The Most Important Things To Know About Buying Binoculars

There is no question about it; every adventure lover needs a pair of binoculars in their travel kit. Before smartphones rules our world, binoculars could be found in just about every home because people had to step out of the house to explore the environment and to learn things about our beautiful world.

The first binoculars date back to 1825 and were invented by J.P. Lemiere, the first one to construct a functional binocular. Older binoculars consisted of only two similar telescopes mounted on a single frame and didn’t have any fancy gadgets. Luckily the binoculars we have today are quite fantastic.  They are loaded with lots of features and advanced designs that allow you to see better and further than ever before.

If you want to bring adventure back into your home then invest in a good pair of binoculars so you and your family can step out of the house, explore and try to discover something breathtaking on your next holiday.

How Binoculars Function

Binoculars are quite complex and interesting inventions. Basically, the device is a magnification instrument that consists of two telescopes that are jointed at the center which enable you to see clearly and bring far off images much closer.

Each telescope of the binocular is constructed of curved glass lenses at the front and back of the telescope as well as numerous internal lenses inside the frame that magnifies the subject every time the light travels through each individual lens. With every lens, a little bit of light is lost and prisms need to be used to help bend and reflect the light so the image will, in fact, reach your eyes. 

The focus wheel found in the center of the binocular focuses your view so you can see clearly at different distances. 

The eyecups of your binoculars are included to prevent external light from interfering with the light that reflects through the lenses and as such enhance your vision a great deal. Many modern binoculars come with rubber eyecups that can be folded down so those that wear eyeglasses can bring the binocular lens closer to their eyes. 


How to Adjust the Vision on Binoculars

Adjusting the vision might vary depending on the specifications and capabilities of the set you have. Most binoculars are fitted with a center focus wheel. Most binoculars also have a right eye diopter adjustment close to the eyepiece that allows you to adjust the vision in one of the lenses to compensate for a strength difference in your eyes. 

To adjust your binoculars so you can see, you need to look through your binoculars at a target 30 - 50 feet away. Close your right eye and turn the wheel until the image in front of you becomes nice and clear. Now close your left eye, look at the same target with the right eye and look at the same target. Adjust the right eye dipter but do not touch the binocular wheel, until the image is once again clear. If you managed the settings correctly, the binoculars should be set at the right adjustment for your eyes specifically.  

How to Properly Care For Binoculars

Binoculars are quite sensitive and should be handled delicately to keep them in good condition. Here are a few quick tips to help you care for your binoculars:

  • Refrain from dropping your binoculars
  • Don’t let it sit out in the open where it can collect dust. Always keep binoculars in a pouch when stored away or when not in use. 
  • Don’t wear around your neck if you sweat excessively. The moisture could get into the telescopes.
  • Before cleaning the lenses, brush dust away with a soft hairbrush or compressed air
  • Don’t spray water directly onto your binocular lenses. Spray water on a cloth before you wipe the lenses clean.

You Do Have Quite A Few Options to Consider When You Go Shopping

Today you can pick and choose from a huge variety of quality binoculars, many of which are designed for a specific purpose.  Night vision binoculars, compact binoculars, kids binoculars, infrared binoculars, solar binoculars and high-power binoculars are just a few of the many options you can consider today and in each of these types you are bound to find loads of different brands, styles and features.

Understanding Binocular Specifications

If you are shopping for a pair of binoculars then it is important to learn more about the different features or specifications and what these different settings or functions mean. It can be quite challenging to understand the difference between available binoculars, especially now that they are so versatile. It can help if you understand more about the basic specs of most binoculars available on the market today;

Understanding Sizing

Binoculars come in quite a few different sizes. Here is a quick look at the most common binocular sizes;

Full-sized binoculars - They usually have specs of 8 x 42, 10 x 50. These binoculars are the best for wildlife viewing or boat use. This is because they are designed to capture more light and offer advanced performance in poor lighting. These binoculars also offer a steadier view of wide fields and they are great for bird watching. Full-sized binoculars are a treat but they can be bulky and heavy to carry around.

Mid-sized binoculars - These binoculars usually have a spec rating of 7 x 35, 10 x 32. Most people prefer mid-sized binoculars since they are easier to transport, lighter and they are still great for wildlife watching or for sports use. 

Compact sized binoculars - These binoculars are designed for backpacking or to take up as little space as possible in your travel bag or to be light when you are carrying them with you. They usually come with specs of 8 x 25, 10 x 25. These tiny binoculars are loved for daytime and outdoor activities.

