Binoculars are simple objects. You grab them with two hands, put them in front of your eyes and see a little bit farther than you normally can. This simple device is good for so many things – there are many practical applications and uses for a decent pair of binoculars.
So how hard can it be to buy one? You’re only supposed to visit a store, find one that works, pay and take it away. It’s such an easy process. Normally, you wouldn’t even need a buying guide like this one.
But of course, that’s only applicable to the people out there who aren’t very concerned with the visual quality of the binoculars they’re buying. Those people are more likely to end up unsatisfied with the model they bought. They are also more likely to scratch their heads and wonder why their binoculars “aren’t working properly”. At the very least, they might end up with binoculars that aren’t right for them.
You, on the other hand, took the time to do a little research on the subject. You know exactly what you’re planning to use your binoculars for, and you know the kind of service quality you want. Now all you want is to find a good pair of binoculars that will do exactly what you want it to.
From this fact alone, we can tell that you’re ready to invest some time and money just to get the perfect one. You’re probably a hobbyist, or perhaps you’re seeking inspiration from afar. We’ll discuss all those different uses for binoculars on a different article. For now, we’ll focus on giving you what you want – a reference guide that will show you all the best binoculars you can get your hands on.
This is where it gets a bit more complicated. For people like us, binoculars aren’t as simple as they are viewed by the public. There are a lot of things that you should know before you can make the right decision. There are plenty of factors to take into consideration, and you basically need to understand how binoculars work before you can pick one.
This is why we believe that those who are choosing one at random have a very little chance of getting something that works best for them.
But don’t worry, we’re here to help you simplify the process by defining some of the terms that you might encounter along the way. Later on, we’ll talk about all the great binoculars we think would serve you well, if you think you’re not ready to pick a model on your own.
Binoculars are basically just two telescopes paired together with aligned mirrors. Although that’s not the most accurate description, it is at least a device that you can use both eyes with – something that a telescope could not do because it requires you to close one eye.
These magical things use a series of lenses that reflect off of one another to magnify your view of distant people, objects, and places.
There are two main types of binoculars, and it depends on what kind of prism a model uses. The roof prism allows for a straighter and more streamlined look, while the Porro prism results in bigger and bulkier models. Both prisms function the same way: to straighten out the image so that it looks natural instead of displaying backwards.
Generally, binoculars with the Porro prism are cheaper and provide a greater depth of field. And while the roof prism will give you a model that’s more compact and easier to hold, you’ll find that Porro prism binoculars are more practical in the long run.
Binoculars will offer you different magnification. These are what the numbers refer to when you’re looking at the model’s specs. A 10×42 model for example means that the binoculars will have a 10x magnification power, making the image appear 10 times closer than they normally do. The second number refers to the diameter of the objective lens in millimeters. So basically, larger objectives will add considerable bulk and weight, but it will also show you more.
In relation to this, there are many zoom binoculars available out there, and they can help you cover more ground, allowing for a degree of versatility. But take note that images won’t consistently look good as you zoom further in. The image quality might suffer the closer you go.
The type of glass is important if you want a better experience while looking into your chosen model. Generic optical glass might do just fine, but they may also have imperfections. Specialized glass on the other hand, are polished correctly to make sure the images aren’t distorted.
Models with the so-called Eco-glass can have either kind of service quality, but they won’t add to chemical pollution once your binoculars are disposed of.
So what’s the difference between BAK4, BK7, and SK15 prisms? BAK4 is considered the best type of prism material. It has a high refractive index and lower critical angle than other materials.
BK7 is more commonly used because it is cheaper and has excellent light-transmission properties, though at a considerably lower quality than the BAK4.
Meanwhile, SK15 provides some sort of middle ground for these two prisms. Images shown through this type are often clear and with high contrast.
Depending on what you’re planning to do with it, you may want binoculars that are weather-resistant, waterproof or fog-proof. For these special purposes, you must beware of binoculars that have no ratings as they will not give you any sort of resistance to these elements.
Weather-resistant models will keep away moisture and light mist; waterproof models will keep the internal components from getting wet for a specific period of time; fog-proof binoculars can prevent fogging within the optical tubes.
