Brian Sullivan, Project Leader from The Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s eBird program, shares his thoughts: “7x42 binoculars are ideal for 'landbirding;' for example, watching spring warblers in dense tangles or trees where magnification is less a factor, but quickly finding birds and staying on them is key. If you have steady hands, or do the kind of birding that requires long-distance viewing (e.g., hawk watching, sea watching), then 10x might be best for you. 8x is a nice compromise! Many binocular manufacturers have settled on 8x as the standard for general birding. This gives you a good field of view with sufficient magnification power for all birding use cases, and, in general, the 8x binoculars are easy to hold steady.”
Let’s talk about performance and features for a moment. In one sentence, performance is stellar, and the features are what you’d expect from a pair of binoculars at this price range and in this category. The binoculars have a 7 times magnification and a 50 mm lens. At 1000 meters, the field of view is 132 meters. This translates to 396 feet at 1000 yards. What this should tell you is that they’re great for any sports that require basic optics and magnification. The individual eyepiece focus system lets you focus when you’re viewing objects at both medium and long distances.
Binocular buyers are immediately confronted with several purchasing decisions. Not only are there numerous brands of binoculars on the market, they come in all different shapes, sizes, colors, and feature options. B&H Photo writer Christopher Witt recently published an in-depth Binoculars Buying Guide that dives deep into what you will find on the shelves of the B&H optics department and on the SuperStore website when searching for a pair of binoculars. Luckily, if your mission is viewing birds, purchasing options can be narrowed a bit. For this article, we will focus here on what specifications birders should consider when binocular shopping, and not reproduce everything from Chris’s excellent article.
One of my best purchases for my camera (weighing 81oz with my birding lens attached) was a shoulder sling strap. Several manufacturers produce a harness strap for binoculars that distributes the weight across both shoulders, frees up your hands to hold onto other gear and keeps them securely against your chest: For more, take a look at this guide on the Best Binocular Harness for Hunting.

The rangefinder on this set of binos is a simple but incredibly accurate laser that can acquire targets up to 1300 yards away. Another factor you’ll appreciate is the Victory’s performance during twilight and evening. With enhanced optics and larger lenses, the Victory is going to be soaking up more light compared to any other pair of binos on our list. With the appropriate light transmission and zoom, you’ll still be able to see in detail in low light.
Whilst both telescopes and astro binoculars are designed to give you a better view of the heavens at night, they both have their unique advantages and disadvantages and thus the best option will vary depending on your requirements at that moment. It is because of this, most people that a very interested in astronomy and practice it a lot, will posses at least one telescope AND a pair of bins.

Most people have two eyes. Humans evolved to use them together (not all animals do). People create a continuous, stereoscopic panorama movie of the world within in their minds. With your two eyes tilted upward on a clear night, there's nothing standing between you and the universe. The easiest way to enhance your enjoyment of the night sky is to paint your brain with two channels of stronger starlight using a pair of binoculars. Even if you live in, or near, a large, light-polluted city, you may be surprised at how much astronomical detail you'll see through the right binoculars!
The exit pupil is the size of the focused light that hits the eye. To see the exit pupil, hold the binocular eight to ten inches away from your face and notice the small dots of light in the center of the eyepieces. Exit pupil diameter, which should always be larger than the pupil of your eye, is directly affected by the objective diameter and the magnification. The pupil of a human eye ranges from about 1.5mm in bright conditions to about 8mm in the dark. If your binoculars’ exit pupil diameter is smaller than the pupil of your eye, it’s going to seem like you’re looking through a peep hole. Bear in mind that as eyes age, they tend to dilate less, so exit pupil becomes more important as the user ages.
The 15x70 version is one of the most popular models in the series. Celestron's 15x70 SkyMaster binoculars are one of the leaders in the low-price giant binocular arena. The SkyMasters include multicoated optics and BaK-4 internal prisms, two features that promise brighter, better images, and key points to look for when judging a pair of binoculars.
The Fusion ranges out just a tad less than its competitors, but nevertheless, it’s still a full 1,760 yards – a complete one mile. Bushnell is straight-up with its specs as they disclose that its soft-target ranging is only 500 yards. While that might seem on the low side for a high-powered and expensive optic, we do appreciate the truth of its abilities. However, 500 yards is still pretty, doggone far!
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.
For many people the ideal compromise will be a mid sized binocular which have objective lenses of around 32mm. These are becoming increasingly popular, and there are many good arguments in their favor. Whilst it is true that larger objectives can theoretically deliver brighter, higher resolution images, with magnifications of around 8x, it is actually quite hard to detect a qualitative difference between 42mm and 32mm objectives. In my opinion, at 8x or 10x, the quality of the optics and their coatings is far more important than the size of the lenses.

