Outdoors / Buying Guide

The B&H Binocular Buying Guide

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Binoculars use a series of lenses, elements, and prisms to produce a magnified view of distant people, places, or things. Using two parallel optical tubes allows you to observe with both eyes open, which is more comfortable and natural than using a spotting scope or telescope—which requires you to keep one eye closed. Additionally, having both eyes open maintains your depth of field and provides you with a rich and immersive experience where the scene takes on a more lifelike, 3-D appearance.

If you’ve been shopping for binoculars, you will have noticed that some look very streamlined while others look chunkier and heavier. That’s because the physical appearance and size of a binocular is determined by the type of prism it uses. There are two principal types of prisms: roof and Porro. Prisms are used to correct the orientation of the view horizontally and vertically so the scene looks natural; without a prism, binoculars would make things look upside down and backward. The glass elements in a roof prism are in line with one another, making roof-prism binoculars more streamlined and easier to hold. Porro prisms have the glass elements offset from one another, and can provide greater depth of field and a wider field of view compared to similar roof prism models. This is accomplished by folding the light path, which shortens the length, spreading the objectives farther apart.

There can be a huge range in price between apparently similar pairs of binoculars. For example, B&H sells 10x42 binoculars ranging in price from less than $30 to nearly $3,000. The main reasons for such a huge price range are the quality of the optics, the types of coatings applied to the lenses, and other features that might be added, such as the housing material. Additionally, the prism type can be (and often is) a factor in determining price. Because of the physics involved in designing and manufacturing the compact roof prism form factor, you can have a pair of roof and Porro binoculars that seem identical as far as quality and performance, but the roof prism version will often be more expensive. The good news is that if the form factor isn’t an issue, many people find that they can upgrade the quality of their binocular by choosing a Porro-prism without reëvaluating their budget.

Technically, the type of prism utilized in binoculars is a double-Porro prism, but is always shortened to just “Porro.” It is also always capitalized because it is the last name of the inventor, Ignazio Porro, who designed this prism system around 1850. This most basic of prism configurations is defined by the folded light path, which displaces the point where the light enters and exits the prism, which results in the familiar and ubiquitous look of a “traditional” or “old-school” binocular.

The term “roof prism” was originally applied to the Abbe-Koenig (AK) prism design that corrected an image horizontally and vertically while maintaining a straight line from the point at which the light enters the prism and exits it. While the AK prism configuration is the most common, there are others that are variations on the original AK design, such as the Amici and Schmidt-Pechan (SP). While they accomplish the same basic function, the optical paths take different routes to correct the image orientation. The main advantage of the SP design is that it is more compact than both the Amici and AK prisms, resulting in thinner optical tubes that tend to be more comfortable to hold—especially during long glassing sessions. Zeiss is known for using SP prisms.

Pro Tip  Because Porro prism binoculars are typically more cost effective to produce than roof prisms, you will often be able to get a higher-quality and/or larger-objective Porro model for about the same price as a comparable roof prism one. 

Binocular Terms: What You Need to Know

Magnification and Objective  All binoculars are identified by a set of numbers, such as 10x42 and 7x20, which refer to their magnification and objective lens diameter, respectively. Using 10x42 as an example, the 10x means that the binoculars have 10x magnification power, making the view through them appear 10 times closer than it appears to the naked eye. For most situations, users should look for binoculars from 7x to 10x power. Theatergoers should choose something in the range of 3-5x, depending on your seats; sports fans will be happy with a 7x model; while big-game hunters would need 10x or higher for long-range observations. Keep in mind that for many users, holding binoculars greater than 10x42 steady for long periods may present some difficulty, so a tripod should be considered if you are looking at models with higher magnifications or larger objectives.

The higher the magnification, the smaller the field of view

The “42” in our 10x42 binocular refers to the diameter of the objective (front) lens in millimeters. Since the objectives will often be the largest portion of the optic, it will affect the overall size and weight of the binocular, and also how much light it is able to gather. In basic terms: larger objectives allow more light to pass through them than smaller lenses, which means images will appear brighter, sharper, and clearer. However, the larger objectives will also add considerable bulk and weight, and that is where certain tradeoffs and compromises need to be considered when deciding if certain models will be convenient to carry, pack, hold, and use comfortably.

Zoom binoculars offer variable magnification and are shown as 10-30x60. In this example, 10x magnification is at the low end and 30x magnification at the high end. On most models, there will be a thumb lever or wheel placed conveniently within reach so you can adjust the magnification without changing your grip or taking the eyepieces away from your eyes. While zooms offer greater versatility, there may be a discernible degradation in image brightness and sharpness somewhere along the zoom range, since the optical path and physics of prisms will have been optimized at a single power and, as you move away from that magnification, the image quality might suffer.

Exit Pupil  The exit pupil is the size of the focused light that hits the eye. To see the exit pupil, hold the binocular eight to ten inches away from your face and notice the small dots of light in the center of the eyepieces. Exit pupil diameter, which should always be larger than the pupil of your eye, is directly affected by the objective diameter and the magnification. The pupil of a human eye ranges from about 1.5mm in bright conditions to about 8mm in the dark. If your binoculars’ exit pupil diameter is smaller than the pupil of your eye, it’s going to seem like you’re looking through a peep hole. Bear in mind that as eyes age, they tend to dilate less, so exit pupil becomes more important as the user ages.

Binoculars’ exit pupil diameter is determined by dividing the objective by the magnification: so a 10x42 binocular has a 4.2mm exit pupil diameter. That’s a generous size, and larger than the pupil of the eye most of the time. But a 10x25 pair of binoculars has an exit pupil of just 2.5mm, which is smaller than the average pupil dilation and will be harder to see through clearly.

Zooming binoculars might have a perfectly acceptable exit pupil diameter under low magnification but one that’s somewhat small under high magnification. For example, this 10-30x60 binocular has 10x magnification at the low end and 30x magnification at the high end. At 10x, the exit pupil diameter is a respectable 6mm, but at 30x, it’s only 2mm.

The Exit Pupil will ideally be larger than the dilation of your pupil.

Eye Relief  Eye relief is the optimal distance from the eyepiece to your eye, or the focal point where the light passes through the ocular lens (eyepiece). Manufacturers install eyecups on the eyepieces to place the user’s eyes at the proper distance from the eyepieces to make using them easy. If you wear glasses, the lenses will position the eyepieces past the eye relief distance, affecting the image quality and your ability to achieve sharp focus. Many binoculars offer dioptric adjustments on one of the eyepieces so that most users can fine-tune the focusing system to their eye prescriptions to use the binocular without their glasses. If your prescription is difficult, or you’re sharing the binocular with other users, the eyecups are often adjustable. Basic eyecups simply fold back to allow you to place your eyeglass lenses closer to the ocular lens. Another type is adjustable eyecups that twist in and out to set the proper distance for the individual user precisely.

