Olaf Soltau reminds us, “Remember that we spend a lot of time holding our binos, more time than we actually look through them.” How they feel in your hands is a critical part of the viewing experience. You will find that different bridge designs (the part that holds the tubes together) will give you a different feel, as well as the obvious Porro versus roof configuration. Arthur Morris, bird photographer and blogger, says, “Always try before you buy.” Many other birding experts echoed that very sentiment.
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.
The build quality is on point, with a rubber coated body, obviously made to last. Holding them is pretty easy as they’re grippy, and shock resistance is enough in those few cases where you might need it. The body is IPX7 waterproof, and completely sealed. There’s more useful stuff on the inside, as they’re full of nitrogen gas. What this means is that even under some extreme situations and weather conditions, the lenses won’t fog up. The prism is BAK4, similar to the other options, and you get the same sharp and vivid images, which let you see all the details of the object you’re looking at.
When Europe was blundering its way through the Dark Ages, Middle Eastern Astronomers were translating Greek texts that named and plotted the positions of stars into the Arabic language, helping to ensure the preservation of humanity's knowledge of the night sky. It is human's knowledge of the position of celestial objects, such as the North Star, that made ocean exploration possible. Determining a ship's heading without these navigational aids was considerably more difficult and less accurate.
And of course, Swarovski Optik El live up to it’s name. In terms of optical performance, this product outperforms the other three in this review (it’s slightly better than Leica Geovid). However, if you ask me, I can’t really differentiate the quality of image seen through this and Leica Geovid. Perhaps you have to be really professional to notice a difference.

Every pair of binoculars has two numbers printed somewhere on the instrument (usually on the face of the focus wheel, but sometimes on the body of the binocular) — for example 10×42 (pronounced ten by forty two) or 8×32. The first of these numbers is the binocular’s magnification, the second is the diameter of the objective lens (we’ll get to that in a moment).

These binoculars are sealed with O-rings to prevent moisture from getting inside; but they can still fog up on you. Depending on the construction and the seals, some waterproof binoculars are also submersible for various amounts of time. Certain manufacturers rate their binoculars for limited depths for limited amounts of time; others will adhere to military standard specifications and rate them for much greater depths.
For careful budgeters, we recommend Oberwerk's 20X80 Deluxe II and 25X100 individual focus models which provide good values for their prices. If your budget is flexible, there are many fine, giant binoculars that will provide very good value for their purchase prices. We plan ongoing reviews of astronomy binoculars as OpticsReviewer.com grows, so please check back from time to time as your astronomy interests evolve!
“These are quality binoculars. They are great for bird watching both in the national parks or open areas, and the mount helps you capture images that you would need an expensive DSLR camera to get a clear shot of so you can revisit the memories you have created. The optics are gorgeous. The image quality is comparable to the expensive brand like Bushnell. Very satisfied with the quality.”
Pro Tip: Don’t be fooled by catchphrases like “aerospace-grade” or “aircraft-grade”—these don’t tell you anything about the quality of the alloy. Ask yourself: What part of the aircraft are they referring to? The bracket that supports the landing gear, or the bracket that supports your snack tray? Technically, they are both “aircraft-grade” because they’re used on an aircraft. Unless the manufacturer calls out a specific alloy—like 6061-T6, which has verifiable specifications—all you need to know is that aluminum is light and strong and leave it at that… and don’t pay for fancy terms that don’t mean anything.
The easiest way to tell if your binocular employs BAK4 or BK7 is to turn it around, hold it 6 to 8" away from you and look down the objective and observe the exit pupil. If you can see a squared-off side to the general roundness of the image, the binoculars have BK7 prisms. BAK4 prisms show a truer round exit pupil, which translates to better light transmission and edge-to-edge sharpness.
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.
Generally the better the anti-reflective coatings, the better the resulting image and the better the binoculars will perform across a wide range of lighting conditions. The best performing coatings are expensive to produce and difficult to apply, and typically add considerably to the cost of the finished binocular. These coatings are perhaps the main differentiating factor between premium or “alpha” class binoculars and other models.
In addition to its high-transmission optical system, Swarovski also equips the SLC binocular with a range of features that improve the handling experience of the observer. The geared focus system offers quick and precise focusing with the same focus wheel, permitting the observer to focus from infinity down to 10.5 ft in only two rotations. Covering the magnesium alloy housing are two distinct types of rubber armoring, each providing impact protection and tactile response where they are needed most.
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.
All binoculars are identified by a set of numbers, such as 10x42 and 7x20, which refer to their magnification and objective lens diameter, respectively. Using 10x42 as an example, the 10x means that the binoculars have 10x magnification power, making the view through them appear 10 times closer than it appears to the naked eye. For most situations, users should look for binoculars from 7x to 10x power. Theatergoers should choose something in the range of 3-5x, depending on your seats; sports fans will be happy with a 7x model; while big-game hunters would need 10x or higher for long-range observations. Keep in mind that for many users, holding binoculars greater than 10x42 steady for long periods may present some difficulty, so a tripod should be considered if you are looking at models with higher magnifications or larger objectives.
As for cleaning your binoculars’ lenses, what you don’t want to do is start cleaning by breathing on and then rubbing the lenses with something like a microfiber cloth, lens wipe or—heaven forbid—your shirtsleeve. That’s because doing so may lead to the dust that’s already on your lens leaving tiny scratches. Instead, start with a lens pen or bulb-type blower to remove that dust, then go ahead and use either lens wipes or fluid and a microfiber cloth. For more info, visit our guide to the best camera cleaning gear (the routine for cleaning binoculars is fundamentally the same).
The Vortex® Fury Laser Rangefinder Binoculars combine quality Vortex optics with their state-of-the-art electronics to give you 2 indispensible hunting tools in 1 package. XD extra-low dispersion glass and XR proprietary anti-reflective coatings and fully multi-coated air-to-glass surfaces give you razor sharp viewing with maximum brightness. Roof prisms enhance durability and make the unit more compact. Users are sure to also appreciate the precision adjustable eyecups, center focus wheel, and left eye diopter. An illuminated right barrel display and right side controls allow you to operate the rangefinder with 1 hand. The Fury Laser Rangefinder Binoculars accurately ranges targets from 9 to 1,600 yards on highly reflective targets, and 9 to 1,000 yards on deer-sized targets. The Horizontal Component Distance (HCD) mode compensates for shooting from elevated stands or in steep terrain, providing the true horizontal distance to the target. The Scan mode gives continuous updates on distance as user sweeps across varied terrain or tracks moving animals. An ergonomically designed body with an exterior rubber armor coating provides a comfortable hold, and allows steady, accurate range estimations. Neutral pressure nitrogen purging ensures waterproof and fog-proof protection at any elevation. The Vortex Fury Laser Rangefinder Binoculars is tripod compatible, and comes with a CR2 battery, tethered objective lens covers, neck strap, and deluxe padded carry case.
We loved the eyecups on the Swarovski and Zeiss models. Both use threaded eyecups that twist in and out and have very conspicuous stopping points, so you can be sure both eye cups are set on the same depth. The Lecia bins also use threaded eyecups, but the stopping points aren't as solid, and we often had trouble getting both cups set to the same depth. This was particularly annoying when sharing the bins amongst multiple testers with different eyecup preferences, as it took much more finagling to get the eyecups to an acceptable and even setting.

