Here at the buyers guide to binoculars you’ll find lots of easy-to-follow information about binoculars of all kinds … all makes.
Investing in binoculars is a serious decision, and our aim is to find the best binocular for you:
- saving you research time with reviews and ratings of main binocular brands
- saving you money by providing you with impartial information to help you select the best model for your needs
Why do you need detailed binocular reviews?
When buying binoculars, you’ll be presented with a mind-boggling array of options.
First of all, you have all the different makes – Swarovski, Leupold, Nikon, Bushnell, Canon, Zeiss … plus many more.
Secondly, there are all the different types – infrared binoculars, digital binoculars, binoculars for hunting, astronomy, birding, opera, theater … the list goes on …
Finally, you’ll need to consider which size and magnification are most suitable for you.
It’s no wonder that most potential consumers like yourself get lost and confused in this vast binocular maze … and end up making a wrong and costly decision!
So read through the carefully researched information available to you in buyers guide to binoculars – and avoid those hasty decisions!
First of all, decide exactly what your needs are.
And then, make your final choice, after taking into account the expert reviews and advice contained in the buyers guide to binoculars ..
Binoculars how do they work?…
Binoculars how do they work … what is their history … read all about them here …
The history of binoculars started almost two centuries ago in 1825 when J. P. Lemiere discovered the advantage of placing together two telescopes in the same frame.
At that time, the telescope had already been in use for around two hundred years, coming to life as a result of human curiosity and inventiveness.
The literal meaning of binoculars is ‘two eyes’- coming from the Latin.
Read this simple explanation about how binoculars work…
- Binoculars are two identical telescopes, placed side-by-side, both pointing in the same direction.
- Unlike the telescope, with binoculars:
- You use both eyes to view the object
- You don’t need to close one eye when viewing
- You get a three-dimensional image
Binoculars consist of three essential parts:
- the eyepiece lens, which is the smaller lens, and which you hold close to your eyes
- the objective lens, which is the larger lens, and which is furthest from your eyes
- a prism inside the binoculars, and which acts as a mirror
Binoculars can refract light…First of all, the objective lens captures the light from whatever you’re viewing, magnifies it, brings it to focus in the eyepiece, where it’s transformed into a visible image.
However, if binoculars just consisted of these two lenses, the image you see would be upside-down.
To rectify this, and turn the image the right-way-up, a prism is buried inside the binoculars.
What is a prism?
A prism is a solid part of glass, which acts as a mirror, but without a mirrorï¿½s reflective backing, and its job is to make the image appear the right-way-up.
Why do you need to keep the smaller lens next to your eyes? For the simple reason that, if you looked through the binoculars the other way, the image would appear even smaller and further apart than it really is.
Binoculars how do they work – prisms
As already explained, the prism takes the upside-down image and turns it up once more so that it faces the right way.
This image is then transmitted to the smaller lens, where you’ll see the object magnified and correct.
There are two main types of prism:
- Porro prism
- roof prism
The Porro prism tends to be the most popular. Patented by the Italian, Ignazio Porroin 1854, this image-erecting system was later refined by manufacturers such as Carl Zeiss.
You can put a Porro prism binocular because the objective lens is well-separated from the eyepiece.
These binoculars usually give an excellent sensation of depth and produce a brighter image than roof prism binoculars – all other factors being equal.
However, they tend to be heavier and bulkier than roof prism binoculars and occasionally
You can tell roof prism binoculars because the objective lens is approximately in line with the eyepiece.
Although narrower and more compact than Porro prisms, they do tend to be more expensive to produce and don’t give such a bright image.
However, they don’t usually need re-collimation.
The earliest binoculars tended to be used by the upper classes, mainly to view the stage in theaters, and they employed what is known as Galilean optics.
In other words, instead of using two convex lenses, they used a convex objective lens and a concave eyepiece lens. Galilean optics are still used today for opera or theater binoculars, and some other cheaper models.
However, their field of view tends to be narrow, and they’re unable to produce very high magnification.
What is important to Check?
When you go shopping for a pair of binoculars, there are several things that you should keep in mind.
Today, many reputable companies produce binoculars and it can be somehow tricky to know which model is the best buy for you.
The first criterion should be the use for which you buy them.
You will not need a two thousand dollars model, when all you want to do is just have a little fun with your kids when you go on a trip.
