Aug 27

How To Buy a Good Set Of Binoculars?

I have published a Binoculars Buying Guide more than a year ago, after buying and using quite a number of binoculars since then till now, I have gained more experience in buying binoculars, I would like to share in this post these newly acquired knowledge on top of what I shared before.

How To Buy a Good Set Of Binoculars?

Basic Information

Binoculars are basically two telescopes binned together through a series of mechanisms which help provide a panoramic image similar to what people see without using any optical device. The difference between binoculars and telescopes is made in terms of eye comfort. Using both eyes to gaze in to the horizon is a lot better than having to close one eye to look through a telescope.

How to Buy Binoculars

Price Differences

Some may ask themselves why prices vary so much. All binoculars look pretty much the same so how come some cost $50 and other end up costing $3000? The answer is pretty simple actually. Just as with photo cameras, binoculars provide a certain resolution, clarity and range. The price is influenced by those factors. A better set of lenses combined with top notch coatings delivers impeccable clarity and high contrast images that could not be achieved with cheaper materials.

Details that Matter

Most of you might have noticed while trying to purchase a new set of binoculars that design varies from product to product. Some are chunky and feel heavy while others look slim and smooth. The shape is actually given by the type of prism each device uses. It can be either porro or roof. The difference is in the way the glass elements are aligned. The roof prisms are used for more casual binoculars that don’t have much depth and also have a narrower field of view. The porro prism is exactly the opposite.

Another thing you might have noticed is that every pair of binoculars has numbers attached to their name. Those numbers represent the magnification capacity of each device. The first number represents the time you will have your image magnified, and the second number represents the diameter of the objective lens. This will give you an idea of how far and how wide your will be able to see. One thing worth mentioning about these numbers is that if the first one is larger than 10 it probably means you will need a tripod to stabilize and use it properly because it will be too heavy.

Taking Things Further

Pupil diameter is another essential thing to consider when purchasing a pair of binoculars. The basic rule is that you should get a device that has the exit pupil diameter larger than your pupil’s diameter. If not, you will feel like looking thorough a round keyhole. You can find out the exit pupil diameter by dividing the two numbers included in the name of the product. If the name includes let’s say 10×32, you will get a 3.2mm exit pupil diameter.

Weather Protection

If you need a decent pair of binoculars that will last you for a really long time, I suggest getting a pair that is both water and fog-proof. Moisture and humidity can destroy an expensive pair if not for those protective coatings. Most of you will probably use their binoculars outdoors so unless you live in a very hot area, I suggest looking for a device that comes with both fog and water protection.

Eye Protection

Eye relief is a fundamental aspect to consider. A great pair of binoculars will protect your eyes from unwanted stress. The eyecups that come with a decent set of binos will isolate your eyes from external interference, which can create glare.

Popular Binoculars

It is hard to determine which manufacturer produces the best binoculars out there. Because of the various needs and diverse types of devices, you cannot point your finger towards a single brand. Even so, to get an idea of where to look I recommend checking out the following brands which according to the 2013 binocular awards are the most sought after names of the year.

  • Bushnell
  • Zeiss
  • Nikon
  • Steiner
  • Leica

Each and every one of these brands won an award, so it would be best to choose a product which comes with one of those names stamped on its exterior.

In my personal experience, I learned that if you are an amateur with a low budget, Nikon is the brand for you. Their entry-level products are the best on the market. Look elsewhere if you are going to buy a $1000+ device. Nikon does not excel within that particular price range.


Try learning as much as you can about binoculars before you purchase a pair. As I said, it all depends on your needs and on your goals. Make a budget, look for particular features and don’t get fooled by companies that say their product is perfect in each and every way. It is close to impossible to create a pair of binoculars that is fit for all the activities an optical device can monitor.

You may also want to start low. Don’t invest all your money in an expensive pair of binoculars. Buy a decently priced pair and go from there. You may never know what you may stumble upon. I purchased a $100 pair back in the day, and I still have them. If not for my bird watching hobby, I would still use those 8 year old binoculars.

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