Understanding Binocular Magnification – Binocular Magnification Guide

April 7, 2019 4 Comments

binocular magnification

 

I think telescopes and binoculars are very unique and interesting devices created by humans.

They allow us to view things and objects as if we were near them though they can be miles off from us. Really really very interesting.

I believe you love binoculars and that’s why you are reading this article.

When we choose binoculars the first thing that we focus our research on is the image quality that binoculars produce and the second thing is the magnification power. These two aspects are critical.

This is what makes binoculars valuable or useless. So, choosing binoculars is not an easiest task in the world.

If you have no experience it’s very hard to choose the right binoculars and binocular magnification power.

If you don’t understand magnification you can buy a pair of binoculars only to realize that you made the wrong choice.

It can be too powerful or less powerful and as a result will not serve your purpose.

In this article I will try to explain this topic without going much into technical details.

Because most of you are ordinary users and want to choose the right pair of binoculars. I think I can help you with that.

There is a huge selection of binoculars available on the market and choosing the right binocular magnification requires at least some experience with different types of optics.

I have a good experience with optics, have many different binoculars and have even been to astronomy observatory.

 

magnifications

 

I have binoculars with different magnification power, such as 4x, 8x, 10x, 12x, 16x, 20x. This magnification is the most used among optics lovers.

I provide the screenshot so you can see how different types of magnifications work.

Now I will explain how this magnification works and which pair of binoculars to choose based on my binocular magnification guide.

 

Magnifications 3x, 4x

Magnification 3x, 4x – this magnification is best to choose if you visit stadiums, theaters, sports events.

This magnification is not so powerful and is the best for viewing objects that are at a close distance to you.

Such a pair of binoculars are light and perfect for long viewing sessions. You can easily hold them in your hands without much hand shaking or hand movement.

By default 4x magnification binoculars have a wide field of view. The more powerful the binoculars the less will be field of view.

Magnification 4x has a wide field of view. But some binoculars have extra wide field of view, such as

 



 

Bushnell Spectator 4x30mm Extra-Wide Compact Binoculars Extra-wide filed of view binocular

  • Magnification power 4x
  • Field of view is amazingly wide
  • BaK-4 prisms
  • 84% customer satisfaction
  • Price: $47.95

bushnell extra wide

 

score 4.7

 

 

 

Orion 4×21 Super-Wide Angle Binoculars Extra-wide filed of view binocular

  • Magnification power 4x
  • Field of view is amazingly wide
  • BaK-4 prisms
  • 100% customer satisfaction
  • Price: $67.27

orion extra wide field of view

score 4.7

 

 

These binoculars are simply fantastic. Looking through them is different from standard binoculars.

You see objects at a closer distance and field of view is amazingly wide.

 

wide vs normal

 

It’s like looking through a window but everything is closer to you.

You can also choose simple pair of binoculars, such as

 

ESSLNB Opera Glasses Binoculars for Women Adults 4X30mm Theater Glasses Compact Binoculars (black)

  • Wide filed of view binocular
  • Magnification power 4x
  • BaK-4 prisms
  • 75% customer satisfaction
  • Price: $29.99

ESSLNB 4x30 black

score 4.7

 

 

 

ESSLNB Opera Glasses Binoculars for Women Adults 4X30mm Theater Glasses Compact Binoculars (Gold)

  • Wide filed of view binocular
  • Magnification power 4x
  • BaK-4 prisms
  • 100% customer satisfaction
  • Price: $29.99

ESSLNB gold 4x30

 

score 4.7

 

 

Magnifications 8x, 10x

Now let’s talk about binoculars with magnification 8x and 10x. This magnification is the most used among binocular lovers.

Because binoculars with this magnification have a number of advantages over other binoculars:

  • They are relatively light
  • They have relatively powerful
  • They have a wide field of view
  • They produce bright, sharp and clear image

Binoculars with such magnification are perfect for long viewing sessions that don’t cause much hand shaking or movement.

