Inferior image quality at lower price points: because roof prisms reflect light off more internal surfaces than porro-prisms, all other things being equal they tend to produce a darker image. They also suffer from a phenomenon known as phase shifting which degrades the sharpness of the final image. High quality roof prism binoculars include special phase-correction, high-transmission coatings on the prism surfaces to counteract these negative effects. Roof prisms can match and surpass the quality of porro-prisms, but at a price.
There can be a huge range in price between apparently similar pairs of binoculars. For example, B&H sells 10x42 binoculars ranging in price from less than $30 to nearly $3,000. The main reasons for such a large price range are the quality of the optics, the types of coatings applied to the lenses, and other features that might be added, such as the housing material. Additionally, the prism type can be (and often is) a factor in determining price. Because of the physics involved in designing and manufacturing the compact roof prism form factor, you can have a pair of roof and Porro binoculars that seem identical as far as quality and performance, but the roof prism version will often be more expensive. The good news is that if the form factor isn’t an issue, many people find that they can upgrade the quality of their binocular by choosing a Porro-prism without reëvaluating their budget.
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.
Another type of prism coating, only used on roof prisms, is called “phase-correcting” coating. Because of the way roof prims reflect light, after it moves through the objective lens, it gets split into two separate beams that travel through the prism system independently. The beams experience a “phase shift” as one beam strikes the eyepiece lens a fraction of a second before the second beam. When the two beams are recombined in the eyepiece lens they are slightly out of phase with each other, which can affect color balance and rendition. By applying special coatings on the prism, the faster light beam is slowed to match the slower beam, bringing them back into phase when they hit the eyepiece lens—greatly improving color, clarity, and contrast versus non-phase-corrected prism binoculars. Under normal circumstances, most users won’t notice the difference, but pro users and avid birdwatchers may require it to be able to pick out important details at a distance or in challenging light. Since Porro prisms don’t suffer from phase shift, these coatings are not used on them.

Pro Tip: If you plan on sharing your binoculars or using them for a variety of distances, stick with center-focusing models. For astronomy or marine use, individual focus will provide the sharpest views and you won’t have to adjust the focus very often because they will be focused on “infinity” (far-away subjects) where the focus won’t change much.

I am shopping for a pair of binoculars for my husband and I to use on an expedition to Antarctica next year. Then, the following year, I would like to use the same binoculars for a safari, possibly buying a second pair by then. I'm having analysis paralysis trying to decide betwenn 8x and 10x and also 32 or 42. Several seem like good choices: Zeiss, 8x32 Terre ED, Hawke Sport Optics 8x42, Vortex Diamondback 10x42 and Nikon 10x42 ProStaff 3S. My husband will probably use them more than I will since I will be the one behind the camera but I definitely want to be able to share them. You can tell my price range from the models listed. Advice is appreicated. Thank you.


Some binoculars have variable magnification. At first, this seems like the best of all worlds, but, in reality, you lose a lot of optical quality for the price point with zoom lens binoculars. If you ask around, you will be hard-pressed to find anyone who endorses zoom binoculars for birding. In fact, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology says succinctly, “Avoid ‘zoom’ binoculars.”
Good quality binoculars will usually have a transmittance level above 90%, whilst lesser quality instruments that use lower quality glass and coatings will be far lower. With this factor taken into account, it's possible for a 10 X 40 binocular (exit pupil 4mm) with a high transmittance (90%) to actually deliver a brighter image than a 7 X 35 (exit pupil 5mm) with a lower transmittance (70%).

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.
Whilst these SuperGiant astronomy binoculars have smaller objective lenses (80mm) than the Tachyon binoculars from Zhumell, this does mean that they weigh in at just 4.4 pounds, meaning they are small and light enough to use in the field, but of course are best mounted to a tripod and they come with a built in tripod mount that takes any standard photographic tripod for longer periods of observation.
I would be lying if I didn't mention that when I was first offered to test one of these out, I rolled my eyes. I thought to myself, 'Those are just a gimmick.' I mean, let's face it, for me, I'm a middle-income bowhunter who travels and hunts for my part time work, but couldn't see myself spending over $1,000 on a pair of binoculars just because it had a laser rangefinder built in.
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”

Look for lenses of good quality, multi-coated if you can afford it since the targets you pursue are so far away that you can make use of any additional feature you can get. Better quality lenses will increase sharpness and brightness, enhance contrast and generally render a better image than low-quality ones. It all comes down to your budget and preferences, of course.