Generally, you’ll find that models with longer eye relief have a smaller field of view than similarly priced models with shorter eye relief. Accomplishing superlative specifications in both categories is an expensive process of optical engineering. It is always good to have a broad viewing area, so decide how much eye relief is necessary for you and buy the binoculars that otherwise give the widest field of view. Field of view is discussed in greater detail below.

Glass, Prisms, and Coatings

Glass  The type and quality of the glass used for the lenses and prisms matter. Generic optical glass may have imperfections, and if it isn’t ground and polished correctly, it could bend light oddly, causing colors to look off or prevent fine focusing, or you may notice distortion at the edges. Specialized glass, such as low dispersion or extra low dispersion, is engineered to have virtually no distortion and transmit light better without bending it. The resulting images are generally clearer, sharper, with true color rendition and higher contrast.

You may also see some with “Eco-glass.” This general term refers to ecologically friendly glass that doesn’t use lead or arsenic while it’s being made. While this may or may not affect the image quality, if your lenses break or you need to dispose of your binocular, you can feel confident that you’re not adding to chemical pollution.

BAK4, BK7, and SK15 Prisms  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.

BK7 glass is arguably the most widely used material for binoculars. While it may be considered to be of lower quality than BAK4, it is still optical glass, which means it has excellent light-transmission properties and a limited number of internal imperfections.

The easiest way to tell if your binocular employs BAK4 or BK7 is to turn it around, hold it 6 to 8" away from you and look down the objective and observe the exit pupil. If you can see a squared-off side to the general roundness of the image, the binoculars have BK7 prisms. BAK4 prisms show a truer round exit pupil, which translates to better light transmission and edge-to-edge sharpness.

SK15 glass is an atypical material that strikes a middle ground between the previous two. It has a higher refractive index than both, yet has a dispersion (measured on the Abbe scale) that falls between BAK4 and BK7. Images that are seen through SK15 prisms are very clear, with high contrast.

Coatings  Lens coatings are sheer 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.

Terms such as coated, multi-coated and fully multi-coated refer to the location and type of coating processes used. Coated lenses are the most basic and denote that at least one lens surface has at least one layer of coating on it. Multi-coated means that multiple surfaces are coated and/or multiple layers of coatings have been applied to each surface. Fully multi-coated means that all surfaces—inner and outer—of the lenses have multiple layers applied to them. This treatment offers the highest level of light transmission, clarity, contrast, and color rendition. At the pinnacle is broadband fully multi-coated. These coatings are engineered to be effective across a wide spectrum of wavelengths and provide the best performance.

Complementing lens coatings are prism coatings. These increase light reflection and improve image brightness and contrast. While many manufacturers may use standard reflective coatings, the upper echelon of prism coatings is called dielectric coatings, which allow almost 100% of the light through the prism, resulting in brighter high-contrast images. Another type of coating “phase-corrects” the light. When light passes through the prisms, the different wavelengths move at different speeds through the prisms, affecting the color and contrast. Phase-corrected prisms correct this and ensure the light comes through at a uniform speed, which greatly impacts the colors and contrast of the image.

Angle of View and Field of View 

The terms “angle of view” and “field of view” are complementary. Both terms describe the amount of scenery, measured horizontally, that is visible when looking through a particular binocular. Angle of view (AoV) is expressed in degrees. Imagine standing in the middle of a giant pizza pie; binoculars with a 6.3-degree angle of view would show the viewer a 6.3-degree “slice” of the 360-degree pie, looking outward.

Another way to express the viewing angle is the Apparent Angle of View (AAoV). This is calculated by taking the AoV and multiplying it by the magnification. So if that 10x42 binocular from the earlier example has a 6.3-degree AoV, its apparent angle of view is 63 degrees. The AAoV is the angle of the magnified field when you look through binoculars; so the larger the apparent field of view is, the wider the field of view you can see even at high magnifications. Generally speaking, an AAoV of more than 60 to 65 degrees is considered wide-angle.

If, while shopping for binoculars, you see a degree specification without a label, just remember that if it’s a low number like 6.3 or 7.8, this will be the actual angle of view, since it’s referring to the angle at the objective lens. If it’s a large number like 55 or 68 it is referring to the apparent angle of view.

Field of view is expressed in feet, at a distance of 1,000 yards, or meters, at 1,000 meters, and is the width of the visible area that can be seen without moving the binoculars. Generally speaking, the higher the magnification and smaller the objective, the narrower the field of view.

With a little knowledge, you can usually figure out all these ways to express how much you can see if you know a little math:

The first thing to know is that 1 degree = 52.5 feet at 1,000 yards. From there you can start calculating.

So if you have an 8x42 binocular and the FoV is 360', you can calculate that the AoV is 6.9 degrees (360 ÷ 52.5) and that the AAoV is 55.2 degrees (6.9 x 8). By flipping these basic formulas, you can extrapolate any of the other values.

Just to show the relationship between magnification and FoV, if that binocular above was a 10x instead, and the FoV was the same, the angle of view would remain 6.9 degrees, but the apparent angle would be pumped up to 69 degrees.

Minimum Focus Distance

This might seem like an odd thing to consider, since the whole idea of a binocular is to look at things that are far away; and for most users this is absolutely true. However, there are a fair number of enthusiasts who use their binocular for bird watching or insect observation. Many bird watchers like to have a fairly close minimum focus distance that can allow them to see minute detail of birds—wing bars or beak shape, crown markings—while birds are feeding. A close focus of less than 6' for a full-size binocular is noteworthy. Typically, as magnification is increased, the minimum focus distance also increases. For users interested in a short close-focus distance, they should look at larger objectives and keep the magnification at around 8x.

Housing Styles

This is sort of a catch-all category to discuss some design features that speak to the form and function of the optic, rather than the performance.

Open bridge
Closed bridge

Open or Closed bridge refers to the center portion that connects the two optical tubes on roof prism binoculars. Typically, the center hinge and focusing mechanism will be enclosed in the housing. While this strengthens the hinge and mechanism, the closed bridge prevents your hands from wrapping all the way around. An open bridge will usually have the focus mechanism close to the eyepieces and another stabilizing section toward the objectives, with the middle section left open. This not only enables a full wraparound grip, but it also cuts the overall weight of the optic.

