Welcome to Optics4Birding, the birding experts’ choice since 1992. We’re passionate about birding, and we’ve hand-selected a range of birding optics and accessories that are perfect for getting the most out of this engaging pastime. Optics4Birding has optics for any budget, from beginners to serious enthusiasts, researchers, and birding tour operators. Of course, we carry brands that are well-respected in the optics industry - brands like Zeiss, Leica, Nikon, Swarovski, Vortex, and many more. We are authorized dealers for every manufacturer we sell.
When it comes to looking at the night skies, binoculars can work better than telescopes in some ways. They are more portable, intuitive to use and offer a wider field of view. If you like astronomy, you should have a decent pair of binoculars. Even if you already own a telescope or two, you should still have a minimum of one good pair of binoculars. If you are a beginning astronomer, or if you love to look up at the stars, then you will most likely use your binoculars even more than your telescope. The following is a quick guide on choosing astronomy binoculars. We’ve also listed our Top 3 Astronomy Binoculars for 2018.

Stars in a cluster all formed from the same gas cloud. You can also see what the Pleiades might have like in a primordial state, by shifting your gaze to the prominent constellation Orion the Hunter. Look for Orion’s sword stars, just below his prominent belt stars. If the night is crisp and clear, and you’re away from urban streetlight glare, unaided eyes will show that the sword isn’t entirely composed of stars. Binoculars show a steady patch of glowing gas where, right at this moment, a star cluster is being born. It’s called the Orion Nebula. A summertime counterpart is the Lagoon Nebula, in Sagittarius the Archer.

What pair of binoculars that you should get, will depend on how specialised and exactly what you want to use them for: The best binoculars for someone who wants to observe the stars with, but also then to use during the day, will be different to those that want to only use the binoculars for star gazing and don't have to worry about carrying them about.
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.
Also, unlike every other model we tested (except the Nikon Prostaff compacts), the Pentax AD’s fasteners for the straps are located between the eyepieces, not along the sides of the body where they poke into your thumbs as you focus. Of course, this meant the straps tend to get in the way a bit whenever you lift the binoculars to your eyes, but this was a minor inconvenience rather than a dealbreaker. The rubberized eyepieces of the Pentax AD also felt comfortable against my eyes and are also less prone to temperature fluctuations in the field, so you won’t freeze when the weather is cold.
During testing in Southern California and/or southern Mexico, a few other models proved very good at bringing in color under harsh conditions, including the Bushnell Legend L Series, Celestron TrailSeeker, Carson 3D, and the Nikon Monarch 5 (my favorite of four Nikon models at the target price point). Neither the Nikon nor the Carson model had the wide field of view at distance the Midas ED boasted. The Nikon was 361 feet at 1,000 yards versus 426 feet for the Athlons, Bushnells, and Celestrons, which had the widest fields of view I tested. The Carson 3D binoculars were incredibly sharp and easily as bright as the Athlons, but felt almost as if they had tunnel vision, likely because their field of view was around 20 percent narrower than that of the Athlons. These field-of-view differences proved more noticeable when trying to differentiate spot-breasted wrens from rufous-and-white wrens as they crawled through vine tangles in southern Mexico, for example; the Nikon pair’s narrower field, which had otherwise excellent glass, seemed to require more time to find the birds than the Athlon pair did (and tellingly, by the end of the trip, I was grabbing the Athlons each morning).
Olaf Soltau, a member of the New York Chapter of the Audubon Society, shared his experiences and opinion: “I use Swarovski EL 10x42s. But it took years before I felt ready to move up from 8x to 10x. For beginners, I always suggest 8x40. Think Goldilocks: not too strong, not too weak, not too heavy, not too flimsy. It's simply the best compromise. Higher magnification makes the image too shaky and the birds too hard to find, especially for beginning birders. Lower magnification simply doesn't bring the birds close enough. There are, of course, exceptions. 10x40s are OK if most birding takes place in wide open spaces like grasslands and coastlines, where the birds are often far away. I used 8x40s for years until my hand had gotten steady enough and my bird-finding-through-binos skills had become good enough for 10x40s. Another exception: People who don't have the physical strength to carry 8x40s around all day long can opt for 8x30s, but that means sacrificing image quality.”
Most full sized optics have objective lenses of between around 42mm. Whist larger and heavier binoculars may be more difficult to carry about, it may be irrelevant if you do most of your bird watching from a fixed location like a hide or in your back garden. Or for some people the benefits of a larger, heavier binocular outweigh the hassle of carrying them about:
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).
Efficiency is the word which can describe this product. Bushnell know for their high-quality products have come up with a rangefinder binocular which is going to be one of the rangefinders on which the coming generation will be modeled on. It is a model which blends the quality of binoculars which the capabilities of the laser rangefinder. Starting with the range, it can measure from 10 to 1760 yards. It operates on a push of a button. The ease of use with this product is unbelievable. It is used for multiple activities such as hunting, outdoor sports, bird and wildlife watching, traveling, and even by the army. It is a multi-purpose rangefinder binocular which is made using high-quality materials.
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 full rubber coating will protect the binoculars in any conditions, making them an extremely versatile tool for hiking, hunting, boating, and travel. Exceptionally crafted, the Armasight Binoculars offer compass-enhanced rangefinding and optical zoom in a finely tuned fashion. It is a joy to use this product, and we loved how high-quality this it feels.

