As we touched on in the previous section, the greater the magnification capabilities, the lesser the field of view. Since telescopes are generally more high-powered than binoculars, they are notorious for having a very limited field of view. If you know exactly where the celestial objects you plan on viewing will be, this may be less of an issue, but if you need to scan the sky to find planets and stars, this can be very problematic. Seeing more of the night sky at once also gives you a better appreciation of how objects relate to one another in size and distance.
Higher power doesn’t necessary mean better bigger; the amount of magnification you’ll want depends on the end use. Low-powered binoculars from 6x to 10x magnification work great for most outdoor activities and sporting events where you’re keeping up with fast-paced action (a larger lens size and increased field of vision are also recommended for keeping up with the action). Higher magnifications are best for longer distances and less mobile objects, like landscapes or the night sky (and a larger field of vision is not necessary).
It’s a whole other galaxy like our own, shining across the vastness of intergalactic space. Light from the Andromeda Galaxy has traveled so far that it’s taken more than 2 million years to reach us. Two smaller companions visible through binoculars on a dark, transparent night are the Andromeda Galaxy’s version of our Milky Way’s Magellanic Clouds. These small, orbiting, irregularly-shaped galaxies that will eventually be torn apart by their parent galaxy’s gravity.
We’ve already mentioned coatings several times, and they really do transform the performance levels of any binocular. Almost all binoculars on the market today will have some kind of anti-reflective coating applied to at least some of the air-to-glass surfaces to improve light transmission, compensate for the aberrations inherent in any optical design and enhance image resolution, colour fidelity and contrast.

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.
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.
One of the best ways to test a wide selection of binoculars is by visiting the Optics Department at the B&H Photo SuperStore in New York City. The store has a huge number of binoculars on display for you to look through and hold while you talk to optics experts at the counter. The B&H Used Department also has a constantly changing selection of great binoculars available at discounted prices.

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 Meade 15×70 is a powerful pair of binoculars and a perfect choice for astronomy. These are our best selling astronomical binoculars due to their high quality optics and very affordable price. They are fine to use handheld although a tripod is still recommended for stargazing with this model. The Meade 15×70 Astro Binoculars are built for night viewing and feature large 70mm lenses, they provide a bright image across the whole field of view, nice vivid colours, solid design and an impressive 15x magnification.
Concerning the image stabilized binoculars from Canon, these are excellent binoculars for astronomy and do not require a tripod. They are just expensive. The 15 x 50 is a good choice, because of the wider field and ease of use than the 18 x 50 model. Also even though they do not require a tripod, better to put them on one. The later models do come with a standard threaded hole for a tripod. By using a tripod, you free your hands up to take notes or read a star chart without having to go back and find what you were looking at.
Range finding binoculars have become all the rage in recent years, especially among hunters, hikers, and nature fans. Combining traditional binocular functions with a modern range finder that shows you the distance to a target, they are incredibly useful. We researched 30 models and selected the ten best range finding binoculars for you. Let’s take a closer look.
Find a reputable site you favor and look for the type of binoculars you want. Whether it’s an online retailer or a third-party site, you need to make sure the binoculars you’re looking to buy fit the specifications you decided upon earlier. Be willing to sacrifice one of your wants if you can’t find exactly what you’re looking for, but don’t settle for something subpar just to save a dollar.