Kids sized binoculars - The telescopes of these binoculars are usually smaller and fitted closer together to suit smaller eyes and faces. Children’s binoculars can vary from very simple and cheap for tiny toddlers to high tech for those serious scouts. 


Understanding Magnification Power

If you look at the specs mentioned in the different sized binoculars in the previous chapter then you will see that they are mostly defined by two different numbers. One number shows the magnification power and the other the lens diameter. 

For example; A 8 x 25 binocular has a magnification power of 8 - meaning the object will be 8 times closer than your eyes can normally see. Something that is far away will now be 8 times closer than it was. 

You may think that a more powerful magnification will always result in better vision but this isn’t always the case. Binoculars with a magnification greater than 10 are quite challenging to use since the movement of your hands will make you lose the object you want to view.

Understanding the Objective Lens Diameter

The second number on the binocular specs is the diameter in mm of the lens. For example; 8 x 25 binoculars have an objective lens of 25mm. 

The bigger the lens diameter is, the more light the binoculars will capture. If you have an 8 x 25 and an 8 x 35 binoculars, the 8 x 35 binoculars will offer a brighter and better view. Binoculars with long lens diameters are especially preferable for poor lighting conditions. This is exactly why full-size binoculars are preferable for wildlife watching.

Understanding the Exit Pupil

An exit pupil is a number that indicates the brightness of the object in poor lighting. Higher exit pupil numbers usually mean brighter images. Binoculars with larger exit pupils are also easier to maintain since you can keep the full view of the target despite shaking. 

Most binoculars have the exit pupil noted on the binoculars but you can also calculate this number by dividing the diameter by the magnification number. For example; 8 x 25 binoculars have an exit pupil of 3mm. 

In the dim light,, the human eye’s pupil can widen up to 7mm. binoculars with an exit pupil less than 7 thus restrict the light to your eyes when light is limited. For this reason, binoculars with a larger exit pupil than 7mm are more suited for night time viewing.

Understanding Relative Brightness

Relative brightness is related to the exit pupil number. Relative brightness measures the brightness of a target. Binoculars with a higher number offer a brighter view. Higher brightness numbers are also preferable for night time or dusk viewing. The relative brightness number is calculated by squaring the exit pupil number. 

For example; if the exit pupil number is 5 the relative brightness number will be 25. Binocular manufacturers do however argue that squaring the exit pupil number doesn’t always give you an accurate relative brightness. This is because quality binoculars might contain more lenses inside the frame of the binoculars and every lens multiplies the size of the object. 


Understanding Eye Relief

The eye relief is the distance between the individual telescopes of the binoculars without the vision becoming distorted. Long eye relief can increase comfort because you don’t have to hold the binoculars against your eyes to see. Most people that wear glasses roll down the rubber eyepiece so their eyes can be closer to the lens. It is advisable for spec wearers to invest in binoculars with an eye relief of 11mm or more.

Understanding the field of view

The field of view is the width of the area that you can view in a glance at a 1000 yard target.  Wider field views are preferable for bird viewing since these animals can be so quick. The higher your magnification number is the smaller your field of view area usually is.

Understanding binocular focus

The focus is the central wheel that is fitted between the two telescopes of your binoculars. The focus is usually designed to adjust the focus of the left eye while a diopter adjustment ring needs to be turned to adjust the vision in the right eye. This is to help those with different eye strengths see better.

Understanding prism types

Prisms inside binoculars are important for turning the image the right way up. Without prisms, your view would be upside down. Modern binoculars come with two different types of prisms;

Porro types - These binoculars offer good optics but they are bulkier yet more affordable.

Roof types - These binoculars are slimmer and more compact in design. They are preferable for hiking and traveling but since the manufacturing is more complex, these binoculars are usually more expensive.

Understanding lens coatings

Lens coatings are not much different from the coatings that are applied to eyeglasses. Without the coating, the lens can reflect lots of light away and the lens can shine which restricts your view. A lens coating reduces reflection and results in a much sharper and better image. High-quality binoculars are multicoated in order to reduce reflections as much as possible.

Understanding water and weatherproofing

Water and weatherproof binoculars contain O-ring seals in the design that keeps moisture or dust from entering the telescope of the binoculars. This can prevent your binoculars from becoming foggy and blurry although it should be noted that binoculars cannot be fully waterproofed. 


Understanding fog proofing

All binoculars - or glass items for that matter - will fog up when the temperature suddenly drops. It can be quite annoying when your lenses become fogged up and the moisture can get trapped inside the telescopes. Fog proof binoculars are manufactured with inert gas inside the telescope. This gas contains no moisture and cannot condensate which protects your internal lenses from becoming foggy.  