On the other hand, if you’re an experienced hunter, your standards should be higher.
Manufacturers produce all kinds of binoculars, so you first need to know what you want to buy.
Do not pass the threshold of the store, without having this clear in mind.
A good method to evaluate the products that will appear before your eyes is to know a little more about binoculars and their major features …
what to look for in binoculars – main features
Binoculars have optical parameters and they make the difference between models.
So, let’s learn a few things about the main characteristics we should look for when buying binoculars.
The main features are:
- objective diameter
- field of view
- exit pupil
- eye relief
The numeral factor of magnification shows how many times closer the object will appear when looked at through the binoculars. The bigger the number, the closer we will see the image.
The objective diameter is expressed in millimeters and tells us how much light will be reflected through the lenses.
The field of view refers to how many degrees we can see, and the exit pupil allows the image to be brighter.
The eye relief is used for informing us how far we should keep the binoculars from our eyes.
With this information on your side, no salesperson can turn you around and make you buy something you don’t want!
what to look for in binoculars – other features
If you look for higher performances in your binoculars, then you will look for numbers that fit your requirements.
But there are also other features that are important, like weight and waterproofing.
If you want to go bird watching, you need a lighter binocular, so you can keep it in your hand.
If you go boating, then a pair of waterproof binoculars is a must.
The low light capability is important when you decide to stay out late in the woods for hunting.
Going to sporting events will require a pair of binoculars with a better field of view.
what to look for in binoculars – stick to your requirements
Asking the right thing at the store when you go shopping will save you a lot of time and money.
Another advice is to ask the permission of the salesperson to try the binoculars outside, to see how they work in the natural light.
Do not try them only inside the store, as you will not be able to test them properly.
Last, but not least, the price and the quality of the product you buy should come into play.
Be budget minded and do not let yourself lured into buying an expensive pair of binoculars with features that you do not need.
Just stick with your own requirements and buy exactly the thing you went out shopping for.
Choosing Binoculars Magnification –
Fixed or Variable
The examples quoted above just had two numbers, which means the binoculars would have been fixed-power binoculars.
However, some models offer variable magnification.
With a variable type of binocular, you’ll find two numbers appear before the x. For example, 10-50×50.
This means their magnification varies from 10 to 50 times, and they’re what is known as zoom binoculars.
Choosing Binoculars Magnification –
High or Low?
At first glance, you’d immediately presume a larger magnification binocular would always be the better choice … but life is not straightforward, is it?
The main problem with high power binoculars is that the higher the magnification, the more it magnifies the movement of your hands, resulting in a shaky or blurred image.
Larger magnification also means you’ll get a smaller field of view, shallower depth of field, and a less-bright image.
Choosing Binoculars Magnification –
Here are the advantages of a lower magnification:
- First, the image you see will be brighter. Because of this, the low-light capability will also be higher, and that will allow you to see things well through your binoculars, even at dawn and dusk.
- Second, you’ll have a wider catchment area.
- Thirdly, shaking will be limited and even eliminated, even if you use your binoculars in a moving vehicle, such as a car or a boat.
The most widely encountered magnifications for hand-held binoculars are 7x, 8x and 10x.
The 10x magnification requires a steady hand, plus a little more experience in quickly locating the objects you wish to see.
Anything of 15x and above is definitely too high for hand-held use.
Choosing Binoculars Magnification –
But maybe you’re really set on using binoculars with a larger magnification?
If so, you will find solutions to help reduce the shaking factor…
Binoculars using image stabilization technology allow the use of products with up to 20x magnifications.
With these, a built-in optical system compensates any sudden movements associated with hand-holding, resulting in a clear picture.
Apart from the expense, the drawback to these is they tend to have small apertures.
The other method of reducing the shaking factor on high power binoculars is to use a tripod. But these can be rather cumbersome and heavy and, once again, increase the cost.
Choosing Binoculars Magnification –
Something to Suit Your Needs
A hand-held binocular with higher magnification is going to create difficulties in keeping a steady image, resulting in an image that is neither clear, nor sharp, nor bright.
These are serious disadvantages so it’s not really advisable to buy an expensive,high-magnification model unless you have specific needs.
Binoculars should always fit your needs …
Planning to use the binoculars only for relatively short distances?
