First, pick up several binoculars and look at their objective (front) lenses. Do this with a bright white light coming over your shoulder from behind. You'll notice right away that in some objective lenses, the reflection of the light will be brighter than in others. Pick the models with the reflections that look darkest (and no doubt deeply colored); this is a sign of quality lens coatings. Good coatings increase the transmission of light through the glass and reduce the amount of scattered light hazing the view.

The terms “angle of view” and “field of view” are complementary. Both terms describe the amount of scenery, measured horizontally, that is visible when looking through a binocular. Imagine standing in the middle of a giant pizza pie; binoculars with a 6.3-degree angle of view would show the viewer a 6.3-degree “slice” of the 360-degree pie, looking outward.
Recently back from birding in France where I got to try Swarovskis, and realized the difference between binos and Oh My God binos.  I'm looking to buy new birding binos, and am concerned about weight, but definitely want the best clarity.  I'm planning to come into your store in 2 weeks.  Any thoughts as to what I should be looking at?  (And yes, my budget will include Swaros, it's time to spoil myself!)  Note:  I do want to be able to view fairly closely as well.
You’ll want to start your moon-gazing when the moon is just past new – and visible as a waxing crescent in the western sky after sunset. At such times, you’ll have a beautiful view of earthshine on the moon.  This eerie glow on the moon’s darkened portion is really light reflected from Earth onto the moon’s surface.  Be sure to turn your binoculars on the moon at these times to enhance the view. 
The angle of view and field of view are basically the same. It is the measure of scenery which you can while looking through a rangefinder binocular. The angle of view is expressed in degrees. It can also be expressed in the form of Apparent Angle of View (AAOV). It can be measured by multiplying the magnification of the binocular with the Angle of view. The magnified field you see while looking through a binocular is the AAOV. So the field of view would be wider with an increase in AAOV. THE AAOV is considered to be wide if the angle is more than 60 to 65 degrees.
Convenience. It’s certainly more convenient to have both important devices combined. Imagine the situation where you spotted a prey and you would like to estimate it’s distance from you. When you took out your rangefinder device, it’s gone already. I bet you are going to be pretty frustrated. Furthermore, carrying both devices (that could be combined) during a hunting trip is just not wise.

Zeiss brought a 20X binocular to market in 1990 which utilized an entirely mechanical "dampened stabilization mechanism." That is to say it has no electronic component to the stabilization and thus no batteries to replace. This approach, while doing wonderfully in its own right, doesn't seem to stabilize as thoroughly as the Techno Stabi, but is still quite good when considering that it has more dampening to accomplish at 20X than lower magnification powers. Some reviewers say that they consider the vibration in the stabilized Zeiss 20X60s is about what you'd expect from a 4X binocular or about half what you'd experience with a non-stabilized 7X50. Did we mention that there are no batteries to die just as you see a particularly astounding view?
Adjust the Binoculars for Your Eyes - This final adjustment is the most important because it will deliver the sharpest image. Your eyes are different from each other, so each of your binoculars' eyepieces can be focussed separately to be perfect for both of your eyes. They do this with a diopter setting. The eyepiece which can rotate independently of the binocular body is the one with the diopter setting. See how to do this in the section below.
Birders tend to gravitate toward the 40mm range for their binoculars. Binoculars with 40mm, 42mm, or 44mm objectives serve as a good medium compromise between low-light capability and portability. Objectives smaller than 35mm will lead to a more portable package at the expense of light gathering, and a 50mm or larger objective will give you a very bright image along with, potentially, the aforementioned sore neck and shoulders.
“These binoculars are inexpensive but have many of the characteristics of expensive binoculars. They are water and fog-proof, they have BaK-4 prisms, and they have a well-constructed and rugged body. I purchased Roofs rather than Porros after my Nikon Porros lost their collimation. Nikon repaired them for $10 plus shipping (which was very fair), but I did not want to go through that again. Roofs are generally more durable. These binos appear well collimated (I did every test I could find on the internet, including shining the sun through them onto a screen), they can quickly be focused quite sharply, and there is very little color aberration. The 8x42s have remarkably little distortion near the outside of the field of vision; the 10x42s have more, but are still quite acceptable. The eye relief is good, so I can wear these with or without glasses.”
The built-in matrix display works well in all lighting conditions to provide accurate distance measurements. The optics are coated with multiple films for outstanding image clarity, and the binoculars use BAK-4 prisms for sharp details. Fully waterproof with incorporated anti-fog technology, the Bushnell Fusion offers incredible image clarity, superior range finding, and industry-leading optical technology. It is one of the best range finding binoculars you can buy.

