10 Questions to Help you Choose Binoculars
There are so many binoculars out there, it can be tricky to know what to look for. Why do some cost $20 and others $1000? Whether you need binoculars for your annual hike, are getting ready for your first big hunt or are taking up birdwatching, the questions below will help you narrow down your binocular choices.
1. What type of binoculars do you want?
There are four types of binoculars – compact, full, mid, giant.
Compact binoculars are good for carrying in a small bag or pocket and can be helpful to have handy on a hike or at a concert or show.
Midsize and Fullsize binoculars are good for hunters who want a higher quality of binocular.
Giant binoculars are more popular among astronomers. You may also see them at visitor’s centers of scenic locations. Military and Police also make use of these large optics.
2. What power and objective do you want?
All binoculars are labeled with a power and an objective number. Ex. 8 x 32mm. The first number is the power, the second is the objective or diameter of the objective lens (the large lens opposite where you place your eyes).
Powers start at 4 and go up to 32 or higher. Higher does not necessarily mean better in this case. If you have the power too high, closer images can become blurry. To choose which power is best for you, you’ll need to determine what you’re using the binoculars for. Hunters usually want a 10 power if they need to look across great distances. Birdwatchers will usually not need a power as high as their objects are usually closer to them. Serious astronomers will need the highest power as their objects are the greatest distance away.
The objective can range from about 20 mm to over 150 mm. A larger objective will let more light in, improving you visibility at dawn and dusk. Once again, a larger number is not always better. The most popular objective size among hunters is 42 mm. Optimal objective sizes range greatly depending on your binocular usage.
3. What field of view do you want?
The field of view is the range of area you will see around the object you are directing the binoculars towards. Binoculars with a greater field of view will allow you to see a greater area to either side of your focus point. You’ll want a greater field of view if your binocular use requires that you see a greater range of the distance.
4. Do you need them to adapt to a tripod?
This feature may not apply to you, but if you are planning on setting a tripod up to look over a certain scenic area, you will want binoculars that can adapt to that tripod. You may also want to use a tripod if you have shaky hands or worry about not having your binoculars be steady and level.
5. Do you want waterproof binoculars?
Getting binoculars that are waterproof is especially important if you could be hunting in rain or if you are planning to take them in a canoe. It is a good idea to get waterproof binoculars as you may find yourself caught in rain unexpectedly while in the middle of looking at something great through your binoculars.
6. Do you want coating on the lenses?
Having coated lenses is important if you anticipate using your binoculars in cool morning hours as the coating will prevent your lenses from fogging.