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Everything You Need to Know About Binoculars
Published: Oct 27, 2020
When you buy binoculars, you need to have a background in their specs. Check the size, field of view, exit pupil, eye relief, lens coatings, and types of prism lenses. Another thing you should also learn about is the protection attributes of the equipment — whether it is waterproof, water-resistant, rubber-coated, or fogproof.
We also recommend you read users' reviews and select the type of binoculars that you prefer between compact, middle, or full ones. The kind of activity you are planning, the users, and your budget are added factors you should be attentive to.
Types of activity that our testers commonly use binoculars for include outdoor activity, backpacking, bird-watching, stargazing, theatre, watching live sports, and sea travel. Focus on those aspects because you will know the advantages of binoculars once you've chosen some that will become one of the best gear that partnered you on your adventure.
As we continue our discussions, we will be talking about each of the aforementioned specs in details to give you a hand based on our experience and evaluations coming from the information we've gathered thanks to our testers and campers.
Learn the basic background and specs
When searching for gears and equipment, a buyer always has a huge advantage if they already know certain specs. Not necessarily a wide-range but a bit of background will do for you to be able to find the best binoculars for your adventures. We really need to stress this because if you are quite literate on the specific instrument, you will know the capacity and capability of it.
- What do magnification power and objective lens diameter mean?
Sizes like “8x25” refer to the magnification power and the objective lens diameter. The “8” is the magnification power, which means it has the capacity to magnify the object you are viewing 8x, while the “25” is the objective lens diameter, which denotes the front lens' diameter in millimeters.
To simplify, the larger the binoculars' objective lens is, the clearer the view because it consents more light to enter compared to smaller ones. But also, remember that bigger objectives equal to a heavier weight.
As for the magnification power, there are two basic choices to select from. It is either 8x or 10x, but remember that some binoculars are designed with lower or higher magnification power, but we only mentioned these two as it is the most commonly used range.
For the 8x, you can have an extensive and wide view, while the 10x is more focused on closeness and a clearer view. So take note of these when buying your ideal binoculars, as these factors will greatly affect the way you use them.
- Compact, middle, and full
Now, let's discuss the different sizes of binoculars. Since we have talked about the magnification power and objective lens diameter, it is a bit easier for us to understand the sizes.
- Compact binoculars are binoculars with a range size of the objective lens up to 30 millimeters. Meaning that even if it has a higher magnification power, as long as the objectives don't surpass the 30-mm range, these binoculars will fall under this category.
- For the middle size, the objective lens diameter is ranging from 30 to 40 millimeters.
- The full size's objective lens diameter is larger than 40 millimeters.
Although, the size of the objective lens does not depend on how big and heavy the binoculars are. Some manufacturers may have structured this equipment differently, so what you get will be up to you.
We suggest you look for binoculars that have a 7 to 10 magnification power. This range is advisable for watching live sports, for those who want to view the gameplay from closer. On the other hand, the 3 to 5 times magnifying ability is already good for theaters. But, if you are really searching for a more detailed view, choose a higher magnification power and objective lens diameter.
All in all, compact binoculars with lighter weight are best for backpacking aspects, while mid-sizes can provide a clearer view and fair weight when mounted on the level of your eyes. Lastly, full-size lenses are considered the bulkiest ones.
- Field of view
Since we already mentioned the magnification power of binoculars, we will now tackle the field of view. We said that the 8x power can expand the view while the 10x zooms it. You just need to bear in mind the place and the kind of adventure you are planning, because the wrong choice can result in regrets.
To clarify, the lower magnification power focuses more on a wider view. Meaning, it is not ideal if you are seeking binoculars that allow you to see the clearer version of far objects.
Just like in the objective lens' manner, if the binocular has a larger field of view, it allows more light, which makes the view clearer and brighter. Meanwhile, the smaller field of view makes the image dimmer. But, if it has a high magnification with a smaller objective, it will make the view narrow.
The field of view is the range of the binoculars that can permit you to foresee a view from a 1,000 yards distance.
- Exit pupil
In this specs of binoculars, we will talk about the capacity of the equipment to make the view clearer and brighter in dark surroundings. Similar to what we have already discussed, the higher the number, the greater the quality of the image.
Exit pupil can be measured by dividing the magnification power by the objective lens diameter. For example, if your binocular is 8x25, just divide 25 by 8, which equals 3.13 millimeters of exit pupil diameter. This is the size of concentrated light that reflects onto your eyes.