Focusing

The vast majority of binoculars use a center focus system. The main focus wheel is set between the two oculars and moves them symmetrically. With center focusing, many manufacturers will have a dioptric adjustment dial on one of the eyepieces to fine-tune the focus to match individual optical prescriptions. The dioptric correction amount is decided by each manufacturer, usually by model, and can be on the left or right eye, or both. Certain models have the dioptric correction integrated into the center focusing mechanism.

There are two other focusing types that need to be addressed: individual and focus-free. The individual focus models eliminate the center-focusing mechanism to give each eyepiece the ability to focus independently. While this allows for extremely fine and precise focusing, they are often frustrating to use when sharing and should really only be considered if there will only be one primary user. Many marine and astronomical models feature this system. Focus-free binoculars don’t have any focusing mechanisms. They rely on your eyes to focus the image, allowing you to concentrate on the scenery and enjoy the views.

Pro Tip  If you plan on sharing your binoculars or using them for a variety of distances, stick with center-focusing models. For astronomy or marine use, individual focus will provide the sharpest views and you won’t have to adjust the focus very often because they will be focused on “infinity” (far-away subjects) where the focus won’t change much.

Weather Resistant, Waterproof, Fog Proof

Many binoculars have no weatherproofing, while some are waterproof and others are waterproof and fog proof. The rating will determine under what conditions the optic should or can be used.

No rating  Binoculars that have no weatherproofing should not be used in the rain or at sea, because moisture can get inside them. When water gets into the optical tubes, it can condense on the inside of the lens (called “fogging”), which interferes with your view, and eventually leads to internal rust and corrosion.

Weather resistant  Often, but not always, the optic will employ some kind of seal—an O-ring or gasket—to keep moisture, such as from a light mist, from getting into the optical tubes. You can take a weather-resistant binocular out in moist conditions without causing damage. The air inside the optical tube will probably be just ambient air from the factory where they were assembled, and due to air conditioning and other factors, will usually have an extremely low moisture content. What this means is that under most conditions, a binocular right out of the box shouldn’t have fogging issues, even if it is O-ring or gasket sealed.

Waterproof  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 to certain depths 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.

Fog proof  Fogging occurs when the air inside the optical tubes contains moisture. If you go from a warm cabin to frigid conditions outside, the moisture can condense on the inside of lenses, causing them to fog. Fog-proof binoculars are filled with inert gases such as nitrogen or argon, or a combination of the two, to prevent fogging. The inert gas is dry and is pumped into the optical tubes under pressure, keeping the gaskets and O-rings firmly in place.

A consistent question I am asked is, “What’s the difference between nitrogen and argon?” A quick Google search will return many links to forums where many people are asking the same question. The short answer is that, performance-wise, there really isn’t much of a difference. If you delve into the question and look at a diagram of each molecule, you will see that argon molecules are larger than nitrogen molecules. The theory behind using argon is that the larger molecules will have a harder time leaking out from the seals, keeping the inert gas inside longer and thus maintaining their water/fog-proof properties over a longer period of time. From a practical standpoint, as long as you have an optic with either of these inert dry gases versus having none, you’re ahead of the game.

Pro Tip  Not all waterproof binoculars are fog proof, but all fog-proof binoculars are waterproof.

Chassis Materials

The chassis is the frame of the binocular around which the whole optic is built.

Aluminum  By and large, the most popular material on the market is aluminum—or more specifically, an aluminum alloy. Aluminum is light and strong, fairly inexpensive and easy to work with, and the fact that it is naturally corrosion resistant is a bonus, as well.

Magnesium  Another metal alloy, magnesium is used because of its high strength-to-weight ratio. All things being equal on two identical binoculars, except that one has an aluminum chassis and the other magnesium, the magnesium will be several ounces lighter. Why does this matter? If you’re planning on holding them up to your eyes for long periods of time, a lighter optic will cause less fatigue. Magnesium is very strong so it will hold up to abuse, and also has the benefit of being corrosion-resistant.

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 fairly 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.

Pro Tip  Don’t be fooled by catch-phrases like “aerospace-grade” or “aircraft-grade”—these don’t tell you anything about the quality of the alloy. Ask yourself: What part of the aircraft are they referring to? The bracket that supports the landing gear, or the bracket that supports your snack tray? Technically, they are both “aircraft-grade” because they’re used on an aircraft. Unless the manufacturer calls out a specific alloy—like 6061-T6, which has verifiable specifications—all you need to know is that aluminum is light and strong and leave it at that… and don’t pay for fancy terms that don’t mean anything.

Specialty Binoculars

Rangefinders  Rangefinder binoculars have an integrated infrared (IR) laser that is used to measure distance from the binocular to an object. They can be used at sea to measure the distance to another ship or possibly someone who needs rescuing, or by hunters to measure the distance to their prey. They can help golfers calculate their swing to the green. Rangefinder binoculars typically display the distance to the target in either feet or meters, with the readout visible in the eyepieces. Technological innovations have made the rangefinders more precise, and some have the ability to do a single spot measurement, or a constantly updated measurement so you can follow a moving subject and get virtually real-time distance. The latest versions incorporate an inclinometer that measures the uphill or downhill angle from you to the subject. An internal computer running proprietary software and using special algorithms geared for golf or hunting can take the distance and angle (and even your cartridge and grain load), and calculate an adjusted distance for you to judge your shot, or show the click adjustment required on your scope.

Image-Stabilized  In the same way that digital cameras can have image stabilization, so too, can binoculars. Image stabilization compensates for operator movement, the swaying of a boat, or the vibration inside an aircraft, that normally prevent the viewer from having a steady image. Stabilized binoculars usually contain a gyro that requires power to provide stabilization, or a pendulum-type device that provides stabilization without being powered. Most often, this type of binocular is used by boaters to reduce the disorientation common with high-power optics, or while using them in choppy seas. They are also popular with aviators and search-and-rescue professionals.

Marine/Outdoor  This category of binoculars has features and functions that are made specifically for certain jobs or environments. Marine binoculars will often have polycarbonate housings that are corrosion- and temperature resistant for use in saltwater environments, and often will be buoyant, so if they get dropped overboard, they can be retrieved easily; others still will feature bright colors to make them easier to spot.

Some binoculars can contain 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.

