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Everything You Need to Know About Binoculars
Published: Oct 27, 2020
When you buy a binocular, you need to have a background in its specs. Check the size, field of view, exit pupil, eye relief, lens coatings, and types of prism lens. Another information you should also read is the protection attributes of the equipment whether it is waterproof, water-resistant, rubber-coated, or fog-proof.
We recommend also you read user reviews and select from the types of binoculars either compact, middle or full. The kind of activity you are planning, the users, and the budget are added factors you be attentive to.
Types of activity that our testers commonly use binoculars are outdoor activity, backpacking, bird watching, stargazing, theatre, watching live sports, and sea travel. Focus on those aspects because you will know the advantages once the binoculars you choose will be one of the best gear that partnered you on your adventure.
As we continue our discussions from the things you need to remember when buying a binocular, we will be talking about each of the mentioned specs in detail to give you a hand from our experience and evaluations coming from the information we gathered from our testers and campers.
Learn the basic background and specs
In searching for gears and equipment, a buyer has always a huge advantage if they have knowledge of certain specs. Not 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 out this because if you are quite literate on the specific instrument, you will know the capacity and capability of it.
- What does Magnification Power and Objective Lens Diameter mean?
Just a short idea, sizes like “8x25” are made of 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 than the normal while the “25” is the objective lens diameter where it denotes the front lens' diameters in millimeters.
To simplify, if the binocular's objective lens is larger, it will make the view clearer because it consents more light to enter compared to the smaller ones. But also, be reminded that bigger objectives equal to a heavier weight.
On the magnification power, there are two basic choices to select. It is either 8x or 10x but be reminded that there are binoculars that are designed with lower or higher magnification power but we only mentioned these two as it is the commonly used range.
For the 8x, you can have an extensive and wide view while the 10x is more focused on the closeness and the clearer view. So take note of these when buying your ideal binoculars because the type will greatly affect you on what to use.
- 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 types of binocular that have a range size of the objective lens that are not more than 30 millimeters. Meaning, even if it has a higher magnification power as long as the objectives don't surpass the 30 mm range, that binocular 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 sizes of the objective lens are still not the basis of how bigger and heavier the whole size measurement of the binoculars. There are manufacturers who may have structured this equipment differently so it is still in your decision on what to choose.
Binoculars have different sizes and these are compact, middle size, and full size. We suggest you look for binoculars that have a 7 to 10 magnification power. This range is advisable for watching live sports and those who want to view closer to the gameplay. On the other hand, the 3 up to 5 times of magnifying ability are already good for theaters but if you are really the user who is 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 in the level of your eyes and lastly, the full-size are considered the bulkiest among the sizes.
- Field of View
Since we mentioned already 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 what kind of adventure you are planning because the wrong choice can be of regret in the end.
To clarify, the lower magnification power focuses more on a wider view. Meaning, it is not advisable to use if you are seeking binoculars which allow you to see the clearer version of the 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. 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.
Field of view is the range of the binoculars that can permit you to foresee a view with a 1,000 yards distance from your position.
- 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 and objective lens diameter. That means, if your binocular is 8x25, just divide the 25 by 8 which equals 3.13 millimeter of exit pupil diameter. This is the size of concentrated light that reflects in your eyes.
We advise you to choose a higher magnification power and objective lens if you are going to use it during dark or dimmer situations. An exit pupil of 5 millimeters is recommended. While on the brighter conditions, 2 millimeters will do since the view are lighter. 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 a binocular. 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 the user's eye distance.
It is a fact that if you wear prescription glasses, it will affect your view from the binoculars because of the grade. Some manufacturers of this equipment 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 it even if you are not wearing your eyeglasses.
However, if your eye grade is totally high that your diopter adjustment is unable to fathom it, you can search for binoculars with adjustable eyecups in which you can pleat or twist it to permit your eyeglasses nearer to the lens.
It is recommended that you need to test your prospect binoculars before buying it most especially if you are wearing eyeglasses. This is just to ensure the performance and quality it can provide you when you are going to use it already.
What are the features of binocular's lenses and coatings?
Aside from the basic characteristics we have discussed, we will also include the types of coatings that a binocular has. These are films attached by the manufacturers in the lenses to adjust the light access may it allow more or less as it depends on the circumstances.
Let's talk about the coatings. Binoculars have numerous types of coatings however, we will categorize it into half. These coatings are for the prism and lens.
Lens coatings are placed on the exteriors of the lens to regulate the light, contrast, and reflections to adjust the features of the view making it clearer. They worked like strainers of the elements that consist of the image to enhance what you can see on the binocular.
We totally suggest you read some reviews and background of the specific binoculars you have in mind before you consider buying it. This is prudent, particularly to the newbies.
In the lenses, there are many process types of coating. These are the coated, fully, multi-coated, fully multi-coated, and phase coating:
- Coated lenses. This is the first one we have described which is the most primary of all types. The anti-reflective coating is applied only with one thin sheet on the lenses of the binocular.
