Outdoor Articles

How to Buy The Right Binoculars For You

by Pursue The Outdoors on January 14th, 2005 in Optics

Binoculars are wonderful pieces of equipment that can enhance many of our daily activities including, birding, action sports, hunting, and even astronomy. Essentially binoculars take a distant image, enlarge it through the use of lenses for viewing, all while remaining small and light enough to be mobile.

The actual makeup of most binoculars is fairly straightforward and simple. You have the lenses at the end of the barrel called the objective lens that gathers the light from the distant image and focuses it on the lens closest to your eyes for viewing. Binoculars are really two small telescopes put side by side so that you can view the desired image with both eyes instead of just one. This imparts some measure of depth of field, much more so than with a single scope.

When selecting a pair of binoculars you will immediately find that two numbers are used to describe their capability. These numbers are often expressed as “6 X 30” or something similar. Let’s break the code so you will know what these numbers mean.

The first number refers to the magnification power of the binoculars, or in other words how many times the image is magnified. So if the number is 6, that means that the image that you view through the lens is magnified 6 times it’s normal siZe.


The second number has to do with the size of the objective lens at the end of the binoculars.It’s good to know this number because the larger the diameter of the objective lens, usually the more light will be let in for viewing the distant image.

Now, let’s put this information in use in the real world. You may think that it’s best to just get the highest magnification that you can get for binoculars, but this is not true. At some point, hand holding the binoculars will affect the clarity of a highly magnified image and the resulting shake will render the magnification benefits useless. Generally speaking, anything above ten times magnification should be mounted on a tripod instead of handheld. So if you are planning to use binoculars for activities that do not allow you to be able to bring along a sturdy tripod, you probably want to stay with a pair of binoculars with 4 -7 times magnification.

As far as light gathering properties are concerned, if you plan on using your binoculars in any kind of low light situation whether indoors, or at times of day when there is low available light outdoors, then you need to have a large objective lens, usually 30 or above, to make as much use of available light as possible.

Finally, consider the weight of the binoculars before buying them. If weight will be a consideration for activities such as hiking, then perhaps plastic lenses will be best that are specially coated to produce a high quality, sharp image. These can be more costly than glass lenses, but they are considerably lighter. Glass lenses usually make for much better optics and clearer images at a lower overall cost, but they can also be more fragile.

Generally speaking, more expensive pairs of binoculars have more atention paid to fit and finish and will stand up to more vigorous use, but if you only plan to occasionally use your binoculars, then a less expensive pair will no doubt work fine. Also, remember that after the purchase you should be sure to protect your investment with a suitable binoculars case.

Leave a Reply


Join Our Newsletter

* indicates required

Outdoor Forums »

Check out the latest posts in our forums:
» View All Outdoor Forums

Guides and Outfitters »

Featured Guides and Outfitters

Sorry, featured guides are not available right now.

Submit Your Guide Service

Get more inquiries and book more trips. Submit your guide or outfitter sevice today!
Watch Free Fishing and Hunting Shows Online