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.
Higher power doesn’t necessary mean better bigger; the amount of magnification you’ll want depends on the end use. Low-powered binoculars from 6x to 10x magnification work great for most outdoor activities and sporting events where you’re keeping up with fast-paced action (a larger lens size and increased field of vision are also recommended for keeping up with the action). Higher magnifications are best for longer distances and less mobile objects, like landscapes or the night sky (and a larger field of vision is not necessary).
Once you determine what magnification binocular you need, you can then try out the different objective sizes and styles. For birders, binoculars need to be comfortable for both your eyes and hands. The best way to figure out what binoculars fit you best is to try them out. The wrong style, magnification, or feel of a binocular can have negative effects on your overall birding experience. You’ll want to avoid that.
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 Vanguard Endeavor ED are lower-powered binoculars with a 10x magnification. Along with a 114m field of view, this Vanguard model is best suited for faster-paced action and outdoor activities. They have one of the largest objective lens diameter of the binoculars we reviewed, so they’ll perform better in low- and poor-light surroundings, making them a good pair of hunting binoculars on early mornings.
The type and quality of the glass used for the lenses and prisms matter. Generic optical glass may have imperfections, and if it isn’t ground and polished correctly, it could bend light oddly, causing colors to look skewed or prevent its ability to achieve tack-sharp focusing, or you may notice distortion at the edges. Specialized glass, such as low dispersion or extra low dispersion, is engineered to have virtually no distortion and transmit light better without bending it. The resulting images are generally clearer, sharper, with true color rendition and higher contrast.
Now, as far as rangefinders are concerned, the most popular size is 7×50. There are sometimes 10×42, or in Zeiss’ Victory, 10×56. These are all numbers that you could go for. However, less than 7 times magnification won’t do the job. On the other hand, more than 10x, and you won’t be able to get as much light to your eyes, and the image will be darker. As far as the objective lens size goes, if you can’t mount the binoculars on a tripod, you will need something with an objective lens not larger than Zeiss’ 56mm, as it will be heavy and difficult to handle.
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
Observing with both eyes not only feels more natural, but your brain can actually form a better image when when using the "information" sent to it from both eyes. I have written more about this phenomenon in the section entitled "Two eyes are Better than one" in this article on Observation Binoculars with Angled Eyepieces if you are interested to learn more.
Since you're not looking at really far distance, I don't think you need anything more than 6x or 7x...this lower power will bring the subject in close while maintaining a wide field of view. If you need  more power, I wouldn't go any higher than 8x. Also, depending on the objective lens diameter you go with, keeping the power to the 6-7x range you'll also benefit from a wide exit pupil and (generally) longer eye relief.
Let's take just a moment to consider getting astronomy binoculars with zoom optics at this point. You're probably normal and about now you're thinking that getting zoom optics would be especially intelligent when considering astronomy. Zoom binoculars can seem like an astute purchase due to a perceived greater utility. The popularity of zoom configurations is largely based on the range of magnifications available in on instrument. Unfortunately, the very aspect that makes it seemingly attractive can also work against it optically. You can learn more about the optical considerations in choosing zoom binoculars on the How to Buy Binoculars page (this link takes you directly to the section on zoom optics).