The Future

The next-generation specialty binocular, like the ATN BinoXS-HD Digital, comes packed with a ton of electronics and features never before incorporated into an optic. It has 4-16 standard digital zoom with 4-40 extended digital zoom, digital night vision for day or night use with a built-in IR illuminator to give extra reach at night, gyroscopic image stabilization, a 1080p camera that takes photos and videos, a GPS antenna for geotagging, a digital compass, and a Wi-Fi antenna that allows it to connect directly to an iPhone running the free companion app. With the binocular tethered to the iPhone, you can live-stream the camera feed and watch it on the phone, as well as record and share photos and videos on social media. Now, all that functionality comes at a cost—in this case, it’s the weight. The ATN weighs 3.3 pounds, which is a bit on the hefty side, but to offset this there is a standard ¼"-20 tripod mount. This is the future of optics, so buckle up—extreme awesome is on the horizon.

Accessories

Basic accessories serve to replace lost or broken stock items or can simply make carrying or using your binocular a bit easier. These easy upgrades can include the following items.

Tethered caps  These have a ring that loops over the objective end of the housing, so when you need to take the caps off, you just flip them down and you don’t have to worry about losing them.

Rain Guards  Replace your stock eyepiece caps with a one-piece rain guard that prevents the eyecups from flooding. It will often attach to the neck strap to keep it safe and handy for flash showers.

Straps  Not satisfied with the thin nylon strap that came with your binocular? Get a new one that’s longer, adjustable, padded, ergonomic, buoyant, colored, or outfitted in your favorite camo pattern.

Cleaning kits/supplies  Solutions, pens, cloths, cleaners, kits—everything and anything you need to clean and maintain your optic properly.

Tripod Adapters  As mentioned before, binoculars with magnifications of 10x and higher are hard to hold steady, especially if they have large objectives—usually 50mm and bigger. Large binoculars sometimes have a built-in tripod mount that makes it easy to mount them on a tripod. Sometimes a tripod adapter is required. Typically, full-sized binoculars have a plug that unscrews from the front of center hinge. The adapter screws into its place and mounts on most quick-release plates or tripods. Some tripod mounts are simply a small platform on which to lay the binocular and hold it in place with an adjustable strap.

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.

Eyecups  As we discussed earlier, the eyecups hold the eye at the proper distance from the ocular lens. Some manufacturers offer eyecup upgrades for certain models. The most popular are replacing standard flat eyecups with winged (contoured) eyecups. The “wing” wraps around your eye socket and blocks your peripheral vision, which eliminates light leakage for improved image brightness and a clearer view.

Digiscoping  The use of digiscoping adapters has seen an increase in recent years, since just about every phone in everyone’s pocket is equipped with a camera. These adapters, either binocular, phone-specific or (growing in popularity) universal fit, allow you to mount your phone on one of the eyepieces and take photos of the magnified view. Depending on the manufacturer, these adapters can be made of plastic or metal with varying degrees of usability options. The good news is that as the hobby grows, more and more options are made available so you can spend as much or as little you want.

Pro Tip  Digiscoping adapters are fairly inexpensive and very easy to use. If you want to get some great shots of birds, squirrels, the Moon, or your kids playing soccer or baseball, this method is much easier and cheaper to use than carrying around a DSLR and long lens.

Final Thoughts on the Long View

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.

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Headed on an african safari and need 2-3 binoculars (will be charing wih others) for wildlife viewing and don't want to break the bank. Will also want to use them for viewing landscapes on cruises. What are some good choices for under $140, or even less $ if possible?

I am headed on a Kenyan safari and would like to get a pair of binoculars for under $400. We will be walking 8 to 10 miles a day, so weight and dust are an issue. I've been reading reviews and am considering the Nikon Monarch 5, the Zeiss Terra (but it might be too heavy) or possibly a Celestron. We will also be viewing wildlife from jeeps, so I was leaning towards an 8 rather than 10 magnification as we will be moving. I like the idea of eco-glass, but there are other more important considerations.

Hi Lisa -    

The Nikon 8x42 Monarch 5 Binocular are a fine choice. for wildlife and safari.  They have a better build quality, glass coatings and low light performance than the Celestron.  Have a great time!

I love the outdoors and birding. I wear glasses (and sometimes still have a hard time seeing) I would like a set of binoculars and don't want to spend more thatn 1500.00.  I have   saving for years and want to get the best ones I can because I will not be buying another pair.  I also like to go to Yellowstone, could I use the same binoculars to look at the wildlife or would I need another pair? Besides the brand I need to know the size, 8 x 42 10 x 42 etc.  Thank you in advance.

Hi Michelle - 

Consider these. All are built to last a lifetime of outdoor use;

    Leica puts a new spin on their perennial favorite, the 10x42 Trinovid HD Binocular with phase corrected prisms that are coated with highly reflective multi-coatings to increase reflectivity, and anti-reflection fully multi-coated optics to boost light transmission through the lenses. These optical coatings work together to produce high-contrast images with true color rendition and minimal distortion. This optical performance is coupled with a powerful 10x magnification, wide apparent angle of view and generous eye relief to produce an immersive viewing experience.

   The Conquest 10x42 HD Binocular from Zeiss has a higher magnification that allows concentrating on a more focused subject for greater detail. The golden-mean objective size provides sufficient light gathering ability for the twilight zones of dust and dawn without the added bulk of an oversized objective. Watersports and rainy days won't leave this item in the car or backpack. It is waterproof to 13' and nitrogen filled to provide fogproofing and inhibit any condensation build-up.

     Taking its place at the top of Nikon's flagship series, the powerful 10x42 Monarch HG Binocular is engineered with complementary technologies to produce an optic that is built to perform in low-light conditions and in the harshest conditions. First is the use of lead and arsenic-free extra-low dispersion (ED) glass in the lens elements to correct chromatic and spherical aberrations. Next are phase-corrected and dielectric coated prisms which further limit internal light loss and diffraction, and improve image contrast. The optical path is fully multi-coated with anti-reflection coatings that increase light transmission, image contrast and sharpness, and provide true color rendition. Finally is the use of Nikon's field-flattener system, which eliminates the distortion common at the lens edges for crisp details along the far periphery of the wide field of view. This all translates to bright and clear high-contrast images with accurate color across the field of view - especially in low-light conditions such as dawn and dusk, and heavily overcast skies.

Thanks for the information.  I was wondering what you think between the Vortex Razor 8 x 42 verses the Leica Hd Binocular 10 x 42?  Like I said I would be birding but also wanted something for nature and the outdoors when traveling. 

