8 Things You Must Know Before Choosing Binoculars

June 26, 2019 6 Comments

choosing binoculars


Though recently I’ve written an article about how to choose binoculars and explained all main aspects I still feel some need and want to share some other thoughts.

I believe with this simple and short how to choose binoculars guide you will be able to make better decision.

For my other full guide you can read here. I’ve done an in-depth research based on my experience and knowledge about binoculars.


So, here is my short guide on how to choose binoculars.


1. Image Quality

First of all, we choose binoculars based on the image quality they produce. Because we look through them.

Image is number 1 thing that cares us in the first place.

When choosing binoculars you must know that when it comes to image quality there are mainly 3 types of binoculars.

  • Standard binocular with BK-7 prism
  • Standard binocular with BAK-4 prism
  • Standard binocular with ED or HD glass

BK-7 is the lowest quality. These binoculars are cheap. They produce a pretty decent image. It’s acceptable, usable but it’s far from being perfect.

You get what you pay for. If you are on a very tight budget and can’t afford spending more than $20-$25 then BK-7 is your ideal choice.

For more info about BK-7 prism read here.

Next one is BAK-4 prism which is a pretty good standard for binoculars. BAK-4 that comes from branded manufacturers are all good.

Those that come from unknown Chinese manufacturers can be sometimes inferior to those branded. If you look for a good quality then choose branded binocular with BAK-4 prism, fully multi coated.

The last one are ED glass binoculars. These binoculars have the same BAK-4 prism but with ED glass which means they have minimum chromatic aberration.

These binoculars are a little more pricey than standard BAK-4 binoculars. Is it worth your money? Yes, if you can afford it.

Is there a huge difference in image quality between ED glass and BAK-4? I don’t think the difference is huge but there is some difference.

With ED glass (Extra-Low Dispersion) Glass you get a sharper and clearer image. If you can’t afford ED Glass then BAK-4 will be an ideal choice.


2. Binoculars Size

When you choose binoculars you must determine for yourself what type of binocular you are looking for.

Do you need super compact binoculars, medium compact or full size binocular.

If you need super compact binocular then objective lens must not exceed 22mm. Such binoculars are super compact and easy to carry and hold.

If you need medium size binoculars then objective lens must not exceed 32mm.

If you look for full size binoculars then look for those with objective lens 40mm, 42mm, 50mm.

For compact binoculars I did my research and have some good info for you.


3. Waterproof/Fog proof

When you choose binoculars ask yourself: why you need binoculars? For travel, hiking or marine purposes? Are you a fisherman?

If yes, then you better choose waterproof and Fog proof binoculars. Otherwise choose standard binoculars.


4. Image Stabilization Binoculars

I believe you must know about image stabilization binoculars before spending your hard earned money.

When you look through standard binoculars they cause hand shaking which is not so comfortable. You get shaking image as a result.

Image stabilization binoculars compensate hand shaking and you get more steady image.

It’s not completely steady but differs a lot from standard binoculars. If you are interested in such binoculars I recommend to read my in-depth research.


5. FOV vs Power

When you choose binoculars it all comes down to 2 main things: magnification power and field of view.

When your primary focus becomes magnification you get narrower field of view.

Magnification 10x gives you on average 6.3 degrees field of view which is pretty good. Magnification 12x gives you narrower field of view 4.7 degrees.

My best recommendation would be choosing magnification 8x that will get you on average 7.5 – 8 degrees field of view. Not all binoculars are same.

I will soon do my research and show some of the best wide field of view binoculars.


6. Zoom vs Standard Binoculars

When choosing binoculars you can easily get confused due to an abundance of optical instruments available on the market.

Some binoculars look attractive because of their features. Zoom binoculars offer different types of magnification, such as 10-100x or 10-150x.

Never buy zoom binoculars. Not all zoom binoculars are fake. Some of them come from brand manufacturers, such as Nikon, Bresser, Bushnell.

For more info read my in-depth research. Generally speaking, I don’t recommend zoom binoculars.

Standard binoculars with a fixed magnification should be your primary focus.


7. Eyeglass Wearers

If you have slight problems with your eyesight then you shouldn’t worry when choosing binoculars. Because the focus mechanism will correct your vision.

In case of serious problems like astigmatism you need to choose the right pair of binoculars.

The best would be asking from the manufacturer or seller if your chosen binoculars are suitable for eyeglass wearers.

As a general rule, for more most eyeglass wearers binoculars with 15mm eye relief should be an optimal choice.


8. Types of Binoculars

There are mainly two types of binoculars: porro prism and roof prism . Generally speaking, both types of binoculars produce high quality image.

The only difference is that porro binoculars have a little stereoscopic, 3D effect and the image looks more interesting. But I can’t say the difference is huge.

Porro binoculars are cheaper and are bigger in size. Roof binoculars are more compact.

Expensive roof prism binoculars can sometimes outperform porro binoculars. If size is not an issue then choose porro.

Because image looks more interesting and porro are cheaper. If size is critical for you and your primary focus is compact binoculars then choose roof prism.


About the Author:

We review and recommend quality binoculars so you don't waste your money on useless ones.

Comments (6)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Aabidah Ahmed says:

    Binoculars can come in handy for wherever you are. I have 2 sets of small and black binoculars that I take with me wherever I go. I know its a bit weird but it comes in handy. I normally stand on the balcony of my apartment and look at the view and look closer with the binoculars to see deeper in what’s going on below.

    You have some great tips on how what to choose in binoculars. I do have but If I didn’t, I sure would have taken your advice on how to choose a great one.

    thank you for sharing this and all the best.

    • Adam says:

      It’s not weird at all Aabidah. I myself have many different binoculars and each comes in handy. Like you I love to watch things from my balcony. Many people may not understand it but it’s a fun and interesting. At least it adds some fun to your daily life and is much better than sitting in front of the pc or using the tablet.

  2. Sara Hjalmarsson says:

    Thank you for an informative post. I’ve been trying to find good information about binoculars as I am trying to get a good pair for when I go boating.

    When I went sailing last weekend, I borrowed my friend’s binoculars to see which direction a towboat was heading. The image was super-clear. You could even see the tow line on the ship. The binoculars were also steady and easy on the eyes. I had no idea binoculars could be that good. Now I want to get something similar and your site helped me figure out what to ask when I get to the store.

    I’m curious, though, I want sturdy binoculars that don’t break easily.  What should one look out for to ensure that the binoculars are sturdy and durable?

    • Adam says:

      Look for waterproof and fogproof binoculars. Some are even shockproof. Durability is not the only aspect you should be looking for. The quality of optics is also important. Try to choose brand binoculars because they come with a guarantee. Choose Nikon, Vortex, Carson or Bresser. They all are good. To understand better you can read my latest blog post about brand binoculars.

  3. Angela Waterford says:

    It’s interesting to know that there are three types of binoculars out there based on their image quality. I think I should buy 10×42 Vortex Optics from a good store since they come with HD glasses. In addition to that, I can afford them, so I’ll probably allow myself to go over the budget to see better.

    • Adam says:

      Yes, Vortex optics is a good product. The one that you chose Vortex 10×42 with HD glasses is a good choice. If you can afford it you will not be disappointed.

Leave a Reply