Then settle for a model with a lower magnification.
Is your target likely to be extremely far away?
Consider a pair with larger magnification … but look also at image stabilized binoculars and/or tripods.
Coated Lense Binoculars
Take a look at coated lense binoculars….. What are the different types of coating?… Which are the best?…
Why do binoculars’ lenses need to be coated?
Basically, to stop as much light as possible from being reflected and lost, and to improve image contrast by elimination of stray light.
Binoculars can have as many as 16 air-to-glass surfaces, and each of these can lose light.
So, your binocular’s interfaces need to have optical coatings applied in order to reduce reflection.
The quality of your binocular’s coatings can make a tremendous difference to image quality.
For example, a pair of 8×40 binoculars with excellent optical coating canrender a brighter image than an 8×50 pair that has poor or no optical coating.
Most modern binoculars possess anti-reflection coatings of one sort or another on their air-to-glass surfaces.
And, it’s because of these coatings that, when you look at the front lens, it appears to have blue, green or red reflections.
In fact, the coating has no color at all, but the light waves enter thecoated lens with different lengths which determine the colors you see on the lens’ surface.
Binocular manufacturers use a variety of coatings, which come in different grades.
Coated Lense Binoculars – Different Grades
When studying information about a pair of binoculars, you’ll find the manufacturer describes the coating in a number of ways:
- fully multi-coated
What do they mean? …
Coated means a single layer of anti-reflection coating on one or some lens surfaces.
Fully-coated means all air-to-glass surfaces have a single layer of coating.
Multi-coated means that one or some surfaces (usually the first and last) have multiple layers of anti-reflection coating.
Fully multi-coated means all air-to-glass surfaces have multiple layers of anti-reflection coatings.
Which Coating Should You Choose?……
Binoculars which are fully-coated are obviously better than just plain “coated” binoculars.
And multiple layers of anti-reflection coatings are more effective than a single layer of coating.
So, ideally, you’ll want your binoculars to be fully multi-coated,especially if you plan to use them for, say, astronomy, where elimination of stray light would be an important factor.
Once again, you’ll need to decide what you’ll be using your binoculars for, and how much you can afford to pay.
Birding, Birdwatching & Twitching!
irding, birdwatching & twitching ARE one & the same, birding & birdwatchers are generally very laidback & social activities, whereas twitching typically involves a more serious approach, where great distances are sometimes travelled to view a rare bird, which is then “ticked off” from a list!.
The word “birding” dates back to the 17th century whereby it was used to describe the hunting of fowl with firearms, the term “birdwatching” was actually not recognised until the early 20th century, and the poor term “twitching” actually began in the 1950’s and was named after Howard Medhurst, a famous British birdwatcher who unfortunately “twitched” a lot!.
The terms “birding” & “birdwatching” today are used very flexibly & interchangeably, although many followers prefer the term “birding”, both because it does not exclude the auditory aspects(listening) of enjoying birds, and because it does not have any of the associated negative connotations of merely watching!, but portrays much higher degrees of follower participation.
Ok, thats the techinal stuff out of the way!, now lets move onto the fun stuff.
“Birding for Beginners”
Birding can be a very fun and satisfying activity once you are familiar with identifying the variety of bird that you are watching.
This task in itself can be quite challenging because it is not easy to identify them especially when they are so many feet away from the ground. Since birds are energetic and active animals, you need a clear and quick eye to be able to see as many details as possible in such as very short period of time!.
Other problems that you might encounter, especially if you are a first time birdwatcher, is the dim light shaded by trees, the glint of sunlight that can affect your sight, and the hidden places where birds go to play. So, when you are into birding, it is always best to have a basic knowledge about bird’s attitudes and observe them carefully. You might not name them properly the first time but you definitely can the next time if you pay proper attention to observing them.
The following are a few helpful tips that can assist you in your early birding sessions:
* Most important – “don’t stand out in a crowd!”, that is to say wear clothing that allows you to melt into the surroundings, “that’s just common-sense” I hear you say, but the amount of brightly colored clothing I have personally seen so called birdwatchers wearing, some of which is equally as scarey to the human eye as it must be to birds!.
* Always try & focus on a single bird. When you are birding, there will always be many distractions, but try to spot only one bird that catches your attention. Once you have seen one, never take your eyes off it because it might fly to a place where you cannot see it.