Looking through such binoculars is comfortable.

From my personal experience I think and strongly believe 8x and 10x magnification is the best for general purposes.

It’s an ideal combination of power, ease of use and image quality. Check out some recommended binoculars:

 

POLDR 8×21 Small Compact Lightweight Binoculars

  • Wide filed of view
  • Magnification power 8x
  • BaK-4 prisms
  • 82% customer satisfaction
  • Price: $14.99

poldr 8x21

score 4.7

 

 

 

 

Vortex Optics Diamondback Roof Prism Binoculars 8×32

  • Wide filed of view
  • Magnification power 8x
  • BaK-4 prisms
  • 93% customer satisfaction
  • Price: $188.99

vortex 8x32

score

 

 

 

 

National Geographic 10x 42mm Binoculars

  • Wide filed of view
  • Magnification power 10x
  • BaK-4 prisms
  • 100% Customer satisfaction
  • Price: $69.99

national geographic bresser

score

 

 

 

 

Gosky HD Roof Prism 10×42 Binoculars for Adults

  • Wide filed of view
  • Magnification power 10x
  • BaK-4 prisms
  • 89% Customer satisfaction
  • Price: $78.98

gosky 10x42

 

score

 

 

 

 

Wingspan Optics Voyager 10X42 High Powered Binoculars

  • Wide filed of view
  • Magnification power 10x
  • BaK-4 prisms
  • 94% Customer satisfaction
  • Price: $69.92

wingspan 10x42

 

score

 

 

 

 

Vortex Optics Crossfire Roof Prism Binoculars, 10×42

  • Wide filed of view
  • Magnification power 10x
  • BaK-4 prisms
  • 91% Customer satisfaction
  • Price: $149

vortex10x42

score

 

 

Magnification 12x

Talking about 12x magnification I can say that magnification 12x is visually a little more powerful than 10x.

I can’t say the difference is huge but there is some noticeable difference.

Field of view of course becomes less than when looking through magnification 8x or 10x.

Generally speaking, if you want more powerful binoculars then I recommend 12x.

See the screenshot of the field of view of different binoculars 10x, 12x and 20x.

 

magnification 10x, 12x, 20x

 

If magnification is not your main focus and considering that the difference between 10x and 12x is not huge I recommend choosing 8x or 10x.

Because the field of view is bigger which makes the process of viewing more comfortable and interesting.

The best binoculars with magnification 12x are these:

 

Levenhuk Karma PRO 12×50

  • High quality image
  • Waterproof/fogproof binoculars
  • Bak4 roof prism optics
  • Customer satisfaction: 80%
  • Price: $114.95

levenhuk 12x50

score

 

 

 

 

Binoteck 12×42 Binoculars for Adults

  • Bak4 Prism
  • Magnification power 12×42
  • Customer satisfaction: 97%
  • Price: $39.99

binoteck 12x42

 

score 4.7

 

 

Maginifications 15x, 16x

Let’s now talk about 16x magnification. This magnification is powerful and like I said above and in my other posts, the higher the magnification the narrower will be the field of view of the binoculars.

Everything depends on the purpose why you buy binoculars. If you buy for general use then like I said 8x or 10x magnification is the ideal choice.

 

magnification 15x,16x

 

If you need to view distant objects then 16x magnification are the optimal binoculars. Why 16x and not 20x or 25x.

Because binoculars with magnification 20x or 25x are heavy and it’s not comfortable to hold in them in your hands.

It will cause hand movement and shaking.

It’s highly recommended to use them by mounting it on the tripod only.

Binoculars with 16x magnification are not too heavy and you can hold them in your hands.

BTW, I can recommend two tripods at a reasonable price, one is Mactrem Tripod and the other one is Albott tripod.

Both are good in terms of quality and ease of use.

