With that in mind I selected my top five binoculars from the initial tests and took them along with me to unfamiliar territory in southern Mexico for advanced testing. Working in the field is the ultimate test for any pair of binoculars. The optics need to do some very heavy lifting—studying intricate patterns of white vermiculation on the upper back of a woodcreeper before the bird scoots around the trunk of a tree, for example—while my brain sorts through several near-identical species, something I don’t get to do back home.
Welcome to Optics4Birding, the birding experts’ choice since 1992. We’re passionate about birding, and we’ve hand-selected a range of birding optics and accessories that are perfect for getting the most out of this engaging pastime. Optics4Birding has optics for any budget, from beginners to serious enthusiasts, researchers, and birding tour operators. Of course, we carry brands that are well-respected in the optics industry - brands like Zeiss, Leica, Nikon, Swarovski, Vortex, and many more. We are authorized dealers for every manufacturer we sell.
Although perhaps not familiar with the Navy study behind it, many know about the 7X50 binocular configuration having been used by the military for low light conditions. What are the best astronomy binoculars? The best astronomy binoculars for beginners will doubtless be the general purpose 7X50 to 10X50 configurations. They're the most popular "small" astronomy binoculars and for a good reason! To start with, they're about the largest that can comfortably be held by hand for the extended periods often encountered by stargazers. They also provide an excellent field of view and will gather all the light you want for the size, since larger objective lenses make a binocular significantly heavier. If these are for a youthful face, you'll want to ensure that you choose an instrument that has an appropriate interpupillary distance. You'll also want to consider the binocular's weight and the strength of the person who will be using it. Star watchers usually hold binoculars up to their eyes for longer periods than bird watchers do!
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.
1. Binoculars are a better place to start than telescopes. The fact is that most people who think they want to buy a telescope would be better off using binoculars for a year or so instead.  That’s because first-time telescope users often find themselves completely confused – and ultimately put off – by the dual tasks of learning the use a complicated piece of equipment (the ‘scope) while at the same time learning to navigate an unknown realm (the night sky).

It’s not always possible to try all of the binoculars on your short-list before you make a decision. In many places high quality optics retailers are thin on the ground, so finding somewhere that stocks the models you’re interested in can be a challenge. That said there really is no substitute for experiencing the different views, handling and features of a range of different binoculars to give you a “feel” for which options suit you best.
I initially thought these would only benefit prairie land outfitters, or those who guide hunts out in the vast open. If you think about it, the guide can monitor the range on the targeted animal while not having to take his eyes off of it. There would be no need to constantly switch between a rangefinder and a pair of binoculars, therefore a combo would be ideal for that type of situation.
Some binoculars can have integrated digital and analog compasses. They will often have the direction displayed in the field of view for easier use and bearing reading. Digital compasses are battery powered and illuminated for use in most light conditions. Analog models can use batteries or might have an opaque window on the top of the housing to channel and focus ambient light to illuminate the compass. Many marine, image-stabilized, and rangefinder models offer versions with or without compasses.
Eye relief is the optimal distance from the eyepiece to your eye, or the focal point where the light passes through the ocular lens (eyepiece). Manufacturers install eyecups on the eyepieces to place the user’s eyes at the proper distance from the eyepieces to make using them easy. If you wear glasses, the lenses will position the eyepieces past the eye relief distance, affecting the image quality and your ability to achieve sharp focus. Many binoculars offer dioptric adjustments on one of the eyepieces so that most users can fine-tune the focusing system to their eye prescriptions to use the binocular without their glasses. If your prescription is difficult, or you’re sharing the binocular with other users, the eyecups are often adjustable. Basic eyecups simply fold back to allow you to place your eyeglass lenses closer to the ocular lens. Another type is adjustable eyecups that twist in and out to set the proper distance for the individual user precisely.