* Without doubt Birdwatching is far more enjoyable with the use of binocular or optics as they are also known. This is because this will help you view and observe birds better. For beginners, the Best Birdwatching Binoculars are one of the basic tools you need in order to get the hang of the activity. Aside from helping them see birds closely and clearly, a pair of birding binoculars will also help them to adjust in viewing moving objects.
* In most birdwatching centers, beginners are given a field guide in a form of a booklet or brochure so they can identify the birds to be seen at that particular center, once they have seen one. Once you know what is it, take time to observe its physical details as well as its behaviors and mannerisms. Make sure that you observe the bird’s movements, markings, feeding habits, songs, color, and size so you can easily identify it the next time you see it.
* Make sure that you listen carefully to the bird’s calls and song. Although listening for a bird’s song is easy, it doesn’t stay long in a person’s memory. What you should do is to listen intently when the bird calls or sings and play the bird’s song in your mind repetitively. Listening to a bird’s call and song is important because it can help you identify the bird even without seeing it!.
* Take time to estimate the bird’s shape and general size. The average shape and size of the bird will give you a huge clue in finding out which family it comes from. In birding, once you can recognize from the size and shape of the bird what kind is it, then you are well on the way to being a successful birdwatcher..
* Pay attention to the bill characteristics and facial markings of the bird in sight. This is one of the most difficult things to do because the heads of almost all types of birds are the smallest part of them. They are also always on the move so it is doubly difficult to take note of any unique markings on their faces.
* Part of visiting any place is seeing the birds and animals that live there. They can add a touch of exotica to even the most ordinary spots. Ontario Vacation Destinations will help you find places to use those new birding binoculars you just bought.
Binoculars are quite a common merchandise in our world and many manufacturers offer the consumer a wide range of possibilities.
It can be hard to choose between so many products, but applying the simple method of price versus quality, you have the highest chances to make the best buy.
Luckily, today, we can gather a lot of information on the products we want to purchase. The companies producing them have interest to advertise their products, so we cannot rely solely on what they have to say.
The best way to learn about the quality of a product is to read consumers’ reviews.
Let’s see which are the best purchases, according to people buying such products…
worlds best binoculars – nikon
One of the products that satisfies most customers is the Nikon Monarch 8×42 model.
The lenses are both waterproof and fogproof, and the optics are considered to be as good as the ones from more expensive – even luxury – models.
They are also not very heavy and come with a 25 year warranty.
Prices range from $250 to a little over $300, depending where you buy them from.
The rate of quality versus price is considered to be one of the best.
The Nikon company also offers a cheaper model that still offers good quality …
For a price just over $100, the Nikon 7×35 Action EX binoculars offer incredible performance.
They do have some disadvantages, like a larger weight and the fact that they are not the best buy for people wearing glasses, but they still are the best value for the price.
worlds best binoculars – low-cost models
If you’re looking for cheaper models that still offer good quality, you have others to choose from …
Consider the Eagle Optics Triumph 8×25 model, which can be bought for about $100.
Offering a pleasant design, it works very well for people wearing glasses.
Another good buy is the Pentax Papilio which also has great features and will set you back a little under $100.
It’s very compact and light-weight. However, it doesn’t offer the superior features of more expensive models, such as being waterproof or fogproof.
The manufacturers offer the buyer lifetime repairs for a $20 fee.
worlds best binoculars – luxury models
Maybe you’re after a super, luxury model?
With a price tag of around $1800, the Zeiss Victory T* FL binoculars rank among the highest priced … but for good reasons!
Customers that tried them say the image rendered through their lenses is perfect, sharp, clear and bright.
The quality of the glass used for the lenses is superior, which is what gives this excellent result.
Extremely popular for bird watching, they can focus objects found at large distances.
The model is waterproof, fogproof and it comes with a lifetime warranty.
They certainly are top-of-the-line binoculars and, the price reflects that.
Other luxury models that impressed buyers from all over the world include the Swarovski EL 8.5×42, which is light-weight with good focus.
Their excellent color fidelity, contrast and brightness also make these binoculars a fine recommendation.
At the end of the day, you have a lot to choose from! …
So our advice is to:
- work out exactly what your needs are
- read the reviews and advice at buyers guide to binoculars
- search for the best prices without letting go of quality
Happy binocular hunting!