The first decision a birder needs to make when buying binoculars is what magnification binoculars to get. When looking at binoculars on the Web (and on the box and the binoculars themselves) you will usually see two prominent numbers. These refer to the magnification and objective diameter. An example is: 8x42. This indicates the magnification of the binoculars is 8x power and the objective (front) lens is 42mm in diameter.
The difference here isn’t that much in quality, but rather in size and bulkiness. All binoculars need a prism, as without one, they’d produce a reversed, upside-down image, which isn’t very useful. With a roof prism, you get binoculars with a straight profile, and the eyepiece is right behind the front lens. This is a fairly compact design compared to a porro prism. A porro prism, on the other hand, you have an offset lens and eyepiece, and this is the more common, traditional model. Both are great in terms of functionality, and it’s pretty much a choice of do you need a compact pair, or not.
The Nikon Monarch 7 ATB 10x42 and the Leica 10x25 Ultravid BCR both earned a score of 8 out of 10 in our clarity testing. These models allowed us to see zones 8 and nine9 were clearly on the chart with just a little defocusing around the last millimeter or two near the edges. All five of these top pairs include multi-coated lenses, ED or HD glass, and excellent craftsmanship, which is what allows them all to be so clear.
The sole obligation of Celestron under this limited warranty shall be to repair or replace the covered product, in accordance with the terms set forth herein. Celestron expressly disclaims any lost profits, general, special, indirect or consequential damages which may result from breach of warranty, or arising out of the use or inability to use any Celestron product. Any warranties which are implied and which cannot be disclaimed shall be limited in duration to a term of one year from the date of original retail purchase. 
Secondly, the argon-purged chamber helps protect the binoculars against water damage and prevents fogging, one of the most common issues with binoculars. And third, the company backs their bins with a lifetime replacement warranty against defects and lifetime no-cost repairs if you damage them by accident during normal use. And as any avid bird watcher can tell you, frequent normal use will eventually lead to damage.
For many people the ideal compromise will be a mid sized binocular which have objective lenses of around 32mm. These are becoming increasingly popular, and there are many good arguments in their favor. Whilst it is true that larger objectives can theoretically deliver brighter, higher resolution images, with magnifications of around 8x, it is actually quite hard to detect a qualitative difference between 42mm and 32mm objectives. In my opinion, at 8x or 10x, the quality of the optics and their coatings is far more important than the size of the lenses.
Other no-go categories that we won’t be touching anytime soon are zoom binoculars or binoculars that include a digital camera. In the former case, you’ll end up with optics so compromised (less light-gathering ability, lower clarity) that the convenience of multiple levels of magnification would be quickly negated. In the latter, the quality of the cameras found inside these neither-here-nor-there binoculars is about a thousand years behind even the most basic modern smartphone. Stay away.
But even with all these improvements, binoculars will vary in important ways. A few models close focus down to 5 feet away or even a little closer, though at least one popular model reaches no closer than 16 feet away, making them a no-go for seeing butterflies and other up-close objects. The field of view (how large an area you see when you look out into the distance) is also variable and differed by more than 20 percent across models tested for this review.
Glass wise these are quite a step up from the Bushnell’s but not yet at the level of the Leica’s and Swaros. Ranging wise, they smoke the Bushnells and nudge just above Swarovski El’s. In fair weather (sun, overcast, light rain, etc) the Leica Geovid HD-B is going to outrange it most of the time. If weather turns to crap or there is heavy fog the Steiner will be unbeaten.
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.
Observing with both eyes not only feels more natural, but your brain can actually form a better image when when using the "information" sent to it from both eyes. I have written more about this phenomenon in the section entitled "Two eyes are Better than one" in this article on Observation Binoculars with Angled Eyepieces if you are interested to learn more.
I am a fairly new birder and purchased Nikon Monarch M511 8x42 6.3 waterproof binoculars about 2 years ago from B&H. While I was in Equador this spring the side hinge where I attached my Nikon harness broke on the left side. I have no means of atttaching them now to the harness. I have enjoyed these as effective "starter" binoculars. With the loss of the capacity to wear my harness, I am considering upgrading. I would appreciate a suggestion for a new pair, as the broken part seems to be an integral part of the frame and not something that can be repaired. I would like to be able to see subtle colors, wing bars and eye ring color at the same or greater distance than I can with the Monarchs. Waterproof, as light a weight as possible.

I'd like to get a binocular for my wife who is legally blind and has also some degree of night blindness. We travel extensively and she loves watching nature (animals on safaris; mountains; etc.). I was thinking that a binocular with a large aperture and wide field might be a good choice, such as the Steiner 8x56 ShadowQuest Binocular. I like the good performance during dawn, becasue of my wife's impaired ability to see in low-light environments. What do you think? Any other types I should consider?