Hi Michelle - 

Love these;

The Razor HD 8x42 Binocular from Vortex is smaller, lighter, brighter and stronger than ever before. The Razor HD 8x42 binocular is a versatile glass for multiple applications. It is well suited for short or long distance observation. Its lightweight construction and high optical performance make it an extremely desirable viewing instrument.

The binocular renders significantly high contrast, color accuracy because of its numerous optical enhancements. HD extra-low dispersion glass, APO optical system, Plasma Tech, Vortex XR lens coatings, dielectric prism coatings and phase-correction 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, High Definition images, clarity, brightness, anti-reflectivity, and greater light transmission. Additional lens protection from scratches, oil and dust is provided by the ArmorTek exterior lens coating.

The Razor HD 8x42 is argon gas purged and sealed with o-rings to ensure reliable and durable protection against dust, debris, fog and water. It is rubber armored for non-slip and durable protection. It is also equipped with an exceptionally large focusing knob with a pull-push focus that rotates for setting and locking the proper diopter setting. Naturally contoured to perfectly fit your hands, promoting comfort and eliminating user-fatigue Vortex has once again created a winning combination of features.

The Leica is a bit more compact, a drop heavier, but offers 2x higher magnification.  Both have great glass with Vortex offering the superior warranty if you should ever need it.

we have recently bought a house in the Ace basin of South Carolina and are loving the birding there.  I am looking for a good pair of binoculars to hike with to get a good view of the bird.  My biggest problem with binoculars in the past is that my eyes are very close together and sometime I can't get them folded enough to keep both eyes open.  Any suggestions?  Thank you!

Hi Kim - 

Consider these glasses, as they offer good Interpupillary adjustment , fold together tightly, and are lightweight and compact for your hiking /birding expeditions:

Designed for the nature-enthusiast who wants to pack light without sacrificing image quality, the Pentax 8x25 A-Series AD WP Compact Binocular delivers bright clear images while weighing in at just 10.6 ounces. The BAK4 roof prisms are phase-corrected to improve image contrast and enhance color rendition. All of the optics are anti-reflection fully multicoated to maximize light transmission to produce the brightest views possible.

The 8x25 Trailblazer ATB Binocular from Nikon is a handheld optic designed for close to mid-range observations. Nikon makes the Trailblazer optical system from lead and arsenic-free Eco-Glass optics. This configuration of the Trailblazer binocular features 8x magnification and a 8 ft minimum focus distance, equipping it for a wide range of viewing tasks, including birding or sightseeing. The dual-hinge bridge configuration allows the Trailblazer to fold down for increased portability and storage in a cargo pocket of side pocket of a day pack.

I'm planning an upcoming trip to Alaska and looking for a good pair of binoculars for wildlfe viewing as well as scenery. Any insight is appreciated on models.

Thanks

Hi Bill - 

Sporting large objective lenses, extra-low dispersion glass, and phase-corrected BAK4 prisms, Leupold's black10x50 BX-3 Mojave Pro Guide HD Binocular delivers bright high-contrast images with true-to-life color and crisp clarity. The lenses are made of lead-free calcium fluoride which is more ecologically-responsible than traditional glass while also being lighter. Image quality is enhanced through the use of proprietary anti-reflection lens coatings on all optical surfaces, and the large 50mm objectives gather generous amounts of light to deliver bright images even in low-light conditions such as at dawn, dusk, or under heavily-canopied woods.

 In the Box:

Leupold 10x50 BX-3 Mojave Pro Guide HD Binocular (Black)

  • Carrying Case
  • Neck Strap
  • Golden Ring Full Lifetime Transferrable Warranty                           

ALSO:

Combining excellent optical performance with ruggedness, portability, and comfort, the 10x42 Diamondback Binocular from Vortex Optics 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 6.7' 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 42mm objectives offers you a generous 6.3° angle of view that gives you complete images of targets.

The lightweight aluminum housing is purged with argon gas and sealed with o-rings to offer enhanced fogproof and waterproof performance. The short-hinge bridge is reduced in size, compared to previous generations of Diamondbacks, to cut overall weight and to expose more of tubes' surface for easy holding. To ensure that you have a non-slip grip and tuning, the body, oversized focusing ring, diopter ring, and twist-up soft tapered eyecups have rubberized coverings. The focusing knob and the diopter ring are textured for easy use even with gloves on. Also included with the binocular are a carry case, neck strap, rainguard, and tethered objective caps.

I am about to head off on a voyage to Antarctica, and I do lots of other outdoor travel as well, striving for lightness in all i carry.  Even at home, I am out in the weather either in the mountains or at the ocean.   i have long been thinking about a pair of compact binoculars to take along with me.  I have been leaning towards the Leica Trinovid 10 x 25 BCA's thanks to a friend's recomendation.  Any thoughts or suggestions from you would be appreciated.  

Hi Judy - 

Very nice glasses for general use, but not the best the choice for use over water or under harsh weather conditions, etc.  

Sporting large objective lenses, extra-low dispersion glass, and phase-corrected BAK4 prisms, Leupold's black 10x50 BX-3 Mojave Pro Guide HD Binocular delivers bright high-contrast images with true-to-life color and crisp clarity. The lenses are made of lead-free calcium fluoride which is more ecologically-responsible than traditional glass while also being lighter. Image quality is enhanced through the use of proprietary anti-reflection lens coatings on all optical surfaces, and the large 50mm objectives gather generous amounts of light to deliver bright images even in low-light conditions such as at dawn, dusk, or under heavily-canopied woods.

 In the Box:

Leupold 10x50 BX-3 Mojave Pro Guide HD Binocular (Black)

  • Carrying Case
  • Neck Strap
  • Golden Ring Full Lifetime Transferrable Warranty                           

I am searching for binoculars primarily for astronomy, secondarily for bird and animal watching. The CelestronGranite 12X50 seems quite impressive. What do you think? Which other binoculars in that price range would you recommend? What's the 'best' binocular in the $400 USD price range?

Given the vast difference in viewing between astronomy and birding/animal watching you would be hard pressed to find anything that could do both. I would recommend the Nikon 8x42 Monarch 5 Binocular. These would be an ideal choice for wildlife and would have a better build quality, glass coatings and low light performance than the Celestron 12x50 Granite Binocular. The are currently a better price as well. 

Are there any binoculars that can correct for "cross eyed" people? Because of the prisms in my glasses I have to shut one eye to be able to use binoculars.

Hi Sam - 

I'm afraid not Sam.  You might want to consider a spotting scope.

