Binoculars Buyer's Guide

Binoculars are optical devices with two identical mirrors mounted side by side and pointed in one direction. Each mirror is designed to be viewed through the users eye, allowing them to view a distant object with an excellent sense of distance and depth perception. Binoculars are essential instruments in hunting, bird watching, stargazing, underwater observation, military applications and sports & entertainment watching. Typically binoculars are lightweight, compact and portable.

Types of Binoculars

Porro Prism Binoculars - Classic shape, eyepieces are close together while the objective lenses are a bit far apart. Porro prism binoculars are generally lightweight and durable. Most models feature rubber armors and fold-down eyecups. Porro prism binoculars can have dioptres that allow for individual eye adjustments. Porro prism binoculars are ideal for stargazing and bird watching.

Roof Prism Binoculars - More compact, roof prism binoculars gather more light than porro prism binoculars making them more expensive. They offer substantial eye relief, preventing and eye discomfort such as tunnel vision problems. Roof prism binoculars are heavier weighing in at 900 grams. Most models are equipped with central focusing mechanisms for making individual eye adjustments. Most models have focusing wheels for clearer images. They can be built with twisting or pullout eyecups. Roof prism binoculars are ideal for astronomical, marine and sporting purposes.

Astronomical Binoculars - Mainly used for observing stars, meteors and comets. Astronomical binoculars have excellent light gathering capabilities that allow the viewing of distant objects even in a dark environment. Astronomical binoculars usually has large apertures, which makes them heavy and uncomfortable for handling. Astronomical Binoculars are available in handheld and fixed designs. Some models come with tripod sockets for attaching tripods.

Wildlife Binoculars - Great for hunting and bird watching, they are lightweight - making them more comfortable for extended use. Most models of wildlife binoculars feature excellent exit pupil and medium light gathering capabilities and magnification. Close focus, wide field of view, excellent contrast for distinguishing one animal from another are provided in most models.

Marine Binoculars - Based for marine and underwater observations these binoculars are waterproof with rubber armor designs. Low powered for easy operation in moving boats - most models have large aperatures ideal for viewing gray oceans or skies. Marine binoculars have excellent light gathering and increased contrast capabilities. Some models can be used for general purposes and some models come with built in compasses and distance scales.

Opera Glasses Binoculars - Mainly used for watching plays, operas and other theatre performances. Ultra small, lightweight and sleek - typically with a fancy finish. They have a fixed focus with a 3x - 5x magnification.

Sporting Binoculars - Function like opera binoculars, these are mainly used for watching sports in arenas, courts or oval fields. Lightweight, compact and comfortable to use with a fixed focus of 3x - 5x typically.

Choosing Binoculars

Weight - Choose lightweight and compact binoculars to make them easy and comfortable to use over long periods of time. Heavier binoculars often become tiring to hold. If you are looking for hands free use, get a pair of binoculars that can be attached to a tripod.

Exit Pupils - Choose binoculars with circular and uniformly bright exit pupils for excellent image qualitiy.

Objective Lenses - Look for binoculars with accurately made objective lenses. They should show no signs of dirt, scratches or other damages that can distort the viewed images.