Binoculars Built for BirdingBinoculars are so common a companion of outdoor enthusiasts that many pack them with hardly a second thought. They’re tossed into a backpack alongside bug spray, sunblock, and waterproof matches with not half the care afforded the typical cell phone. But to some outdoors groups, binoculars serve a highly specific and eminently indispensable purpose. And there is perhaps no group for whom this rings more true than for bird watchers. If you count yourself among this exceptionally technical clan of hobbyists, here are 10 birding binoculars you’ll want to know more about – even if you know about them already.1.      Vortex Diamondback 8x28$175 – 225This compact roof prism model is a true bargain for birders (or birdists, as some prefer) searching for a lightweight binocular they can carry on any occasion, in any pocket or pack. Argon-filled, with multi-coated lenses and phase-correction dielectric coating, the Diamondback is valued for its close focus (2 meters) and macro clarity. It is as adept at scanning for far-off albatrosses as it is at taking in the details of the little auks flapping so close you can feel the wind on your face.2.      Celestron 71404 TrailSeeker 8x42 Binoculars$175 – 225Wide field of view, BAK-4 prisms with phase and dielectric coatings, two-meter close focus, magnesium alloy body, and fully multi-coated optics ensure that this binocular is lightweight, durable, and sharp of sight at both short and long ranges. Though the model does not allow the same degree of light-gathering as other more expensive bins, its wide view is excellent for birders because it necessitates less movement to keep an eye on the avian wildlife.3.      Eagle Optics Ranger ED 8x42$300 – 350Reviewers have praised this model for several reasons key to birding: Its rubberized waterproof design is durable for weather conditions birders frequently find themselves in, and its supple focus knob allows for easier tracking of birds moving among trees and other obstructions. The Ranger ED may be slightly too large for distance backpacking, but its image quality is top notch. Take these bins on trips that don’t require much hiking.4.      Zeiss Terra ED 8x32$425 – 475Since its foundation in Germany in 1846, Zeiss has established a reputation as one of the world’s leading optics companies. The Terra ED is among the best of its name. Noted for its impressive field of view, which is said to surpass most of the other Zeiss models, these binoculars make an ideal accompaniment to any nature adventure – and hence, a fine fit for birdwatchers. An under-armor harness, plastic storage case, and nice velvet bag are also included.5.      Steiner Predator 8x42$425 – 475Another German optics company, Steiner field-tests every lens it produces. Its Predator Pro has good mobility, a bright picture, and is simple to use. The color adjusted transmission coating is designed to increase contrast and light transmission, making wildlife (particularly fast-moving bird life) easier to see – though some reviewers have been unable to notice the difference when compared to lenses without the coating. Its magnesium alloy chassis is also durable and lightweight.6.      Athlon Cronus 10×42$475 – 525Ideal for birders whose top priority is high-quality glass at a reasonable price, the Cronus is Athlon’s flagship model and commands a solid reputation among similar Nikon and Bushnell scopes. The ESP dielectric coating makes for excellent light transmission and clarity, two aforementioned priorities in birding. Reviewers have praised this model’s minimum focus distance (two meters) and detail when glassing at ranges around 300 meters (985 feet). Even at viewing distances of several miles, Cronus performed at least as well as more expensive birder-loving brands like Zeiss and Swarovski.7.      Nikon Monarch 7 ATB 10x42$475 – 525The Monarch line has always been Nikon’s best-selling binocular product, a beloved choice among birders the world over. And though the 8x42 Monarch 5 is said to be their most popular model in terms of sales, the 7 (as professed by Nikon itself) is its top-performing binocular. Nikon is certainly qualified to make this statement: Founded in Japan in 1917, it has its hand in many areas of image technology. Not only that, its Monarch 7 is a quarter the cost of similar bins like the Zeiss Victory and is among the lightest and smallest in the Monarch family. The 7 uses a lens coating that sets it above the 5 and 3 models, and its online reviews attest to its quality.8.      Vanguard Endeavor ED II 10x42$475 – 525Building on the success of the award-winning Endeavor ED, the ED II offers resolution-enhancing BAK4 roof prisms with phase coatings, extra-low dispersion glass, a close focus of two meters, fully multi-coated optics, 19.5mm of eye relief, and a magnesium body that is proofed against fog and water. (Rumor has it other binocular producers have had to lower their prices to better compete with Vanguard’s respectable position in the market.) Vanguard uses high-end Hoya optics from Japan to provide optimum clarity, though some reviews have mentioned that the adjustment on these bins can be a little stiff at first.9.      Leica 10x25 Ultravid BCR$725 – 775The Leica-proclaimed “reference standard,” these compact binoculars are compared to just about every other compact model available. In some reviews, they are the lightest and smallest models tested. It may seem that Leica needed to make huge compromises in order to produce such a small model, but this does not appear to be the case: Regardless of their size, these bins still have many of specs modern birders have come to expect, such as multi-coating on every air-to-glass surface, phase-coated roof prisms, nitrogen-purged waterproof housing, and internal focusing. This model is perfect for bird watchers who like to put some hike into their hobby.10. CL Companion Polaris 8x30 B$1,325 – 1,375Swarovski is known for making glass of such superior quality it can virtually be marketed as jewelry. While the CL Companion Polaris is not as extravagantly outfitted (or priced) as some other Swarovski bins, it is a winning choice for both bird watching hikes and trips that require little foot traffic whatsoever, like Arctic or Antarctic bird watching cruises. Use its 124-meter (372-foot) field of view to get oriented, then zoom in using the 8x magnification. The binocular weighs 17.6 ounces (500 grams), measures 4.7 inches (119 mm) long, and has a comfortable ergonomic design, making it an easy item to pack for any occasion or distance. Keep these bins at your side and you’re sure to amass all manner of bird-filled sights to share with your fellow members in the American Birding Association, or any birdwatching society to which you happen to belong.