The 30-90x100 WP Gladiator Spotting Scope from Barska has a large 100mm objective with a wide powerful magnification spread of 30-90x. This scope is engineered for long-range use when hunting, birdwatching, or any outdoor observation situation; even in low light. Waterproof and fogproof with a rubber armor covered housing, it's tough, rugged and ready to go the extra mile. Multicoated optics with the classical Porro prism design contributes to a sharp, bright and clear viewing experience. A quick release platform tabletop tripod, built-in extendable sunshade and soft carrying case extend the value of the 30-90x100 WP Gladiator.

AAoV of 41.1 - 60.0°

Built-in extendable sunshade contributes added protection from sun glare

Tabletop tripod with a quick release platform provides a secure and stable base for viewing

Rubber armoring provides a secure and comfortable grip, as well as added shock-resistance

Straight body design allows easier target acquisition for some viewers especially when used with a car window mount

Porro prisms offer enhanced three-dimensional imaging, less light loss and generally sharper images for a smaller investment

Multicoated optics on at least one lens surface reduces light loss and glare due to reflection offering a brighter, higher-contrast image                         

Is there anything, a low magnifying binocular or a opera glass style device for instance, that would permit the close up viewing of paintings in a gallery or museim situation. For years I was able to get close to such and use a magnifying glass, but that has become more difficult with guards enforcing  regulations as to how close a viewer may get to the art work. I'd like to think that with such a device, I could stand 6 to 10 or so feet from a painting. Thank you.

Great Question!

You could go with either an opera glass or conventional compact/pocket binos. The question, though, is how detailed of a view do you want? For general art appreciation, or for larger pieces, you'll want something with a wide field of view and maybe a lower magnification - The Carson 4x10 Operaview would be exactly this (https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/924912-REG/carson_ov_140_4x10mm_operaview_compact_binocular.html) and the 5' close focus fits your needs perfectly. I like these because they're slim and compact, and not as extravagantly designed as traditional opera glasses. But if you like flash, (and there's nothing wrong with that) the LaScala 3x25 Iolanta are nice...Low magnification, respectably-sized objectives, and a short close focus distance of 6' - plus they come in a choice of colors https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/483456-REG/LaScala_Optics_LSI01FL_3x25_Iolanta_Opera_Glass.html

If you go with a more conventional bino, then you'll get higher magnifications and more options. Bear in mind that even at 8x magnification, your field of view at those close distances will be extremely limited. So, if you're looking at big panel pieces like Monet's Water Lillies (which are on display at Paris' Musée de l'Oranerie and are, from personal experience, amazing), chances are one panel probably won't fit in your field of view. However, if you want to see granular detail (like Cameron in “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”) then this might be just what you want. Conversely, if you want to see the Mona Lisa at the Louvre (which is much smaller than most people think) then this might be exactly what you might need. In either case, I’d keep the magnification at or below 8x.

For exceptional color, clarity, contrast and sharpness you’d do well with the Zeiss 8x32 Terra EDs. It has a wide field of view and a short close focus distance as well as uncompromising Zeiss engineering. https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1116043-REG/zeiss_523205_9906_000_terra_binocular_8x32_edition_under.html. Barr and Stroud make the 8x25 Sahara which has a 6.5’ close focus, and a wide FoV https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/966629-REG/olivon_olbss825_us_70110_b_s_sahara_8x25_binocular.html and comes in a much lower price-point than the Zeiss; and 7x20 Falconer from Carson has an exceptionally short 5’ minimum focus distance https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1242210-REG/carson_fr_720_7x20_falconer_compact_binocular.html.

I hope I’ve given you some useful suggestions, and if you need further help feel free to give us a call at 800.606.6969 and speak to one of our great phone support people, or give our live chat a try.

My favorite binoculars for this purpose are Pentax Papilio ii 6.5x21, which focus down to about 19 inches/0.5 m, maintaining perfect stereoscopic vision without adjusting interpupillary distance.  At this distance, the view is equivalent to a headband magnifier.  Besides art galleries and museums, they are handy in botanical gardens, flower shows, and insect watching; they also focus to infinity so they are suitable for more typical binoculars applications like birding, though that is not really their main strong point.  Their ergonomics are good, they are light and compact, and work OK for eyeglass wearers.  Note that they are not waterproof; this may not matter much in galleries and museums.  My favorite travel binoculars when weather sealing is not an issue.

I am planning a safari trip and have a prescription eyeglasses that I will have to keep on for using binoculars. 

Could you recommend a pair under $500 that Ialso has the feature of taking pictures via the binoculars using the iphone?

Weatherproof is important I think.

MS

Hi Mal - 

Best we offer under $500:

Bushnell 8x30 Imageview 12MP Digital Camera Binocular (Black)                 

No camera (recommended):

The 10x42 Endeavor ED II Binocular from Vanguard Optics features Extra-low Dispersion (ED) glass and phase-corrected BaK4 prisms that work together to virtually eliminate chromatic aberration, which produces images with true color fidelity across the entire field of view and enhanced contrast. Complementing the glass and prisms are anti-reflection fully multicoated optics that improves light transmission for bright and clear images, with greater low-light performance.

An open-bridge design helps to reduce weight without sacrificing strength, and provides a large surface area to hold. Pebbled rubber armoring helps to give protection from drops and impacts while helping to provide a non-slip grip. Designed for durability, the lightweight magnesium-alloy housing is nitrogen-filled and o-ring sealed for water and fogproof performance, and the 3-stage click-stop twist-up eyecups provide a custom-fit eye relief for use with or without eye-wear.

I have purchased a property right on thcoast with really good views. I want a quality pair of binoculars with tripod to view ships etc. What do you recommend? I assume a tripod is adviseable?

Hi Brian - 

      A tripod is always advised with the larger, heavier binoculars, especially for extended viewing sessions.

If you plan to handhold the binoculars, then Canon's second generation 10x30 IS II Image Stabilized Binocular  is a fine choice.  For your particular use where mounting the glasses on a tripod would be recommended, I would have you consider the Zeiss Conquest 10x42 HD Binocular.  

This Celestron  3-Leg, Photographic/Video Tripod features a 3-way panhead with quick release plate, and a geared center column with adjustable tension. A sturdy tripod ideal to support the Celestron line of binoculars (except 20x80 and 25x100 SkyMaster), or the Ultima 65 and 80mm spotting scopes.

Horizontal and vertical bubble levels

Built-in carrying handle
Hook at the bottom of the center column                          

I just read a great article about binoculars. After reading the article I'm wondering if you have a recommendation for a pair for the combination of amateur stargazing and gazing at the city and harbor off my deck. Do you have a preference? Is there anything you like better than these?