Looking for binoculars which show a steady, shake-free image, even when riding in a vehicle?
Or perhaps you wish to enjoy the benefits of larger magnification without the set-back of hand tremor – using powerful binoculars can definitely result in a shaky image!
If either of the above applies to you, image stabilized binoculars or IS binoculars could be your answer.
how IS binoculars work
Image stabilized binoculars have an inside mechanism which takes care of these problems, decreasing the effect of movements.
They can be used from, say, a boat or a plane, and, because image stabilization allows an easier use of high magnification binoculars, they’re also popular with amateur astronomers.
You’ll find a number of companies producing high-quality IS binoculars, such as Canon, Nikon and Bushnell.
There are three basic types of stabilized binoculars:
- vary angle
- cardanic suspension
Let’s take a look at them …
Some binoculars have gyroscope built in that works at stabilizing the image even when it’s strongly shaken.
The internal motor powered by the gyroscope is responsible for this great performance, but it needs batteries or an external power source, which does make the model slightly inconvenient.
Also, actuation requires some time, they tend to be a little heavy, and therefore are not so easy to handle.
Examples include Nikon 14×40, Fujinon 14×40, and Bushnell 10×35. (Check out stabilized binoculars reviews further down this page.)
A more advanced model is the one using incorporated processors to regulate the image and contro the prism, even when moving.
Several sensors are placed in different parts of the binoculars, and these transmit signals to the processor.
A big plus is that stabilization is almost instant, but these models also require batteries, although they’re not as heavy as the gyroscope-based type.
Examples include Canon 15×50, and Canon 10×30.
Your best IS binocular option is one with cardanic suspension – ideal for reducing hand-tremor and obtaining a shake-free image.
Inside this type of binoculars is a suspended prism mechanism which is extremely sensitive to each movement, steadying the image within a couple of seconds.
Another great advantage is that they do not require batteries, which makes them lighter and more manageable than the gyroscope type.
stabilized binoculars reviews – bushnell
The Bushnell 10×35 StableView image stabilized binoculars are very popular among binocular users.
As well as their image stabilization capability, they’re also waterproof and fogproof. Plus, their image is sharp and clear, with good contrast.
On the downside, they have only a two year limited guarantee and the price is over $500.
stabilized binoculars reviews – nikon
A higher priced product comes from Nikon.
It’s called Nikon Stabileyes 14×40 w/Image Stabilizer Binocular and is designed for boating and other outdoor activities.
Relatively easy to handle, with perfect optics, their quality of color is also widely appreciated.
The only criticism regarding its performance is that the image tends to jump a little when focusing on detail.
stabilized binoculars reviews – canon
The Canon 15×50 image stabilization all weather model is mid priced between the two models above.
Its large magnification recommends the product, the image stabilization technology making it possible to enjoy this benefit with minimal shaking and hand tremor.
However, it is rather heavy, making it hard to use for long periods of time.
stabilized binoculars reviews – conclusion
When choosing a pair of image stabilized binoculars, you first need to work out exactly what you need, and this will depend on what you intend to do with them.
Then, it’s a matter of shopping around until you find the best buy for you.
Nikon is one of the most reputable companies manufacturing binoculars, and their products are sold worldwide.
They offer the buyer a wide range of choices, from cheaper models to more expensive ones.
Whether you’re after birding binoculars, hunting binoculars, marine binoculars, lifestyle binoculars, or whatever, Nikon should have something for you.
Plus, quality is important to them – their reputation is based on it.
Let’s look at some of their most popular models and consider their pros and cons, so that you can make a wise choice when it comes to purchase.
nikon and binoculars – monarch
Nikon Monarch binoculars are considered one of the best buys on the market.
Good points include the fact that, for a lower price, they offer many characteristics which usually only come with more expensive models.
They don’t weigh too much, are easy to handle, and offer good visibility – even when natural light is dim.
Nikon Monarch ATB binoculars have gained quite a reputation among users and many praise the product.
You’ll find some drawbacks however …
Some consider the diopter adjustment to be too tight, and that visibility occasionally blurs towards the edge of the lenses.
Others claim that looking through them is like looking down a pipe.
Nevertheless, for the price, they’re a wonderful purchase.
nikon and binoculars – action
Another popular line of products from Nikon is Nikon Action.