Any good designed binocular, whether the U.S. specification design or the center focus design, will have Bak-4 prisms, fully multi-coated lens, air-spaced objectives, and nitrogen filled tubes sealed with o-rings to water proof the binocular.Bak-4 prisms, fully multi-coated optics, and air-spaced objectives allow for better light transmission, and therefore, a better view. Air-spaced objectives allow for better resolution. The nitrogen filled tubes sealed with o-rings keeps water, whether of the liquid variety or the vapor variety, from entering the binoculars system and causing mold or mildew to grow.

Continuing the trend of good options for the budget-minded individuals, we have the BARSKA Deep Sea 7×50 binoculars. Similar in style to the previous two offerings, this pair is excellent for water lovers and boating enthusiasts. They offer a similar set of functionalities as the previous two binoculars with rangefinders on our list, but their style and color choice is a bit different. They don’t have that green, military style, but instead come in a black and blue color combination. Nevertheless, they look pretty good.
Curious about those singing summer nester you keep hearing in the trees? Trying to scout out some new routes from afar? We purchased 16 of the best binoculars on the market then brought them birding, backpacking, and bushwacking, all to find the perfect pair for your next outing. Binoculars can be somewhat confusing with 100's of nearly identical looking models only differentiated by arcane specifications and vague claims of crystal clear images. We're here to cut through the confusion with our side-by-side testing results. Whether you're an aspiring bird nerd, prepping for a once in a lifetime safari, or want to be able to take a closer look at the cool things you see along the trail, we can guide you to the right pair of bins.
Recently, there was a post published on this site that covers the best binoculars in the market for hunters (at an affordable price) as well as how you should go about picking the one that suits you most. No doubt, it’s highly informational and if you are planning to get a binocular, I highly recommend you to take a look at that post first. And you probably realized, it didn’t cover the rangefinder aspect extensively.

Now that you know the lingo and understand the different types, it is time to go shopping for astronomy binoculars for sale.  If you decide to buy stargazing binoculars online, make sure to choose a retailer with a good return policy in case something goes wrong. Never buy any pair without a thorough inspection and ask about a refund if they don’t measure up when you take your first night view of the sky.
You’ll recognize zoom binoculars by their name – the magnification factor is actually two numbers, such as 8-16×42. This tells you that you can go from 8x, to 16x magnification. You will notice that none of the binoculars on our list are zoom binoculars. There’s also the fact that there aren’t many high-end options as far as zoom binoculars go, only some lower priced pairs.

Some people report success holding the end of the left barrel with the right hand, and letting the right barrel rest on the wrist, and then pushing them gently against the head. This creates more rigid mechanics than holding the binoculars for astronomy closer to the eyepieces. I've had limited success with this, so try it yourself and see what you think.
A lot of the discussion on the general internet tends to be one brand against another with very little reason as to why. Also most forum users only own one pair, so it very much becomes a sample-of-one. Your atricle puts all the main concepts together allowing the prospective buyer to at least understand all the jargon and also filtering out the marketing gumf which so often misleads (aircraft-grade, being a prime example).
Resolution: resolution is a measure of your binocular’s ability to reveal the fine detail in the subject you’re viewing (individual feathers in a bird, for example), and of course a higher resolution image with more detail is always better. The main factors that affect the resolution of a binocular are the size of the objective lens, the magnification, the quality of the optical components and the lens and prism coatings.