Canon 10×30 IS

Canon 10×42 L IS WP

Hi Timothy - 

Hi Brian - 

      A tripod is always advised with the larger, heavier binoculars, especially for extended viewing sessions.

 For your particular use where mounting the glasses on a tripod would be recommended, I would have you consider the Zeiss Conquest 10x42 HD Binocular.  

The 10x30 IS are superb for astronomy (and everything else), Timothy - I've been using them for years, and they still take my breath away at the views they give of the stars.  The 10x42 L IS will undoubtedly give even brighter images and pull in fainter objects, but if the L series are anything like Canon L-series camera lenses, you'll need the arms and shoulders of Superman to use them for any length of time.  In my opinion, IS binoculars are way ahead of hand-held non-IS in terms of image clarity, and I'd choose them every time.

I'm looking for either an 8x50 or 8x42 to be used for star gazing as well as for general terrestrial/birding viewing. Seems like depth of field is a major contrast for the two uses as astronomy use prefers a flat field. I've read Ed Z's detailed reviews (Cloudynights) from the 2008 era and concluded that the Celestron Regal 8x42 is a great pick, as is the Bushnell Legend 8x42. However the Celestron is no longer available and the Legend has been redesigned. I can't find a more recent detailed comparison of currently available binos and even the manufacturers don't give DOF specs, so I would like to get a model that has such published comparisons. What current Celestron model is similar to the Regal? Is the new Legend L or M a good Astro pick? Also, the Nikon AE 8x40 was strongly recommended, but I am concerned about the high DOF and losing sharpness out in the field of view when looking at stars. Your thoughts on these matters and a good model to purchase.

Hi Scott -

Best recommendation for Astronomy from Celestron:

The Granite 8x42 Binocular from Celestron features fully multicoated lenses and BAK4 roof prisms for maximum contrast and color rendition. ED glass delivers edge-to-edge sharpness with excellent color correction and razor sharp images while virtually eliminating chromatic aberration. It has a wide 65° Apparent Angle of View. This Granite's open-frame construction provides a lightweight yet rugged form-factor, comfortable handling, and a contemporary look. The magnesium body is rugged and tough for handling in any environment. With or without eye or sunglasses, a comfortable fit is made possible by substantial eye relief.

  • The Apparent Angle of View is a wide 65°
  • Twist-up eyecups provide added comfort for eyeglass and sunglass wearers
  • Centered focusing wheel is fast and accurate
  • Precision BAK4 roof prisms for enhanced clarity
  • Multicoated optics for maximum light transmission
  • Eco-Friendly; lead and arsenic free
  • Rugged magnesium housing is nitrogen filled for all-weather performance

Hi,

I've been thinking about finally getting a decent pair of binoculars. My budget reaches up to around 1000usd (depending on the bang per buck I can get for the higher end lenses etc.

Up to nw the Zeiss Consquest HD series seems to be the best allround outthere...

2 questions:

A: Do you agree with my choice for the Zeiss or are there quite similar binoculars for significantly less money? (I just do not want to buy a second pair 2 years later because I want better quality).

B: I cannot seem to make my mind up between 8x42 or 10x42. I haven't got the steadiest hands but even after reading all the pro's and cons I still have that splinter in the mind for the 10x42 (eventho I seem to read everyone advises a 8x42). The FOV on the Zeiss 10x42 should be a good compensation for the smaller FOV's on cheaper models...correct? I own a cheap 7x50 Gambit I use around the house now.

I live in Holland where everything is flat, so I will use my binoculars around my home in the village or around a farm area with open polders and lakes upto 1 hactare. 

Kindest regards,

Guido

     I whole-heartedly support your decision regarding Zeiss. If you are unsure regarding your ability to hold the 10 x42 model steady, consider a tripod or monopod (if you will be mobile):

     The Conquest 10x42 HD Binocular from Zeiss has a higher magnification that allows concentrating on a more focused subject for greater detail. The golden-mean objective size provides sufficient light gathering ability for the twilight zones of dust and dawn without the added bulk of an oversized objective. Watersports and rainy days won't leave this item in the car or backpack. It is waterproof to 13' and nitrogen filled to provide fogproofing and inhibit any condensation build-up.

Hi,  

My wife and I will be visiting and hiking national parks this coming October.   We are looking for a good set of binoculars for this trip.  $300 or so budget.  Recommendations.   Thanks. 

John

Hi John -

Love these::

     Combining excellent optical performance with ruggedness, portability, and comfort, the 10x42 Diamondback Binocular from Vortex Optics 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 6.7' 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 42mm objectives offers you a generous 6.3° angle of view that gives you complete images of targets.

The lightweight aluminum housing is purged with argon gas and sealed with o-rings to offer enhanced fogproof and waterproof performance. The short-hinge bridge is reduced in size, compared to previous generations of Diamondbacks, to cut overall weight and to expose more of tubes' surface for easy holding. To ensure that you have a non-slip grip and tuning, the body, oversized focusing ring, diopter ring, and twist-up soft tapered eyecups have rubberized coverings. The focusing knob and the diopter ring are textured for easy use even with gloves on. Also included with the binocular are a carry case, neck strap, rainguard, and tethered objective caps.

What is the difference between NIkon monarch 5 and 7 serie?

Good question, Tony.

If you grabbed both the Monarch 5 and Monarch 7 in the B&H Superstore, you would be hard pressed to notice a difference, until you looked through them and saw a wider field of view in the 7's (6.3 degrees vs. 8.0 degrees). That is the biggest difference between the 2 pairs. There may be slight differences in construction and ergonomics as well, but those things are not available readily in the specs.

Having looked through them, I can tell you that they are both very very good binoculars and represent an excellent value.

Please let us know if you have any more questions. Thanks for reading!

Looking for a fog proof 10X pair, roof prism, for Elk Hunting in the Colorado mountains this October.  I'm 63 and wear glasses.  Weight and cost (under $250) are considerations.  What are your recomendations?  Thanks,  Steve from Hawaii

Hi Steven -

I like these so very much:

Combining excellent optical performance with ruggedness, portability, and comfort, the 10x42 Diamondback Binocular from Vortex Optics 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 6.7' 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 42mm objectives offers you a generous 6.3° angle of view that gives you complete images of targets.