We advise you to choose a higher magnification power and objective lens if you are going to use it in dark or dimmer situations. An exit pupil of 5 millimeters is recommended. While in brighter conditions, 2 millimeters will do. The exit pupil is not really essential in such.
- Eye relief
If you are wearing eyeglasses, you should be attentive to these specs when buying binoculars.
Eye relief is the gap between the eyepiece and your eye. Usually, people wearing eyeglasses tend to choose binoculars with eyecups on the eyepieces to adjust and maintain their eye distance.
Wearing prescription glasses will affect your view from the binoculars because of the grade. Some manufacturers sometimes provide a diopter adjustment. This is a control knob on the eyepiece section of your binoculars to adjust the view for you to be able to use your binoculars even if you are not wearing your eyeglasses.
However, if your eye grade is so high that your diopter adjustment is unable to fathom it, you can search for binoculars with adjustable eyecups that you can pleat or twist to permit your eyeglasses to get nearer to the lens.
It is recommended that you test your prospect binoculars before buying them, especially if you are wearing eyeglasses. This is just to ensure the performance and quality they can provide you.
What are the features of binoculars' lenses and coatings?
Aside from the basic characteristics we have previously discussed, we will also include the types of coatings that binoculars come with. Coatings are films attached by the manufacturers in the lenses to adjust the light access depending on the circumstances.
Binoculars offer numerous types of coatings. However, we will separate them into two subcategories — coatings for the prism and for lenses.
Lens coatings are placed on the exteriors of the lens to regulate the light, contrast, and reflections to adjust the features of the view, thus making it clearer. They act like strainers of the elements that enhance what you can see in the binoculars.
We suggest you read some reviews and background information on the specific binoculars you have in mind before you consider buying them. This is prudent, particularly for newbies.
As for lenses, there are many process types of coating. These are coated, fully, multi-coated, fully multi-coated, and phase coating.
- Coated lenses: This is the first type we mentioned, and the primary one. The anti-reflective coating is applied only with one thin sheet on the lenses of the binoculars.
- Multi-coating: These lenses are coated several times, as the word “multi” suggests. This means that there are multiple anti-reflective coatings.
- Fully coated: This type of coating is covered with anti-reflective coating on the ocular, prism, and objective lens.
- Fully multi-coated: Anti-reflective coatings are instilled on the inner and outer parts of the lenses, with multiple films.
- Phase coating: This is coated on the surface of the prism to adjust the phase. It is made of the dielectric element.
Before we talk about the prism coating, let's have an overview of the prism optics. These are the factors that allow the light onto your eyes by passing through your binoculars.
There are two types of prisms — Porro and roof. A Porro prism is an old-standard type of binoculars, on which the component inside was designed to look twisted or Z-shaped, while the roof prism is positioned straight. The latter is more lightweight and compact than the Porro.
The prism coating allows the surge of light and reflection. This is the contrast of the lens coating, which aims to adjust the said elements. The outer layer of the prism coatings is made of dielectric coatings, which makes the images brighter.
What are the protective attributes you need to look for in binoculars?
Some binoculars don't have similar features that show a huge advantage compared to the standard types. If you search vividly for the different brands of binoculars, you can see that the specs have particular uses and features. You should write these down to find the best equipment to complement your needs.
- Waterproof and water-resistant capacities
The first feature you should look for is the waterproof/water-resistance ability. Some binoculars are designed without these attributes, so don't expect to find them on each model.
Since you are going on a trip or adventure, you should think of what are the possible surroundings, temperatures, and weather conditions. If the place is known to be constantly rainy, we recommend you get waterproof or water-resistant binoculars.
As you can see, we separate the word waterproof and water-resistant because they are different. Many people misinterpret these as having the same set-up. Now, you might wonder what the difference between these two is.
Waterproof materials can endure even if you dip them in the water. However, it can only be protected over a short span. This was created for you to avoid further damages or stains inside the lenses when you accidentally drop them in the water. Water-resistant binoculars can only withstand drops of water, but not on their vulnerable areas.
Meanwhile, waterproof binoculars are commonly covered with O-ring seal, which prevents the water from entering the equipment, whereas water-resistant ones don't have these special factors because they are not truly waterproof.