Edge Sharpness: All binoculars have a “sweet spot” in the centre of the field of view where the image is in sharpest focus before some loss of sharpness as you move out towards the image edge (a phenomenon known as field curvature). The wider this central sweet spot, the more enjoyable the binoculars will be to use. The better the binoculars, the larger the sweet spot, and the less softening you get as you approach the image periphery. Some premium binoculars (like Swarovski’s flagship EL Swarovision range), incorporate special “field flattener” lenses in the eyepieces to deliver a clear view right to the edge of the field.


Inferior image quality at lower price points: because roof prisms reflect light off more internal surfaces than porro-prisms, all other things being equal they tend to produce a darker image. They also suffer from a phenomenon known as phase shifting which degrades the sharpness of the final image. High quality roof prism binoculars include special phase-correction, high-transmission coatings on the prism surfaces to counteract these negative effects. Roof prisms can match and surpass the quality of porro-prisms, but at a price.
Eye-cups are related to the eye relief as they keep the distance from the oculars to our eyes, but also help keep stray light away from your eyes while using binoculars. Many eye-cups are made from rubber and can roll up or down depending on whether you use lasses or not. The problem with these is that the constant rolling causes the eye-cups to break. Another type are eye-cups that slide rather than roll, but these can be hard to keep in place. The third type are eye-cups that twist up and down and so they can be left at any position from all the way up to all the way down, some even have click stops at regular intervals with the eye relief distance for each stop marked on the cup so you can get the perfect eye relief for your vision. (importance 8/10 if you uses glasses not hugely important if you don't)
Due to the construction required for the binoculars to be able to work at both 8x and 16x magnification,  you will get a severely crippled field of view when you’re using 8x. The easiest way to see the difference is to compare a pair of 8x binoculars, to a pair of 8-24x. The field of view at 8x will be very different. Seeing as zoom requires glass parts to move and have a complex construction, there is some pretty noticeable loss of quality in comparison to a fixed pair of rangefinder binoculars. Your best option is to see what kind of magnification works best for your specific environment, and then go for that with a fixed zoom setting.
Polycarbonate is a polymer resin that comes in many formulas with many different properties. In general, they all share similar characteristics, such as being easy to work with and inexpensive, corrosion proof, and strong. The principal advantage of using polycarbonate is that it is temperature resistant. If you’re using the optic in extreme conditions (especially cold) the chassis will remain at a neutral temperature—unlike metals, which can (and will) get cold, given enough time. More importantly, metal expands and contracts with temperature fluctuations, so over the years that constant movement can pull the optics out of columniation, which will prevent the optic from being able to achieve tack-sharp focus. Since polycarbonates won’t expand and contract, they are not subject to this possibility.
Kicking things off with the focus and built in functionality, adjusting the focus is a piece of cake and it’s still surprisingly accurate. You won’t be having any issues with it, that’s for sure. As far as functionality goes, there is a built-in compass and rangefinder. Seeing as it’s a military/marine oriented pair of binoculars, the compass can actually prove to be pretty useful. The fact that it’s a rangefinder binocular means that it measures distance as well. At this price point, we couldn’t blame you for thinking that the distance measured is going to be incorrect however, it is pretty accurate. Whether you’re out on the water, or birdwatching, you’ll find it pretty useful. It’s worth mentioning that you will find an illumination switch on the compass, as well as the rangefinder.
That being said, I feel like I can give you some places to start looking. If you want to see that level of detail, and you're looking at roof prisms, make sure the prisms are phase corrected. This will improve contrast, clarity, and resolution. Also, consider non-standard magnification like 8.5x that will boost the image size without drastically limiting the field of view or exit pupil like a 10x might.
With the built-in ID (Incline/Decline) Technology, you’ll have angled compensated distances to accurately adjust your riflescope for holdovers. You’ll be able to clearly see your readings with the LED display that has a 4-step brightness intensity to adjust for any time of the day. Pleasantly, Nikon doesn’t disappoint, and we say “Welcome to the playing field, Nikon.” We’re super stoked to see the LaserForce make its presence known as they’ve only hit the 2017 market. We’re proud to put both thumbs up to their optic – job well done!
The ability to quickly and accurately focus on an object can be the difference between seeing that rare bird and hearing about it. Can you maintain accurate focus or will you accidentally offset the diopter, giving you a blurry image? For the ease of adjustment category, we looked at the following items: how quickly one can focus from one spectrum to the other, how easy it is to focus on an object to get the most detail, and how easy it was to adjust the diopter and did the diopter lock. We also evaluated the interpupillary distance adjustment. Except for the locking diopter, the criteria was a subjective and based solely on several testers' opinions.
