Zoom Binoculars – Are They Worth Your Money?

June 13, 2019 11 Comments



There are mainly two types of binoculars available on the market, standard binoculars with a fixed magnification and zoom binoculars with a variable magnification options.

Standard binoculars have a long list of advantages while no disadvantageous at all.

Zoom binoculars have instead a long list of disadvantageous.


Many people ask questions:

  • Are zoom binoculars worth your money?
  • What does 30×60 mean in binoculars?
  • What is the best zoom for binoculars?
  • What is the highest magnification for binoculars?
  • Are all zoom binoculars fake? Are there any good zoom binoculars?


In my article I will answer all those questions so you can understand and learn more about zoom binoculars and make the right decision.

There are though zoom binoculars from well known companies, such as Nikon, Celestron, Bushnell, Olympus, Bresser. There are really very few of them.

Because all these very well known manufactures of optics know that zoom binoculars are always inferior to standard binoculars and don’t want to focus on this type of products.

The only reason they are still producing them is to meet a demand.

I always highly recommend to avoid zoom binoculars because they will never outperform standard binoculars with a fixed magnification.

If you plan to buy zoom binoculars as your first buy then avoid it. If you plan to buy it as your second pair then it’s ok. But still I recommend to avoid it.




I’m going to answer the following questions about zoom binoculars:


  • What is a zoom binocular?
  • How zoom binoculars work
  • Which zoom binoculars are fake?
  • Which zoom binoculars are legit?
  • Advantageous of zoom binoculars
  • Disadvantageous of zoom binoculars


What is a zoom binocular?

Zoom binocular is like a standard binocular but with adjustable magnification.

For example a binocular 10×50 means its magnification power is 10 and 50mm is the diameter of the objective lens (front lens).

Zoom binocular 10-40×50 means binocular’s magnification power can be from 10 up to 40 and 50 is the diameter of the objective lens.


how zoom binoculars work


How zoom binoculars work

Though zoom function is available in many high-end cameras applying the same function in binoculars doesn’t give the same result.

Because when it comes to cameras there is only one barrel that has lenses and zoom mechanism.

When it comes to binoculars there are two independent barrels (telescopes) connected to each other with a central focus mechanism.

When it comes zoom binoculars it becomes even worse because such binoculars have zoom mechanism with moving parts for each eye separately.

Due to these moving parts getting high quality, clear and bright image becomes almost impossible.

Moving mechanism changes the position of lenses depending on the magnification power you choose.





Which zoom binoculars are fake?

I have an article about fake binoculars. I highly recommend to read it and learn which binoculars are a complete waste of time and money.

In short, if you plan to buy a zoom binocular you should buy from a well known manufacture with a good reputation in the industry.

All legit zoom binoculars that I know from well known brands have a magnification power up to 40x.

If you find a zoom binocular with magnification power higher than 40, such as 80x, 125x, 70x, 380, 160x, 144x, 180x you definitely should avoid such cheap optics.

If it comes from Barska it can deliver decent image quality. Barska is a legit optical company. Other unknown brands from China must be avoided.

This type of binoculars are horrible in terms of optics and overall quality.



Which zoom binoculars are legit?

There are some legit zoom binoculars from branded companies, such as Nikon, Olympus, Celestron, Bresser, Bushnell, Barska.

Some zoom binoculars manufactured by less well known companies are Scokc and ESSLNB. You can see the full list below.

You can choose any of them if you decided to buy a zoom binocular.

But my general recommendation as well as from any other expert in optics would be avoiding zoom binoculars.


zoom binocular


Advantageous of zoom binoculars

The only advantage of zoom binoculars is that for one price you can get one single set of binoculars with adjustable magnification power.

Just imagine you have a binocular that has magnification power from 10x and up to 100x. Sounds great and very attractive.

But in practice you get very poor quality optics, very often with BK-7 prism that produces dark and blurred image. Besides that it can harm your eyessight.


Disadvantageous of zoom binoculars

There are too many disadvantageous of zoom binoculars. Very often they are made of poor quality BK-7 or BAK-4 prism.

It’s a well known fact that BK-7 prism is used in cheap binoculars.

When it comes to BAK-4 prism there are two types of BAK-4 prism: good quality and poor quality BAK-4.

The prism used in zoom binoculars is very often poor quality BAK-4 prism, especially in non branded binoculars.

The image produced by zoom binoculars is always dark and blurred.

You can’t get a bright, crystal clear and sharp image due to the construction of zoom binoculars. Field of view in zoom binoculars is very narrow.

