The problem with camera tripods is that most of them are hopeless beyond about 30 degrees above the horizon. That can leave out as much as two-thirds of the night sky. There are special armed rigs for binoculars that either fit to or come with sturdy tripods. The best ones are articulated parallelograms, which can swing smoothly through a wide range of angles. These have counterweights to let your optics "float" in front of your eyes. As you might imagine, they are about as expensive as the binoculars themselves.

Combine Nikon binocular performance with the extreme speed and ranging technology of a 1900-yard laser rangefinder and you have Laser Force, Nikon's 10x 42mm Rangefinder Binocular. Quite simply the single optic solution for serious hunters who depend on both their binocular for picking out distant animals and their rangefinder for getting the exact distance before taking the shot. Featuring ED (Extra-low Dispersion) glass and Nikon's ID Technology to compensate for incline or decline angles, Laser Force puts ranging precision, optical performance and rugged performance within your reach.


I know what you’re thinking — these bins have the exact same magnification and lens diameter as the pair we discussed earlier, so why are they twice the price? First off, 8x42 is a great combo popular with many brands; that magnification and lens diameter pairing allows for a good field of view that’s ideal for seeing deep into dark forests, tracking birds across the sky, or watching parades and football games. But this pair also has an ESP dielectric coating, which simply means the lenses deliver excellent contrast and color fidelity, helping you see the often-minute patterns and hues on a bird’s feathers.
High quality optics and long-distance ranging capability come together in our all-new Fury™ HD 10x42 Laser Rangefinding Binocular. Convenience, speed, efficiency, and valuable dual-purpose functionality—all the advantages of a high-definition binocular perfectly paired with an angle compensated rangefinder. Right side controls are simple to use and easily manipulated with a single hand – leaving your other hand free to hold your bow, rifle, or other important piece of equipment.
Have you just purchased a binocular and you're finding it has shortcomings you'd rather not live with? Hopefully you purchased from a retailer who offers a 30-day evaluation and return period. You'll find some of the online retailers offer a 30-day evaluation and return period which can make a difference in how satisfying you find your new purchase.
The 15x70 version is one of the most popular models in the series. Celestron's 15x70 SkyMaster binoculars are one of the leaders in the low-price giant binocular arena. The SkyMasters include multicoated optics and BaK-4 internal prisms, two features that promise brighter, better images, and key points to look for when judging a pair of binoculars.
Another feature we deemed essential was proper functioning for users with glasses. Your binoculars work only when the proper distance between your eye and the binoculars’ ocular lens (the lens on the eyepiece end) is maintained. Glasses would increase that distance if you didn’t have a way to adjust the inboard or outboard position of the ocular lens. This feature is called eye relief, and the standard recommendation is that those who wear glasses need a minimum of 15 mm of adjustability. Old-fashioned eye relief meant a pair of rubber cups that rolled down to bring your glasses to the proper distance; those cups are still found on some binoculars, but we don’t recommend them, because they’ll eventually stiffen or even tear. Preferable are eyepieces that twist downward into a more compact position, a feature that all of our picks have.
The Fury’s rangefinder reticle is similar to the one you’ll find in a normal rangefinder. Like the Laser Force and Fusion, these binos utilize a laser to acquire distance. If your target is at an odd angle away from you, the Fury employs the Horizontal Component Distance (HCD) to compensate for those angles and ensure you are getting precise distances.
The larger SkyMaster models (80mm and 100mm ) have been designed by Celestron to meet the special demands of extended astronomical or terrestrial viewing sessions and include features like enhanced structural reinforcement to the main binocular body. and an integral super rigid photo tripod adapter to enable easy attachment to tripods and other fixing devices.