Swarovski’s EL 10×42 is a fantastic  pair of rangefinder binoculars. The specifications only confirm that, but you’re more than likely more interested in how they stack up, rather than numbers. They look very good, with a dark green armor that’s actually very pleasant to hold with it’s texture and warmth. The cutouts on the back make them even more comfortable to hold. It has a Hawk badge embedded, which gives it a very classy look, and Swarovski claim that it’s also hypoallergenic. The bridge area has the same armoring, and all together, this is a very elegant pair of binoculars with rangefinders. The body has an open-bridge design, and it’s a bit longer than the Zeiss Victory we’ll discuss a bit later on. The weight is around 840 grams without the strap or caps, which is a pretty respectable weight for a premium pair of binoculars. The body makes use of magnesium alloys, and it is sealed against water up to 4 meters.
This first point is quite an important one. When you’re choosing a pair of binoculars for birding or wildlife watching advice, reviews, opinions and guidelines will all help you to narrow down the field to a shortlist of suitable makes and models. But everybody’s needs and preferences will vary, and it’s important to take your own personal requirements and preferences into account.
Recommendation: always strive for the best optical quality your budget will stretch to, and look for binoculars that deliver sharp, high-contrast images, with lots of detail and a large focal “sweet-spot” and good depth of field. If you’re interested in watching insects pay particular attention to the close focus distance. Look out for HD or ED glass in the objective lens — but bear in mind that non-ED binoculars from premium manufacturers can, and often do, outperform ED optics from some other brands.
How much did the binoculars help? Probably not too much. That’s why to really test the quality and effectiveness of the equipment, you need to start with the unfamiliar, such as, say, a set of birds that you don’t see too often. Seeing unfamiliar birds requires the assimilation of a large number of unfamiliar marks all at once, preferably under physically demanding, or at least very different, circumstances.
For most people a 42mm full-size binocular or 32mm mid-size binocular offers the best balance of brightness and portability for extended periods of hand-held use in the field. Generally speaking a full-size binoculars will outperform a comparable mid-sized binocular in low light early in the morning or late in the evening… but better coatings and optical components mean high-end mid-size binoculars will often outperform mid-range full-size binoculars, at a price.
This is a rather challenging topic when it comes to discussing binoculars. They are typically heavy products and keeping them steady might be an issue. The problem is, the larger the magnification, the more difficult it is to get a clear image, as even the smallest vibrations can manifest as a shaky, unusable image. A popular option is to mount them on a tripod. But if you’re on a boat, or in a car, the fact that they’re moving will counteract the tripod’s effect and you’ll still get a shaky image.
I am shopping for a pair of good binoculars for my husband for Christmas.  We attend all of the UGA games, so this pair would be used for viewing sporting events.  Our daughter is in the marching band there, so we will also use them to follow her on the field.  I have read about the image stabilization of the Canon produts, but I am not sure if we need it?  Do you have a great pair that you would recommend for my gift?  Also, my husband wear glasses
Another type of prism coating, only used on roof prisms, is called “phase-correcting” coating. Because of the way roof prims reflect light, after it moves through the objective lens, it gets split into two separate beams that travel through the prism system independently. The beams experience a “phase shift” as one beam strikes the eyepiece lens a fraction of a second before the second beam. When the two beams are recombined in the eyepiece lens they are slightly out of phase with each other, which can affect color balance and rendition. By applying special coatings on the prism, the faster light beam is slowed to match the slower beam, bringing them back into phase when they hit the eyepiece lens—greatly improving color, clarity, and contrast versus non-phase-corrected prism binoculars. Under normal circumstances, most users won’t notice the difference, but pro users and avid birdwatchers may require it to be able to pick out important details at a distance or in challenging light. Since Porro prisms don’t suffer from phase shift, these coatings are not used on them.
You’ll recognize zoom binoculars by their name – the magnification factor is actually two numbers, such as 8-16×42. This tells you that you can go from 8x, to 16x magnification. You will notice that none of the binoculars on our list are zoom binoculars. There’s also the fact that there aren’t many high-end options as far as zoom binoculars go, only some lower priced pairs.
For the better part of two decades, all of my birding was done with a cast-off pair of Eddie Bauer 10 x 25 compact binoculars that seemed to have fallen down a chimney. The previous owner must have been glad to get rid of them. You could scarcely read a stop sign at 300 feet, and they were covered, inexplicably, with some kind of sooty marl, like a moss-colored gunpowder.
This first point is quite an important one. When you’re choosing a pair of binoculars for birding or wildlife watching advice, reviews, opinions and guidelines will all help you to narrow down the field to a shortlist of suitable makes and models. But everybody’s needs and preferences will vary, and it’s important to take your own personal requirements and preferences into account.
2. Start with a small, easy-to-use size.  Don’t buy a huge pair of binoculars to start with! Unless you mount them on a tripod, they’ll shake and make your view of the heavens shakey, too. The video above – from ExpertVillage – does a good job summing up what you want. And in case you don’t want to watch the video, the answer is that 7X50 binoculars are optimum for budding astronomers.  You can see a lot, and you can hold them steadily enough that jitters don’t spoil your view of the sky.  Plus they’re very useful for daylight pursuits, like birdwatching. If 7X50s are too big for you – or if you want binoculars for a child – try 7X35s.

