As the most used piece of viewing equipment in the world, binoculars are quite versatile and a person will always have a need for them. The kind of binocular one must have depends on how they will be used and for what purpose. Hobbyists, serious enthusiasts and hunters may require more functions thus investing in more sophisticated types of binoculars.
However, for the average person, a more budget friendly pair might be good enough. Whether you looking for best compact binoculars for hiking or good binoculars for birding, there are a lot of good binoculars available on the market. You will surely find the best pair that fits your needs.
How to choose your binoculars?
For General Use (Hiking, Sports, Concerts, Outdoor Activities)
A compact, lightweight and preferably with a wide angle for a wide field of view is recommended. With magnifications that range usually between 7x to 10x, these are more than enough to view subjects clearly. These types of binoculars are easy to store in your pockets or strap around your neck.
Hunting and Bird Watching
For hunting purposes, a wider field of view is preferred to locate the subject easier. Magnification between 7x to 12x will work well with this type of outdoor activity. However, at higher magnifications, you may have to use a tripod for better stability as slight hand movements may result in unstable images.
For bird watching, a magnification of 10x or 12x with objective lenses of 42 or 50 millimeters is recommended to include seeing more minute details of small birds from afar. Consider choosing binoculars with longer eye relief and a close focus for comfort and a more personal bird watching experience.
Boating and Marine Binoculars
High magnification binoculars are not usually advised when you are on the water. Binoculars with 7x up to 10x magnification work well under these conditions. Also choose a larger-sized objective lens, at least 42 or 50 millimeters. The most important feature you may want to consider is waterproofing, binoculars with rubber armor coating are also good for a secure grip.
What to look for in binoculars?
Magnification and Objective Lens Size
Increased magnification does not always mean better image quality since this reduces the overall brightness of the image as well as narrowing your field of view. Generally, 7x or 8x is fine unless you need more for specific long-distance viewing.
You may want to consider the size of the objective lenses more. As a rule, the larger the lens, the more light is allowed to enter, resulting in a brighter image. However, it does add to the overall weight of the unit.
Opt for binoculars with a wide field of view
This is important if you plan to use your binoculars in broad areas. A wide field of view will prevent you from frequently moving your binoculars around as you look through them, especially for fast moving subjects, this will help you spot them easier.
This is particularly important for people who need to wear eyeglasses, ideally at least an eye relief of 12 mm to 14 mm or more is recommended if you want to view the full image as it is without glasses on. With good eye relief, you can hold the binoculars’ eyepiece against your glasses.
Additional features you may want to consider
- Water-resistant or waterproof. If you plan to use your binoculars in activities that may expose the unit to water or fog it would be better to invest in models specifically designed for water exposure. This will prevent the inner optics from getting moist and fogged-over.
- Image stabilization. Binoculars with this feature have integrated sensors designed to detect slight movements such as shakes and vibrations caused by hand movements. For a steady view, this technology adjusts the optics to compensate for movement.
- Multi-coated lenses. Quality models usually offer multi-coated lenses as they greatly improve image quality, giving the user a detailed view of the subject with balanced contrast and clarity.
- Rangefinder. If you’re planning to use your binoculars for really long-distance viewing, opt for one with this feature. Binoculars with this feature allow the user to know how far he is from the subject.
A high resolution binocular great for outdoor adventures without the expensive price tag. With the ELENKER High Resolution Binocular, you can magnify images up to 30 times, but still maintain clarity and high contrast.
This pair of binoculars is designed to be light and compact which makes it ideal for traveling since it is easy to pack.
- 30x magnification, 60mm objective lens. A versatile pair, these binoculars are good alternatives from the heavier models if you like to watch sporting events and concerts. It performs well and is compact which makes it nice to have when you need to see something clearly from a distance at any given time.
- Optics are also fully coated for better quality images with minimal color disparities. It can also be used day or night time, as long as there is some light source available as you won’t be able to see anything if you plan to use this in total darkness.
- Aside from being compact, it is very lightweight at just 200 grams. Strapping it around your neck or carrying it while you walk won’t be a hassle. Because of the neck straps, you won’t have to hold it all the time and can make use of your hands for other things.
- A carrying case is provided to keep the binoculars scratch-free when not in use. A cleaning cloth is also provided to keep your specs well maintained and free from any dirt that may hinder your viewing experience.
