What Is It
Binoculars are, basically, 2 mirror-symmetrical tubes with lots of lenses, mirrors, and a prism. Simple as they are, binoculars give quite a lot of opportunities for people of different professions. As you know, binoculars are used for observing the distant objects that are too far for human eyesight to spot. Thanks to binoculars, you can zoom the object in and see every single detail of it. Who needs it? Lots of people. Binoculars make it possible for us to watch birds, to orient during a hiking tour, to watch the surface of the Moon, to see faces of your favorite music band during concerts, and so on. And it's self-evident that binoculars are an absolute must-have for any hunter or a border guard! In general, if you like nature and wilderness, you should certainly get a cool pair of binoculars.
Those who adore backpacking and camping will also appreciate our review of the best Sleeping Bags that are necessary for spending nights in the open country.
What Features to Compare
Magnification and Lens
There are 3 major features you need to pay attention to when choosing binoculars: a magnification rate, a front lens diameter, and the exit pupil. The quality of what you are going to see through any binoculars depends primarily on them. Let's explain each parameter so that you understand what they mean. So, the magnification rate tells you how many times you can enlarge a distant object. The more the better but the quality and accuracy suffer. If you need binoculars for birding, choose a model that has a magnification rate of 8x and lower - you will be able to find the object and focus on it rather quickly. If you wish to observe a pride of lions from afar in Africa - choose binoculars with a higher magnification rate. The diameter of the front lens impacts a viewing angle and the amount of light the lens can collect. Thus, the wider the lens is, the more you will be able to see. Finally, consider the exit pupil. It depends on the previous feature and the higher the exit pupil is, the better you will be able to see in the evening. Be careful when choosing lens parameters, consider what you need binoculars for, then proceed to the other important aspects described further on.
Now, it's time to consider the optic system of all binoculars in our review. The keystone is a prism that transforms and rotates an image so that our eyes can see the object as it is, not upside down. The prism and the material it's made of are really important since it impacts the quality of what you see and the size of the binoculars. Today, 2 major types of prisms are used: roof and porro. Roof prisms are smaller and, therefore, binoculars with roof prisms are more compact, too. However, porro prisms are rather popular even today; it's a classic design of binoculars. The units with a porro prism are usually quite convenient to carry and hold. Next, find out what type of material a prism is made of - it impacts the view you see. As usual, 2 types of glass are used to produce prisms: BAK4 and BAK7. BAK7 prisms are usually installed on cheaper models but there's a drawback - the view on the sides will be more obscure than that in the center. BAK4 prisms are far superior in terms of the view they produce. Also, the best binoculars have a multi-layer coating of lenses and prism - it helps get a rather bright view even in the dusk.
In the end, you need to consider how convenient binoculars are and if you will feel comfortable using it. So, what to start with? First of all, pay attention to the material all binoculars are made of and what coating they have. If you need binoculars for really extreme situations, choose a reinforced or magnesium chassis (shock-resistant and durable). The chassis should be rubberized so that the unit doesn't slip out of your hands. Also, find out if binoculars are waterproof - if yes, you will be able to use a unit during the rain or when fording a river. A shift in the temperatures leads to the appearance of fog on the lenses and that mustn't happen to binoculars, so we recommend you to get the one with a fog proof chassis. And no need to mention, binoculars should be quite lightweight in order not to be a burden for you. How to make it fog proof? It's easy - such binoculars are filled with some gas (usually, nitrogen), which is invisible to a human eye but prevents fogging. Also, don't forget to check some other convenience features: for example, twist-up eyecups allow you to use binoculars even wearing glasses. And if you have different eyesight on your eyes, pick binoculars with a diopter adjustment (an appropriate ring is usually on the right eyecup). Finally, the more you zoom up, the 'shakier' the view will be and you might need a tripod. However, most binoculars are tripod adaptable.