These Vortex are really nice, with phase-corrected prisms to keep images sharp and colors accurate, and wide angles of view. They're water and fogproof also, so they'll stand up to inclement weather great. I also like the mid-sized 42mm objectives which will give them good low-light capabilities when a lot of game . https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1200179-REG/vortex_db_204_8x42_diamondback_binocular_green_black.html
There can be a huge range in price between apparently similar pairs of binoculars. For example, B&H sells 10x42 binoculars ranging in price from less than $30 to nearly $3,000. The main reasons for such a large price range are the quality of the optics, the types of coatings applied to the lenses, and other features that might be added, such as the housing material. Additionally, the prism type can be (and often is) a factor in determining price. Because of the physics involved in designing and manufacturing the compact roof prism form factor, you can have a pair of roof and Porro binoculars that seem identical as far as quality and performance, but the roof prism version will often be more expensive. The good news is that if the form factor isn’t an issue, many people find that they can upgrade the quality of their binocular by choosing a Porro-prism without reëvaluating their budget.
Another consideration are fixed focus binoculars (sometimes mistakenly referred to as auto focus binoculars, or sometimes slightly more accurately described as focus free or always in focus binoculars) These have a very large depth of view and once you have adjusted them to your eyesight, which only needs to be done once, they will be permanently in focus from a given distance to infinity. The obvious advantage of this is that you never have to change focus, which in terms of speed can't be beaten. On the down side,depending on the distance of the bird from your position, you won't always get the sharpest of images. If you want to learn more read my article on self focusing binoculars.
Despite their popularity, the way binoculars work, what makes one better (or different) than another, and what all the numbers mean, are still rather mysterious to many prospective buyers. Read on and find out all you need to know about the ubiquitous binocular before making your choice so you can be sure you’re choosing the right one for whatever you’re planning on viewing.
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I would be lying if I didn't mention that when I was first offered to test one of these out, I rolled my eyes. I thought to myself, 'Those are just a gimmick.' I mean, let's face it, for me, I'm a middle-income bowhunter who travels and hunts for my part time work, but couldn't see myself spending over $1,000 on a pair of binoculars just because it had a laser rangefinder built in.
You can use our EarthSky Tonight page to locate planets visible around now.  Notice if any planets are mentioned in the calendar on the Tonight page, and if so click on that day’s link.  On our Tonight page, we feature planets on days when they’re easily identifiable for some reason – for example, when a planet is near the moon.  So our Tonight page calendar can help you come to know the planets, and, as you’re learning to identify them, keep your binoculars very handy. Binoculars will enhance your view of a planet near the moon, for example, or two planets near each other in the twilight sky. They add a lot to the fun!
Binoculars with as wide a field as possible might seem best, but you can go too far and wide field of view binoculars may exhibit distorted or out-of-focus star images at the edges of the field. In simple terms lower magnification often means wider field of view. So what you are looking for is the wider field of view as possible in your chosen magnification. For more on this subject you can take a look at this article on Wide Angle Binoculars. (importance 5/10)
The Vanguard Spirit XF produced some of the sharpest and clearest images of all binoculars we tested. Its rugged design and pristine optics make it an ideal pair for outdoor activities including hiking, camping and birdwatching, while its versatility also makes it a great choice for action like sporting events. Precise optics and durable design earned the Vanguard Spirit XF 1042 our Editor’s Pick for Best Binoculars.
It is 10 times harder to make a good roof prism binocular than a standard porro prism one. A roof prism binocular can equal, but never exceed an excellent quality porro prism binocular. A roof prism binocular is also much more expensive than a porro prism binocular due to the special prism and phase shift coatings used for this design. Of course, it does not mean a well made roof prism binocular is not good for astronomy. It is just more expensive due to the high standards required to make one.