- Compact and lightweight with neck strap included keeping your hands free.
- Affordable but still works well.
- Not waterproof or fog proof.
- No rubber coating to protect it from minor bumps and drops during use.
A cheaper alternative if you like to watch birds, go to concerts and travel but is not really particular on minute details. You may want to consider this pair if you are on a budget or just starting out with using binoculars.
The Celestron SkyMaster Giant 15×70 Binoculars are high performance binoculars great for astronomical viewing as it brings star clusters and planets into clear view. This particular Celestron model offers a pair of binoculars with large aperture light gathering at a very reasonable price.
A versatile pair of binoculars, the Celestron SkyMaster Giant 15×70 Binoculars is not only for stargazing, it is also designed for bird watching, wildlife observation and other terrain viewing that requires observing from long distances.
- Multicoated optics and BaK-4 internal prism. These two features produce vividly-colored images and improved vision with brighter resolution. Contrast is also enhanced, transferring the maximum amount of light entering your eyes in dark-sky conditions.
- With tripod adapter. The adapter allows users to fit this binocular to a standard tripod for a more stable and steady viewing experience.
- Eye relief at 18 millimeters. Following the ideal range of eye relief at 15 to 20 millimeters, the Celestron SkyMaster Giant 15×70 Binoculars can easily be used by people who wear eyeglasses. You can take the cap off the exit lens when looking through with glasses on and put it back on again for use without eyeglasses.
- Large 70 mm aperture. An important consideration in binoculars, it has over approximately 50 times the light gathering area the human eye is capable of, perfect for conditions with low light.
- Weather-proof. Being waterproof and partly owing to its body’s rubber coating, some layer of protection is included to prevent the unit from slipping out of your grip while in use under normal conditions as well as harsh weather.
- 15x magnification. Combined with its precise focus zooming in clearly on far away objects is not a problem with this feature which is great for across the field viewing.
- Lifetime warranty coverage. Additionally, the Celestron warranty offers a lifetime, no-fault warranty that promises to fix or repair binoculars with proof of purchase no matter how they were damaged, no questions asked.
- Ideal for astronomical viewing and much cheaper than a telescope.
- At this price range, you get the best value for your money as it produces excellent quality images with enhanced contrast and clarity.
- Long eye relief at 18mm lets you use the binoculars without having to remove your eyeglasses.
- Quite heavy if held by hand for extended periods of time which may require a tripod.
A good buy, especially for people who like gazing at stars as a hobby. It performs well without high expense and can be fitted onto a tripod when necessary.
High-performing entry level binoculars from this well-known brand, Bushnell, the Falcon 7×35 Binoculars with Case offers high quality images when viewed from a distance. These binoculars have an automatic focus that works well and a wide field of view great for observing sports or terrain activities.
Made with high-grade porro prisms that are fully coated, anyone who loves observing nature or venturing out in the wild during hunting season will surely find these binoculars useful.
- The Bushnell Falcon 7×35 Binoculars can magnify distant objects up to 7 times. It has 35 millimeter objective lenses that are quite good and can make out even minute details. Fully-coated optics of porro prisms made from the less expensive BK-7 glass provides adequate light transmission during daytime use, however, not enough light is transmitted which makes it perform quite poorly when used at night or in dimly-lit environments.
- It has an automatic focus feature that works well in focusing on specific subjects. However, if you want to zoom in on a subject to see it more clearly including fine details, you can use the InstaFocus lever to fine-tune the focus. Even with the strong zoom, images are not rendered blurry.
- 12 millimeters of eye relief is included, with fold-down eyecups to make it easier and comfortable for people who wear eyeglasses. Focusing on objects as close as 20 feet is possible without straining the eyes. A wide field of view of 420 feet at 1,000 yards also provides more observation.
- Protecting the exterior surface of the binoculars is a rubberized armor coating that adds to its durability and ruggedness, great for outdoor use under normal to harsh weather conditions. It also has an abrasion resistant finish.
- It also comes with a decent-looking protective carrying case complete with padded neck straps to help you store the binoculars safely. It’s also convenient for managing the binoculars during outdoor activities without having to hold all the time, keeping your hands free to focus on other tasks.
- Lightweight and portable, with neck straps available for use whenever you prefer to keep your hands free. Padded neck straps also make it comfortable to carry around your neck.
- High-quality images are produced with clarity and sharpness giving the user a detailed viewing experience.