Celestron shall use reasonable efforts to repair or replace any product covered by this warranty within thirty days of receipt. In the event repair or replacement shall require more than thirty days, Celestron shall notify the customer accordingly. Celestron reserves the right to replace any product which has been discontinued from its product line with a new product of comparable value and function.


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.
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.
But binoculars are expensive. In fact, we’d argue that you should stretch your budget to buy the best binoculars you can afford. Binoculars are a long-term investment that starts paying off the day you get them. Most likely you won’t be buying new binoculars every couple of years, so it makes sense to choose carefully, try a lot of varieties, and save up for a pair that will deliver great views of the birds you seek out.
So, what exactly makes good binoculars? Binoculars’ optics consist of three main components that affect their performance: the ocular lenses (in the eyepiece), the objective lenses (the lenses that are farthest away from your face), and the prism, which we’ll discuss further in a bit. The ocular lens is a magnifier. So when you see binoculars’ specifications, the first number signifies how much that lens enlarges what you’re looking at. In the case of all the models we tested, that number is an eight, so you’re getting an image size eight times larger than you see with the naked eye. The objective lens gathers light; its related number—in our case, 42—indicates the diameter of that lens in millimeters. The bigger the lens, the more light it can gather.
The first step to choosing the right pair of binoculars is understanding what all of the different specifications mean. The most prominent specification notated on binoculars, and one of the most important, is a figure that looks something like 10x70 or 25x100. These two numbers represent magnification and lens diameter. The first number is the amount of times a particular pair of binoculars can magnify an image. The second number is the size of the objective lens, which is measured in millimeters. The objective lens is the one at the end of the binoculars closest to the object you are viewing. So a pair of binoculars labeled as 25x100 would make an image look 25 times closer than it actually is and have an objective lens diameter of 100 millimeters. The objective lens is responsible for gathering light, and the larger it is, the more light it can gather and the brighter the image will appear. Since there is not a lot of light in space, it is important to choose a pair of astronomy binoculars with a large lens diameter.
Birders demand a lot from their binoculars. Birding binoculars must be light enough to carry all day long and sturdy enough to survive years of heavy use. They must be easy to hold steady. They must resolve delicate details and reveal subtle colors with accuracy. They must focus quickly and up close and work well in dim light. They must be sealed from dust and moisture. And they must show the whole picture even for birders wearing eyeglasses.

A BAK-4 prism ensures crisp, clear images, and works very well in low-light conditions. Additionally, the multi-coated optics provide excellent light sensitivity and filtering throughout the lens system, making for great viewing even in low-light conditions. An excellent waterproof binocular rangefinder, the Barska Battalion is the perfect product for any outdoor situation.
Close focus refers to the closest distance at which a pair of bins can clearly focus on something. This is a less important consideration as even the worst bins have a close focus range of 15 feet, and the vast majority of things you'll be looking at will be farther away. However, a closer focus range does allow you to be a bit more curious. For instance, a closer focus range lets you get an incredibly detailed look at a butterfly that landed in the bush right in front of you. About the best close focus range you can find is 4.5 feet, meaning most people would be able to focus on a bug that landed on their foot.
From January 1, 2005, through December 31, 2011, Celestron offered a No Fault Warranty on all binoculars and spotting scopes. For a charge of $25 for binoculars and $35 for spotting scopes, any binocular or spotting scope would be repaired or replaced with the same or similar product at the sole discretion of Celestron regardless of how the binoculars or spotting scope were damaged or rendered unusable. The customer must be the original owner, provide proof of purchase, and return the binoculars or spotting scope prepaid to Celestron.
Polycarbonate is a polymer resin that comes in many formulas with many different properties. In general, they all share similar characteristics, such as being easy to work with and inexpensive, corrosion proof, and strong. The principal advantage of using polycarbonate is that it is temperature resistant. If you’re using the optic in extreme conditions (especially cold) the chassis will remain at a neutral temperature—unlike metals, which can (and will) get cold, given enough time. More importantly, metal expands and contracts with temperature fluctuations, so over the years that constant movement can pull the optics out of columniation, which will prevent the optic from being able to achieve tack-sharp focus. Since polycarbonates won’t expand and contract, they are not subject to this possibility.
Dielectric high-reflective multilayer prism coating: I thought it was important to mention this type of coating precisely because it’s found on Roof style binoculars on the prism and is a great coating to have. It can achieve light reflectance that exceeds 99%, which means better and brighter images! Normally this coating is found on higher end binoculars.