The Main Binocular Types Available 

Technology advancements have greatly revolutionized binoculars. Today you can buy a binocular that suits your hobby, job or need to perfection because there are quite a few different types available on the market. Here is a quick look at the main types you can buy right now;

Night vision binoculars

Night vision binoculars or infrared binoculars are perfect for hunters or security guards. Night vision binoculars collect light through a large objective lens. The light is amplified electronically and translated into a green hue. The light is transferred to green hues because your eye absorbs green better in the dark and as such can identify shapes better at night. Night vision binoculars usually don’t have the strongest magnification and they usually don’t come in monocular or headset form. 

Marine binoculars

Marines already have a tough time at keeping their hands steady on rough seas. Binoculars with high magnification will be very hard to use since the shaky sea will continuously cause you to lose your focus or target. Marine binoculars usually offer low magnification but have huge lens sizes that allow more light in and thus enhance the view. These binoculars are superb for sailing, whale watching, bird watching and more although it is preferable to get waterproof marine binoculars if you often travel by boat.

Astronomy binoculars

These binoculars are made for stargazing. They usually have large lenses to capture more light and strong magnification to enlarge the size of the stars. These binoculars usually don’t work too great without a tripod since the slightest shake of your hands could have you lose your place or cause shaky imaging. 

Compact binoculars

Compact binoculars are designed to be light in weight and compact in size. They usually contain roof type prisms and as such is often more expensive. Advanced design allows more light to travel through the binoculars in order to enhance your view as much as possible despite the small size of the lens.

Kids binoculars

These binoculars are usually available at a very affordable price and will either not magnify at all or will offer limited magnification. The telescopes are smaller, closer together and kid’s binoculars are typically made of poor quality materials. If you do want to invest in kids binoculars that are not toys then you can look for compact binoculars or look for small binoculars that actually do work and offer good magnification. 

Solar binoculars

These binoculars are specially designed to protect your eyes while viewing an eclipse. You can use a normal tripod fitted binocular to view the eclipse safely but will need to cover one lens and reflect the sunlight through the binoculars onto a white sheet of paper - a very complex setup. Solar binoculars come with added filters that block out 99.999% of visible light and offer you a clear view of the eclipse without damaging your eyes.

High power binoculars

These binoculars are designed to offer you maximum field view, magnification, and minimal shaking. The binoculars typically have a large field of view, large exit pupil, and a large objective lens. Some do have large magnification although high magnification can make it hard to see properly without a shaky view. High power binoculars are used for wildlife and bird watching amongst other hobbies and they do tend to be big, bulky and heavy. 


Fin​al Verdict

Doing your research can mean the difference between buying binoculars that you will actually use and wasting money on something that is only going to collect dust. There are quite a few affordable binoculars available on the market but buying cheap often doesn’t pay, especially if you need something that can go the distance and that offers supreme vision and functionality.

The first thing you need to do when you are looking for the right binoculars is to identify the one you need. Here is a quick breakdown to help you decide on the best type to buy depending on your need;

Hunting - Hunters often travel far which mean something lighter might be a good pick. Compact binoculars are better for hunters since they are lighter, take up less space and they are designed to offer you good view despite the small size of the binoculars.

Bird and wildlife watching - If you want to marvel at birds and wildlife at a distance then full-sized binoculars might be your best pick.  These binoculars allow more light in which offer a much clearer view and the magnification usually isn’t over 7 which offers you a good view of the horizon without the shake.

Night viewing - If you need binoculars for security or hunting after dark then you need infrared or night vision binoculars. Normal non-electric binoculars function by reflecting light that enters through the lens. If there is no light, no image will be transferred through the lenses. The vision of night vision binoculars is enhanced and colorized electronically to offer you optimized viewing in limited light.

Beach and sea activities - If you are going to enjoy water sports then it might be best to keep an eye out for waterproof binoculars. Your pair might still be ruined if it falls in the water but is much more likely to stay functional in the humid climate.

Children - Toddlers under the age of 4 just don’t fare well with any type of tech. If your toddler is curious to get him a toy binocular from your local toy store and allow him to use yours for specific viewing. Older and nature-loving kids can benefit from compact binoculars or binoculars that are specially designed for children.

We hope that this article helped shed some light on all of the different types of binoculars out there and helped you understand the different specifications of binoculars better. If you want to find out more about the best binoculars currently available on the market then we welcome you to hop over to your buyers guide or product reviews found on this site so you can learn more about the top binoculars you can buy right now.