Harnesses For most of us, the neck strap that comes with most binoculars is fine. For those who require more, there are numerous options for you. Some are designed to redistribute the weight of the binocular from the neck to the back and shoulders. Others provide a stabilizing function to allow you to hold the optic in your hand while virtually eliminating hand shake or other movements. For those who do activities and want to keep their optic at the ready, some harnesses hold the binocular close to the body and greatly reduce swinging or swaying while running, climbing, or skiing.
Another thing you have to keep in check is the lens coating. A lens coating is films applied to the lens to reduce reflections and glares which might affect your vision of the target. It also enhances light transmission and makes the colors look more vibrant. It might look great to put a blue-tinted coating in the lens, but the idea of applying a coating is to make the image look better. So keep in mind that coating is to make things better and not just to make the device look better.
Optics4Birding is your one-stop source for quality binoculars, spotting scopes, and related products. Our site features comprehensive binocular reviews, spotting scope reviews and other product reviews. Informative sections tell you how to choose binoculars, how binoculars and spotting scopes work, about digiscoping, caring for your optics, about night vision and much more.
In dark and poor light conditions, the maximum pupil size of a human eye is typically between 5mm to 9mm for people below 25 years of age (usually about 7mm) - this maximum size will also decrease slowly with age. So apart from the very small benefit of ease of use, there is not much point in an exit pupil larger than your pupil. But an exit pupil smaller than your pupil will mean that you will perceive the image as being dark.

In general astronomical binoculars should not really be thought of as a substitute for a telescope, rather you should think of them as something to be used along with your scope, especially when you want to get a wider field of view and see more of the sky at once. But to give you an idea of what kind of things you can see, the observations below were made whilst using the great value Celestron SkyMaster 25x70 Binoculars on a night with an almost full moon and a fair amount of light pollution:
Close focusing is key when trying to see detail on things like butterflies, wildflowers, and the like. Our pick gets as near as 6.5 feet, and though a few binoculars focused closer than that, several contenders didn’t get anywhere near getting near. The Nikon Prostaff 5, for example, couldn’t bring objects any closer than 16 feet into focus. We liked the Prostaff 5 as a budget pick, but we warn that they’re not for looking at butterflies or anything that requires getting ultra-close for detail.
A simple trick for spotting stuff faster with binoculars: Don’t hold your binoculars up to your eyes and then pan and scan for what you’re trying to spot. You’ll never get there. Instead, with the naked eye, stare up at what you want to see, then raise the binoculars to your gaze. That’ll allow whatever you’re looking at to instantly pop into your magnified view.

In general, the larger the objectives, the more light is gathered, and the more you’ll see- however, the larger objectives, the heavier the binocular. Magnification should be 12x or lower- any higher and you’ll have a hard time getting a steady view. Low magnification binoculars have the advantage of a big FOV (field of view), which makes navigating the night sky easier. They provide glorious views of star clusters and nebulae, and are wonderful for exploring the Milky Way. On the other hand, don’t expect to see planets with any detail- they are very tiny objects at these magnifications. Click here for more info.
Though a bit on the portly side at 23.6 ounces, there’s a simplicity of design and ease of use that’s hugely gratifying in the field. This may sound like small potatoes, but the tethered lens covers and rain guard are far and away the best I’ve ever come across. Most require substantial wrestling, while these slide right on and off. For what it’s worth, I also didn’t have a minor cardiac event while adjusting the neck strap. With a field of view upwards of 340 feet at 1,000 yards, and amped-up magnification for long-range birding, the Ranger EDs feel like a rare triumph of design over wallet slenderness.