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.

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.

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.


To sum things up, the Fusion 1-Mile ARC is one of the best rangefinders Bushnell has ever come up with, and they’re often found on “best of” lists, such as the one here. Sure, the price might seem a bit steep, but when you consider what you’re getting, you really shouldn’t be complaining. If you can afford it, getting this pair of binoculars with rangefinders is a decision you won’t be regretting anytime soon.
With 10x and even more powerful binoculars you will get more detail which is good for spotting birds of prey, waterfowl, and large birds or wildlife. These birds tend to be slower moving and are often out in the open, where the narrow field of view will also not be such an issue. When using a very high-powers (approx. 12x or more), you will need a very steady hand or tripod or some sort of image stabilization and it is very important to stay away from cheap binoculars with high magnifications.
If, as you turn the focus, little rays start growing out of the star in all directions before the rest of the star comes down to focus, you're looking at spherical aberration. This problem too may be in your own eye, even if you're wearing your glasses. If it is, all binoculars with a given size exit pupil will show the same problem. To reduce it, choose higher-power binoculars; these yield a smaller exit pupil for a given aperture. Unfortunately, your eye's spherical aberration cannot be corrected with glasses.

With binoculars at this level they are offering as much as top-quality telescopes and will bring galaxies and deep-sky objects into view. They have BaK-4 prisms and multi-coated optics as well as individual eyepiece focus to ensure optimal focus position. The body of these Celestron binoculars is water-resistant and they come in a padded carrying case for travel and safe storage.
At a magnification around 7x to 10x, position yourself so that you can hold the binoculars firmly in place while viewing. Binoculars with overly high magnification may cause unstable image and uncomfortable viewing due to shaking by hand movement. When using high-magnification binoculars, you can fix the binoculars in place using a tripod to steady your field of vision for extended viewing without any worries.
Best for City Birding: As bad as it sounds, rising at 5:00 a.m. has its rewards. Even on a murky spring day, the sky can have a surreal spark. Our resident downy woodpecker, an outlier camped among cardinals and chickadees, begins to lope and scamper in the breeze, tracing a parabolic line from trunk to trunk. We also have some nuthatches, goldfinches, titmice, and very occasionally a yellow-bellied sapsucker. We’re up high, third floor, facing east and west, a real hierarchy of light. Sometimes the morning sun is so enormous it’s as if a great fire is swallowing Back Bay, precisely the kind of place that requires a huge field of view, and the Diamondback has the largest of its class: 420 feet at 1,000 yards.
Pick the units with round exit pupils; this tells you that quality prisms were used and that you're getting all the light you should. (You can also check the specification sheet: the best prisms are made from BAK-4 glass, while others use BK-7 glass.) Since they're hidden inside, the prisms are one of the first things manufacturers skimp on when trying to lower the price. Seeing "shaded" or "squared off" exit pupils is a sign of lesser-quality or undersized prisms.
An 8x or 10x will give you a comfortable magnification, with average to wide exit pupil, plus you'll get much better fields of view. Holding these magnifications steady will be easier, so you'll be much more mobile. The most popular size is 8x/10x42 as a good balance between aperture and magnification, but you could also do great with a 50mm to boost the low-light performance and exit pupil.
I am an avid outdoorsman with experience in naturalist education, outside adventure education, ski instruction, and writing. In addition to my outdoor hobbies, I’m a huge fan of punk rock. I have launched several start-ups. (or business ventures) When exploring the backcountry, I usually carry less than 10 pounds of gear. Years of experience have taught me to pack light. I enjoy sharing my experiences of backcountry education teaching and guiding through writing.
The terms “angle of view” and “field of view” are complementary. Both terms describe the amount of scenery, measured horizontally, that is visible when looking through a binocular. Imagine standing in the middle of a giant pizza pie; binoculars with a 6.3-degree angle of view would show the viewer a 6.3-degree “slice” of the 360-degree pie, looking outward.
Digiscoping The use of digiscoping adapters has seen an increase in recent years, since just about every phone in everyone’s pocket is equipped with a camera. These adapters, either binocular, phone-specific or (growing in popularity) universal fit, allow you to mount your phone on one of the eyepieces and take photos of the magnified view. Depending on the manufacturer, these adapters can be made of plastic or metal with varying degrees of usability options. The good news is that as the hobby grows, more and more options are made available so you can spend as much or as little you want.