They also have the added bonus in that they are far more versatile and you can use them for many other applications. If you plan to use this method, you should keep magnification below 12x in order to maintain steadiness. A good pair of binoculars with a magnification of 7x to 12x and a large objective lens will show you planets in our solar system, hundreds of star clusters, nebulae and even some galaxies.
Now that you know the lingo and understand the different types, it is time to go shopping for astronomy binoculars for sale.  If you decide to buy stargazing binoculars online, make sure to choose a retailer with a good return policy in case something goes wrong. Never buy any pair without a thorough inspection and ask about a refund if they don’t measure up when you take your first night view of the sky.
A related consideration is the exit pupil, the size of the little round disk of light that you see floating in the air behind the eyepieces when you hold the binoculars out in front of you toward a bright sky or a bright indoor wall. The size of the exit pupil is an important factor that's often overlooked. To determine it, just divide the aperture by the magnification — and luckily these are inscribed right there on the back facing you. For example, 7x50 binoculars have about a 7-mm exit pupil, while 10x50s have a 5-mm exit pupil.
During testing in Southern California and/or southern Mexico, a few other models proved very good at bringing in color under harsh conditions, including the Bushnell Legend L Series, Celestron TrailSeeker, Carson 3D, and the Nikon Monarch 5 (my favorite of four Nikon models at the target price point). Neither the Nikon nor the Carson model had the wide field of view at distance the Midas ED boasted. The Nikon was 361 feet at 1,000 yards versus 426 feet for the Athlons, Bushnells, and Celestrons, which had the widest fields of view I tested. The Carson 3D binoculars were incredibly sharp and easily as bright as the Athlons, but felt almost as if they had tunnel vision, likely because their field of view was around 20 percent narrower than that of the Athlons. These field-of-view differences proved more noticeable when trying to differentiate spot-breasted wrens from rufous-and-white wrens as they crawled through vine tangles in southern Mexico, for example; the Nikon pair’s narrower field, which had otherwise excellent glass, seemed to require more time to find the birds than the Athlon pair did (and tellingly, by the end of the trip, I was grabbing the Athlons each morning).
"It's hard to know where to begin, when you decide you want to get more involved in stargazing. The Celestron SkyMaster Binoculars are a fantastic entrance into the world of stargazing, for a low price point! If you're unsure if you'd like to take stargazing up as a professional hobby, these are a fantastic buy, to help you see the stars and to see if you'd like to further explore astronomy!"