Our runner-up, the Celestron TrailSeeker 8x42s, have rugged, armored construction and were among the lightest binoculars we tested, at 23 ounces (the Athlons weigh two ounces more). Celestron has been making high-quality consumer telescopes since the 1960s, but also offers a huge line of binoculars (over 14 lines, and more than 30 different models).


Good glass is expensive, making binoculars one product where you tend to get better performance the more you pay. That isn't to say the trend is linear, however. For example, we think the Swarovski EL are the best bins you can buy, but you might have to sign away your firstborn in order to afford them. On the other hand, the Editors' Choice winning Vortex Viper gets close to the performance level of the Swarovskis, but at a fraction of the price. The Nikon Monarch 5 and Celestron Nature DX also tend to punch above their weight class, offering great values for those with $300 and $150 budgets, respectively.
The top models in the brightness category where the Nikon Monarch 5 8x56, and the Celestron SkyMaster DX 9x63. The Nikon Monarch 5 and Celestron SkyMaster both have large diameter objective lenses that allow for more light to enter the system. This makes them both good for low light viewing conditions. The Nikon Monarch 5 features ED glass and have fully multi-coated lenses, which helps to reduce the scattering of light inside the system. The Celestron SkyMaster use a double porro prism (the only pro prism pair in our test) which is more efficient at transferring light than a roof prism.
Very bright, clear display with 4-step intensity adjustment; easily readable under any lighting conditions and against various subjects, with single or continuous measurement up to 8 seconds. Displays in increments of 0.1m/yd, when shorter than 100m/yds and in 1m/yd at 100m/yds and over. Auto power shut-off function saves battery life by shutting down after 8 seconds of non-use.
If you're fortunate enough to live where there is a nominal amount of light pollution or less, first train your binoculars on the Moon so you see it in the center of your field of view and see what the edges of it look like. If you can't see the entire Moon within the center of your field of view, get its edge right in the middle since all optics tend to soften images at the periphery of their viewing area. Many binoculars, including some expensive ones, will show either a complete halo of one or more colors or color fringes on opposing sides. This is chromatic aberration. It usually evidences itself when viewing a bright object against a dark background or vice versa. What's desirable is to see only the object - without the extra, colored fringes.
This is the first model in this list that are specialist astronomy binoculars from a known astronomy brand (Celestron – who make high-quality telescopes and other equipment).  “Giant” binoculars are defined as those that magnify the view 10 times or more and have 70-mm or larger front (objective) lenses and Celestron’s 25×70 SkyMaster binoculars are one of the leaders in the low-price giant binocular arena.

