Whilst the field of view on astronomy binoculars is not as important as it is for people using their binoculars to view unpredictable, fast moving objects, like birds, it is still fairly important. Field of view is basically the width of the scene that is in view when you look through your binoculars, for a full explanation see field of view in my optics glossary. A wide field of view will make it easier to scan the night sky and find objects when looking through the binoculars.

Going back to marine laser rangefinder binoculars, we have the Aomekie 7×50. This is a pair that’s truly made for the marine life. Seven times magnification is actually amazing, you won’t feel the need for anything more. The 50 mm lens, and a 24 mm eye relief, you can be sure that your eyes are protected, regardless of what’s going on. And a great thing about them is that even if you’re wearing spectacle glasses, using this pair of rangefinder binoculars won’t be an issue for you due to the way they’re made. All in all, they’re a great pair of binoculars. Let’s take a look at some of the details.

The only pairs with a locking diopter are the Leica Ultravid BCR and the Vortex Viper. The top pairs in this group with the smoothest adjustments and easiest focus were the Vortex Viper HD 8x42 and the Nikon Monarch 7 ATB 10x42. With all of these models even novices were able to follow birds in flight and keep them in focus without much issue. This is attributable to their smooth focus knobs.
Another metal alloy, magnesium, is used because of its high strength-to-weight ratio. All things being equal on two identical binoculars, except that one has an aluminum chassis and the other magnesium, the magnesium will be several ounces lighter. Why does this matter? If you’re planning on holding them up to your eyes for long periods of time, a lighter optic will cause less fatigue. Magnesium is very strong so it will hold up to abuse, and has the benefit of being corrosion-resistant.
Think about how you will use your binoculars. If you are using them for the occasional stargazing but also want to take them along for trips and events, then you’ll be better off with lighter, more portable models. 10×50 Binoculars are great for watching the stars yet still easily carried around and used without a tripod. You will not have any issues with achieving a stable image. These will also be handy for general viewing, travel, bird watching, hunting, sports etc.
Decide on your price range. Top-of-the-line binoculars give you a pristine image in a comfortable, durable package. Lower price ranges also offer some great options, thanks to technological advances in the last decade. See our chart of Performance vs. Quality Index to look for your best value. Note that we provide MSRP (from October 2013), but many retailers sell binoculars at below this price.

Recently, there was a post published on this site that covers the best binoculars in the market for hunters (at an affordable price) as well as how you should go about picking the one that suits you most. No doubt, it’s highly informational and if you are planning to get a binocular, I highly recommend you to take a look at that post first. And you probably realized, it didn’t cover the rangefinder aspect extensively.
Which are all crucial considerations, as binoculars tend to be highly subjective. It’s helpful to think of a pair as you might a new car: you want a rare symbiotic union of stylistic penchants, pragmatic details and clarity of vision that all mesh with whatever price point you’re willing to live with. Because the moment you drive it off the lot, the resale value craps out. There’s no monolithic pair that everyone should own, no starter set that’s worth the $200 you could just apply towards pricier lifetime binoculars. While cost is often a barometer of quality, it’s not always. Instead, a thornier set of metrics obtains: are you after high magnification for long-range birding — owls and shorebirds and the like — or will 7x or 8x suffice? Do you want a lightweight pair to stow in your glove compartment, carry-on or briefcase? How important is balance, overall feel, focus, and what birders call “eye relief” (basically visual ergonomics) to you? Because they’re different for everyone. In short, will you be driving an Audi 6 or a Ford Fusion?
I know that some museums, like the Louvre or Musee d'Orsay, are well lit - while some parts of Versailles, cathedrals and churches like the Sistine Chapel - are a bit dim (almost dark)...so if you can handle a bino larger than a compact (up to 25mm objective lens diameter) you may want to think about upping the size to a 30-40mm to help make the view brighter if you know the rooms will have challenging lighting.
The magnification and objective of a binocular are always complimentary. The range of a rangefinder binocular also depends on these two aspects. You might have seen the binoculars being denoted by a set of numbers such as 7×20 or 10×42. What it denotes is the magnification and the diameter of the objective lens. For example, if the binocular is denoted by 7×20 it means that 7x is the magnification and 20 are the diameter of the objective lens. The magnification requirement depends on the purpose of your purchase. If you have bought it to take it to the movies, the ideal magnification would be anywhere from 3x to 5x. If the purpose something like sports, 7x would fair perfectly. But for hunting the best option would be 10x magnification. But one thing you have to keep in mind is that the field of view reduces with increase in magnification. The field of view of a 7x rangefinder binocular would be more than that of a binocular with 10x magnification. Also, it will be difficult to hold a rangefinder binocular which 10×42 for a long time as it will be heavy. The help of a tripod stand can be used in such cases.
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.
Look for bright, crisp, true color. Image quality has an overriding importance. How bright are the bins? How sharp? How true are the colors? How well do they resolve details in a backlit image? Most optics stores are better lit than your average forest—find somewhere dark to compare low-light performance. In our ratings, pay special attention to the Clarity/Crispness score to decide on image quality. Note that because of poor image quality, we don’t recommend any compact-style binoculars with objective lenses smaller than about 30 mm.
On the packaging of any set of binoculars, there is one piece of information more prominent than anything else. It’s a set of two numbers with an “x” between them (8×32, for example). The first stands for the magnification level of the lenses. So, for instance, if you’re looking at a pair of binoculars with 10 as the first number, you know that their magnification is 10x larger than the normal eye. The second number is an indicator of the objective lenses’ (the lenses on the front of the binoculars) diameter.
Recommendation: unless you’re looking to use your binoculars for a particular specialist task choose something in the 8x to 10x range for general bird watching and wildlife observation. Try out different magnifications to see which suits you better. Generally if you’re doing a lot of long distance observation (like scanning wading birds on estuaries or lagoons, for example) you may appreciate the higher magnification of a 10x. If you do a lot of wildlife watching at close quarters, or in enclosed places like woodlands trying to track small, fast-moving subjects, then the wider field of view of an 8x may suit you better.
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.
It is for this reason and a few others that many professional birdwatchers tend to choose binoculars with a lower magnification and a wider field of view, rather than the other way round. 8x magnification binoculars tend to be the most popular, although if you are often going to be looking at birds at far distances, water birds on a lake for example, you may also think of using 10x magnification, just keep in mind the field of view.