If you are interested in Astronomy and can’t afford the telescope at the moment (we all know how expensive they are) you can definitely buy binoculars to fulfill your interest. It is always better to invest in high-quality Astronomy or Stargazing Binoculars rather than investing in a cheap Telescope. Also, Binoculars have some advantage over the telescope like they provide a wide field of view, they are portable enough to carry, and we can use both our eyes to observe which feels more natural to us. In fact, binoculars are also referred as “The first Telescope” and even a seasoned astronomer always keeps one by the telescope.
A potential issue with this kind of binoculars might be fogging and mold inside the lens. However, the USCAMEL rangefinder binoculars solve that by adding nitrogen gas inside. This counters the effects of conditions such as rainstorms or high humidity in the air, and you won’t notice fogging or mold. The BAK4 prism ensures that the clarity is as good as possible, and you have vivid contrast which helps when you want to see every possible detail of the object you’re looking at.

Although perhaps not familiar with the Navy study behind it, many know about the 7X50 binocular configuration having been used by the military for low light conditions. What are the best astronomy binoculars? The best astronomy binoculars for beginners will doubtless be the general purpose 7X50 to 10X50 configurations. They're the most popular "small" astronomy binoculars and for a good reason! To start with, they're about the largest that can comfortably be held by hand for the extended periods often encountered by stargazers. They also provide an excellent field of view and will gather all the light you want for the size, since larger objective lenses make a binocular significantly heavier. If these are for a youthful face, you'll want to ensure that you choose an instrument that has an appropriate interpupillary distance. You'll also want to consider the binocular's weight and the strength of the person who will be using it. Star watchers usually hold binoculars up to their eyes for longer periods than bird watchers do!
I’ll try to point the way, with a caveat that my methodology is appallingly unscientific; a field-based approach, you might charitably call it. I used each of these binoculars on assignment in Norway, North Dakota and Vermont, and on my sun-porch in Cambridge, Massachusetts, with an infant in my arms, glassing the horizon for any passerine that might happen to wing into view, as they so often do, seemingly from nowhere. Bearing in mind all of the above, here are five of the best birding binoculars you’ll find.

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.


Whether you’re bird watching, hunting, or even just taking an exploratory hike in the wilderness, a good pair of binoculars is one of the most useful things you can bring along with you. Though they’re not immediately thought of as a necessity by those who don’t have a direct need for them, binoculars can provide some true entertainment and fascination in the outdoors. If the fishing is slow, for example, checking out the herons across the lake or scanning the treetops for hawks is a great way to pass the time waiting for a bite. But in order to use them for situations like the above, you first have a pair. And, as with anything else, you should always research binoculars before you buy them. Read on for an elementary guide to binoculars for the outdoors.
The laser rangefinder in the binoculars is extremely accurate and does wonders. And they’re made in such a way that even when lighting conditions are less than ideal, you won’t have a problem. We’re not talking about big objects only, but even with small things such as a squirrel, or a rabbit, if you’re using them for hunting, can be seen with ease. Even with a bit of shaking, the laser is still accurate.
The way you carry your binoculars is going to have a big impact on your birding experience. You can carry them in your hand all day, or wear them around your neck with the included strap. However, there are more than a few ways to carry your binos. Chest straps, holsters, and quick releases all change the way you handle your glass in the field. Also, many binoculars have threaded sockets that permit attachments for mounting on a tripod or other fixed support.

As a more general comment on the current state of binocular manufacturing: With things changing so rapidly, consumers should check that the pair they end up with is the same high-quality model we’ve tested. So many new binocular brands and models are in the market now, and some confusion is inevitable. Athlon Optics, a relatively new company, currently has 28 different models and six distinct binocular lines. If you’re the kind of person who prefers the stability (and availability) of a better-known brand, look toward our runner-up and budget picks.
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.
Other flaws of the top binoculars focused mainly on what they didn’t do. For example, in several models (e.g., Nikon Prostaff 7S, Opticron Discovery WP PC), I found little details to complain about, like the fact that the twisting plastic eyecup was physically too easily pushed down as I carried it around, so each time I would raise the binoculars to my eyes, they’d be at wildly unbalanced levels. Even more annoying (and painful), several pairs I tested produced mild to fairly severe eyestrain, that ache behind the pupils when staring for more than a few seconds at a time through the lenses (memorably with the Eagle Optics Denali pair and a couple of Opticron models), or resulted in my eyes having a jittery little kick after I put the binoculars down and tried to focus on something else (say, my field notebook). This transition was smooth and virtually seamless in the top pairs of binoculars of the bunch I tested (e.g., Athlon, Carson, and Nikon), less so in other makes and models.

