The discussion in the opening paragraphs dealt with the two main types of prism configurations, but beyond that, the materials that the prisms are made of greatly impact image quality. BAK4, or Barium Crown glass, is considered the best type of prism material. It has a high refractive index and lower critical angle than other materials, which means it transmits light better with less light being lost due to internal reflection—such as from internal bubbles trapped during the manufacturing process.
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.

The Geovid HD-B also has an internal ballistic calculator that works off of your rifle’s bullet weight, ballistic coefficient and velocity. One thing that sets the Geovid apart from the rest of the pack is the fact that they take into account angle and barometric pressure. This is important because if you are hunting at different elevations your drop can vary greatly, the HD-B’s will modify your drop accordingly automatically. It’s worth noting that ballistics do not read out past 1000 yards.


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.”
The world of binoculars is vast and constantly evolving. No matter what you’re using them for—from a night at the opera to hunting on the tundra to comet watching—there is something for everyone at every price. This article has offered a basic introduction to the terms and technologies that will affect your buying decision and the overall performance of the optic. After making your selection, don’t forget about the accessories that can enhance your viewing experience and turn a good view into a great view.
Below our midrange (roughly $150 to $350), the quality differences become apparent. Above our range’s higher end, you don’t necessarily get much, if any, performance advantage. Most brands we investigated tend to offer at least a couple different models of full-size (versus compact) binoculars, claim their models are waterproof (or at least water-resistant), and offer many models with a no-questions-asked lifetime and transferable return policy. Combine this with continuing improvements in glass and optical coating (or at least, a drop in manufacturing cost to the point where higher-quality lenses are now widely affordable), and we appear to be living in something of a golden age of binoculars—one birding website alone offers more than 150 models at our midrange prices.

The Geovid HD-B also has an internal ballistic calculator that works off of your rifle’s bullet weight, ballistic coefficient and velocity. One thing that sets the Geovid apart from the rest of the pack is the fact that they take into account angle and barometric pressure. This is important because if you are hunting at different elevations your drop can vary greatly, the HD-B’s will modify your drop accordingly automatically. It’s worth noting that ballistics do not read out past 1000 yards.
If you can afford them, as they do cost a pretty penny, they will give you clarity unmatched by anything else. When you’re looking at something, you’ll feel like you’re actually looking through your own eyes, and not through a pair of rangefinder binoculars. This is the best of the best, the crème de la crème, if you will. The premium optics have a multi-layer glass, and fluoride, which results in a lot of light being able to go inside the lens. You’ll be able to see objects right before it gets completely dark, with ease. That coating we mentioned is LotuTec, and it also plays a big role in the vividness of the image.
Most of these binoculars now feature roof prisms, rather than old-fashioned porro prisms. Roof-prism binoculars, which you can identify easily by their “H” shape, draw light in along a straight path through the binoculars, from the objective lens to the eyepiece. Porro-prism binoculars, typically “A” shaped (see photo above), bounce the light along an angled path. Though either design can yield a great pair of binoculars, porro-prism units have, until recently, tended to be cheaper as well as heavier and less durable, though they could potentially yield a better image for less money. These days, roof-prism units are very inexpensive to manufacture, leading to the disappearance of high-end porro units except at the very lowest price points. For more on binocular design, see the Birding Binoculars Guide.
The ability to quickly and accurately focus on an object can be the difference between seeing that rare bird and hearing about it. Can you maintain accurate focus or will you accidentally offset the diopter, giving you a blurry image? For the ease of adjustment category, we looked at the following items: how quickly one can focus from one spectrum to the other, how easy it is to focus on an object to get the most detail, and how easy it was to adjust the diopter and did the diopter lock. We also evaluated the interpupillary distance adjustment. Except for the locking diopter, the criteria was a subjective and based solely on several testers' opinions.