The Leupold BX-1 Yosemite is a good set of binoculars that produces clear images. These binoculars are lightweight, waterproof and fogproof, so they can handle wet conditions without damage to the optics inside. They’re low powered and have the smallest objective lens of any binoculars we reviewed. Pros: These Leupold binoculars are some of the lightest we reviewed at 17oz. An 8x magnification and 118m field of view make them a good choice for birdwatching and sporting events where things move quickly.
In a hunting situation, the Fusion’s ranging capabilities will be enough for all but the longest range hunters. One area some may be disappointed in is glass quality. I’d say glass is about on par with a pair of Vortex Viper HD’s. Definitely good enough for most but will leave some wanting more if spending a lot of time glassing. Another thing to note is the Fusions have a distinguishable blue tint to their glass. It is fairly minor but there is no doubt that it is there.
Fusion 1-Mile uses the latest technology especially when it comes to the glass and lens. It uses the all-new XTR technology to provide the ultimate transmission of light. This, in turn, delivers great clarity and resolution. It has a waterproof coating which protects it from harsh conditions. The multi-coated casing also gives it protection from falls and other impacts. The quality of lenses and the sturdy construction makes it easy for you to carry it into the woods without worrying about damaging the device.

The black 2017 edition of Zeiss Optics' 8x42 Terra ED Binocular (B&H # ZE8X42TEDBB) features a redesigned ergonomic chassis that makes holding them more comfortable, especially during long glassing sessions. Optically, they retain the exceptional elements that are the hallmarks of the Terra ED including compact Schmidt-Pechan roof prisms, SCHOTT extra low-dispersion (ED) glass, and the proprietary multi-coatings. These complementary technologies and elements work together to produce an immersive observational experience that presents clear and bright views, with accurate color representation and virtually zero distortion, across the entire field of view. Adding to the binocular's usability is a short 5.25-foot close-focus distance that gives them the ability to resolve feathers or leaves in fine detail.

If your main interest in astronomy is exploring the fine details on planets or showing structure in distant galaxies, you will probably also eventually want to get a telescope as binoculars just don't have enough magnification. However, binoculars have their advantages over telescopes for astronomy and a wide field of view is one of them. If are new to astronomy or if you thrive on large open star clusters and big, extended nebulae, binoculars can actually work better for you than a telescope. It is often said that binoculars are the best "first telescopes" you can buy and even an experienced astronomer usually keeps one with them at all times.
A simple trick for spotting stuff faster with binoculars: Don’t hold your binoculars up to your eyes and then pan and scan for what you’re trying to spot. You’ll never get there. Instead, with the naked eye, stare up at what you want to see, then raise the binoculars to your gaze. That’ll allow whatever you’re looking at to instantly pop into your magnified view.

The first decision a birder needs to make when buying binoculars is what magnification binoculars to get. When looking at binoculars on the Web (and on the box and the binoculars themselves) you will usually see two prominent numbers. These refer to the magnification and objective diameter. An example is: 8x42. This indicates the magnification of the binoculars is 8x power and the objective (front) lens is 42mm in diameter.


Lens coatings are films applied to lens surfaces to reduce glare and reflections, increase light transmission and contrast, and help make colors look more vivid. Any light reflected is light that never reaches the viewer’s eyes, so by eliminating reflections, the image ends up being brighter and sharper. Coatings, in general, are good, provided that the coatings do something. It’s easy to put a cheap coating on a lens to give it a cool-looking orange tint, but the coating might not do anything to improve image quality. If you aren’t able to test a pair of binoculars before buying, the best you can do is research the brand, look for user reviews, and ask questions before you buy.

While telescopes have traditionally been the go-to device for viewing the heavens, binoculars actually offer a few distinct advantages. One of the biggest drawbacks of telescopes is their size. Even a small telescope is much larger than your average pair of binoculars. This seriously hinders their portability. If you are taking a multi-day camping and hiking trip, lugging along a giant telescope would be impractical for nighttime stargazing.
Once you determine what magnification binocular you need, you can then try out the different objective sizes and styles. For birders, binoculars need to be comfortable for both your eyes and hands. The best way to figure out what binoculars fit you best is to try them out. The wrong style, magnification, or feel of a binocular can have negative effects on your overall birding experience. You’ll want to avoid that.
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.

