How to Use Binoculars: Tips, Tricks and Hacks

October 14, 2019 5 Comments



I think optical instrument known as binocular is a very interesting invention that allows us to view distant objects in full detail though they may be very far from us.

I love binoculars and very often use them at home or when traveling.

In fact, I have many different binoculars, high power binoculars and compact ones for general use.

At first sight binoculars may seem very easy to use but for some people it may be a challenge.

So, in this short guide I will try to share my experience with binoculars and show some tricks, tips and hacks on how top use them.

Let’s turn into a fun.


Binoculars: Common questions and issues

Before looking through binoculars you need to have some basic knowledge about using optical instruments and how to set them up properly.

Most commonly known issues are seeing black outs when looking through binoculars or being not able to get a sharp and clear image.

This is very normal considering that binoculars are optical instruments and like any other device require like I said, some basic understanding how these optical instruments work.




For example, some people wear glasses and don’t know which binocular to choose. They are not sure if they can use binoculars without glasses.

Or which binocular to choose to be able to use binoculars with glasses.

Some people don’t know how to use diopter and central focus mechanism of a binocular to get clear image.

Some don’t know what to do with binocular’s eyecups. Some don’t know how to adjust binocular’s barrels.

Some people even don’t know how to hold binoculars though it may seem odd.

Some binoculars have central focus mechanism and diopter and some binoculars don’t have central focus wheel.

How then to adjust them to get a clear image? Some people run after high power binoculars instead of choosing compact optical instruments.

As a result they get the wrong optical instrument. Because they don’t know the difference between compact and high power binoculars.

Let’s try to answer all those questions.



Binoculars: Questions answered




How to hold binoculars

When you first take binoculars in your hand you need to know how to hold it properly.

Binoculars have front lenses and exit pupils that you look through.

Front lenses are always bigger in size than exit pupils because they collect light so you can see bright image.

You hold binoculars for two or one barrel though holding both barrels is better because this way you have less hand shake and as a result you get more steady image when looking through binoculars.

There are three types of binoculars:



For compact binoculars: Magnification 4x and up to 12x you don’t need a tripod.

High power binoculars: magnification 15x and above you need to use a tripod to get steady image.

Image stabilization binoculars: You don’t need a tripod because they have a special mechanism that compensates hand shake and you get steady image.



How to aim objects

When you first take binoculars in your hand aiming objects becomes a challenge. Especially when talking about distant and small objects.

To find the object you want to see through binoculars you need first to lock your eyes on that object and pay attention to other objects located near to it.

This will help you orientate better and find the desired object when looking through your optical instrument.



How to adjust barrels

Binocular has two movable, adjustable barrels that you can move closer or apart to adjust binoculars eyepieces to your eyes.

The main idea here is about matching the distance between your eyes because it may be different for everyone.

You move barrels until you see one round image. Image must be clear without giving any strain to your eyes.

This is all you need when it co adjusting barrels of your binocular.





How to adjust central focus mechanism and diopter

Once you adjusted barrels to your eyes you now need to adjust central focus and diopter on the right barrel.

Central focus is responsible for adjusting image for your left eye and diopter is responsible for adjusting the image for your right eye.

This set up is very easy.




They both are adjusted separately for each eye because each eye needs separate adjustment in order to get clear and sharp image when looking through a binocular.

Some binoculars with central focus mechanism have locking switch that you can use once adjustment has been done.

The advantage of such a switch is that your focusing adjustment will not be changed if someone or you accidentally decide to turn the focus wheel.

So, first choose an object to observe located at some distance from you and close your right eye and turn central focus wheel until you see clear and sharp image with your left eye.

Then close your left eye and turn diopter on the right barrel until you see clear and sharp image with your right eye.

Once it’s done open your both eyes and you will see clear and sharp image.

This is all you need to do be able to comfortably observe objects with your binocular.

Note: On some binoculars a diopter is located on the left barrel which becomes responsible for adjusting your left eye.

In that case central focus mechanism will be responsible for adjusting vision for your right eye.