The lightweight aluminum housing is purged with argon gas and sealed with o-rings to offer enhanced fogproof and waterproof performance. The short-hinge bridge is reduced in size, compared to previous generations of Diamondbacks, to cut overall weight and to expose more of tubes' surface for easy holding. To ensure that you have a non-slip grip and tuning, the body, oversized focusing ring, diopter ring, and twist-up soft tapered eyecups have rubberized coverings. The focusing knob and the diopter ring are textured for easy use even with gloves on. Also included with the binocular are a carry case, neck strap, rainguard, and tethered objective caps.

What is the best image stabilized binocular----12 power. How is the canon 12x36 IS III??  Prism, exit pupil, weatherproof and fog proof???

The Canon 12x36 IS III is ok,  but the Nikon 14x40 StabilEyes VR Image Stabilized Binocular would be a better option since it features a phase coated prism and 3 degree motion compensation on each axis.

Hello, Thank you for the detailed information in the article. It was very helpful.

I am trying to pickout a great pair of binoculars for my boyfriend and we will be using them in a few different ways. We live in Stamfort Connecticut on one of the top floors of a highrise building right on Long Island Sound. So we have amazing views of the Connecticut coast line, North Shore of long island, all of downtown Stamford, Rye Playland fireworks every Friday, and a clear view of the City lights of New York. But we want to be able to see them better.

We also would be using these binoculars to go Sailing , Kayaking, Hiking, and of course  spying on the neighbors once in a while. :-)

Also, i read that you have a few binoculars with zoom optiond and build in camers and HD video.cameras.

My budget in 300.00 , can you please recomment a few options, I know that I an asking alot but I am hoping you could help.

Thank You!!

Jennifer
 

Hello, I wamt binoculars to watch birds in my yard and for general purposes such as sports games & concerts.  Yet, I am about to embark on a road trip which will take me through mountains, so I also want to get the best long distance view for such.  What would you recommend?  Thank you.

Hi Kali -

For birding, most folks recommend 8x or 10x power binoculars. If your hands are super steady, you can use 10x. If they aren't, I recommend 8x. The more powerful the binocular, the more shake can appear in the image.

After you decide on what power, you then chose the objective lens diameter. The larger the lens, the more light comes in and the brighter the image. Also, the larger the lens, the more heavy and expensive. Most birders find that an objective around 40-44mm is perfect for birding and a good compromise between light gathering and weight. If you want to stay with a lighter pair, look for objectives around 30mm. I wouldn't go smaller than 30mm, however, as the binoculars tend to not be very bright when smaller than that.

Lastly, once you decide on power and objective size, check prices and customer reviews and choose a pair!

Our best-selling 8x42 are the Celestron Nature DX. Here is the 10x version:  Celestron 10x42 Nature DX Binocular. The Nikon ProStaff 3S are very popular as well. My advice is to always get the best pair you can afford. In general, the more you spend, the better the view...and the more you will want to use the binoculars for years to come!

Hi, I have a question. By mistake I bought from you a binocular Nikon 8x32.75, probably because they were on sale.  I had intended to use them for bird-watching in Rwanda.  I was advised that they were not suitable by a friend and furthermore they were pretty heavy.  I then bought from you a lighter and stronger pair, not Nikon, which worked well.  Unfortunately, they were stolen quite a while ago.  I do quite a lot of bird photography and a decent pair of binoculars is very helpful in combination with my 300mm telephoto lens (SONY).  I am mostly retired and short on funds.  Do you have any suggestions?  I hope to go to Pt Reyes this summer and to work with the binoculars and camera to capture birds in flight.  suzanne

Hi Suzanne,

Thanks for your question. When you have time, you might want to check out this article on birding with binoculars: http://www.bhphotovideo.com/explora/outdoors/tips-and-solutions/guide-birding-binoculars

For birding, most folks recommend 8x or 10x power binoculars. If your hands are super steady, you can use 10x. If they aren't, I recommend 8x. The more powerful the binocular, the more shake can appear in the image.

After you decide on what power, you then chose the objective lens diameter. The larger the lens, the more light comes in and the brighter the image. Also, the larger the lens, the more heavy and expensive. Most birders find that an objective around 40-44mm is perfect for birding and a good compromise between light gathering and weight. If you want to stay with a lighter pair, look for objectives around 30mm. I wouldn't go smaller than 30mm, however, as the binoculars tend to not be very bright when smaller than that.

Lastly, once you decide on power and objective size, check prices and customer reviews and choose a pair!

Our best-selling 8x42 are the Celestron Nature DX. The Nikon ProStaff 3S are very popular as well. My advice is to always get the best pair you can afford. In general, the more you spend, the better the view...and the more you will want to use the binoculars for years to come!

Please contact us via e-mail if you have additional questions:  AskBH@BandH.com

What would be your recommendation for binoculars that would be used in Alaska land/sea trip, as well as, whale watching off Victoria, BC?  Can you recommend at a couple of price levels?  I noticed one recommended below, but I was not sure if that was more a price consideration or it was the best one.

Hi Stephen -

"Best" is a very relative term.  For the activities you are describing, consider the following binocular recommendations:

Vortex 15x56 Vulture HD Binocular

Vortex 20x56 Kaibab HD Roof-Prism Binocular

Nikon's 10x42 Prostaff 7S Binocular

Vanguard Endeavor ED 8x42 Binocular

Vanguard Endeavor ED 10x42 Binocular

Please contact us via e-mail if you have additional questions:  AskBH@BandH.com

Hi

I am looking for a binocular that is easy for use with eyglasses, the purpose is for nature watching on an Amazon cruise.

Thank you

Hi gili,

Depending on how much weight you want to carry, I would recommend 8x40 or 8x30 binoculars...the 8x30 being lighter and more compact.

As far as eyeglass use, you can either use the binoculars with your glasses on or without.

With eyeglasses. Most binoculars have twist up/down or fold up/down eye cups that allow you to view while wearing glasses. You will want to retract the eye cups, either by twisting them down or folding them down or removing them, so that your eyeglasses can get very close to the viewing lens.

Without eyeglasses. If you want to view without your eyeglasses, most binoculars have diopter adjustments that allow you to set the binoculars for your uncorrected vision, so keep an eye out for that feature.

Now that you know that, you just have to choose a pair that meets your budget. Feel free to write back here or email us at askbh@bhphoto.com.

Thanks for reading!

Hey My name is bereket I'm living in ethiopia I'm studying about birds and I really get get 8×40 binocular how can I find that please

Hi bereket! Thanks for emailing us!

Try clicking on this link for all of our 8x binoculars between 40mm and 44mm objectives.

Our best-selling 8x42 binocular is the Celestron Nature DX.

The Nikon Monarchs and Prostaff 7 are very good as well. It all depends on your budget!

Good luck!

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