Binoculars are among the most used optical instrument worldwide. It is an exciting way to see the lively world. They make way for the users to view far away scenarios with ease and clarity. They are used in so many contexts. We can see the wild animals without disturbing them in their natural habitat. They are commonly used during sporting events in large stadiums. Most of the military organizations and astronomers also use binoculars to go through their field concepts in-depth.
Purpose of the Guide
Like eyeglasses, binoculars are the most used optical instrument with loads of different benefits. It becomes a daunting task to choose a particular binocular for a specific application. This buying guide intends to simplify this challenge and help you to understand binoculars better.
What are Binoculars?
Binoculars are hand-held instruments that let users view distant objects through two mirror-symmetrical telescopes that are mounted side-by-side. This provides a three-dimensional image that is created with its two lenses so that users can get a sense of depth. The best binoculars are those that can shorten the distance between the viewer and a particular object such that it feels as though the viewer has crossed that distance. Based on the user’s needs, there are many types of binoculars available. However, the two main types of binoculars are based on the two different prism systems. Porro prism binoculars offer a greater depth perception with a wider view range. This is because its objective or front lens is offset from the eyepiece. In roof prism binoculars, the prisms overlap, thus allowing the objective lenses to be lined up directly with the eyepiece. This forms a slim, streamlined shape wherein the prism and lenses are in a straight line. Almost all the optical prisms are made from barium crown (BAK-4) glass or borosilicate (BK-7) glass. BAK-4 glass is known to be a high quality glass that provides brighter images and high edge sharpness. Apart from these, some other types of binoculars are listed here.
- Standard Sized Binoculars:
- Standard or full-size binoculars are ideal for everything ranging from spectator sports to nature observations.
- Compact Binoculars:
- Compact binoculars are smaller and lighter in weight. They are the best choice for binoculars for those who attend theaters or concerts. They are also perfect to carry on hikes and hunting trips.
- Wide Angle Binoculars:
- Wide angle binoculars are best for tracking fast-moving action across wide areas such as wilderness terrain, racetracks and football fields.
- Zoom Binoculars:
- Zoom binoculars allow users to increase the magnification to focus on the details. It is the best type of binoculars for those who want to be able to view at a distance as well as nearby.
- Waterproof Binoculars:
- Waterproof binoculars deliver clarity even during bad weather conditions such as fog, rain and ice. It is sealed with an O-ring and a nitrogen purge to provide reliable fog proof and waterproof performance.
Features of Binoculars
Before buying binoculars make sure that it has the required features. Some of them include magnification power, prism type, field of vision, minimum close-focus distance, eye relief and many more. Let us discuss the essential features of binoculars that are to be considered when buying them.
The prisms inside the binoculars turn an upside-down image right-side up. These binocular prism systems are mainly divided into two types namely, Porro prisms and Roof prisms. The prism is very important for binoculars, as without it the images would look upside down and flopped.
Binoculars are available in sizes such as 10x42 and 7x20 that indicate their magnification power and diameter of the objective lens. It is preferable to use everyday binoculars with a magnification power between 7x and 10x. It is necessary to remember that binoculars with a power higher than 10x are very difficult to hold steady without using a tripod.
Diameter of the Objective Lens
In a binocular with size 10x42, the 42 determines the diameter of the objective lens. It also determines the thickness of the binoculars along with the amount of light that can go through it. The objective lens needs to be larger as it allows more light to pass through them, thus allowing users to get brighter and more detailed images.
Exit Pupil Diameter
The objective diameter also refers to the exit pupil diameter that is always larger than the pupil of the user’s eye. The exit pupil diameter of a binocular is determined by dividing the diameter of the objective lens with the magnification power. For instance, a 10x42 pair of binoculars would have a 4.2 mm exit pupil diameter.
Field of Vision
Both terms—field of view and angle of vision—are used interchangeably. They refer to the amount of scenery that is measured horizontally. The field of view is a feature of binoculars that can become visible when seen through a pair of binoculars. It is expressed in feet while the angle of view is expressed in degrees.