Binocular rangefinders work on the principle of shooting laser on the target and using it to measure the distance between you and the target. But there is more to it. With developing technologies, rangefinders, in general, have come a long way. Compared to the latest rangefinders, the older versions are nowhere near as accurate. It currently comes with a lot of features which makes the purpose of target range measuring much easier. So now you have a better understanding of what a rangefinder binocular is, let us get into the things you have to consider.
Check the eye relief. Most binoculars have eyecups that retract to accommodate eyeglass wearers or extend to provide shading for those without. Look for durable, multi-adjustable eyecups. If you wear glasses, adjust the eyecups to their minimum position and make sure there’s enough eye relief—you shouldn’t see black rings around the image. Our Eyeglass Friendliness score helps indicate this.
Whilst it is true that these may not match the very high end "alpha" type instruments on this page, features like fully multi-coated optics, BaK-4 roof prisms with phase corrective coatings and water repellent lens coating on the exterior demonstrate that this is still a high quality optical instrument and will deliver a more than satisfactory image even in low light.
With binoculars the old adage “you get what you pay for” still hold true to a significant degree. Precision optical instruments demand exacting standards in their production… and still comes at a price. Binoculars you pick up on offer at your local supermarket for €50 may be OK for occasionally watching ships sail by on a sunny day at the beach, but they will fall far short of ideal when trying to pick out subtle plumage detail on a small brown bird in a shady hedgerow, or spot the tell-tale signs of distant whales blowing offshore.
Athlon Optics, the company that makes our top-pick binoculars, has a new pair of 10 x 25 compact binoculars coming out. After field-testing a beta version, we found the optics and ergonomics to be top-notch, but also found issues with the hinges and rubberized armor, which Athlon tells us are being fixed prior to its release, which is set for later this spring.

So as you can see, for astronomy you are looking for an exit pupil of 5 or more, however with higher magnifications this is not always possible as the objective lenses would have to be massive. So whilst many giant binoculars have slightly smaller exit pupils than the ideal, they are still large enough to provide you with a bright enough image - however this is where the amount of transmittance becomes really important (see below).
The design of the rangefinder binocular makes a big difference. It has to be compact and lightweight for you to easily handle. The weight defines how easily you can take it with you. You should have the ability to carry it with you without being fatigued. Also, if it is too compact, there is always a chance of the device falling off from your hands. A balance between compactness and weight would be the ideal match for a good rangefinder binocular.
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.
I reviewed 10 pairs of compact binoculars from widely available brands before choosing the Pentax AD as our compact pick. The optics on all the compact binoculars I tested are good (even great) quality; all have retractable eyecups that sort of spin down to be flush with the lenses if you wear glasses; most are armored/rubberized, which means you can bump them around a bit, and (probably) even drop them, and they won’t be knocked out of alignment. Still, when all the compact models rode around in my back seat, I just kept reaching for the Pentax AD rather than the others.
The Fury’s rangefinder reticle is similar to the one you’ll find in a normal rangefinder. Like the Laser Force and Fusion, these binos utilize a laser to acquire distance. If your target is at an odd angle away from you, the Fury employs the Horizontal Component Distance (HCD) to compensate for those angles and ensure you are getting precise distances.
Just remember the best pair of binoculars are the ones you use. If they are comfortable and work for what you want them too, then they are the right pair of binoculars. If you are thinking about upgrading your current pair, please consider donating your old pair. The Birders' Exchange supports bird watching programs and research in South America. You can always give your old pair to them. If you are still on the lookout for the best contender, consider reading over our Buying Advice.
With 10x and even more powerful binoculars you will get more detail which is good for spotting birds of prey, waterfowl, and large birds or wildlife. These birds tend to be slower moving and are often out in the open, where the narrow field of view will also not be such an issue. When using a very high-powers (approx. 12x or more), you will need a very steady hand or tripod or some sort of image stabilization and it is very important to stay away from cheap binoculars with high magnifications.

However instead of just doing what most other guides and review sites do and just list a bunch of instruments for you to choose from, claiming that they are all the best, in this guide I will go over in detail what you need to look for and how you can go about choosing the best pair for your particular needs and budget as well as offer some recommendations based on the binos that I have actually fully tested and reviewed.


Scan along the Milky Way to see still more sights that hint at our home galaxy’s complexity. First, there’s the Milky Way glow itself; just a casual glance through binoculars will reveal that it is still more stars we can’t resolve with our eyes . . . hundreds of thousands of them. Periodically, while scanning, you might sweep past what appears to be blob-like, black voids in the stellar sheen. These are dark, non-glowing pockets of gas and dust that we see silhouetted against the stellar backdrop. This is the stuff of future star and solar systems, just waiting around to coalesce into new suns.