When looking at spec sheets on binoculars, birders may notice that they have two standard types of prisms. Chris’s article gets deeper into this, but we will discuss it briefly here. The BAK4 prism provides a more circular field of view and is considered superior to the BK7 prism’s rectangular field of view, as the BK7 may cause vignetting of the image. There are wonderful binoculars with the BK7 prisms, so do not discount the variation; it is just something to be conscious of when comparing binoculars.
At its core, it’s superior to the roof prism design, and it does offer a deeper, richer field of view. Apart from its design platform, it also has the Sports-Auto Focus Technology with independent eyepieces. Its rangefinding ability may be lacking in that it doesn’t offer angle compensation or ballistic data, but it can range out to a full 1,860 yards! Not bad Steiner, not bad.
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So what makes the Victory’s the cream of the crop? They do sport the largest objective lenses on our list with about the same level of zoom. You’re going to notice a difference in zoom quality between the Victory’s and a pair of 10x42mm’s. Zeiss ensures that with this pair of binos, in particular, you’re getting unparalleled quality through carefully coated lenses.
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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.
Some binoculars can have integrated digital and analog compasses. They will often have the direction displayed in the field of view for easier use and bearing reading. Digital compasses are battery powered and illuminated for use in most light conditions. Analog models can use batteries or might have an opaque window on the top of the housing to channel and focus ambient light to illuminate the compass. Many marine, image-stabilized, and rangefinder models offer versions with or without compasses.
It has a magnification of 10×42. When combined with the lens quality, it lets you the ability to observe far and give crystal clear images of your target. It has an 18 mm eye relief. It is considered to be one of the highest which it comes to rangefinder binoculars. It results in your eye being comfortable the whole time you are staring through it. This is the rangefinder binocular you should buy if you are looking for something which is a symbol of perfection. Click here to see the best price. Click here to see the best price.
Durability: Whether you are looking to spend less than $1k or more than $3k durability should be at the top of your list when considering rangefinder binoculars. Having a rangefinder go down on a hunt can be the difference between taking home a nice trophy to the family or going home empty handed. All of the rangefinding binoculars on this list are considered very robust.
Rangefinder binoculars have an integrated infrared (IR) laser that is used to measure distance from the binocular to an object. They can be used at sea to measure the distance to another ship or possibly someone who needs rescuing, help hunters to measure the distance to their subject, or aid golfers to calculate their swing to the green. Rangefinder binoculars typically display the distance to the target in either feet or meters, with the readout visible in the eyepieces. Technological innovations have made the rangefinders more precise, and some can do a single spot measurement, or a constantly updated measurement so you can follow a moving subject and get virtually real-time distance.

In roof prisms the light path is split in two as it passes through the prism and then recombined, but because of the way roof prisms work the two light paths are slightly out of “phase”. This reduces contrast and resolution in the the resulting image, so the best roof prism binoculars have a special coating applied to the prism surface to counteract this “phase shift” and prevent degradation of the image.
I’ve owned and used a pair of Bushnell bins for many years, and these are a hell of a lot cheaper than mine were a number of years back, yet they have the same decent 8x magnification power and a large 42mm diameter lens that soaks in plenty of light. Distant objects are bright and easy to see even in dim light when I have this pair of Bushnells raised to my eyes. The locking system also helps keep the ideal focal settings in place even when I jostle the hardware around, making the Legend L-Series great all-purpose binoculars for hunters, hikers, birders, and more.

There are still other denizens of the solar system you can capture through binocs. Look for the occasional comet, which appears as a fuzzy blob of light. Then there are the asteroids – fully 12 of them can be followed with binoculars when they are at their brightest. Because an asteroid looks star-like, the secret to confirming its presence is to sketch a star field through which it’s passing. Do this over subsequent nights; the star that changes position relative to the others is our solar system interloper.
If this japanese-made binocular looks European, that’s entirely intentional. It’s the first full-size bino from a new brand that hopes to marry European style and optical performance with retail prices achievable from the lower production costs of Asian partners. The Passion looks, feels, and performs like a higher-end European binocular. The machined aluminum eyecups are first-rate and the controls are tight and precise. The glass is excellent. The price is a bargain for an optic of this quality, especially considering the fully transferrable lifetime warranty.
As a more general comment on the current state of binocular manufacturing: With things changing so rapidly, consumers should check that the pair they end up with is the same high-quality model we’ve tested. So many new binocular brands and models are in the market now, and some confusion is inevitable. Athlon Optics, a relatively new company, currently has 28 different models and six distinct binocular lines. If you’re the kind of person who prefers the stability (and availability) of a better-known brand, look toward our runner-up and budget picks.

The interpupillary distance is the distance between the centers of each of your eyes. This is usually two inches. To set the interpupillary distance scale go to the small scale from 60 to 70 with a few small divisions located between the eyepieces on top of the bridge of the binoculars. This is the interpupuillary distance scale measured in millimeters. Once measured you may write it down somewhere to remember it or like professional binocular users mark it with pocket knife or a dot of white India ink.Focusing a U.S. Military Specification Design Binocular