 

MACTREM Tripod

  • Weight: 1,2 kg
  • Price: $42.90
  • Customer satisfaction: 100%

 

MACTREM Tripod

 

 

 

Albott 64 Inch Travel Tripod Portable

  • Weight: 1,19 kg
  • Price: $31.99
  • Customer satisfaction: 86%

albott tripod

 

Binoculars with magnification 16x is the ideal choice for those who want to have a powerful binocular.

They are not too heavy in order to relatively comfortably hold them in your hands without much hand shaking or movement.

You can take them when you travel and use without tripod. The best binoculars that I can recommend with magnification 15x or 16x are these:

 

Pentax SP 16×50 Binoculars

  • Bak-4 Prism
  • Magnification power 16
  • Customer satisfaction: 67%
  • Price: $106.89

pentax-sp-16x50-binoculars

 

score

 

 

 

 

Nikon 7247 Action 16×50 EX Extreme All-Terrain Binocular

  • Magnification power 16
  • Bak-4 Prism
  • Customer satisfaction: 86%
  • Price: $185.03

nikon16x50action

score 4,8

 

 

 

 

Levenhuk Karma PRO 16×42

  • Waterproof Fogproof Binoculars
  • Magnification power 16
  • Bak-4 Prism
  • Customer satisfaction: 100%
  • Price: $103.95

levenhuk 16x42

 

score

 

 

 

Magnifications 20x, 25x

Now let’s talk about power binoculars with magnification 20x or 25x.

First of all these binoculars are powerful and when power increases field of view becomes narrower. But it should not be a huge issue and I will explain why.

For me personally it’s not an issue at all. Binoculars with magnification 8x and 10x have a wide field of view which makes viewing very comfortable.

At the same time you can view objects that are not too far from you at close range.

An overall experience and feeling from using such binoculars is fantastic. Such binoculars give you a general field of view.

 

magnification compare

 

When it comes to binoculars with magnification 20x or 25x, normally optics lovers buy such binoculars in order to view close or distant objects at a higher magnification to see details that are hard to see with less powerful binoculars, such as 8x, 10x or even 12x.

The purpose of choosing magnification 20x or 25x is not for general viewing. It’s for bringing objects in front of you and viewing them at a higher magnification.

That’s why in my opinion, you actually don’t need a wide field of view when it comes to powerful binoculars with magnification 20x or 25x.

Also, when it comes to powerful binoculars you need to choose quality optics manufacturers, such as

 

  • Levenhuk
  • Orion
  • Bresser
  • Oberwerk
  • Pentax
  • Gosky
  • Celestron
  • Nikon.
  • Zeiss
  • Bushnell

 

Never buy cheap optics from unknown manufacturers. Here is my recent post about binoculars you need to avoid.

Because when you choose power binoculars image quality also becomes a little worse compared to 8x, 10x or 12x magnification.

But if you choose quality optics, such as Levenhuk, Bresser, Orion, Oberwerk, Celestron, Bushnel then image quality will be good.

Note, magnification 20x or 25x though is very powerful but not powerful enough to view objects at close range.

For this you need magnification at least 40x, 50x. For me personally 20x is not an ideal choice. Ideal for me is between 50x-100x.

 

My recommended power binoculars are these:

 

Oberwerk 20×80 LW Binocular

  • Bak-4 Prism
  • Magnification power 20
  • Customer satisfaction: 83%
  • Price: $219.95

oberwerk 20x80

score 4,8

 

 

 

 

Orion GiantView 25×100 Astronomy

  • Binoculars Bak-4 Prism
  • Magnification power 25
  • Customer satisfaction: 77%
  • Price: $349.99

orion 25x100

 

score 4,8

 

 

 

 

Celestron 20×80 SkyMaster Pro High Power Astronomy

  • Binoculars Bak-4 Prism
  • Magnification power 20
  • Customer satisfaction: 88%
  • Price: $209.95

Celestron 20x80 SkyMaster Pro

score 4,8

 

 

 

 

Pentax SP 20×60 WP Binoculars

  • Bak-4 Prism
  • Magnification power 20
  • Customer satisfaction: 78%
  • Price: $239

pentax-high-power-optics 20x60

 

score 4,8

 

 

 

Magnifications 40x, 50x, 100x

Finally, let’s talk now about telescopic binoculars with magnification 40x, 50x and 100x and I will explain when and why you need such powerful binoculars.

