Binoculars Buying Guide
Binoculars are the most common optical tools used by people all over the world. Not limiting, they can be used by the young and the old, men and women. Choosing the best binoculars can be a tricky endeavor.
You'd want to choose the best, most convenient one and at the same time, get value for your money. Considering when, where and how you plan on using your binoculars, will help you choose the best binoculars for your needs. Below are practical tips on how to choose the best binoculars.
Magnification power and Lens Diameter
Just like any other optical lenses, binoculars are identified by two numbers. They represent the magnification power and the lens diameter. These two go hand in hand. For example 8x42 binoculars 8 is for the magnification power and 42, the lens diameter.
- Magnification power- This means that if your binoculars have a magnification power of 8, the object you're viewing will be visible 8 times closer to you. Binoculars with a greater magnification power, have a high probability of amplifying your hand movements that can make steady viewing daunting.
- Diameter- it's usually measured in millimeters. This spectrum largely determines the amount of light your binoculars gathers. For example when bird watching, it's better to have as much light and color as possible to help you tell apart one bird with another.
The brightness can be determined by dividing the diameter by the magnification. For example, 8x42 binoculars have 5.25 brightness. However, the more expensive binoculars models have additional coatings on their lenses and engineered glass to increase their brightness.
Weight and Size
Binoculars come in a variety weights and sizes. Depending on your outdoor activity, you can choose the size that bests suits your needs. Weight and size are however connected to better quality lenses and hence better image quality. There are three binocular sizes; full, mid and compact.
- Full size- they range between 8x42 and 10x50. They are the best for viewing wildlife out in the wild like when you go on Safari. They can also be used on boats. These binoculars capture more light and can also work in low light conditions. They provide steadier images and wider field of views. But they are too big and heavy.
- Mid-size- they range between 7x35 and 10x32. Their light transmission is above average and is mostly used for sports. Just like the full size, they are heavy to carry around.
- Compact size- They range between 8x25 and 10x25. These are the smallest and lightest of all binoculars. They can be used for daytime outdoor activities but only when there's good lighting.
Field of View and Focus
These two elements also go hand in hand. The field of view is the width of the area you see when looking through binoculars. The wider the field of view for your binocular, the easier it is to follow objects in motion like when you're bird watching.
The higher the magnification power, the narrow the field of view. The vice versa is true for lower magnification power binoculars. Therefore 8x magnification is better than 10x magnification.
Just like the field of view, focus contributes to viewing. Most if not all binoculars come with a diopter. It's an adjustment ring that helps you compensate the vision between your eyes. An 8x magnification is the best for a close focus than a 10x magnification.
Money speaks volumes about the type of binoculars you get just like everything else that requires money. The more money you spend on your binoculars, the more features you have. With more features, your viewing is enhanced, and if your viewing is enhanced, you get a more ‘on the ground' experience.
The pricey binoculars are made from quality materials both the external coatings and the lenses as well. These binoculars last for the longest time with little to no maintenance. The full-size binoculars are more expensive than the mid-size ones, and the compact size binoculars are cheaper than mid-size ones.
However, based on your price range, there are so many binoculars for you out there that you will get. Before you purchase one, do thorough research from every source possible. You wouldn't want to end up paying so much money for binoculars that will be shelved.
Binoculars External Coatings
When viewing especially when there's too much light, the best binoculars lens should not reflect the light away. If this happens, the object will appear dark. These types of binoculars have multicoated lenses to reduce reflection and increase light transmission.
All outdoor activities take place in the elements, sun, water, air and the earth. If you're using your binoculars on a boat or land, you'll need one that is UV-resistant. On a rainy day, you'll need one that is water proof. Most binoculars are weather-resistant, but if submerged, they may get damaged. The weather-resistant materials are supposed to prevent light rain, dust or small debris from getting in.
Binoculars can also get foggy especially when you move between different temperatures. For example, from the outdoor cold to indoor warmth. The best binoculars should be fog proof. Fog can damage your binoculars overtime since moisture will always be trapped inside. Manufacturers of binoculars have made them in such a way that moisture can't condense inside. This protects the internal and external lenses from fogging.
This piece has covered the ABCs on binoculars buying. It's a guide for all of your outdoor adventure. It's not limiting. There are binoculars for different activities; hiking, hunting, bird watching, boating, marine and concert/theater. The best binoculars will make you feel like you're there where all the action is taking place and feel like a part of it.
If you're looking to buy one, there's a whole world of varieties to choose from. Do your research and choose a brand you trust. You need to understand basics like magnification, lens diameter and field of view before you buy. This will give you a better experience before and after you use your binoculars.