The Meade 15×70 is a powerful pair of binoculars and a perfect choice for astronomy. These are our best selling astronomical binoculars due to their high quality optics and very affordable price. They are fine to use handheld although a tripod is still recommended for stargazing with this model. The Meade 15×70 Astro Binoculars are built for night viewing and feature large 70mm lenses, they provide a bright image across the whole field of view, nice vivid colours, solid design and an impressive 15x magnification.
It uses high quality ED lens which are of HD (High Definition) quality and phase corrected BAK-4 prisms. Not to mention, all air to glass surfaces are fully multi coated providing you the best image quality ever. For some reasons (maybe due to the way it’s manufactured) it produces brighter and sharper image compared to other binoculars that use the same materials.
Binoculars get beat up and dusty, and cheap ones go out of alignment in a few weeks or with a good knock, resulting in double vision or blurry patches. For the record, I accidentally dropped the Athlon Midas ED binoculars onto a dirt road in Mexico (right onto the focus knob!), brushed them off and found they worked just fine. Nearly all companies I was able to reach offer a full, transferable, lifetime warranty of the “you can drive over it with a truck” type, but I recommend researching warranties before buying any model, because their details may change in the future.
These binoculars are sealed with O-rings to prevent moisture from getting inside; but they can still fog up on you. Depending on the construction and the seals, some waterproof binoculars are also submersible for various amounts of time. Certain manufacturers rate their binoculars for limited depths for limited amounts of time; others will adhere to military standard specifications and rate them for much greater depths.
The Meade 15×70 is a powerful pair of binoculars and a perfect choice for astronomy. These are our best selling astronomical binoculars due to their high quality optics and very affordable price. They are fine to use handheld although a tripod is still recommended for stargazing with this model. The Meade 15×70 Astro Binoculars are built for night viewing and feature large 70mm lenses, they provide a bright image across the whole field of view, nice vivid colours, solid design and an impressive 15x magnification.
Combine Nikon binocular performance with the extreme speed and ranging technology of a 1900-yard laser rangefinder and you have LaserForce, Nikon’s 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.

Best Mid-Range: In The Genius of Birds, Jennifer Ackerman describes the sophisticated neural architecture of songbirds, a kind of ornithological ESP that may allow them to know what other birds are thinking. Some birds can do arithmetic, while others are “born Euclideans, capable of using geometric clues and landmarks to orient themselves in three-dimensional space, navigate through unknown territory, and locate hidden treasures.” That seems a good description of the Ranger EDs.
The next most important specification on binoculars is the field of view. It will be represented in one of two ways: feet at a distance of 1,000 yards, or degrees. The higher the number of feet at 1,000 yards, the larger the field of view. When expressed in degrees, the higher the number of degrees, the larger the field of view. As the magnification power of binoculars increases, the field of view generally decreases. If you prefer the immersive space walking experience, choose a model with a wider field of view. This will make it easier to pan across the sky and find different celestial objects to view. If you prefer to see those celestial objects in the maximum amount of detail, opt for a pair with a narrower field of view and stronger magnification capabilities.
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.
Lens coatings are films applied to lens surfaces to reduce glare and reflections, increase light transmission and contrast, and help make colors look more vivid. Any light reflected is light that never reaches the viewer’s eyes, so by eliminating reflections, the image ends up being brighter and sharper. Coatings, in general, are good, provided that the coatings do something. It’s easy to put a cheap coating on a lens to give it a cool-looking orange tint, but the coating might not do anything to improve image quality. If you aren’t able to test a pair of binoculars before buying, the best you can do is research the brand, look for user reviews, and ask questions before you buy.
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.
Convenience. It’s certainly more convenient to have both important devices combined. Imagine the situation where you spotted a prey and you would like to estimate it’s distance from you. When you took out your rangefinder device, it’s gone already. I bet you are going to be pretty frustrated. Furthermore, carrying both devices (that could be combined) during a hunting trip is just not wise.

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.
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.
Have you just purchased a binocular and you're finding it has shortcomings you'd rather not live with? Hopefully you purchased from a retailer who offers a 30-day evaluation and return period. You'll find some of the online retailers offer a 30-day evaluation and return period which can make a difference in how satisfying you find your new purchase.
You’ll want to start your moon-gazing when the moon is just past new – and visible as a waxing crescent in the western sky after sunset. At such times, you’ll have a beautiful view of earthshine on the moon.  This eerie glow on the moon’s darkened portion is really light reflected from Earth onto the moon’s surface.  Be sure to turn your binoculars on the moon at these times to enhance the view. 