If you plan to buy such binoculars then you need to buy from manufacturers, such as Oberwerk.

This company is specialized in manufacturing telescopic binoculars and they optics produce excellent image quality.

Telescopic binoculars are quite expensive and start from approx. $995 and up to $2350. From my personal experience I can tell you this.

 

magnification comparison picture

 

If you love powerful telescopic binoculars and want to view close or distant objects at a much higher magnification than standard power binoculars you are not alone. I love it too.

For me personally, magnification 20x or 25x is not enough. Neither for field viewing or astronomical purposes.

For this purpose you need at least 40x, 60x or 100x magnification. I will explain the difference between them.

 

 

If you want to view objects within 8-12km then 40x, 50x or 60x magnification will be an ideal choice. With such binoculars you can see objects as if they were 100-200m from you.

If you want to view objects within 20-22km then you need magnification 100x. With such binoculars you will be able to view objects as if they were 200-300m from you.

The best telescopic binoculars are the following:

 

BT-70-45 Binocular Telescope

  • Bak-4 Prism
  • Magnification power 48
  • Customer satisfaction: 100%
  • Price: $995

BT-70-45 Binocular Telescope

 

score 4,8

 

 

 

BT-82XL Binocular Telescope

  • ED Prism
  • Magnification power 64
  • Customer satisfaction: 100%
  • Price: $1.395

 

BT-82xl-ed-beg

 

score 4,8

 

 

 

BT-100XL-ED Binocular Telescope

  • ED Prism
  • Magnification power 94
  • Customer satisfaction: 100%
  • Price: $2.495

BT100xl ed

 

4,6 score

 

 

 

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Comments (4)

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  1. Dhayours says:

    I enjoyed reading this article and I must say you have really done a great job for taking your time to share this article. Telescopes and binoculars are interesting as they help one view things and objects although I don’t have any of the two but this article has made me have interest in telescope and I will be making a purchase of one out of the listed one’s. I now have guide so I need to buy the telescope so as to enable what I have learnt from your site. Thanks for sharing this information.

    • Adam says:

      I personally prefer binoculars over telescopes for a reason. Any telescope though is very powerful in fact it’s a monocular which makes your viewing experience is not good. With binoculars you can view things with your two eyes which is a totally different story. Instead I recommend taking a look at telescopes that I’ve listed above. The cheapest one is $995 with magnification 48x. It’s very powerful and you can see even galaxies. Viewing the moon will give you great feelings. If you are not on a tight budget I would even recommend to pay a little more and buy binoculars with magnification 64x which will cost you $1395. Let me know if you have any other questions.

  2. Alex says:

    Hey,

    this post made the whole situation clearer! I really liked that you explained which magnification serves what purpose. It is true that for beginners, the huge amount of options – be it prices or magnification – are offsetting. As you said, it is difficult to find the right pair without spending too much nor too little money.

    So if I want to watch birds in a forest, which pair would be best? I was thinking maybe 4x but am now realizing that estimating the distances is not that easy.

    Thanks,

    Alex

    • Adam says:

      If you plan to watch birds in the forest or any other animals I guess you need to take in account a number of aspects. First, binoculars must be lightweight to avoid hand movement. Second, magnification 8x is the ideal because this type of binoculars are lightweight and powerful. But there are also other binoculars with extra wide field of view that are listed on this page. If you plan to view things within 500m then magnification 4 will be enough. For distant objects 1, 2km from you magnification 8x or 10x is the ideal choice.

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