- Rubber coatings and fogproof capacity
Other protection features for binoculars are the rubber coatings and fogproof ability. Rubber coatings can help protect your instrument from scratches or damages. It works as a layer meant to prevent those from appearing on the surfaces of your binoculars.
Fogproof binoculars prevent the formation of moisture on the lenses. This usually happens in intense temperatures. The fog or mist indeed appears when the equipment is exposed to the said situation.
What is the best fit for binoculars for you?
Even if you already know the different specs of the binoculars, there are still few things to reflect on. It is not just about the specs and features of the equipment. You should also wonder where are you going to use them.
Also, what will be the weather conditions in the place you are planning to go to? Are they good for backpacking? These are just a few examples of questions that will help you comprehend what kind of binoculars you need.
The following are factors you should remember when deciding on the binoculars to buy.
- Read some users' reviews
Knowing a specific gadget you want to buy is an advantage because you will see its capacity and capabilities from the perspective of its users. We have encountered a lot of specs and features on several pieces of equipment that do not really work properly in due time. It is best to learn the performance of an item based on the opinion of someone who was able to use it.
- Types of binoculars (compact, middle, and full)
Choosing the fittest binoculars for your adventures may be a struggle if you are a starter, but once you get to familiarize yourself with the specs, it may become easier for you to know whether that kind of binoculars provides the best quality, is just under the middle range, or standard.
Talking about the different types of binoculars, we recommend you select the type that is best for your outdoor activities. Compacts are the most common kind of binoculars, and are undeniably smaller than middle and full binoculars because the objective lens diameters are not more than 30 millimeters. The other two types may be bulky but can provide you with a higher-quality image. However, always consider whether you have a lot of things to pack or not.
- What type of adventures are you up to?
This question is always important, even if you choose to buy a tent or sleeping materials. Now that you know the features of binoculars, the kind of trip you'll be going on also matters a lot. Think about whether you will hike or not. For example, sometimes, you may be likely to drop your binoculars, which should alarm you. However, there are still options that may come in handy in such cases.
For instance, you can buy a more durable strap to carry your binoculars or even bring their padded storage bag. Another thing to consider is whether the place is constantly rainy, in which case you may need waterproof binoculars.
- Where are you going to use them?
Yet another question you are required to answer. There are quite a lot of different occasions you need to choose from, based on what we have gathered from our testers. We'll be suggesting the perfect equipment for specific activities.
- Outdoor activity
In this kind of activity, it is guaranteed that you will be using your equipment in an open area. That makes your binoculars vulnerable to temperatures and weather conditions, so we suggest you get waterproof binoculars with a fully multi-coated lens. This allows you to have clearer and brighter views, even if your surroundings are already getting dark, because of the anti-reflective coating.
For this, we recommend lightweight, compact binoculars, with a middle range of magnification power and field of view.
This requires a more detailed and more magnification power to be able to observe the subject. Thus, choose a magnification power of 7x and up.
We suggest you use binoculars with full-size objective lens diameters. Also, having a higher number of exit pupils can help you see in the dark.
We have mentioned that binoculars with 3 to 5 times magnification power are already enough for this kind of activity, but if you want to get a closer look at the performers, you can choose a higher magnifying ability.
- Watching live sports
This will be a bit of a challenger as you will be watching from the bleachers. It is fine if you are on the nearest part of the play area, but if you are farther in the back, go for binoculars with 7x to 10x magnification power.
- Sea travel
You will be on top of the water, so it is good to go for waterproof binoculars.
- Who are the users?
The place and activity are not the only things to consider. Indeed, you should also wonder who is going to use these binoculars. This inquiry comes particularly handy for people who are wearing eyeglasses, or those with poor eyesight, and is also important depending on the users' ages. If you are wearing eyeglasses, binoculars with adjustable eyecups are recommended. As for children, you should of course give them lightweight compact binoculars. A good rubber coating is advisable as well to avoid scratches.
There are a lot of binoculars to choose from, whether they hold a high quality or standard quality. But, you can search thoroughly if you want cheaper ones. Indeed, there are rather cheap binoculars with enough qualities. Although, to be frank, those with extended quality are really pricey. So, we suggest you conduct deep research.
We certainly recommend and suggest you learn a little about binoculars before you buy some. In that manner, you will already know what best fits your activity and the capability and specs of the model you chose once you start using it. It is really a substantial advantage on the part of the buyer if the equipment they bought is absolutely helpful and suitable for them.
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