"I ordered these, and have been very impressed. A small river with many birds and deer runs against my property, and a friend was watching a heron on 5/3/17. He took the binoculars, rested them on a small clock near my sink, adding one of my artist's paint brushes, to prop them up the way he wanted, and took this photo with his iPhone THRU the binoculars! The heron was about 80 yards away. The second pic is of his 'set up.' I never knew the binoculars would be used to take distant pictures through, but you can see it's possible!"
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.
Looking at the basics, you’ll find that all binoculars come with a set of two numbers. They can be 7×42, 7×50, 8×42, 10×52 etc. This is a pretty important number with rangefinder binoculars, and any binoculars in general. The first number will tell you the magnification. For example, a 7×42 will show you objects 7 times closer than the naked eye. The second number tells you how big the objective lens is in mm. A larger objective lens lets in more light, and you’ll be able to see a brighter image. This could be especially beneficial in darker conditions. What you should know is that higher magnification will reduce the amount of light that’s available, and a large objective lens will make the binoculars large and heavy.
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.
As mentioned before, this is the second number when describing binoculars. Along with magnification, this is the most important feature for astronomical binoculars. The larger the lens is, the more light that gets in, the brighter your image will be. Binoculars for stargazing should be at least 50mm and preferably even 70mm and above. Larger lenses of 50mm to 100mm are very common in astronomy binoculars simply because they can gather more light.
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.
Other no-go categories that we won’t be touching anytime soon are zoom binoculars or binoculars that include a digital camera. In the former case, you’ll end up with optics so compromised (less light-gathering ability, lower clarity) that the convenience of multiple levels of magnification would be quickly negated. In the latter, the quality of the cameras found inside these neither-here-nor-there binoculars is about a thousand years behind even the most basic modern smartphone. Stay away.
The type and quality of the glass used for the lenses and prisms matter. Generic optical glass may have imperfections, and if it isn’t ground and polished correctly, it could bend light oddly, causing colors to look skewed or prevent its ability to achieve tack-sharp focusing, or you may notice distortion at the edges. Specialized glass, such as low dispersion or extra low dispersion, is engineered to have virtually no distortion and transmit light better without bending it. The resulting images are generally clearer, sharper, with true color rendition and higher contrast.
Accuracy. No matter how experienced you are in hunting, you can only come out with a ‘rough estimation’ of the distance of a prey. Rough estimation often means the accuracy of the measured distance is pretty much skewed. I am not trying to undermine experienced hunters but it’s normal that manual calculations are susceptible to human error. What more if you are an absolute beginner?
Our small army of volunteers rated the models on a 1 to 5 scale for a variety of factors, including clarity, brightness, focus response, and eye relief. (For a fuller explanation of our methods, see the below story on how we made our rankings.) For the sake of consistency, we reviewed 8x32 (pronounced “eight by thirty-two”) or 8x42 optics. Most birders prefer 7- or 8-power binoculars because they’re bright and have a wide field of view, making it easier to find birds and to follow them in flight. Optics with objective lenses—the glass at the fat end of the tube—larger than 42 mm are heavier, and those smaller than 30 mm, while lightweight, aren’t bright enough to show detail in poor light. 
When you’re new to stargazing, the first step seems obvious: buy a new telescope. But what will serve you just as well is a good pair of binoculars for astronomy. Binoculars bring the stars a bit closer to your eyes, with a larger field of view that makes the heavens a bit easier to understand. And even a good pair of binoculars will generally be cheaper than a new telescope. Browse the articles below for some tips on choosing the best binoculars for astronomy. You’ll also find articles that cover binocular basics, introducing you to the terms that you’ll need to know when you buy.
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