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.
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 white highlands, nestled between the maria, are older terrain pockmarked by thousands of craters that formed over the eons. Some of the larger craters are visible in binoculars. One of them, Tycho, emanates long swatches of white rays for hundreds of miles over the adjacent highlands. This is material kicked out during the Tycho impact 2.5 million years ago.
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.
In general, the larger the objectives, the more light is gathered, and the more you’ll see- however, the larger objectives, the heavier the binocular. Magnification should be 12x or lower- any higher and you’ll have a hard time getting a steady view. Low magnification binoculars have the advantage of a big FOV (field of view), which makes navigating the night sky easier. They provide glorious views of star clusters and nebulae, and are wonderful for exploring the Milky Way. On the other hand, don’t expect to see planets with any detail- they are very tiny objects at these magnifications. Click here for more info.
A company better known for digital imaging has entered the sports optics business with this binocular. Some testers were put off by the “plastic-y” feel of the KF and the durability score—one of the lowest in the test—reflects that. The optics are disappointing for a company on the leading edge of lens technology; the Fujifilm trailed the field in resolution and low-light performance. On the other hand, we liked the price and the portability of the aluminum-alloy chassis. The clicking center-wheel diopter is a nice touch.
Here again Swarovski comes out on top with a close focus of 4.9 feet. I stand at 5'8", so functionally that means anything in front of my feet, be it a butterfly or another interesting insect, will be in focus. The Zeiss and Leica models are no slouches, both with a close focus of 6.2 feet, but the difference is very noticeable if you like to look at little critters.
The Fusion ranges out just a tad less than its competitors, but nevertheless, it’s still a full 1,760 yards – a complete one mile. Bushnell is straight-up with its specs as they disclose that its soft-target ranging is only 500 yards. While that might seem on the low side for a high-powered and expensive optic, we do appreciate the truth of its abilities. However, 500 yards is still pretty, doggone far!
Yes, these things cost nearly $3000. Why? Lots of reasons, starting with their powerful 10x magnification and 42mm diameter lenses, which work in concert to make faraway objects look nice and big and bright. But it’s also because their HighLux and AquaDura coated lenses create crisp contrast and clear colors, gathering all the detail you could want. There’s also the super-long 19mm eye relief, which makes the Leica bins ideal for people working in law enforcement, rescue, for military applications, or for nature study and/or photography. For when you need to see quickly and clearly in all sorts of conditions.
Carl Zeiss Optical Inc Victory is unlike any other rangefinder binoculars you have ever seen. The first thing you notice about this device is the clarity it has. You get the feeling that you are not working on a device, but that you are watching through your own eyes. The optics used in this rangefinder binocular is definitely of premium quality. It uses special multilayer glasses of fluoride giving a crystal clear view for you. The images are vibrant and colorful due to the LotuTec coating it has on the lenses. It helps you view the target so up front and close to you that you would not have an explanation for missing a shot.
Sky&Telescope has just released a new, slightly expanded edition of my book, Binocular Highlights. The original had been out for ten years and sold very well, so instead of simply doing another print run, they opted for a new edition. I was happy to help out and select ten new “highlights” for inclusion. Continue reading “Binocular Highlights 2nd Edition Now Available”