However instead of just doing what most other guides and review sites do and just list a bunch of instruments for you to choose from, claiming that they are all the best, in this guide I will go over in detail what you need to look for and how you can go about choosing the best pair for your particular needs and budget as well as offer some recommendations based on the binos that I have actually fully tested and reviewed.
Designed to be as light as possible with maximum ergonomic comfort, these Nikon Aculon binoculars aren’t giant, but they’ve been found highly useful for nighttime stargazing. If you’re just looking for a high-class set of ‘regular’ size binoculars, you’ll have a hard time going wrong with these. Recommended by amateur astronomy class teachers, the Aculon 7×50’s cost about a fourth of professional grade astronomy binoculars, but provide much of the same performance.
I took my initial 17 models to a few of my favorite local Southern California beaches, mountains, and deserts for a couple weeks to get a feel for their handling characteristics and durability, and to get a rough feel for their images’ quality. But I couldn’t get an accurate handle on what actually looked better in such a familiar setting. My brain and its stored knowledge of overfamiliar birds take over, and binoculars are a lot harder to evaluate. That’s because with familiar objects, you know what you’re going to see even before you lift the binoculars.
The clear majority of binoculars use a center focus system. The main focus wheel is set on the bridge between the two oculars and moves them symmetrically. With center focusing, many manufacturers will have a dioptric adjustment dial on one of the eyepieces to fine-tune the focus to match individual optical prescriptions. The dioptric correction amount is decided by each manufacturer, usually by model, and can be on the left or right eye, or both. Certain models have the dioptric correction integrated into the center focusing mechanism.
Their build quality is good which is actually a bit surprising, as many manufacturers’ first place for cutting corners when they want to save money is build quality. Fortunately, BARSKA decided to go against that, and you have an ergonomic, non-slip grip which won’t fall out of your hand. The rubber armor is shockproof and heavy duty and will hold in various rough conditions. Another great thing while we’re discussing the build quality is that the binoculars are floating, and even if you do manage to drop them in the water, they’ll stay on the surface, making them easy to find. Like you’d expect, they’re fully waterproof, and sealed with O-rings. They are also filled with nitrogen, which means they won’t fog up or get damaged by moisture, regardless of the weather conditions. By now this might be a common sighting with binoculars of this class, but you don’t notice how useful it is until you’ve had to use a pair that doesn’t have that kind of protection.
The focusing action on the binoculars is very smooth, and stunningly precise. The lock-to-lock is around two turns , you might think this is slow, but going from a few meters to infinity only takes one turn. Why, then does it take two full turns for the full travel? Because their focus distance is very close, at 1.5 meters. Optics are what you’d expect from Swarovski. The prisms are conventional roof prisms with mirrors. Again comparing them to the Zeiss Victory, they transmit around 3 to 5% less light than those models, due to the mirrors’ scattering. As far as the objectives go, you will find a pretty complex design with around 12 optical elements on each side. Among the most important parts that Swarovski included in its battle with Zeiss and Leica are the HD lenses. These lenses have high-fluoride glasses which, in a way similar to apochromatic telescopes, reduce chromatic aberration. With a fairly large air gap, you will find at least four elements in the Swarovski EL.
The only pairs with a locking diopter are the Leica Ultravid BCR and the Vortex Viper. The top pairs in this group with the smoothest adjustments and easiest focus were the Vortex Viper HD 8x42 and the Nikon Monarch 7 ATB 10x42. With all of these models even novices were able to follow birds in flight and keep them in focus without much issue. This is attributable to their smooth focus knobs.
For outdoor activities like bird-watching, hunting or even viewing a sports game from a high-up stadium seat, these binoculars provide an excellent view. Top Ten Reviews lauds these binoculars for their durability and ease of use. "Add this to its unparalleled viewing experience, and you have the best binoculars we reviewed," Top Ten Reviews states. While these binoculars do provide an impressive view, with12x magnification, they're also heavier than average, weighing in at 36.2 ounces (1 kilogram). Eyeglass wearers won't have a problem using these binoculars; you can adjust the eye-relief distance to make these fit with or without glasses on. These binoculars are fog-proof, waterproof and super-durable, so you don't have to worry about damaging them with outdoor use. And according to Top Ten Reviews, these binoculars work great in low-light situations, so you can use them for nighttime skywatching as well as daytime sport.
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