Just remember that not all waterproof binoculars are fog-proof, but all fog-proof binoculars are waterproof.
These are some of the factors that are most relevant to everyone who wants to buy their first pair of binoculars. There are more things that can affect the service of a certain model, and you’ll just need your observant eye for those. Now let’s proceed with some of our recommendations in terms of the best binoculars out there!
We were just talking about binoculars that can keep away certain elements, so we might as well begin our list with a high quality model of the same kind. Meet the Bushnell H2O Waterproof/Fogproof Roof Prism Binoculars.
At a price of less than $80 dollars, you can get this awesome model that offers optics with stunning clarity. That’s the benefit of buying binoculars. All images are nice and 3-dimensional. But this one goes beyond that by offering you something comparable to HD.
It has a simple yet durable design that not only resists damage, but also keeps water away from its internal structure. It is nitrogen purged and has an O-ring seal to keep your binoculars from rusting from the inside. This ensures a fog-free performance for a long time.
It makes use of BAK4 prisms and multi-coated optics – a great deal for this price range. Lastly, it has an 8x magnification and a 42mm objective diameter. The images are sharp, clear, and you’ll definitely love this model for it.
Want great optics at a low price? Then you’ve come to the right place. This next model is a great combination of service quality and affordability – it’s perfect for those who don’t want to invest too much on a pair of binoculars.
The Nikon 8245 ACULON A211 8×42 Binoculars currently costs under $90 dollars, but it’s designed to be as light as possible to keep your experience convenient. This is handy for prolonged periods of sightseeing. Made for comfort, it also has turn-and-slide rubber eyecups for comfortable viewing for extended use.
Thanks to its spherical multi-coated eco-glass lenses, images are bright and clear under most lighting conditions. It even has a non-slip rubber-armored coating that prevents it from slipping when wet.
Much like the Bushnell H2O Waterproof/Fogproof Roof Prism Binoculars, it is an 8×42 model, the only difference is that this is just a tad bit more expensive. Still, it’s a very cheap model.
Why spend a lot when you can invest wisely instead?
If you thought Nikon and Bushnell’s previous offering was cheap enough, get ready to be blown away. The Bushnell Falcon 7×35 Binoculars is currently sold at a whopping price of less than $25 dollars. Talk about saving money! And the fact that it made it on our list of the best binoculars only proves that it’s one worth talking about.
Here’s what you get for that price. You’ll have a simple pair of binoculars that provide 7x magnification, and a 42mm objective diameter. It’s got an auto-focusing Porro prism that’s convenient and provides crystal clear visuals. That said, it is also quite bulky.
However, that doesn’t mean it is any less convenient. Its 21-ounce weight makes it easy to carry around, and it’s even got a 12mm eye relief.
This is one of the reasons why Bushnell is such a well-trusted manufacturing company. This, and the other products from the Falcon series, only proves how good the manufacturer is in terms of making high quality binoculars. Durable, cheap, and efficient, this model can help you out in a wide range of outdoor activities.
This list wouldn’t be complete without one of the cheapest options out there. The only thing that’s keeping the Tasco Essentials 10x 25mm Compact Binoculars from becoming one of those cheap dime-a-dozen binoculars is that it actually performs very well.
This unit is currently priced at a little over $10 dollars – you would think it won’t be able to serve you well. But it’s actually got a good magnification and objective diameter at 10x25mm. Fully coated, this model also uses a roof-type prism, which is unusual for something at this price range.
For your convenience, it has fold-down eyecups and rubber-armored housing. The latter feature absorbs shock and protects the model from bumps and bruises.
We’re now entering the territory of the best binoculars under $200 dollars. The price might be going up, but it’s a steady stream of great performances from these next few models. The Nikon 16002 PROSTAFF 7S 8×42 Inches All-Terrain Binoculars for example, is one pair of binoculars that’s hard to compare with anything else. It makes every dollar worth it, and it only costs around $190 dollars.