The ultimate in efficiency, the Fusion melds the best of Bushnell binoculars with world-leading laser range finding capabilities. Every detail is magnified with rich contrast and stunning clarity from edge to edge using premium fully multi-coated optics and BaK-4 prisms. At the push of a button, it displays exact distance to your target from 10 to 1,760 yards.
I am shopping for a pair of binoculars for my husband and I to use on an expedition to Antarctica next year. Then, the following year, I would like to use the same binoculars for a safari, possibly buying a second pair by then. I'm having analysis paralysis trying to decide betwenn 8x and 10x and also 32 or 42. Several seem like good choices: Zeiss, 8x32 Terre ED, Hawke Sport Optics 8x42, Vortex Diamondback 10x42 and Nikon 10x42 ProStaff 3S. My husband will probably use them more than I will since I will be the one behind the camera but I definitely want to be able to share them. You can tell my price range from the models listed. Advice is appreicated. Thank you.
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.
The ultimate in efficiency, the Fusion melds the best of Bushnell binoculars with world-leading laser range finding capabilities. Every detail is magnified with rich contrast and stunning clarity from edge to edge using premium fully multi-coated optics and BaK-4 prisms. At the push of a button, it displays exact distance to your target from 10 to 1,760 yards.
Beyond those specific models, I would say look at a bino that's larger than 42mm up to 56mm - anything larger than that and they're going to be heavy and awkward to use. I'd also keep the magnification at around 7x-8x - that will ensure a large exit pupil (especially with the bigger objective models) and will help offset the dimming of the view that can happen to high-power optics especially in challenging light. Here's a link to some search results that can help you narrow your choices. https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/search?setNs=p_PRICE_2%7c1&Ns=p_PRICE_2%7c1&ci=1010&fct=fct_magnification_156%7c7x%2bfct_magnification_156%7c8x%2bfct_objective-lens-diameter_1126%7c50mm%2bfct_objective...
The Swarovski EL series has been the upper echelon of hunting optics for years and the EL Range is no different. Swarovski rates this unit to 1500 yards, which is a fairly accurate limit. The EL Range doesn’t have the raw ranging power that the other high end units have but for most hunters having the ability to solidly range past 1000 yards is plenty.
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.
In the same way that digital cameras can have image stabilization, so too, can binoculars. Image stabilization compensates for operator movement, the swaying of a boat, or the vibration inside an aircraft, that normally prevent the viewer from having a steady image. Stabilized binoculars usually contain a gyroscope that requires power to provide stabilization, or a pendulum-type device that provides stabilization without being powered. Most often, this type of binocular is used by boaters to reduce the disorientation common with high-power optics, or while using them in choppy seas. They are also popular with aviators and search-and-rescue professionals.
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.

You may also find more numbers below the magnification-x-aperture rating. These give the field of view, which is how wide a scene you'll see. It's expressed in feet at a distance of 1,000 yards, or, more commonly these days, in degrees. (The conversion is simple: 1° is 52 feet at 1,000 yards.) Binoculars' fields of view vary from about 10° (the size of the Big Dipper's bowl, or the size of your fist held at arm's length) for wide-angle models, to a mere 2° (the width of your thumb at arm's length) for high-power models. Most of the time, though, the field of view is about 5° to 8° wide: about as much sky as is covered by a golf ball or squash ball held at arm's length.
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