Leica is another well-known brand when it comes to high-end optics, and the 10x42 Geovid is an outstanding new entry to the field. The 10X magnification combined with a 42mm lens diameter provides for excellent imaging, especially in low light conditions at dawn or dusk – making it perfect for hunting and all other outdoor activities. The rangefinder display works very well and is effective up to ranges of nearly 1900 yards. Plus, the range finding on these binoculars is fast - often providing accurate distance measurements within seconds.


The Celestron TrailSeeker binoculars are great for gathering light and delivering fantastic optical resolution with their 42mm lens and 8x magnification, the industry standard for a good pair of binoculars. While some of the image edges might suffer from blurring, these binoculars will still give you a wonderful and wide field of view for less than $200. And with their lightweight magnesium alloy body, you know you’re going to get something durable, waterproof, and high-quality for the outdoors or in a stadium setting.
The Pentax Papilio II 8.5 x 21 and the Nikon ProStaff 8 x 25 ATB are both “chunky” compacts with offset eye-pieces (as opposed to the more common roof prism design), and may be more comfortable for some users because these pairs can be easier to grip. Unfortunately, the Papilio took far too long to focus (though on the plus side, it’s marked “extremely-close focusing,” and it is), and though the Nikons were satisfactory, I found myself getting slight eyestrain when focusing on distant objects, like ducks floating on a lake.

Zoom binoculars offer variable magnification and are shown as 10-30x60. In this example, 10x magnification is at the low end and 30x magnification at the high end. On most models, there will be a thumb lever or wheel placed conveniently within reach so you can adjust the magnification without changing your grip or taking the eyepieces away from your eyes. While zooms offer greater versatility, there may be a discernible degradation in image brightness and sharpness somewhere along the zoom range, since the optical path and physics of prisms will have been optimized at a single power and, as you move away from that magnification, the image quality might suffer.


Brian Sullivan, Project Leader from The Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s eBird program, shares his thoughts: “7x42 binoculars are ideal for 'landbirding;' for example, watching spring warblers in dense tangles or trees where magnification is less a factor, but quickly finding birds and staying on them is key. If you have steady hands, or do the kind of birding that requires long-distance viewing (e.g., hawk watching, sea watching), then 10x might be best for you. 8x is a nice compromise! Many binocular manufacturers have settled on 8x as the standard for general birding. This gives you a good field of view with sufficient magnification power for all birding use cases, and, in general, the 8x binoculars are easy to hold steady.”
Our runner-up, the Celestron TrailSeeker 8x42s, have rugged, armored construction and were among the lightest binoculars we tested, at 23 ounces (the Athlons weigh two ounces more). Celestron has been making high-quality consumer telescopes since the 1960s, but also offers a huge line of binoculars (over 14 lines, and more than 30 different models).
Technically, the type of prism utilized in binoculars is a double-Porro prism, but is always shortened to just “Porro.” It is also always capitalized because it is the last name of the inventor, Ignazio Porro, who designed this prism system around 1850. This most basic of prism configurations is defined by the folded light path, which displaces the point where the light enters and exits the prism, which results in the familiar look of a “traditional” or “old-school” binocular.
The Leupold Shadow Gray 6x30 BX-1 Yosemite Binocular features a compact form-factor outfitted with traditional BAK4 Porro prisms and a fully multi-coated optical path to display more depth of field than similar roof prism designs. The resulting images transmitted by the Yosemite binocular have lifelike depth and are crisp and clear with high-contrast and accurate colors across the field of view.