Both of our Best Buy winners, the Vortex Diamondback 8x28 and the Celestra Nature DX 8x42 earned a 7 out of 10 for their clarity performance. While they do sacrifice a bit of the sharpness or the top models and do get some blurring around the edges, they were still able to produce clear images that allowed us to pick out the subtle features of small birds.
Inside, things are more or less what you’d expect from a pair of binoculars like these. The prism is a Hi-index BAK4 prism, which has been proven to give you a sharp and bright image, with plenty of contrast. When you’re looking at an object, you can be sure that you see every little detail of it. The 22 mm lens design won’t cause any eye fatigue, or dizziness, and your view will be a combination of HD and wide angle. The 50 mm objective lens, on the other hand, is large enough to ensure that even in low light conditions, such as at dawn, or at dusk, or even at night, you will receive as much light as possible inside, making the image bright.
Both of our Best Buy winners, the Vortex Diamondback 8x28 and the Celestra Nature DX 8x42 earned a 7 out of 10 for their clarity performance. While they do sacrifice a bit of the sharpness or the top models and do get some blurring around the edges, they were still able to produce clear images that allowed us to pick out the subtle features of small birds.
The latest product from this direct-to-consumer optics brand is a big 15X configured for open-country hunters. The B.4’s lightweight polymer chassis makes it lighter than it looks, and a mid-frame ridge offers great purchase for those who hand-hold the binocular. While our test model was in plain black and gray, buyers can dress this optic up in their choice of camo patterns and colors for an additional fee. The optics were a little disappointing, and testers gave demerits for the boxy, overlarge eyecups. But the price is fair for a big, albeit niche, bino.
If you can afford them, as they do cost a pretty penny, they will give you clarity unmatched by anything else. When you’re looking at something, you’ll feel like you’re actually looking through your own eyes, and not through a pair of rangefinder binoculars. This is the best of the best, the crème de la crème, if you will. The premium optics have a multi-layer glass, and fluoride, which results in a lot of light being able to go inside the lens. You’ll be able to see objects right before it gets completely dark, with ease. That coating we mentioned is LotuTec, and it also plays a big role in the vividness of the image.
But binoculars are expensive. In fact, we’d argue that you should stretch your budget to buy the best binoculars you can afford. Binoculars are a long-term investment that starts paying off the day you get them. Most likely you won’t be buying new binoculars every couple of years, so it makes sense to choose carefully, try a lot of varieties, and save up for a pair that will deliver great views of the birds you seek out.
"Amazing binos, i use them a lot a night an the detail that I'm able to obtain is amazing because of the individual adjustment. I also use them to look at birds and the colors and light its a another level! I added a green laser light for night use that way i can align the stars with the light and it works wonders. Save a lot of time too. They are heavy so you will need a tripod."
This term refers to the diameter of the large front lens (measured in millimeters) and is what will let light in through the lenses for the best viewing. So 10×50 means the lens is 50 millimeters in diameter and will let in more light than say 40 millimeters. More light means brighter, clearer images. This is very important feature offered by the Celestron SkyMaster Giant 15×70 binoculars with a 70mm diameter lens.
Many people will tell you that $300 is the magic number when it comes to binoculars, and there is some truth to this. $300 is the price range where you first start seeing truly good lowlight performance. If you're willing to spend this much on a pair of bins, we highly recommend the Nikon Monarch 5 8x42. These bins offer the best clarity we've seen in this price range. They also offer a nice, smooth focus knob that lets even beginners lock in a clear image quickly and easily. The cherry on top is the brightness, which allows for a good image even in suboptimal lighting conditions. So if your birding hobby grows into an obsession that finds you setting the alarm for 3:30am just to catch a glance at a migrating Grosbeak, these binoculars will be able to keep up with you.
Is there a best binocular for astronomy? We could point you to one of the best in the Fujinon 25X150 MT or it's sibling with 40X magnification. They both have terrific optics, but neither will do any good if it's not used. Your OpticsReviewer proposes that, aside from ensuring you have fundamentally good optics in good housings, the best astronomy binoculars are the ones that are used and help a person to learn more about the celestial bodies around this globe.
Every pair of binoculars has two numbers printed somewhere on the instrument (usually on the face of the focus wheel, but sometimes on the body of the binocular) — for example 10×42 (pronounced ten by forty two) or 8×32. The first of these numbers is the binocular’s magnification, the second is the diameter of the objective lens (we’ll get to that in a moment).

After you've had a chance to enjoy your beginning astronomy binoculars and decided you'd like to see even deeper into the nighttime heavens surrounding our globe, it's time to think about how your second binocular can best serve your interests. The next best binoculars for astronomy will be ones which will allow you to see objects further away from our planet.


Best Compact: The Cadillac Fleetwood of birding binoculars, this new iteration of the Leica Ultravid 8x32s is unquestionably worth the price tag, if you can afford it. Lightweight, exquisitely balanced, great in smoldering sun, easy to focus, with a wide field of view and surgical sharpness that stays undiminished in low light, and they just about squeeze into the front pocket of my J.Crew chinos (regular fit).