dless of whether you’re an expert with an extensive collection of rangefinder binoculars, or someone who’s only getting their first pair, choosing the right ones can be tricky. Making the wrong choice can cost you $90-100, or it could easily go into the thousands if you buy a premium pair of binoculars. When you consider all of the variables, making a wrong choice isn’t that hard. Things such as zoom or fixed, or image stabilization, or even the numbers in the name can be confusing for someone who isn’t well versed in the topic. However, as you saw above, clearing them up isn’t that difficult, and if you do know what you need, getting the right pair isn’t all that difficult either.
Some people report success holding the end of the left barrel with the right hand, and letting the right barrel rest on the wrist, and then pushing them gently against the head. This creates more rigid mechanics than holding the binoculars for astronomy closer to the eyepieces. I've had limited success with this, so try it yourself and see what you think.

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.
Pros: The Aculon T11 Zoom is considered both high and low powered as you can choose from 8x, 12x, 16x or 24x magnification, making them versatile and a great pair of entry-level binoculars, particularly with its lower price tag. They are also the very lightest pair of binoculars we reviewed at 10oz compared to most other pairs weighing more than twice that.
The focusing action on the binoculars is very smooth, and stunningly precise. The lock-to-lock is around two turns , you might think this is slow, but going from a few meters to infinity only takes one turn. Why, then does it take two full turns for the full travel? Because their focus distance is very close, at 1.5 meters. Optics are what you’d expect from Swarovski. The prisms are conventional roof prisms with mirrors. Again comparing them to the Zeiss Victory, they transmit around 3 to 5% less light than those models, due to the mirrors’ scattering. As far as the objectives go, you will find a pretty complex design with around 12 optical elements on each side. Among the most important parts that Swarovski included in its battle with Zeiss and Leica are the HD lenses. These lenses have high-fluoride glasses which, in a way similar to apochromatic telescopes, reduce chromatic aberration. With a fairly large air gap, you will find at least four elements in the Swarovski EL.

Most full sized optics have objective lenses of between around 42mm. Whist larger and heavier binoculars may be more difficult to carry about, it may be irrelevant if you do most of your bird watching from a fixed location like a hide or in your back garden. Or for some people the benefits of a larger, heavier binocular outweigh the hassle of carrying them about:
If you’re looking at the best possible pair of rangefinder binoculars, you’ve got them. This is hands down one of the best pairs you can get, and the value they give is also amazing. In ideal conditions, the Fusion 1-Mile ARC can give you the range on targets that are up to 1 mile out. You will find that the ranging performance can easily beat some competitors that cost even twice as much. Being somewhat of a successor to the Bushnell Fusion 1600, you will find that Bushnell actually made some significant improvements in the ranging capabilities.
In roof prisms the light path is split in two as it passes through the prism and then recombined, but because of the way roof prisms work the two light paths are slightly out of “phase”. This reduces contrast and resolution in the the resulting image, so the best roof prism binoculars have a special coating applied to the prism surface to counteract this “phase shift” and prevent degradation of the image.
Weighing at 34.7 ounces, it is not the lightest of the lot. You might feel a bit fatigued after carrying it for a longer time period. But it has long-range capabilities which outweigh this aspect. The range is estimated to be from 10 to around 2000 yards, which is much more than a mile. The binocular has a micro sd card slot which can be used to feed the ballistic information. Having a field of view of about 374 feet per 1000 yards, it is one of the biggest you will come across. The range and field of view go hand in hand to deliver you the view of a much larger area through the binocular, something which most of the rangefinder binoculars cannot offer. This will easily make you forget the weight of the device.
***Important Note: Most companies don’t reveal much detail when it comes to the below information. These are kept a secret so as not to lose a competitive advantage. For example, Zeiss has been in business a LONG time. They have perfected their engineering and coatings over many years and are not very willing to share their best practices with other companies!***
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.
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.
Here it's the little things that count. The Swarovski bins are the only of the three that put thumb indents at the bottom of the barrels, and it makes a world of difference. The Swarovskis feel so much better in hand than the other models. The slightly narrower base of the Zeiss barrels made for a more comfortable hold than the Leics bins, but neither held a candle to the Swarovskis.