How to use eyecups

Most binoculars nowadays have eyecups that you can twist up to adjust to your eyes.

This is important because if you don’t do so you will see black outs when looking through binoculars. They are made of rubber or plastic.

You twist them up as much as you need until you see clear image without any black outs.

Especially it’s useful for eyeglass wearers to adjust the right distance between their eyes and binocular eyepieces.

Eyecups are also important to adjust for a wider field of view. If you don’t adjust them properly you will get a narrow field of view.

With eyecups properly adjusted you will see a full image when looking through your binocular.





How to adjust binoculars that don’t have central focus

These binoculars are known as individual focus binoculars that have diopter adjustment for each eye separately.

Such binoculars don’t have central focus mechanism.

Some people find such binoculars easier to use while others prefer binoculars with central focus wheel.

Binoculars without central focus mechanism are more lightweight than those with focus mechanism.

This means they cause less hand shake and steady image as a result.

In general, in my opinion, binoculars without central focus mechanism are easier to use due to being intuitively easy to operate.

I also want to note that for observing distant objects binoculars with individual eye adjustment is better and easier to use.

Because once you made the adjustment you can use it.

If you need binoculars for hunting then it’s better to choose binoculars with a central focus mechanism for faster adjustment.

Because during hunting normally hunters observe different objects that may be moving fast which needs faster eye adjustment mechanism.



How to adjust binoculars for eyeglasses wearers?

Normally if you wear glasses you don’t need to twist eyecups up or unfold them because the distance between your eyes and binocular eyepieces is already optimal.

If you see blackouts you can unfold eyecups until you get full clear image.

Normally most binoculars will correct your vision and you can look through binoculars without eye glasses.

If you have serious problem with your eyes like astigmatism then you need to use eyecups to adjust the vision.



How to care about your binoculars

The best would be keeping it in a small pouch that comes from the manufacturer. It primarily protects your binocular from dust.

If you don’t use your binocular for a log time then you better not remove lens cups. They also protect your binocular from dust.

Try not to touch lenses with your fingers or if you did anyway you can always clean lenses with a cleaning wipe that comes with your binocular.




Binocular hacks


Hack # 1

When you look through binoculars without a tripod while holding in your hand you can lean your binoculars against window or any other stable object. This will allow you to get more steady image.


Hack # 2

If you want to choose the best binocular for your money you need to choose one that is comparatively powerful, lightweight and not too expensive. For this purpose 8x and 10x are the best option. If you need more powerful then 15x is the limit if you want to use it without a tripod.


Hack # 3

To get a wider field of view when looking through your binocular you can keep your eyecups unfolded. When holding binocular in your hands choose an optimal distance between your eyes and binocular eyepieces so you don’t see any black outs. By doing so you can get much wider field of view when looking through your binocular.


Hack # 4

When adjusting your binocular don’t adjust the center focus wheel while adjusting the diopter. It will confuse you. First do adjustment using central focus wheel for your left eye and only then adjust the vision for your right eye using the diopter on the right barrel.


Hack # 5

If after adjustment of the central focus and the diopter you still see a blurred image don’t worry. Just repeat the process until you see clear and sharp image.


Hack # 6

To reduce hand shake when looking through a binocular you can lean your optical instrument against window or any other stable object.



About the Author:

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

Comments (5)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Benjamin Brackman says:

    Actually, some of the information you give above is incorrect. Experts say that any binocular with a magnification of 10x and above is considered to be a high powered binocular.

    • Adam says:

      Hi Benjamin,

      Experts have different opinions on this and many other questions. In my opinion magnification 10 is not high power because it’s not bulky. You can easily use it without a tripod. Theoretically speaking, it may be considered as a high power optical instrument, but practically speaking it is not.

  2. Benjamin Brackman says:

    Adam, just out of curiosity, what magnification of binoculars do you prefer?

  3. Lauren Barth says:

    Perfect timing for this post! Appreciating the time and effort you put into your website and in-depth information you offer. You’ve really covered up almost all the possible info and the explanation is so helpful. Worth sharing! Please do continue sharing updates! Thanks!

Leave a Reply