People don't possess identical vision for both their eyes. Due to this, sometimes one eye may be able to see better than the other. This is where dioptric correction comes into the picture. It is an adjustment that allows users to get definite focus for both the eyes. Binoculars with dioptric correction possess this feature only on one of its eyepieces. So, the users need to set the dioptric adjustment of that eyepiece such that both the eyes get a properly focused image.
Lens coating is applied to eliminate the glare and reflections. It also helps in increasing the contrast and make the colors look vivid. It is preferable to buy lens coatings that can improve the overall image quality. It would be best to do proper research and look at user reviews before buying such coated binoculars.
Eye relief for binoculars has the shape of eyecups that block all the extraneous light and eliminate the glare. Some binoculars are equipped with adjustable eyecups that set the perfect distance for individual users.
Utilities of Binoculars
Binoculars are the most used optical instruments. They can be used for hiking, stadium sports and outdoor activities. Usually compact and wide angle binoculars are used for such general purposes. Hunting binoculars are also available which works best for long range shooting and also provides a larger magnification. Standard binoculars are the best choice for bird watching. They have great features such as longer eye relief and a close focus. The ideal features for marine and boating binocular include a larger objective lens, waterproof and rubber armoring. Concert or theatre binoculars are compact binoculars with a wide angle that is great for venues such as opera, theatre and music concerts. Infrared binoculars are perfect for use during night-time viewing. They provide clear images that can be seen with both eyes due to its form-fitting eyepiece and eye-width adjustment. Astronomy binoculars are best for astronomical as well as terrestrial viewing. It is necessary to check binocular reviews before buying it. This will help in buying a binocular that is perfect for usage.
Top 5 Manufacturers
There are many kinds of binoculars currently available. Similarly, various manufacturers have started producing high-end binoculars. Depending on the usage of the binoculars, the user needs to determine the brand that is best suited. As such, they need to have adequate knowledge about the different manufacturers that offer binoculars. Let us check out some of the top manufacturers that provide high quality binoculars.
Canon is a well-known brand of digital cameras and lenses. However, it is also famous for its high-end binoculars. Canon binoculars are sleek designed with advanced optics technology, making them ideal for every user.
Olympus is one of the leading manufacturers that produces high quality optical instruments such as cameras, lenses, voice recorders, binoculars and much more.
Leica is a reliable and famous brand in the optics sector. Its amazing innovative products include binoculars, riflescopes, rangefinders, compact cameras and many more.
Nikon is a world leading brand that is known for its high-end imaging products and sports optics. It provides a wide array of innovative products such as digital/film cameras, lenses, binoculars, telescopes, laser rangefinders and many more. Nikon binoculars are made for virtually any application making them apt to fulfill every user’s specific needs.
Bushnell is an industry leader in providing high-performance sports optics. It provides innovative binoculars that are perfect for every outdoor pursuit including spectator sports, nature study, hunting, fishing, bird-watching and stargazing.
It is necessary to know about the different technical terms that are associated with binoculars. This will enable the users to select a binocular that is perfect for their needs. Let us look at the different terms and their significance when buying binoculars.
- Prism Type:
- The prisms are very important. Without them, the images would look upside down and flopped. The two types of prism systems are - Porro prisms and Roof prisms.
- X-Magnification Power:
- Determines the proximity of the object when magnified to a precise number of times. Everyday binoculars should have 7x to 10x power.
- Diameter of the Objective Lens:
- Determines the thickness of the binoculars and the amount of light that can pass through it. This helps in getting brighter and detailed images.
- Exit Pupil Diameter:
- Highlights that the exit pupil diameter (objective diameter) should always be larger than the pupils of the user’s eyes. It is determined by dividing the diameter of the objective lens with the magnification power.
- Field of View:
- Refers to the amount of scenery measured horizontally. It is expressed in feet.
- Angle of Vision:
- Is used interchangeably with field of view. This feature is expressed in degrees.
- Dioptric Correction:
- Refers to the adjustment of one of the binocular’s eyepieces that allow users to get precise focus for both the eyes.
- Lens Coating:
- Is used to eliminate glare and reflections. It also helps to increase contrast and make colors look vivid.
- Eye Relief:
- Involves using eyecups that block extraneous light and remove the glare for comfortable viewing.