You can also look in on the gray blotches on the moon called maria, named when early astronomers thought these lunar features were seas.  The maria are not seas, of course, and instead they’re now thought to have formed 3.5 billion years ago when asteroid-sized rocks hit the moon so hard that lava percolated up through cracks in the lunar crust and flooded the impact basins. These lava plains cooled and eventually formed the gray seas we see today.
Combining excellent optical performance with ruggedness, portability, and comfort, the 10x50 Diamondback Binocular from Vortex Optics (B&H # VODB10X50) is ideal to take along on your hiking trips, camping, traveling, or just in case. The specially designed optics feature improved transmission, contrast, and true color using fully multi-coated lenses and phase-corrected roof prisms. With the improved close focus of 7' 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 10x magnification and the 50mm objectives, which are ideal for low-light conditions and even star-gazing, offers you a generous 6° angle of view that gives you complete images of targets.

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.
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.
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.
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.

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Binoculars come in two basic configurations: Porro prism or roof prism. The Porro prism gives that type of binoculars the traditional binocular shape. The roof prism binocular features a narrower and compact, straight design. There are advantages and disadvantages to each, but, in general, the Porro prism design is less expensive to manufacture and, therefore, gives you more bang for your buck as far as optical quality and features. The relative compact size of roof prism binoculars makes them generally more popular for birders, as optically similar Porros will be larger.
Inside the lustrous black chassis of the Noctivid is a ton of sophisticated optical technology, including high-transmission Schott glass and plasma-coated lenses. The fluid precision of the mechanical parts of the Leica—the positive, locking eyecups; the smooth and exacting focus wheel; and the locking center-dial diopter control—made this the favorite of the test team.
I’ve been birding since grade school and have spent the past 20 years working as a professional ornithologist, traveling worldwide to look for and learn about birds. I’ve published a couple dozen scientific papers and wrote Important Bird Areas of California, published in 2004 by Audubon California. Professionally, I lead birding trips for both beginners and experts, and for my “day job” I perform environmental surveys for individuals, conservation groups, corporations, and government agencies.

Another advantage of the larger objective diameter is a larger exit pupil at the rear element of the binoculars, where your eyes are focused. With two binoculars of the same magnification, the circle of light hitting your eye is larger, with a larger objective. Therefore, an 8x42 binocular will have a larger exit pupil than an 8x35 binocular. A larger exit pupil generally means a more comfortable viewing experience.


Most rangefinders work based on the laser beam technology basis. Highly energized laser beam will be emitted from the binocular to a targeted object and once the emitted laser beam is reflected back to the binocular, the distance of the object can be calculated by measuring the time of transmission. Don’t worry, I am not going to bore you with tons of formula and scientific theory here. However, if by any chance you would like to learn more about this technology and how it works to calculate distance, check out this article in Wikipedia.
Field of view is measured at a thousand yard distance because you'll only really notice a difference when looking far into the distance. So if you're looking for bins to scope out lines on a distant ridge, you'll probably appreciate a wider field of view. If you're using binoculars to watch wildlife, which will generally be within a couple hundred feet of you, you probably won't be able to notice the difference between a 300 foot and 450 foot field of view, as the difference will be negligible at that distance.

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.
Select a distant object. Turn the center focus wheel counterclockwise until the eyepieces are all the way out. This is the extreme “plus” position. Now close your right eye or cover the right objective with your hand and slowly focus inward for the left eye until the image is sharp. Stop! Do not focus back and forth. If you do, you will have to start over. Turn the right diopter eyepiece out to the extreme plus position and now close the left eye or cover the left objective with your hand. Now slowly focus inward for the right eye until the image is sharp. Stop! Focusing errors will result if you do, and you will have to start over.
You can also look in on the gray blotches on the moon called maria, named when early astronomers thought these lunar features were seas.  The maria are not seas, of course, and instead they’re now thought to have formed 3.5 billion years ago when asteroid-sized rocks hit the moon so hard that lava percolated up through cracks in the lunar crust and flooded the impact basins. These lava plains cooled and eventually formed the gray seas we see today.
Celestron has designed this model to meet the demands of extended astronomical or terrestrial viewing sessions and the 25×70 version is one of the most popular models in the Skymaster series. They offer large aperture light gathering and so open up more stargazing opportunities and are relatively light but include an adapter so they can be used with a standard camera tripod.
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.