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.
Email or phone with any questions you have. Not being able to try the binoculars out first is a major disadvantage, but you can mitigate some of the drawbacks by getting in touch with the seller and sharing any concerns or inquiries. While a quick reply is always appreciated, you’ll occasionally find yourself waiting. A major purchase like this is worth the wait, so be patient and thank the seller for responding when the time comes.
For careful budgeters, we recommend Oberwerk's 20X80 Deluxe II and 25X100 individual focus models which provide good values for their prices. If your budget is flexible, there are many fine, giant binoculars that will provide very good value for their purchase prices. We plan ongoing reviews of astronomy binoculars as OpticsReviewer.com grows, so please check back from time to time as your astronomy interests evolve!
Check the eye relief. Most binoculars have eyecups that retract to accommodate eyeglass wearers or extend to provide shading for those without. Look for durable, multi-adjustable eyecups. If you wear glasses, adjust the eyecups to their minimum position and make sure there’s enough eye relief—you shouldn’t see black rings around the image. Our Eyeglass Friendliness score helps indicate this.

It is 10 times harder to make a good roof prism binocular than a standard porro prism one. A roof prism binocular can equal, but never exceed an excellent quality porro prism binocular. A roof prism binocular is also much more expensive than a porro prism binocular due to the special prism and phase shift coatings used for this design. Of course, it does not mean a well made roof prism binocular is not good for astronomy. It is just more expensive due to the high standards required to make one.
Thanks to vivid colors, contrast that doesn’t sacrifice sharpness at the peripheries, extremely smooth focusing and rugged, streamlined, compact build, the Diamondback has earned favorable comparisons to the Nikon Monarch 5, though it’s nearly half the price. And the finish feels nicer to me, less like a tennis grip and more like the Space Shuttle joystick, I imagine.
Binoculars are generally described with two numbers, separated by an x, such as 8x42. The first number refers to the magnification, or how many times larger the bins will make something appear. The second number refers to the diameter of the objective lens (the big lenses at the front) in millimeters. Larger objective lenses mean more light makes it to your eyes, resulting in a brighter image, but also means a larger size and weight. It's important to know what numbers you should be looking for in a pair of bins, so we broke down the ideal uses for all magnifications and objective lens sizes below.
The second thing you'll want to do is to focus on a bright star. Ideal astronomy binoculars will show it as a well-defined pinpoint of light with two or three concentric rings of light. In a binocular of average quality, it will not be sharply defined. To say it differently, it will be a bit fuzzy. A binocular of poor quality will show it as a fuzzy-edged pyramid or other odd shape. There are not many binoculars which achieve the ideal!

The idea of purchasing a rangefinder binocular is to observe things which are far. So it is ideal to have the maximum range for the rangefinder binocular you purchase. With the increase in magnification, you get an increase in range. Choose the kind of magnification which would suit you the most. If the range you want from your rangefinder binocular is less, then you do not have to go for one with higher magnification. Also, in cases such as bird watching, people need rangefinder binoculars which can have great minimum range. They would be using the binocular for closely watching birds in the nearby tree branches. So the minimum Focus distance has to be less than the distance between the person and the tree. So, keep both these aspects in mind.
If, as you turn the focus, little rays start growing out of the star in all directions before the rest of the star comes down to focus, you're looking at spherical aberration. This problem too may be in your own eye, even if you're wearing your glasses. If it is, all binoculars with a given size exit pupil will show the same problem. To reduce it, choose higher-power binoculars; these yield a smaller exit pupil for a given aperture. Unfortunately, your eye's spherical aberration cannot be corrected with glasses.
When most people think of amateur astronomy, they picture a dad and son using a telescope perched out in the middle of a soccer field, but you can do it just as well from a fire escape when you look through these decidedly massive binoculars. They let me see details on the surface of the moon I thought were reserved for Apollo astronauts. Get them and you’ll see starlight brighter than ever before. You might even catch a distant meteor or comet streaking through the sky. Even in nearly pitch-black night, their massive 100mm diameter lenses gather an abundance of light. Do not bring them on distance hikes — they are nearly 10 pounds and far too heavy.
The center of mass should be in the prisms, comfortably over your palms. If the objectives at the front are too massive, they will create a lever that torques your wrists. You will see your muscle fatigue in the form of jittery images. Was that a black-chinned hummingbird? Or just a clearwing hawk moth? If you had lighter binoculars, you would know!
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