Seeing as all of the major manufacturers of optics have a pair or two of laser rangefinder binoculars, it’s no surprise that Nikon wants to be in that game as well. The LaserForce 10×42 is among their best offerings, but what really makes it stand out is the 1900 yards distance however, that number should be taken with a grain of salt. Even Nikon themselves mention that the number was achieved under their measurement conditions, and you might not be able to achieve the same in less-than-ideal conditions. Aside from that, its features and specifications are more or less on par with other premium offerings from that price range. Let’s take a better look at the specs.
Eye-cups are related to the eye relief as they keep the distance from the oculars to our eyes, but also help keep stray light away from your eyes while using binoculars. Some eye-cups are made from rubber and can roll up or down depending on whether you use lasses or not. The problem with these is that the constant rolling causes the eye-cups to break. Another type are eye-cups that slide rather than roll, but these can be hard to keep in place. The third type are eye-cups that twist up and down and so they can be left at any position from all the way up to all the way down, some even have click stops at regular intervals with the eye relief distance for each stop marked on the cup so you can get the perfect eye relief for your vision.
What these coatings do is to assist light transmission. It is important to note how the manufacturer describes their coatings as they are not all created equal. Ideally you want to see "Fully Multi-Coated" which means that all air to glass surfaces have received multiple layers of antireflection coatings. If you just see "Fully Coated" or "Multi-Coated" it means only some surfaces have coatings or they only have a single coating and thus will not perform anywhere near as well as Fully Multi-Coated binoculars assuming everything else is equal.
You’ll recognize zoom binoculars by their name – the magnification factor is actually two numbers, such as 8-16×42. This tells you that you can go from 8x, to 16x magnification. You will notice that none of the binoculars on our list are zoom binoculars. There’s also the fact that there aren’t many high-end options as far as zoom binoculars go, only some lower priced pairs.

Close focus refers to the closest distance at which a pair of bins can clearly focus on something. This is a less important consideration as even the worst bins have a close focus range of 15 feet, and the vast majority of things you'll be looking at will be farther away. However, a closer focus range does allow you to be a bit more curious. For instance, a closer focus range lets you get an incredibly detailed look at a butterfly that landed in the bush right in front of you. About the best close focus range you can find is 4.5 feet, meaning most people would be able to focus on a bug that landed on their foot.
Binoculars that share the same magnification and objective lens diameter can deliver vastly different levels of optical performance. The quality of the optical components, the design of the optical system itself and the care and attention to detail during construction all play a role in a binocular’s overall optical quality, as do the quality and application of special coatings to the lenses and prisms (see below).

We chose to limit our tests to 8×42 binoculars for a number of reasons, one being that we found 10x binoculars to be too shaky, like walking around with a fully zoomed telephoto camera lens. Plus, the 42 objective-lens size is perfect for balancing brightness and clarity with weight. Compact binoculars, which have smaller objective lenses, are often much dimmer. They’re not great if you want to truly spot and identify something in the field, though good reasons to use smaller binoculars do exist, as many backpackers and travel-light types will attest. We plan to test compact binoculars soon.

Concerning the image stabilized binoculars from Canon, these are excellent binoculars for astronomy and do not require a tripod. They are just expensive. The 15 x 50 is a good choice, because of the wider field and ease of use than the 18 x 50 model. Also even though they do not require a tripod, better to put them on one. The later models do come with a standard threaded hole for a tripod. By using a tripod, you free your hands up to take notes or read a star chart without having to go back and find what you were looking at.
Overall, I give the Nikon binocular performance an A-. I did notice in the optical performance that there was some chromatic aberration, or color fringing. It did very well in low light conditions, and offered bright images in return. I only found a few trees over 700 yards difficult to get complete ranges on, but distant animals were never an issue.
Most binoculars have center focus, meaning that you focus both barrels at once by turning a knob or a rocker in the center. This is great for when the distance of your target often changes, such as in birdwatching, or when you often pass the binoculars for astronomy back and forth between people. But the night sky always stays at infinity focus, and you're probably observing it alone. So
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