Once again, price versus performance wins against similar binoculars produced by other companies.
The Nikon Action 7×35 binoculars are extremely well received by consumers … however, they do have a reputation for being quite fragile.
Another product from the Action line – the Nikon Action 7×50 – is appreciated for its close focus, good quality lense and strong frame.
On the downside, they’re considered rather heavy and not so easy to handle.
nikon and binoculars – travellite
Nikon’s Travellite Series is well-known and deservedly popular.
The Nikon Travellite 12×25 binoculars are mostly used for sightseeing, but also suitable for watching sports, or that little trip into Nature.
A big plus is their low, affordable price.
Defects include clarity not being the best, plus imperfect optics, which can result in a lower quality picture.
However, many buyers think the low price makes up for this drawback.
nikon and binoculars – oceanpro
Nikon’s 7×50 OceanPro are a must to mention when it comes to marine binoculars, being considered a great product by many people.
Of medium size, with good optics, they’re perfect for those of you who wear glasses.
As with all Nikon products, lense-quality is well appreciated.
Although rather heavy, this does help the image to become stabilized faster.
Their shockproof polycarbonate body makes them durable … they’re waterproof and fogproof … and they perform well in low light conditions.
Their only drawbacks are their weight, and the range finder in wide setting.
These are just a small handful of Nikon’s more popular models.
You’ll find lots more to look at!
Swarovski binoculars in general have a great reputation, and the high-end, roof prism Swarovski EL binoculars are particularly well-considered – if expensive!
Let’s take a look at the Swarovski company, their prestigious EL range, plus some of their other popular models …
In 1935, using jewellery-making technology, young Wilhelm Swarovski made his dream come true and developed a new type of binoculars.
Later, in 1949, he founded Swarovski Optik KG and, ever since, the company has been producing luxury binoculars.
Their design is both functional and aesthetic, making Swarovski binoculars among the most appreciated on the market.
Being a luxury product, every item purchased is usually accompanied by a whole series of accessories.
swarovski el binoculars – 8.5×42 and 10×42
One of their most popular series is the Swarovski EL binoculars – including Swarovski EL 8.5×42 and the EL 10×42.
Both are classic roof-prism binoculars, pleasantly light in weight – the 10×42 being slightly lighter than the 8.5×42 – with a clarity of image that well justifies their reputation.
Excellent for bird-watching, you’ll particularly appreciate their color fidelity and sharpness in dim light.
Waterproof to a depth of 4 meters, they’re also fogproof and dustproof, coming with a lifetime guarantee.
One of the things EL owners rave about is their feel and secure grip – and the way you can wrap your hand round the binocular means you can have a free hand while using them.
swarovski el binoculars – drawbacks
One drawback is that, although the EL binoculars are light-weight and a joy to hold, they’re not really compact.
Others consider their eye relief far from perfect, and not well-suited for those wearing with glasses.
Then, of course, there’s the price tag of almost $2000. But, these are the Rolls Royce of binoculars … and no-one who has a Rolls Royce seems to complain about how much it cost!
swarovski 8x20B-P pocket model
Swarovski does, in fact, offer compact binoculars.
If this is your main concern, consider the Swarovski 8x20B-P Pocket model.
And … the term “pocket” is not just a mere word thrown in!
This model really does fit in any coat pocket and comes in extremely handy with its large field of view and great colors.
Its complex optical system – with 16 lenses – makes it one of the most complex pocket-size binoculars on the market.
It’s also the smallest waterproof compact model around but – as with all Swarovski products – the price is pretty hefty at over $600.
swarovski SLC line
As many Swarovski binoculars are used for nature watching, another popular series is their SLC line.
Renowned for accuracy of image and functionality, their optical qualities are the best and they come with lense caps attached – making protection of the lenses easier.
You’ll be impressed with their quality of image – which remains high and unshaken even in their larger magnification models.
You’ll not find many drawbacks, although the 10×42 SLC and 7×42 SLC are somewhat heavy.
The 8×30 model offers the same great optical qualities, but – because of the dimension of the exit pupil – it doesn’t perform so well in low light.
At the end of the day, what you pay for is what you get and, if you can afford a pair of Swarovski binoculars, it’s money well spent, the price being justified by the high performance of the products.