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.
Some binoculars can have integrated digital and analog compasses. They will often have the direction displayed in the field of view for easier use and bearing reading. Digital compasses are battery powered and illuminated for use in most light conditions. Analog models can use batteries or might have an opaque window on the top of the housing to channel and focus ambient light to illuminate the compass. Many marine, image-stabilized, and rangefinder models offer versions with or without compasses.
You’ll recognize zoom binoculars by their name – the magnification factor is actually two numbers, such as 8-16×42. This tells you that you can go from 8x, to 16x magnification. You will notice that none of the binoculars on our list are zoom binoculars. There’s also the fact that there aren’t many high-end options as far as zoom binoculars go, only some lower priced pairs.
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.

The binocular renders views in high contrast with accurate color through the use of high-definition (HD) extra-low dispersion (ED) glass, an apochromatic lens configuration, XR-Plus lens coatings, and dielectric and phase-correcting prism coatings, which raise the level of optical excellence for this roof prism binocular. The benefits include excellence in color sharpness, coating durability, overall performance, increased resolution, color fidelity, clarity, brightness, and greater light transmission. Additional lens protection from scratches, oil and dust is provided by the ArmorTek exterior lens coating.
For a trusty pair of binoculars that are super portable, the Pentax AD are best for casual use like short hikes or travel. While they're not made for birdwatching or stargazing, they're perfect for throwing into a bag and going on a spontaneous adventure. You'll still get full performance with their compact size, making them a great pair to keep in your purse or bag at all times.
Now, if you take a look at precise tests, you will find that the binoculars actually provide a very accurate reading, save for the target at 1200 yards. This actually depends on the target. Most of today’s rangefinder binoculars produce a beam that’s shaped as a horizontal rectangle. However, the Fusion actually has a vertical beam. According to Bushnell’s engineers, this helps optimize the performance for some of the most common hunting scenarios of today. A vertical beam can easily hit the intended target, instead of a nearby bush by mistake.
Bushnell's RealTree Xtreme camouflage 10x42 Trophy Binocular (B&H # BU10X42R) utilize BAK4 prisms and fully multi-coated optics to create a versatile and capable optic that produces bright and clear images with accurate color rendition. Coupled with the optical features are 42mm diameter objectives which give the binocular very competent low-light performance, while setting the magnification at 10x allows you to resolve fine details at distances while maintaining a wide field of view. This combination of magnification, optics, objectives, plus a wide viewing angle make the Trophy ideally suited for most outdoor activities from hunting, to birding, to boating, and sporting events.
Note that most 15x, 20x or 25x binoculars can still be used without a tripod for short periods of time. A tripod is recommended if you want to use them for longer periods of time or if you choose to buy the larger and heavier models. Remember that high magnification will allow you to see further and in more detail. The downside is that with higher magnification usually comes a narrower field of view and a less stable image.
Let's have a brief word about why stabilization is of interest before discussing the differences in mechanics and their results. The stabilized image will allow you to actually see not only subtle differences in color hues, but also where they start and end. If your binocular's optics (without image stabilization) would otherwise allow you to see them, the tiny movements of your hands caused by things so innocuous as your heart's rhythmic beating or breathing will usually blur these fine details. Consequently, the detailed image afforded by stabilized binoculars is much better than that typically seen in non-stabilized instruments.
After saving for two years for an optics purchase, I am very happy with this product! Originally I had intended to buy a high end rifle scope, but why have a bunch of expensive rifle scopes sitting in the safe? Instead, I decided to streamline my archery hunting setup by going with rangefinding binos that I would get more use out of. Let's be honest, these Nikons are no Swarovskis, but they come pretty darn close to my Swaro EL 10x42. For long range rifle hunting here in the West, nothing beats my Swaro 10s and 15s along with my Gunwerks BR-2 rangefinder. Even though the Nikons boast 1900 yard ranging, for me it will be for archery only. It has been amazing white shooting 3D! Now for the hack mentioned above. I made a "silicon dimple" on the range button by masking off a little square with blue masking tape. Then I put a dollop of Mcnett's Seam Sealer on the button. When it cured (24 hours), I had a nice custom tactile range button I can locate with out looking. If you are picky about optics and know the value of a dollar...you won't be disappointed.