Often, but not always, the optic will employ some type of seal—an O-ring or gasket—to keep moisture, such as from general humidity or a light mist, from getting into the optical tubes. You can take a weather-resistant binocular out in moist conditions without causing damage. The air inside the optical tube will probably be just ambient air from the factory where they were assembled, and due to air conditioning and other factors, will usually have an extremely low moisture content. What this means is that under most normal conditions, a binocular right out of the box shouldn’t have fogging issues, even if it is O-ring or gasket sealed.

OpticsPlanet utilizes many guest experts to provide high quality informative content on products that we sell, how to choose the right one for your use, and provide expert advice and tips. OpticsPlanet guest experts cover a wide range of topics from microscopes for discovering the world of cells and other micro organisms to telescopes for exploring the vast universe, which our planet is a part of. Whether you are an amateur or an expert, we're sure you will find useful information among all of the articles that our guest authors have created.

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.


These binoculars are no joke! Weighing in just under nine pounds, the Celestron SkyMaster ASTRO Binoculars are ideal for beginner or expert astronomers and stargazers, alike. They feature a humongous aperture, a pair of giant 100mm diameter lenses, and quick 25x magnification to capture images in near-pitch black conditions, while delivering spectacular views and details that might make you think you work at NASA. Although they come with a deluxe padded carrying case, you might also consider getting a tripod considering their heft.
The accuracy is mostly due to the advanced ranging modes available on the Fusion 1 Mile. They allow the user to provide hints on how to interpret readings based on his or her surrounding circumstances. This decreases the chances of inaccurate readings based on tricky scenarios. The abilities of the Bushnell 1 Mile are impressive for any model, but they are even more exceptional considering the cost of these binoculars. This model can by purchased for less than $1,000.
The Leica Geovid HD-B is an advanced model with a versatility that can handle target shooting and hunting. The model features automatic adjusting that alters ballistics based on the atmospheric conditions when in use. It also has fantastic optics with the ability to view targets clearly at over 1,500 yards. Its field of view is 300 feet even at 1,000 yards.
The Leica 10x25 Ultravid BCR is the perfect pair of bins for a backpacking bird nerd that wants to check some more species off their life list while not being weighed down. Despite a small 25mm objective lens and an almost impossibly light weight of 9.4 oz, these bins still offered great clarity and exceptional brightness in our testing. The smaller barrels and smaller focus knobs may be less comfortable to hold and use for those with larger hands, but overall we were pleased with the comfort of the Ultravid.
We did include a few of these on our list. When this is your requirement, there’s a list of things that need to be checked in order to get the most out of the binoculars. First of all, you’ll need them to be waterproof and fog proof. Having them float is a nice addition too. Waterproofing is pretty much a given with them, and they’re commonly filled with nitrogen so the lenses don’t fog up on the inside – this is a great thing and a must in this situation. The models commonly have lower magnification, such as 7x, because with higher magnification you’ll get a pretty blurry image. Image stabilization is a great option here – if you have it, you could go higher than 7x, and still have a crisp image.
Eyecups on the binoculars ensure that your eyes will be at the correct distance, but if you wear glasses, you can't get your eyes as close to the lenses, so you need to adjust the eyecups to ensure that even with your glasses on your eyes are the correct distance from the ocular lenses. Binoculars with a longer eye relief are ideal for those who wear glasses as they basically project the image further beyond the ocular lens, giving you plenty of room to play with. So if you wear glasses, you should be looking for an eye relief of at least 15mm, to see the full image full image.
A lot of the discussion on the general internet tends to be one brand against another with very little reason as to why. Also most forum users only own one pair, so it very much becomes a sample-of-one. Your atricle puts all the main concepts together allowing the prospective buyer to at least understand all the jargon and also filtering out the marketing gumf which so often misleads (aircraft-grade, being a prime example).
These binoculars are no joke! Weighing in just under nine pounds, the Celestron SkyMaster ASTRO Binoculars are ideal for beginner or expert astronomers and stargazers, alike. They feature a humongous aperture, a pair of giant 100mm diameter lenses, and quick 25x magnification to capture images in near-pitch black conditions, while delivering spectacular views and details that might make you think you work at NASA. Although they come with a deluxe padded carrying case, you might also consider getting a tripod considering their heft.
The Athlon Talos 8 x 32, Minox BV 8 x 33, and Vortex Diamondback Classic 8 x 32 are “tweener” or “large compact” binoculars—not particularly compact, but a size down from full-size. They feature the largest focusing wheel, wide/heavy bodies, and weigh as much as some full-size models. Though I wouldn’t trade them in for my go-to 8 x 42 pair (due to the narrower field of view), I actually found them to be a comfortable size for birding/nature-study, and didn’t find serious drawbacks during testing (though the Vortex Diamondback gave me minor eyestrain).
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.
The low-cost Pentax AD 8 x 25 WP are ideal for day hikes or airplane travel, where you want good-quality optics in a small package. Everything worked—the eyecups felt solid and comfortable, the hinges weren’t too loose, and focusing was quick and surprisingly accurate at any distance. Of course, this is not the pair for serious birding, stargazing, or anything requiring exceptional detail. But if you want inexpensive, very compact binoculars, this is the pair for you.
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.

