Q: Should I Care About Features Such As Prism Types Or ED Glass?
A: It shouldn’t make or break your binocular buying decision, but it’s a nice thing to understand. Porro and roof prisms come standard in all binoculars. They will use prisms to create the magnification needed to see objects from a great distance. These prisms play a large role in the shape and size of binoculars. A higher quality prism can also give you more details when looking at objects from a far distance.
Porro prisms are larger than most and thus need more area to create the proper amount of magnification. Roof prisms are a better alternative and are the ones that are most widely used as they don’t require as much space. Other special types of glass include ED (or HD) glass. This stands for extra low dispersion which translates to a lower amount of chromatic aberrations.
Globo Surf Overview
This binoculars review offers many great options of high quality items that are sure to meet your needs. There are so many ways in which binoculars can improve your experience by allowing you to see further distances than ever before. Many people are attaching their binoculars with cameras in order to combine their functions and deliver top quality pictures.
Whether you are new to binoculars or are looking for more professional binoculars, this list is sure to have the perfect one for you. As with most technology, we recommend becoming well acquainted with the terminology and the mechanics of what goes into making these. This knowledge will help you to determine what features are important to you and allow you to make the best decision when choosing your ideal binoculars.
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Have you ever tried using any of the binoculars from our list? Tell us about your experience with them in the comment section below.
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