For example, two binoculars with the same magnification power, one is a standard binocular (10×50) and the other one zoom binocular (10-30×50) will have different field of view.


  • Standard binocular 10×50 – field of view 5 degrees
  • Zoom binocular 10-30×50 – field of view 2.6 degrees


Plus in zoom binoculars when you increase the power the field of view becomes even narrower. Very uncomfortable and unfriendly experience.

We know that as magnification power increases binoculars become bigger in size which cases hand shaking and unstable image.

Zoom binoculars allow to get more magnification power without changing the size of the binoculars. But the image quality that you get becomes its biggest disadvantage.

Due to moving parts in zoom mechanism collimation becomes a huge problem which is why you can’t get a perfect image in zoom binoculars.

All standard binoculars before coming to the end user are properly collimated by manufacturers.

When it comes to zoom binoculars it becomes impossible because of the moving parts that you use when changing magnification power.

Collimation is the alignment of all the optical elements along the binocular optical axis.

This is very important for getting clear and sharp image in binoculars and hardly achieved in zoom binoculars.



Zoom binoculars summary

Should you trust those manufacturers of unbelievably powerful zoom binoculars or avoid them all together?

As I said above, all zoom binoculars should be avoided.

Some branded ones above from well known manufacturers may deserve your attention if you want zoom binoculars badly.

All other zoom binoculars are not recommended at all. Do zoom binoculars work? Yes, they do to some extent if you call it so.

In my opinion, zoom binoculars can be purchased as a second pair, not as your primary pair that you use every day.

But it would be great if you change your decision and instead choose a binocular with a fixed magnification.

Instead of paying $200 for a zoom binocular and waste your money you better buy two binoculars, one with a fixed magnification up to 10x and the other one with magnification 16x or 20x.

It will cost you the same amount of money but you will spend it more wisely.



Legit branded zoom binoculars (barely recommended)

  • Nikon Aculon 10-22×50
  • Nikon Aculon T11 8-24×25
  • Olympus zoom 10-30×25
  • Olympus zoom 8-16×40
  • Bushnell 10-22×50
  • Bushnell Powerview 7-15×25
  • Bresser spezial zoomar 7-35×50
  • Celestron Skymaster 18-40×80
  • Celestron UpClose 10-30×50
  • Celestron SkyMaster 15-35×70 Zoom Binocular
  • Barska Gladiator 25-125×80
  • Barska Gladiator 12-60×70
  • Barska Gladiator 20-140×80
  • Barska Gladiator 20-100×70
  • Barska 20-100×70



Nikon Aculon 10-22×50

  • · Multicoated optics
  • · Magnification 10-22x
  • · Bak-4 prism
  • · Customer satisfaction: 80%
  • · Price: $154.99

Nikon 8252 ACULON A211 10-22x50 Zoom


3,7 score





Nikon Aculon T11 8-24×25

  • · Multicoated optics
  • · Magnification 8-24x
  • · Bak-4 prism
  • · Customer satisfaction: 78%
  • · Price: $131

Nikon Aculon T11 8-24x25


3,7 score






Olympus zoom 10-30×25

  • · Multicoated optics
  • · Magnification 10-30x
  • · Bak-4 prism
  • · Customer satisfaction: 56%
  • · Price: $146

Olympus zoom 10-30x25


3,7 score






Olympus zoom 8-16×40

  • · Multicoated optics
  • · Magnification 8-16x
  • · Bak-4 prism
  • · Customer satisfaction: 56%
  • · Price: $184

Olympus zoom 8-16x40


3,7 score






Bushnell 10-22×50

  • · Multicoated optics
  • · Weatherproof
  • · Magnification 10-22x
  • · Bak-4 prism
  • · Customer satisfaction: 70%
  • · Price: $126.83

Bushnell 10-22x50


3,7 score






Bushnell Powerview 7-15×25

  • · Multicoated optics
  • · Weatherproof
  • · Magnification 7-15x
  • · Bk-7 prism
  • · Customer satisfaction: 60%
  • · Price: $129


Bushnell Powerview 7-15x25


3,7 score







Bresser spezial zoomar 7-35×50

  • · Multicoated optics
  • · Magnification 7-35x
  • · Bak-4 prism
  • · Customer satisfaction: 60%
  • · Price: $134

Bresser spezial zoomar 7-35x50

3,7 score






Celestron Skymaster 18-40×80

  • · Multicoated optics
  • · Magnification 18-40x
  • · Bak-4 prism
  • · Customer satisfaction: 55%
  • · Price: $130