I know that some museums, like the Louvre or Musee d'Orsay, are well lit - while some parts of Versailles, cathedrals and churches like the Sistine Chapel - are a bit dim (almost dark)...so if you can handle a bino larger than a compact (up to 25mm objective lens diameter) you may want to think about upping the size to a 30-40mm to help make the view brighter if you know the rooms will have challenging lighting.


Back in the clarity section, we talked about how alignment can affect the detail you see through a pair of binoculars. Some alignment issues can be hard to diagnose. Small alignment issues can only show up with specially calibrated equipment. One can look at the overall construction quality and hope that if they follow tight tolerances on the rest of the production, then optics should follow suit.

Seek out fellow birdwatchers and ask their thoughts. Birding clubs are all over the Internet—and they take their hobby seriously. Find a club or message board devoted to birding, and load up on questions to ask. You may get varied opinions on different products, but the insight should provide you with an expanded knowledge base when it comes time to make your selection.
These Canon binoculars offer something different from the above options because of the image stabilization function. This means that they minimize any shake and are much easier to use by hand – you just push the image stabilization button and the shaky image steadies. This means that for casual stargazing and astronomy, they can be used without a tripod.

Think about how you will use your binoculars. If you are using them for the occasional stargazing but also want to take them along for trips and events, then you’ll be better off with lighter, more portable models. 10×50 Binoculars are great for watching the stars yet still easily carried around and used without a tripod. You will not have any issues with achieving a stable image. These will also be handy for general viewing, travel, bird watching, hunting, sports etc.
Review additional features and warranties. Pay attention to field of view and close focus, two measures that affect how much you’ll see. See our report on field of view and close focus to understand how these factor into your choice. Also pay attention to durability, waterproofing, and warranty—many major optics companies now offer excellent warranties. Check our full review spreadsheet for these details.

Putting a binocular on a tripod or mount pushes the binocular into the telescope realm as far as operation goes, but it is the only way to handle magnifications over 15-20x effectively. A dedicated and specifically designed astronomy binocular with magnifications of 15x to 30x will show more detail and resolve more stars, though it still won't turn your binocular into a telescope. Still, there is nothing like the view in a 25x100mm binocular to take your breath away on a dark, clear night.


That’s not much to go on, and a lousy assessment of an optic’s best asset: the glass inside its tubes. That’s where Out- door Life’s annual Optics Test can help. We rst measure the optical clarity of a bin- ocular or riflescope on a resolution range. Then our test team (for personnel, see p. 54) measures how late into the darkness the submissions can see a black-and-white target (we do this on three separate eve- nings and average the results). We then peer into the guts of the optic with ash- lights, assessing internal lens coatings and quality of construction. We shoot with the riflescopes to assess their reticles and turrets. We glass with binoculars. We rate products on repeatable measurements of optical and mechanical capability and on subjective assessments of performance. We also assign a value score to each optic; the product with the best value score wins our Great Buy award. The top overall score in each category gets our Editor’s Choice award.

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.
Wider field of view. You spot a bird high up in a tree and quickly raise your binoculars to your eyes. The wider the field of view, the more likely that your aim will be correct and that the bird will instantly be in the field of view, without having to search about for it. This is especially true for smaller, fast moving birds that don't stay put. Lower magnification in binoculars means a wider field of view, so many birders prefer 8x to 10x.
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.
There is not much of a need for an astronomy binocular to be waterproof, water resistant is enough as using them at night can expose a binocular to dew and moisture, which can cause a non-waterproof model to mist up inside the mechanism. I would just like to say though that in general, better quality binoculars tend to be sealed and fully waterproof as well as fogproof and so this is one indicator to look out for if you want to make sure that the binoculars you are getting are of a good quality. (importance 2/10)
The Vanguard Spirit XF produced some of the sharpest and clearest images of all binoculars we tested. Its rugged design and pristine optics make it an ideal pair for outdoor activities including hiking, camping and birdwatching, while its versatility also makes it a great choice for action like sporting events. Precise optics and durable design earned the Vanguard Spirit XF 1042 our Editor’s Pick for Best Binoculars.
We hope potential buyers use this information to their advantage to learn about and decide upon the model that is best for their needs. Preparing this information by conducting research on each model and comparing it to others, we’ve created these rangefinder binocular reviews. Our research involves testing the units optical performance, accuracy, ranging abilities, ballistics, ergonomics and more.
For outdoor activities like bird-watching, hunting or even viewing a sports game from a high-up stadium seat, these binoculars provide an excellent view. Top Ten Reviews lauds these binoculars for their durability and ease of use. "Add this to its unparalleled viewing experience, and you have the best binoculars we reviewed," Top Ten Reviews states. While these binoculars do provide an impressive view, with12x magnification, they're also heavier than average, weighing in at 36.2 ounces (1 kilogram). Eyeglass wearers won't have a problem using these binoculars; you can adjust the eye-relief distance to make these fit with or without glasses on. These binoculars are fog-proof, waterproof and super-durable, so you don't have to worry about damaging them with outdoor use. And according to Top Ten Reviews, these binoculars work great in low-light situations, so you can use them for nighttime skywatching as well as daytime sport.
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