Price. As discussed above, the price of any of these will range anywhere from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand dollars. However, it’s also important to make fair valuations between the various brands in the market so you actually get what you pay for. Also, always ask yourself the degree of accuracy and maximum ranging distance you need as these aspects will highly impact the price of the product.
Think about how you will use your binoculars. If you are using them for the occasional stargazing but also want to take them along for trips and events, then you’ll be better off with lighter, more portable models. 10×50 Binoculars are great for watching the stars yet still easily carried around and used without a tripod. You will not have any issues with achieving a stable image. These will also be handy for general viewing, travel, bird watching, hunting, sports etc.
Very bright, clear display with 4-step intensity adjustment; easily readable under any lighting conditions and against various subjects, with single or continuous measurement up to 8 seconds. Displays in increments of 0.1m/yd, when shorter than 100m/yds and in 1m/yd at 100m/yds and over. Auto power shut-off function saves battery life by shutting down after 8 seconds of non-use.
We are defining clarity as the amount of detail one can see through the lenses. This was tested by using the following ISO 12233 chart. The chart was downloaded and printed on a piece of 11x17 paper at 1200 dpi resolution. We also recruited a couple bird models from a local arts and crafts store (Garry the Goldfinch and Barry the Bluebird) and observed those models through each pair of binoculars.
    The UpClose G2 8x21 Roof Binocular from Celestron is a light weight 8 ounces with a closed hinged bridge design. At less than 4 inches they are a prime candidate for an easily mobile binocular that leaves no excuse to be caught without some magnification for that surprise situation. The water resistant, rubber covered, aluminum body adds an added level of worry free use from too much rough handling and never too much use. The sure grip furnished by thumb indents and finger ridges are a welcome feature allowing a firm non-slip hold. Just another reason to make sure that this binocular gets taken along.
The Carson RD 8 x 26 waterproof, Levenhuk Karma Pro 8 x 25, Maven C.2 10 x 28, and Minox 8 x 25 are part of a slew of “new compact” binoculars that resemble shrunken-down versions of the full-size 8 x 42 models, but were about two-thirds the size and weight. At this size, though, they’re too large to slip into most pockets, unless you have a huge coat on, taking away the very portability that we were looking for. I also found the quality lacking across the board—eyepieces that wouldn’t stop spinning (Maven), eyecups that didn’t sit flush with the eye (Levenhuk, Minox), and distortion of distant objects (Carson).
Like every set of binoculars, astronomy binoculars will have two main features: magnification and the objective lens size. So for example, if the binoculars are 10×50 it means they have 10x magnification and 50mm objective lenses. The secret to choosing the perfect night time binoculars is getting the right balance between magnification and lens size that will result in a clear, bright and stable image.
Measuring only 5 ½ inches long, this new Nikon delivers a lot of optical horsepower in a compact and lightweight package. And what an elegant package it is. The Monarch HG has a number of stylistic features that reminded us of the last premium Nikon binocular: the EDG. There’s the pebbled-­rubber armor, the finely turned eyecups, and the Euro-style metal objective lens rings. The Monarch delivers an image on par with the premium furnishings. The “field-­flattener” lenses widen the field of view and reduce peripheral distortion.
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.
    The UpClose G2 8x21 Roof Binocular from Celestron is a light weight 8 ounces with a closed hinged bridge design. At less than 4 inches they are a prime candidate for an easily mobile binocular that leaves no excuse to be caught without some magnification for that surprise situation. The water resistant, rubber covered, aluminum body adds an added level of worry free use from too much rough handling and never too much use. The sure grip furnished by thumb indents and finger ridges are a welcome feature allowing a firm non-slip hold. Just another reason to make sure that this binocular gets taken along.
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.
Optical Performance. This aspect comprises of every thing that got to do with the clarity and sharpness of image viewed through the binocular. I have actually covered all these aspects pretty thoroughly in this post. If you aren’t aware about what makes up a quality binocular with great optical performance, I highly recommend that you check out the buying guide in the link before proceeding further.

It is more comfortable to view the stars while lying flat in a sleeping bag on the ground or sitting in a chair. When lying on the ground in winter, you can protect yourself from the cold by spreading cardboard or a thermal insulating sheet for camping on the ground, thus preventing the coldness of the ground from reaching you. If you have a reclining chair, you can view the stars in a more comfortable position.


For exquisite ergonomics and handling ability, the Carl Zeiss Victory RF Binoculars offer great rangefinding ability coupled with advanced optics. Featuring a built-in calculator that allows you to compute ballistic trajectories with ease, the laser rangefinder can take accurate measurements almost instantly up to 1,300 yards. The lenses are multi-coated and work exceptionally well in low-light conditions thanks to the 45mm diameter.
Beginning stargazers often overlook binoculars for astronomy, but experienced observers keep them close at hand. Compared to a telescope, binoculars for astronomy actually have certain advantages. Granted, they're smaller and give lower magnification. But they're lighter, much easier to take outside, use, and put away, and less expensive. They also give a much wider view than a telescope does, making celestial objects easier to find. They let you use both eyes, providing surer, more natural views. Moreover, in binoculars for astronomy everything is right-side up and presented correctly, not upside down and/or mirror-reversed.
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