Celestron Skymaster 18-40x80


3,7 score






Celestron UpClose 10-30×50

  • · Multicoated optics
  • · Magnification 10-30x
  • · BK-7 prism
  • · Customer satisfaction: 60%
  • · Price: $44

Celestron UpClose 10-30x50


3,8 score






Celestron SkyMaster 15-35×70 Zoom Binocular

  • · Multicoated optics
  • · Magnification 15-35x
  • · BaK-4 prism
  • · Customer satisfaction: 60%
  • · Price: $89

Celestron SkyMaster 15-35x70 Zoom

3,8 score







Non Branded Zoom Binoculars List (Not Recommended) 

Description Here

  • Maginon HI Zoom 10-30×60
  • ESSLNB Giant 13-39×70
  • Scokc 10-30×50
  • GOR Standard 10-70×70
  • Military Zoom 20-140×70
  • Col-P Super Military 20-50×70
  • Sakura Binoculars 10-70×70
  • Sakura 10-180×100
  • Sakura 20-180×100
  • Sakura Binoculars 30×60 HD
  • Borwolf 10-380×100
  • Sunagor 30-160×70
  • Barste 50×50
  • Barste 20×50
  • Bushnell 60×90
  • Bushnell 50×50
  • Canon 20×50
  • Nikon 70×70
  • Bresser 10-60×60
  • Estink Magnification Binoculars Telescope, 20-180X100
  • Yosoo 20-180X100 Binoculars
  • Ruixunte 20-180×100 HD Zoom Night Vision Binoculars
  • 10-30×50 Zoom Binoculars
  • BetaOptics 144X Military Zoom Binoculars



About the Author:

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

Comments (11)

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  1. Dave Hayes says:

    An interesting article this, because Binoculars, appear to be a dying breed, though I can remember using a set of my late dads ones, when growing up and you can actually see for miles with great clarity

    In fact from looking at your picture, they may even have been Zoom

    Do you use these yourself and what is your experience with them?

    Overall I found the article informative and from what you have written, there is enough information for a potential buyer to make a decision fore sure

    • Adam says:

      No, Dave, binoculars is not a dying industry at all. Instead it’s a growing industry because people in certain sense are full of computers, tablets, smart phones. People want to travel, do hiking and use old traditional things like binoculars. When it comes to zoom binoculars, no I don’t use them. I had zoom binoculars though. I didn’t like them. Binoculars with fixed magnification is what I recommend.

  2. Alblue says:

    Thank you Adam for this explaining about zoom binoculars. After reading it, honestly I confused why all these big brand manufacturers still producing zoom binoculars. Is there a niche community who need to use zoom binoculars? Your article saved me from buying zoom binoculars, because I think there are too many disadvantageous, even if I’m an expert.  Thanks for your article.

    • Adam says:

      Only a few brand companies produce them. The main reason is due to market demand. People want it and companies produce them. But well known brands don’t produce them because they know zoom binoculars will never outperform standard binoculars. Plus they have enough audience ready to buy their high quality optical instruments. I personally used zoom binoculars and I hate them. In my opinion, it’s a useless piece of optical instrument.

  3. LearnToEarn Admin says:

    This has been a most insightful review on binoculars that has definitely enlightened my understanding of how binoculars actually work and which are efficiently manufactured for best use.
    A few years ago I bought a pair of binoculars, I believe they are the Bushnell brand.  I had wondered how it was that I was struggling to obtain a clear magnification, now I understand how it works and can adjust the settings to obtain the best view.
    I was intrigued at first why you would totally not recommend zoom binoculars, but after your in-depth explanation of how they work, I fully understand your stance.
    Thank you for providing this valuable information for us to make an informed decision on which binoculars to purchase.

    • Adam says:

      Bushnell offers different types of binoculars, premium quality and medium quality with BK-7 prism which are cheap. When it comes to zoom binoculars I would never buy one. It’s very specific type of products. I really don’t understand who needs it.

  4. George says:

    Really helpful information, dispelled my doubts. Thank you so much!

  5. Jake says:

    Have u any experience of the sunagor 30x160x70.

    • Adam says:

      Sunagor is in my not recommended list. Generally speaking, zoom binoculars are not recommended because standard binoculars always outperform zoom binoculars. I recommend zoom binoculars only if you plan to buy it for astronomical observations. If anyway you want it then I recommend Barska binoculars

      • Jake says:

        Cheers for reply, I’ve already bought a second hand pair of sunagor 160x they haven’t arrived yet, but I’ll definitely have a look at the Barska. Thanks

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