- Convenient for people who wear eyeglasses.
- The binoculars are not really waterproof and fog proof which can make it difficult to use during harsh weather conditions.
- You may need a really steady hand since it does not include a tripod adapter.
A good buy if you’re looking for a functional pair of binoculars. Great for amateurs as well as enthusiasts since it performs well under normal weather conditions. However, if you’re one who likes to go out in dimly-lit environments, it’s not really for you.
Observing something at a distance is Bushnell PowerView Super High-Powered Surveillance Binoculars’ forte. This line of binoculars has three options for three levels of magnification, 10×50, 12×50 and 20×50, each with slight differences but all providing the best visual experience in its class.
With high-performance magnification capabilities this line of functional yet affordable binoculars will give you a personal and up close experience with your subject.
- Large Field of View. The Bushnell PowerView Super High-Powered Surveillance Binoculars boast a wide field of view, 170-feet wide at 1,000 yards. Perfect for spying on game and other animals from afar.
- BK-7 glass lens. Although made of the less expensive BK-7 glass, the lens will still work fine as it provides great light transmission and brightness. It also has multicoated porro prisms for clear and crisp images with minimal color irregularities.
- The large apertures of these binoculars provide more than enough light to make subjects seem brighter when viewed at night. This makes it easier to locate targets even in areas with a poor light source.
- Easy Set Up. For the initial setup process, pupillary distance can be easily established to work exactly according to your specifications.
- Portable and durable. The body is designed with a rubberized armor coating which works as a nonslip cover for a more secure grip as well as an added layer of protection in case of minor drops during use. At 30 ounces, these binoculars are easy to carry around the neck with padded neck straps included.
- One Touch Focus. The InstaFocus lever is a single touch system designed to keep the subject in close focus with just one touch. This feature works well for fast-moving targets such as land animals and birds.
- Eye Relief. At 10 millimeters for the 10×50 model, the eye relief is quite short compared to models sold by competitors. This may cause some problems for people with eyeglasses. The eye cups may be folded though, for added comfort.
- The none-slip rubber armor absorbs shock and other minor bumps which is perfect for people who use it frequently for outdoor activities.
- The binoculars can be used with a tripod.
- It can be used during dusk or dawn when light is limited.
- Lightweight and easy to carry around.
- According to some reviewers, the binoculars are not waterproof or fog proof which caused some issues when used during harsh weather conditions.
The Bushnell PowerView Super High-Powered Surveillance Binoculars are affordable, entry-level binoculars with fast focusing capabilities and sharp views, great for use outdoors under normal weather conditions.
The Merytes 10×25 Portable High Definition and Blue Film Binoculars are made of lightweight and durable materials. With an exterior body made of metal aluminum alloy, these binoculars is compact and can be carried, even in your pocket, anywhere you go.
- Al optic glass lens with FMC blue film. For clear and sharp-looking images, the Merytes 10×25 Portable High Definition Binoculars is made of high-quality glass lenses with FMC blue film. This also minimizes color differences. Because of its wide vision, adequate light is transmitted for vivid images that can be seen even in poorly lit environments.
- Right Visibility Handwheel. Since the left and right eye look at things differently, a handwheel by the right eyepiece is designed to let the user adjust the view and eliminate the parallax completely. The image should remain properly merged once set.
- Skidproof center handwheel. The skidproof handwheel will make it easier to grasp the binoculars securely. Made of natural rubber materials, with each turn of the knob, images are rendered clearer and in greater definition.
- Weighing only 0.2 kilograms, the Merytes 10×25 Portable High Definition and Blue Film Binoculars can be carried around easily. It also includes a neck strap to attach the binoculars in case you prefer to keep your hands free.
- Carrying case included. Additionally, to keep your specs from getting scratched, a storage bag that will snugly fit the entire unit is included. You can place your binoculars here for safekeeping during travel or when not in use.
- Compact and small, can be easily stored inside the pocket.
- Although it is affordable, the unit still works perfectly and good to use while birdwatching, during concerts and sporting events.
- These binoculars are not extreme weatherproof.
- No layer of protection around the exteriors, like rubber, to absorb shock and other minor damage that may be caused by bumps and accidental dropping.
Adults and children can find these binoculars useful. It works fine and has most of the basic functions you can find in entry-level binoculars. At this price you may even consider giving these as gifts to your loved ones.