Choosing the Right Optics For You.
The aim of this section is to help all buyers, both new and experienced, choose the right optic for their needs.
We believe there are six main factors that should be considered first when selecting binoculars. The importance of each factor will vary from person to person and by the intended use. The buyers guide is a short introduction to these six influences. These and other factors/features of optical instruments are discussed in the technical guide. If you have a specific use in mind or are buying as a gift try the recommendations by use section.
We hope you find this guide useful and easy to follow. Any input from users that could help to improve any sections of our site is appreciated. Suggestions should be e-mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org
This is the power or strength of the binocular, it defines how close the viewed object will appear i.e. an 8x binocular would make and object that is actually 80 metres away appear to be 10 metres away. Selecting the correct magnification is critical for best performance and comfortable viewing. See the recommendations by use section for a selection of popular uses.
Objective Lens Size
The objective lens is the front lens of the binocular, the size of this lens determines how much light the binocular can gather and therefore how bright the image appears. As magnification increases the amount of light lost as it travels through the binocular increases so larger lenses are needed to maintain a bright image.
Field Of View
The simplest way to describe this is the amount of the object the user can see. This depends on both the magnification of the binocular and the optical design or prism and lens layout. It is expressed in degrees or as the width of the visible area at a fixed distance (usually 1000m). To compare binoculars where these different formats are used 1° is approximately equal to 17.5m.
Prisms and Lens Coatings
The brightness, resolution and colour of the image are all improved with higher quality prisms and lens coatings. Coating the surface of optics reduces reflections and maximises light transmission. If additional features are ignored, the more expensive the binocular the better quality the optics will be.
The dimensions and weight of the binocular will largely be influenced by the intended use. Consider the conditions (level of light available), how frequently it will be used and the size/weight that can be comfortably held or carried. The objective lens size and optical layout determines the style and to some degree the size of the binocular. The sizes and styles available range from ultra lightweight pocket size optics to models designed for stationary use mounted on a tripod.
The budget you have for binoculars is likely to depend on a number of factors. Generally the more money you spend the better quality the binocular but it is not necessarily true that a £400 binocular is twice as good as a £200 pair. At lower prices more money spent does tend to mean larger improvements in quality. However, once above around the £400 mark large increases in price return much smaller increases in quality and tend to focus on additional features such as waterproofing etc. Or to put it another way the optics in this price range are of professional quality and more likely to be tailored to specific uses. How frequently the instrument is likely to be use is also a large consideration in justifying the cost.