- Multi-coating. In this category, the lenses are coated several times. Based on the name “multi” which means the anti-reflective coatings are multiple.
- Fully coated. The type of coating that covers with anti-reflective coating on both of 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 on the view to your eyes bypassing your binoculars.
There are two types of prisms. They are called as Porro and roof. Porro prism is old standard type binoculars which are, the component inside was designed to look like twisted or Z-shaped while the roof prism is positioned straight. This is more lightweight and compact compare to Porro.
For the prism coating, it 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 view of images brighter.
What are the protective attributes you need to look for in a binocular?
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 specific uses and features. You should note down these to find the best equipment that can complement your needs.
- Waterproof and water-resistant
The first feature you should check is the waterproof and water resistance ability. There are binoculars that are designed without these attributes so don't expect that all of it is equipped with such elements.
Since you are going on a trip or adventure, you should think of what are the possible surroundings, the temperature, and the weather conditions. If the place is known to be raining constantly, we recommend you to get waterproof or resistant types.
As you can see, we separate the word waterproof and water-resistant because these are different from each other. Many people misinterpret these as having the same set-up. Now, you might ask the difference between these two.
Waterproof materials can endure even if you dip it in the water however, only it can be protected only in a short span of time. This is created for you to avoid further damages or stains inside the lenses when you accidentally drop it on the water. On the water-resistant can only withstand drops water but not on the vulnerable areas.
In the situation of binoculars, waterproof types are commonly covered with O-ring seal which prevents the water to enter the equipment and the water-resistant don't have special factors because it is not truly waterproof.
- Rubber coatings and fog-proof
Another protection feature for binoculars is the rubber coatings and fog-proof. Rubber coatings can help to protect your instrument from scratches or damages. It works as the layer to avoid those to appear on the surfaces of your binoculars.
Fog-proof binoculars prevent the formation of moisture on the lenses. This is usually happening in intense temperatures the fog or mist is appearing 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 still few things to reflect on. It is not just all about the specs and features of the equipment but also, you should formulate a question like where are you going to use it?
What are the weather conditions in the place you are planning to go to? Is it good for backpacking? These are just a few example questions that will help you to comprehend what kind of binoculars you need to buy.
The following are factors you should remember when deciding on the final binoculars to buy:
- Read some user reviews
Having knowledge of a specific gadget you want to buy is an advantage because you will know the capacity and capabilities from the perspective of the user's experience. We have encountered a lot of specs and features of several pieces of equipment that do not really work properly in due time. It is best to learn the performance of 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 just a starter but when you already get to familiarize the specs, it may come easier for you to look whether that kind of binoculars has the best quality, just under the middle range or standard.
Since you have talked about the types of binoculars, we recommend you select one type that is best for your outdoor activities. Compacts are the most common kind of binoculars which is undeniably smaller than the middle and full because the objective lens diameters are not more than 30 millimeters. The next two may be bulky but it can provide you a higher quality of image view however, always bear in mind if you have a lot of things to pack.
- What type of adventure is up to?
This question is not usual even if you choose to buy a tent or sleeping materials. Now that you know the features of the binoculars, the kind of your trip also matters a lot. Think about if you need to hike, there are possible instances that you may drop your binoculars so that is a red flag to bring it but there are still options that may come in handy on your side.
You can buy a more durable strap to carry your binoculars or even bring its padded storage bag. Another thing is if the place is constantly raining, you may need waterproof binoculars.
- Where are you going to use it?
The purpose is another you are required to answer. There are quite a lot of different occasions you need to choose from what we have gathered from our testers. We'll be suggesting the perfect equipment for that specific activity.
- 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 the temperature and weather conditions so we suggest you get a waterproof version with a fully multi-coated lens. This allows you to have clearer and brighter views even if the surroundings are getting dark already because of the anti-reflective coating.
We recommend the lightweight compact binoculars having a middle range of magnification power and field of view.
- Bird watching
As we consider this that it requires a more detailed and more magnification power to be able to observe the subject, choose from the range of 7x up.
We suggest you use binoculars having a full size of objective lens diameters and also, having a higher number of exit pupil can help you to see in dark situations.
We have mentioned that binoculars with 3 to 5 times magnification are already enough in this kind of activity but if you want to view a closer look of 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 on the farthest 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?
Not only the type of place and activity are the things to consider, but you should also ask if who is going to use it. This inquiry comes particularly to the people who are wearing eyeglasses, or those who have poor eyesight and also the age range. If you are wearing eyeglasses, those with adjustable eyecups are recommended. For children, of course, you should give them lightweight compact binoculars. A good rubber coating is advisable to avoid scratches.
There are a lot of binoculars to choose from whether it holds a high quality or standard quality but, you can search thoroughly if you want cheaper ones. There are cheaper binoculars with enough qualities but, to be frank, those with extended quality are really pricey. So deep research is our suggestion.
From our side, we certainly recommend and suggest you have a little learning about binoculars before you buy one unit. In that manner, you will know what can fit your activity and the capability of its specs when you use it already. 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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