This light and bright binocular is built around extra-low-dispersion (ED) glass. We liked the image, especially the clear periphery, and we loved the aggressive open-hinge design that enables one-hand operation. Other nice touches are the oversize focus wheel, the center-hinge locking diopter control, and the lovely nylon carry case. But the focus wheel is spongy, and the eyecups felt flimsy and imprecise. Although the optics are solid, the Vanguard finished in the middle of the field in resolution and low-light performance.
To sum things up, if you can afford them, as they carry a pretty hefty price tag, you will never regret getting them. For anyone who can appreciate a pair of binoculars that offer more than supreme clarity, as well as vivid images, it doesn’t get any better than this. Add to that the build quality and finishing touches, and you’ve got yourself a real winner here.
When most people think of amateur astronomy, they picture a dad and son using a telescope perched out in the middle of a soccer field, but you can do it just as well from a fire escape when you look through these decidedly massive binoculars. They let me see details on the surface of the moon I thought were reserved for Apollo astronauts. Get them and you’ll see starlight brighter than ever before. You might even catch a distant meteor or comet streaking through the sky. Even in nearly pitch-black night, their massive 100mm diameter lenses gather an abundance of light. Do not bring them on distance hikes — they are nearly 10 pounds and far too heavy.
Expensive. In this case, rangefinder binoculars are pretty expensive, irrespective of the models. Even if you are searching for the cheapest rangefinder binoculars in the market, it’s going to be at least a few hundred dollars (which is pretty rare). The average price for something decent is going to cross the $1000 benchmark. Of course, if you do plan to get a rangefinder and a binocular separately, then perhaps a rangefinder binocular will be cheaper than the price of both the devices combined.
This term refers to the diameter of the large front lens (measured in millimeters) and is what will let light in through the lenses for the best viewing. So 10×50 means the lens is 50 millimeters in diameter and will let in more light than say 40 millimeters. More light means brighter, clearer images. This is very important feature offered by the Celestron SkyMaster Giant 15×70 binoculars with a 70mm diameter lens.
What is also interesting is they accept the standard, 1.25-inch astronomical filters to enhance your views of the Moon, planets nebulae and other celestial bodies. Other features include fully multi-coated lenses, quality BAK-4 prisms, individual focus for precise adjustment. They are fully waterproof and nitrogen-purged to prevent any fogging up. They're also backed by Zhumell's 25-year warranty.
Contrast: the higher the contrast in the image you see through your binoculars, the better. A high contrast image will have more “snap”, and makes it much easier to pick out fainter objects at distance. It also helps you to differentiate between subtle variations in tone and hue, particularly at lower light levels. Contrast is largely impacted by the quality of the lenses and prisms in the optical design, their accurate alignment to reduce or eliminate internal reflection, and of course the quality of the lens and prism coatings (again). Outstanding contrast is one of the hallmarks that gives premium binoculars that elusive “Wow!” factor.

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.


I have used a pair of Pentax binoculars for years, bringing them with me to the tops of mountains, along trails dusty, muddy, snow-bound, and everything in between, and to several different continents. Throughout all those travels, I’ve been outright rough on them. And while the Pentax U-Series Papilio IIs aren’t the most amazing binos ever made in terms of performance, it’s their durability that makes them so clutch. It has a “uni-body” design, so it has fewer moving parts and a tougher housing. And while they may look heavier than other binoculars because of that squat, thicker central body, they’re in fact quite lightweight at less than 10.5 ounces — another reason they are great for trekkers.


Combining excellent optical performance with ruggedness, portability, and comfort, the Diamondback 8x42 Binocular from Vortex Optics is ideal to take along on hiking trips, camping, traveling, or just in case. The optics feature improved transmission, contrast, and true color using fully multi-coated lenses and phase-corrected roof prisms. With the improved close focus of 5' you will get plenty of focusing range and a sharp focus on faraway scenery as well as close-ups of nearby street signs, monuments' details, or wildlife. The combination of 8x magnification and the 42mm objectives offers you a generous 60° angle of view that gives you complete images of targets.
The EL only has one downside, and it's a big one: price. Listing for $2,888 these bins cost as much as a used car and are more of an investment than a purchase. However, if you're a serious birder or wildlife watcher that wants the absolute best, or you're embarking on a once in a lifetime safari, these bins will undoubtedly elevate your experience.

The other important thing is the features you are expecting from the rangefinder binocular. No matter what others say, it is up to you to choose a particular rangefinder binocular. One feature which someone else finds useful might not be as useful for you. So, it depends on your perspective and requirement whether it will suit you or not. So, the thing you can do is note down the features you need from the rangefinder binocular. It will not only depend on your comfort, but also on the place and the occasions you use it for. It calls for a careful study of yourself and your needs. Getting to know your budget and knowing your requirements will get half the work done for you.


These binoculars provide the widest field of view of all the binoculars tested by Top Ten Reviews. This means that the Action EX Extremes "are ideal for situations in which you want to track fast-paced movement," like bird-watching or sporting events, Top Ten Reviews states. With a relatively low magnification of 7x, these binoculars won't allow you to see quite as far as Celestron's SkyMaster binoculars do. However, the lower power helps to eliminate the shaky images caused by small hand movements. But what these binoculars lack in magnification, they make up for with optical quality. "Nikon Action EX Extreme produced some of the best images out of all the binoculars we reviewed," Top Ten Reviews states. However, these are best used for daytime observations. The binoculars have 35-mm objective lenses, which is a relatively small setting and means that these binoculars won't catch as much light in low-light settings. The Action EX Extremes are also fog-proof, waterproof and durable enough that you can use them outdoors without worrying about damaging them.
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