“Took these binoculars to see Cavalia Odesseo from the nosebleed section and I must say they gave me an excellent view of the horses and acrobatics. I could easily see the violin soloist, the Spanish guitarist, and the enchanting vocalist behind the shrouds on the balconies. I will never watch a stage performance the same way again. I find that at a certain distance, I didn’t have to adjust the focus as often as I had expected. The focal sweet spot is pretty large. There is a mild chromatic aberration when viewing in daylight hours against the light, but this goes away when I fine tune the focus. For the price, these binoculars can’t be beat.”
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.
If you've looked through a hand-held high-magnification astronomy binocular (let's say 12X or above) and tried to read a sign on which the writing appears small in the distance, you'll know how difficult it is to hold the binocular steady. Even when you've braced your arms on a flat surface or against a tree, the simple act of breathing can make the image move enough to keep a person from reading easily!
We can’t really recommend any binoculars that cost under $100; those tend to have very poor optics and aren’t durable enough to survive hard knocks without coming out of alignment. But for just a bit more, the very functional Carson VP pair offers excellent optics, a minimum focus distance 10 feet closer than the Nikon ProStaff 5, and rugged waterproof and fogproof construction.
If you want a pair of binoculars for traveling or for the convenience of having a pair you can slip into your pocket, then a compact pair is for you. However, for distant subjects, or viewing in dim light (like, under the canopy of the rainforest), or for quickly finding fast-moving birds in dense vegetation, you’ll probably want to buy full-size binoculars rather than compacts.
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.
Sticker shock is common when looking for your first pair of bins. If you're timid about spending multiple hundreds of dollars on a new hobby, the Celestron Nature DX 8x42 is a perfect choice. The image quality of these binoculars, which list for just $140 and often sell for less, is by far the best we've seen in this price range. In fact, it rivals models that cost more than twice as much in that regard. The supple focus knobs and easy eyecup adjustments continue the beginner-friendly trend. We also enjoyed that the 6.5ft focus range let us get a good look at any nearby butterflies or other interesting insects, a big plus for days when the birds just aren't singing.
Combine Nikon binocular performance with the extreme speed and ranging technology of a 1900-yard laser rangefinder and you have LaserForce, Nikon’s new 10x42 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, LaserForce puts ranging precision, optical performance and rugged performance within your reach.
High quality optics and long-distance ranging capability come together in our all-new Fury™ HD 10x42 Laser Rangefinding Binocular. Convenience, speed, efficiency, and valuable dual-purpose functionality—all the advantages of a high-definition binocular perfectly paired with an angle compensated rangefinder. Right side controls are simple to use and easily manipulated with a single hand – leaving your other hand free to hold your bow, rifle, or other important piece of equipment.