Hi Mark, I found the 60 x 60 binoculars for about $50-80. They look pretty poorly built. I also found a pair of 60 x 90’s for just over $110 and they don’t look much better either. I think anything larger than 12 x 50 is hard to handhold and anything over 15 x 70 is impossible. Not sure why people wanting that much magnification don’t go for a spotting scope? 


The “42” in our 10x42 binocular refers to the diameter of the objective (front) lens in millimeters. Since the objectives will often be the largest portion of the optic, it will affect the overall size and weight of the binocular, and how much light it can gather. In basic terms: larger objectives allow more light to pass through them than smaller lenses, which means images will appear brighter, sharper, and clearer. However, the larger objectives will also add bulk and weight, and that is where certain tradeoffs and compromises need to be considered when deciding if certain models will be convenient to carry, pack, hold, and use comfortably.
The good news is that the true technological improvements in binoculars over the past few years have come not in gimmicky features, but optics. Whereas 20 years ago you might have needed to spend $500 to get decent, waterproof binoculars from a factory in the Midwest, now the recent manufacturing boom in China has brought us increasingly cheaper versions of familiar products, resulting in a crush of nearly identical binoculars—more than 2,000 models right now on Amazon, for example—most of them featuring similar designs.
Angle Compensation: This feature considers the angle from the device to the target and alters the distance reading to reflect the change in distance and weight of gravity on the projectile. It rarely comes in handy for most users unless angles are quite extreme, but it can be very useful for bow hunters in high tree stands. For those that rarely need it, it may not be worth the higher price tag.
For the ultimate in light-gathering ability and night sky viewing, these Orion Mini Giant Binoculars are hard to beat. That doesn’t mean they’re the most cost-effective solution however. Comparable in size to the 15×70 Celestron, these Orion’s are priced about $150 more. What do you get for the added price? Mostly higher-quality components and lenses.
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.
Next, face well-lit wall and hold the binoculars nearly at arm's length, with the eyepieces pointed at you. You'll see the exit pupils (disks of light) floating just behind the eyepieces, as was illustrated above. You might think that exit pupils would always be perfectly round, but this isn't so. The ones on cheaper binoculars often have a slightly "squared off" look, as if someone shaved off, or dimmed, two or four edges. This is a sign of manufacturer's corner-cutting that will slightly dim all the images you see.
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.
Most rangefinders work based on the laser beam technology basis. Highly energized laser beam will be emitted from the binocular to a targeted object and once the emitted laser beam is reflected back to the binocular, the distance of the object can be calculated by measuring the time of transmission. Don’t worry, I am not going to bore you with tons of formula and scientific theory here. However, if by any chance you would like to learn more about this technology and how it works to calculate distance, check out this article in Wikipedia.

We’ll finish off this list with a pair of binoculars with rangefinders that are a bit different than the other offerings above. The binoculars we’re discussing are ATN’s BinoX-HD, 4-16x. You might think they aren’t exactly a budget offering, but they’re very far from the premium ones by Nikon and Carl Zeiss. Factor in the functionality they offer, though, and you might be inclined to change your mind on the “budget” part. When you try to take a look at some traditional night vision devices online, you will find that many quality options tend to be upwards of $2,000. Many people don’t want to spend that amount of money on such a product, and you can’t really blame them. The BinoX-HD break that pattern, by providing Gen1 night vision, with a price that’s a fraction of the competition’s.
Call it a hobby. Call it a pastime. Call it a sport. According to the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), in 2011, more than 47,000,000 Americans are “birders.” Birding ranks as the 15th most popular outdoor recreational activity in the US. Chances are that you either know a “birder” or you see one when you look in the mirror. B&H Photo is a great place for stocking up on the best birding optics available, or for shopping for your favorite birder.
Dave Brody has been a writer and Executive Producer at SPACE.com since January 2000. He created and hosted space science video for Starry Night astronomy software, Orion Telescopes and SPACE.com TV. A career space documentarian and journalist, Brody was the Supervising Producer of the long running Inside Space news magazine television program on SYFY. Follow Dave on Twitter @DavidSkyBrody. Follow us @Spacedotcom, Facebook and Google+. Original article on SPACE.com.
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