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.
Having said that, if you already have a good quality 8X25 binocular do you need to get an 8X50 right away? Not at all! Use your present binocular for several clear, dark nights to get a feel for the nighttime sky. You'll be amazed at the difference a clear, dark night makes in what you can see as opposed to a night when you have nearly enough moonlight to read a newspaper. Then see if you can find a friend with a 50mm binocular who will let you look through it. It won't surprise us at all if, after a trial run, you decide to go ahead and get a good binocular with 50mm objective lenses.
The other important thing is the features you are expecting from the rangefinder binocular. No matter what others say, it is up to you to choose a particular rangefinder binocular. One feature which someone else finds useful might not be as useful for you. So, it depends on your perspective and requirement whether it will suit you or not. So, the thing you can do is note down the features you need from the rangefinder binocular. It will not only depend on your comfort, but also on the place and the occasions you use it for. It calls for a careful study of yourself and your needs. Getting to know your budget and knowing your requirements will get half the work done for you.
“We are REALLY impressed with the quality of the Aurosport 10x25's. While they have a lower magnification than the Nikon Travelights, they are not short on quality at about 1/3 the price. We have several months yet before we will use them for spotting wildlife, but are confident that we made the right choice in purchasing these and will recommend them to anyone who asks us about them. In summary - an OUTSTANDING product for the money.”
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.
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.

I happened to have these with me in Vermont when a juvenile peregrine falcon alighted on shore not 25 feet from where I was fishing. In all my years at that spot, I’d never seen one up close. Airborne, yes, kaw-kawing in the broken sunlight, tail feathers flashing. But peregines aren’t in the habit of stop-and-chats. As if in a dream, this one pranced around in the sand, flaunting its ivory cravat. The color and contrast were unlike anything I’d seen birding. It was like opening a book of which you’d only ever seen the cover. I handed the binoculars to my wife, a serious birder, who caught her breath: “Oh, I didn’t realize they were actually blue.”
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.
The Athlon Optics Midas ED 8×42—along with nearly all of the other binoculars we tested—are the beneficiaries of a revolution in optical quality caused by the falling costs of precision manufacturing and optical treatments. For under $300 you can get a pair of binoculars that matches—that’s matches, not comes close to—products that cost hundreds, or even thousands, more. The Athlon Midas ED pair’s optics aren’t its only strong suit: These are exceptionally durable binoculars that easily withstood the humid, dusty, and hostile environment of the Mexican rain forest and harsh sun of the Californian desert. And their focus dial adjusts reliably and smoothly across a wide range of depths, making it easy to focus on what you’re trying to see, no matter where it is.
Close focusing is key when trying to see detail on things like butterflies, wildflowers, and the like. Our pick gets as near as 6.5 feet, and though a few binoculars focused closer than that, several contenders didn’t get anywhere near getting near. The Nikon Prostaff 5, for example, couldn’t bring objects any closer than 16 feet into focus. We liked the Prostaff 5 as a budget pick, but we warn that they’re not for looking at butterflies or anything that requires getting ultra-close for detail.
Close focusing is key when trying to see detail on things like butterflies, wildflowers, and the like. Our pick gets as near as 6.5 feet, and though a few binoculars focused closer than that, several contenders didn’t get anywhere near getting near. The Nikon Prostaff 5, for example, couldn’t bring objects any closer than 16 feet into focus. We liked the Prostaff 5 as a budget pick, but we warn that they’re not for looking at butterflies or anything that requires getting ultra-close for detail.
The last element of today’s great, affordable binoculars is optical coatings. Lens coatings perform various functions, such as improving light transmission, reducing glare, and keeping colors true. Coating quality and levels used to be a key differentiator between cheap and expensive binoculars, but these days, lens coating technology has come down in price. All of our picks use the highest level, which is full multicoating, meaning that all glass surfaces—most binoculars have between 10 and 16 such surfaces, called optical elements—are coated.
1. Binoculars are a better place to start than telescopes. The fact is that most people who think they want to buy a telescope would be better off using binoculars for a year or so instead.  That’s because first-time telescope users often find themselves completely confused – and ultimately put off – by the dual tasks of learning the use a complicated piece of equipment (the ‘scope) while at the same time learning to navigate an unknown realm (the night sky).
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