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.
Our runner-up, the Celestron TrailSeeker 8x42s, have rugged, armored construction and were among the lightest binoculars we tested, at 23 ounces (the Athlons weigh two ounces more). Celestron has been making high-quality consumer telescopes since the 1960s, but also offers a huge line of binoculars (over 14 lines, and more than 30 different models).
Ballistic Functions: Ballistics curves are essential for getting proper information from the rangefinder unit, and customizable ballistics information is ideal. Many units come with pre-programmed ballistics charts that also allow the user to enter their own specific information. Some models even feature automatic adjustment of the ballistics curves based on changes in the atmosphere.
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.
It was during my training into becoming a field guide (safari guide) that I learnt in any detail some of the southern hemisphere's star constellations, it was also the first time that I had ever really looked at the stars through binoculars. Even though I was only using my compact Steiner 10.5x28 Wildlife Pro's which are far more suited to looking at wildlife than the stars, I was amazed at just how many more stars you can see through binoculars than you can with the naked eye, so much so that it became difficult to pick out the constellations because of all the "new" stars that I could now see.

"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!"


The Orion name is synonymous with high quality, superior performance products and the Resolux is no exception. With the tripod adapter it easy to take these binoculars anywhere for extended viewing without the exhaustive set up and limited view of a telescope. Images will be sharp with minimal blurring at the outer edges of whatever you are viewing.
The Pentax AD’s weight is feather-light, at 9.6 ounces (less than half the 25-ounce weight of the Athlon Midas 8×42 binoculars, our top full-size pick). All compacts—in particular the high-magnification ones—are prone to “tunnel vision” due to a narrow field of view that makes it hard to find a distant target through the lens. Optically, the Pentax AD compacts have a wider field of view than some of the other compacts we tested, and the colors on birds, flowers, and butterflies appeared just as bright under normal conditions.
Recommendation: while few people will buy binoculars solely on the strength of a warranty, and hopefully you won’t need to avail of it, a manufacturer’s willingness to stand over their product is obviously a major plus. Focus on features and the overall quality of the binocular first — but do consider the warranty in the “mix” before making your final selection.

AWESOME! These Binoculars are really great especially for a beginner night sky watcher like myself. They were easy to start using and I am really enjoying them. While I hope to eventually graduate to a telescope, for someone who is just starting out, these are fantastic and are a great bang for the buck as well. I would definately recommend these to any amateur sky gazer.
dless of whether you’re an expert with an extensive collection of rangefinder binoculars, or someone who’s only getting their first pair, choosing the right ones can be tricky. Making the wrong choice can cost you $90-100, or it could easily go into the thousands if you buy a premium pair of binoculars. When you consider all of the variables, making a wrong choice isn’t that hard. Things such as zoom or fixed, or image stabilization, or even the numbers in the name can be confusing for someone who isn’t well versed in the topic. However, as you saw above, clearing them up isn’t that difficult, and if you do know what you need, getting the right pair isn’t all that difficult either.
At its core, it’s superior to the roof prism design, and it does offer a deeper, richer field of view. Apart from its design platform, it also has the Sports-Auto Focus Technology with independent eyepieces. Its rangefinding ability may be lacking in that it doesn’t offer angle compensation or ballistic data, but it can range out to a full 1,860 yards! Not bad Steiner, not bad.
2. Start with a small, easy-to-use size.  Don’t buy a huge pair of binoculars to start with! Unless you mount them on a tripod, they’ll shake and make your view of the heavens shakey, too. The video above – from ExpertVillage – does a good job summing up what you want. And in case you don’t want to watch the video, the answer is that 7X50 binoculars are optimum for budding astronomers.  You can see a lot, and you can hold them steadily enough that jitters don’t spoil your view of the sky.  Plus they’re very useful for daylight pursuits, like birdwatching. If 7X50s are too big for you – or if you want binoculars for a child – try 7X35s.
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