Next when purchasing a binocular you must consider the purpose or what are you buying the binocular to observe-star gazing, sports, and birding. What? Binoculars are great for doing a variety of things such as an accessory to the telescope to star hop to those deep sky objects you want to find or an asteroid. Also binoculars are great for learning the constellations, following sunspots across the sun(DANGER-BE SURE TO USE THE PROPER SOLAR FILTERS), the motion of the planets among the constellations, the phases of the moon, sky conditions, comets, variable stars, and nova.For astronomy the 7 x 50 and the 10 x 50 have been the traditional choice. For your first pair of binoculars, get this standard size over the giant binoculars. The 7 x 50 or 10 x 50 is good for general purpose viewing and portable. The 7 x 50 is good for dark country skies. The 10 x 50 is good for the city or the suburbs due to its smaller exit pupil. The 10 x 50 though can be hard to hold for some and may require a tripod due to its 10x magnification. Even the 7 x 50 view improves with the use of a tripod. There are several tripod setups on the market, which allow steady viewing, overhead viewing, and easy scanning of the sky without neck cramps. In fact, for certain types of viewing like variable star, comet, and asteroid observing, binoculars on a tripod is essential to give a steady view of the field, take notes, and use star charts. Also more detail can be seen when observing the moon or star clusters.
The coating on a lens has almost as much to do with clarity and brightness as the lenses themselves. A good coating can reduce the amount of scattered light down to a quarter of a percent per a surface. Scattered light is lost or misaligned information. You can have the best lens and coatings, but if all the elements aren't lined up and centered your image will come out distorted. With a minimum of 6 elements and some models having up to 20 elements, plus the two barrels, getting everything aligned can be very difficult. Fortunately, our brains are good at compensating for small misalignments. However, misalignments can add to eye strain.
Completely water and weather-proof, the system is purged with nitrogen to provide advanced anti-fogging in any viewing conditions. They are also shock-resistant thanks to the rubber-coated body and are one of the sturdiest range finding binoculars you can buy. For their great construction quality, durability, as well as superior image quality, the USCAMEL HD Binoculars set makes for a powerful optical tool that you will be able to use for years to come.
When choosing a pair of binoculars, the magnification power, always the first number listed in bin features, refers to how much the binoculars increase the apparent size of the object you’re viewing. 10x (which is solid) will make whatever you’re looking at seem ten times bigger. The second number is the lens diameter, or how big the lens measures across its center (larger lenses let it more light, allowing distant objects to appear brighter and easier to see.) The trick is finding the right balance between magnification, lens diameter, and compactness. Below, the ones I recommend to anyone who asks.

Every pair of binoculars has two numbers printed somewhere on the instrument (usually on the face of the focus wheel, but sometimes on the body of the binocular) — for example 10×42 (pronounced ten by forty two) or 8×32. The first of these numbers is the binocular’s magnification, the second is the diameter of the objective lens (we’ll get to that in a moment).
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Why is this important? Because the bright disk of the exit pupil should fit inside the pupil of your eye. And not everyone's eyes open to the same diameter in the dark. Young people (under age 30 or so) have pupils that open to about 7 millimeters across. While individuals vary a lot, the rule of thumb is that after age 30 you lose 1 mm of exit pupil every 10 or 15 years. So older eyes can't take advantage of binoculars with large exit pupils and, as a result, might see no difference between 7x35s and 7x50s. The extra light collected by the bigger 7x50s isn't fitting into your eyes; it's just going to waste. Score a big point for the high-power camp, at least if you're getting on in years; the higher the power, the smaller the exit pupil.
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