Whether you’re the kind who likes staring at nature and viewing wonderful scenery or you’re one to bring binoculars to the theater, you’ll find a couple of reasons to love this 8×42 all-terrain binoculars.
Color and clarity are both key elements that a good model must have. But rather than just giving you those two ingredients, it also throws in a handy dose of convenient features to keep you comfortable. It’s got multilayer coated lenses, phase correction coated roof prisms, and even a rubber armored body that will protect it from getting damaged when dropped while also providing extra grip.
You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to understand how the Nikon 8252 ACULON A211 10-22×50 Zoom Binoculars work. All binoculars should be simple and easy to use, but sadly it’s not as easy to figure out all the crazy terms used in making one.
So to put it simply, this model was made to be as light as possible. Who would want to carry around a heavy metal scope for hours and hours? No one. And so this pair of binoculars was designed ergonomically.
This 22×50 zoom binoculars are perfect for those who love stargazing and admiring the beauty of space from their balconies. It only costs around $160 dollars, and it gives you the ability to see beyond what your naked eye allows.
It’s also got easy-to-reach fingertip zoom control knob that lets you adjust the distance and zoom in closer to a subject without ever leaving your spot.
If you observe most of the binocular offerings from Nikon, you’ll notice that many of them look alike. Just maintain your watchful eye while you take a look at their specs because most of the time they are worlds apart in terms of service capabilities.
What remains a constant between all Nikon binoculars is their ergonomic design and multi-purpose functionality – something that also applies to the Nikon 8248 ACULON A211 10×50 Binoculars.
In terms of price, this is more affordable than the Nikon 8252 ACULON A211 10-22×50 Zoom Binoculars, at just a little over $110 dollars, but its reach is slightly more limited. This is a 10×50 model.
As for the features, it boasts turn-and-slide rubber eyecups that provide a more comfortable viewing experience, as well as a durable rubber-armored coating. Additionally, it has Eco-glass lenses that help you preserve the environment by simply not adding to chemical waste.
If you’re ready to invest a little more money for a pair of binoculars that you’re sure will serve you well, then these next models will stun you with their brilliance. The Nikon 7576 MONARCH 5 8×42 Binoculars are specifically designed to be more compact and easy to use than your regular pair.
Like all the other units from the Monarch 5 set, these binoculars are built with Nikon’s extra-low dispersion glass that provides a sharper, clearer, and more brilliant field of view. It’s the perfect tool for sightseeing! And thanks to its specialized design, this model is lighter than its predecessor, making it easier to handle for longer periods.
The good news is that it only costs nearly $290 dollars – and it’s one worthwhile investment if you’re in real need of a great pair of binoculars. This 8×42 model will not fail to impress.
Breaking the stream of Nikon offerings is a decent offering from Carson – a model that costs just a little over $250 dollars, but is capable of giving you high-end service quality. We’re talking about the Carson 3D Series High Definition Waterproof Binoculars.
Offering sharper and brighter images, using this model is like watching through an HDTV – except you’re watching real life. This pair of binoculars has a rubberized armor coating as well as a waterproof and fog-proof design, which makes it perfect for hunting trips and any other rough terrain.
It comes packaged with a deluxe carry case, a neck strap, a shoulder harness – perfect for those who aren’t satisfied with a mere strap – and a lens cloth. This model has great value written all over it.
If you’re planning to go into rough terrain, you might want to have the Nikon 7246 Action 12×50 EX Extreme All-Terrain Binoculars around to help you navigate. It is waterproof, fog-proof, and even shock-proof!
It covers a wide view, being a 12×50 model. It also sports an all-metal chassis in lightweight polycarbonate shell. This provides an extra layer of durability. For firm grip, it has a rubber-coated body.
That alone already seems enough. But we haven’t even mentioned its key features yet such as its BAK4 high index prisms, is tripod adaptable body, and its Diopter control that regulates vision imbalance.
Binoculars are easy to use, but they are not so easy to understand. It’s a complicated process manufacturers go into just to make sure their products are top-notch. Our only job is to enjoy these wonderful Binocular offerings and make the most out of them. We’re here to provide you with guides like this to make choosing even easier – the rest is all up to you!