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As the most used piece of viewing equipment in the world, binoculars are quite versatile and a person will always have a need for them. The kind of binoculars one must have, depends on how they will be used and for what purpose. Hobbyists, serious enthusiasts, and hunters may require more functions thus investing in more sophisticated types of binoculars.

However, for the average person, a more budget-friendly pair might be good enough. Whether you looking for the best compact binoculars for hiking or good binoculars for birding, there are a lot of good binoculars available on the market. You will surely find the best pair that fits your needs.

How To Choose Your Binoculars?

For General Use (Hiking, Sports, Concerts, Outdoor Activities)

A compact, lightweight and preferably with a wide-angle for a wide field of view is recommended. With magnifications that range usually between 7x to 10x, these are more than enough to view subjects clearly. These types of binoculars are easy to store in your pockets or strap around your neck.

Hunting And Bird Watching

For hunting purposes, a wider field of view is preferred to locate objects of interest easier. Magnification between 7x to 12x will work well with this type of outdoor activity. However, at higher magnifications, you may have to use a tripod for better stability as slight hand movements may result in unstable images.

For bird watching, a magnification of 10x or 12x with objective lenses of 42 or 50 millimeters is recommended to include seeing more minute details of small birds from afar. Consider choosing binoculars with longer eye relief and a close focus for comfort and a more personal bird watching experience.

Boating And Marine Binoculars

High magnification binoculars are not usually advised when you are on the water. Binoculars with 7x up to 10x magnification work well under these conditions. Also choose a larger-sized objective lens, at least 42 or 50 millimeters. The most important feature you may want to consider is waterproofing, binoculars with rubber armor coating are also good for a secure grip.

What To Look For In Binoculars?

A High-Quality Glass Of Prisms And Lenses

For the best viewing experience, the displayed images must be of high resolution and color fidelity. This is guaranteed only trough premium prisms and lenses. The glass type and its coatings make the differnce in binoculars performance and the price. For example, be sure to go with BaK-4 prisms they are superior to BK-7 glass. Phase correction of the prisms enhances color fidelity and richness of detail.

In addition, the brightness of the binoculars (light-transmission) is very important when viewing in twilight during the morning, evening or in a dense forest. Higher light transmission is achieved by full multiple coating to reduce reflections.

Magnification And Objective Lens Size

Increased magnification does not always mean better image quality since this reduces the overall brightness of the image as well as narrowing your field of view. Generally, 7x or 8x is fine unless you need more for specific long-distance viewing.

You may want to consider the size of the objective lenses more. As a rule, the larger the lens, the more light is allowed to enter, resulting in a brighter image. However, it does add to the overall weight of the unit.

Field Of View

Opt for binoculars with a wide field of view – low magnification if you plan to use your binoculars scanning and searching n broad areas. A wide field of view will prevent you from frequently moving your binoculars around as you look through them, especially for fast-moving subjects, this will help you spot them easier.

narrow field of view – high magnification is what you need when observing small stuff in detail or you viewing very far objects.

Eye Relief

This is particularly important for people who need to wear eyeglasses, ideally, at least an eye relief of 12 mm to 14 mm or more is recommended if you want to view the full image as it is without glasses on. With good eye relief, you can hold the binoculars’ eyepiece against your glasses.

Additional Features You May Want To Consider

  • Water-resistant or waterproof. If you plan to use your binoculars in activities that may expose the unit to water or fog it would be better to invest in models specifically designed for water exposure. This will prevent inner optics from getting moist and fogged-over.
  • Image Stabilization. Binoculars with this feature have integrated sensors designed to detect slight movements such as shakes and vibrations caused by hand movements. For a steady view, this technology adjusts the optics to compensate for movement.
  • Multi-coated lenses. Quality models usually offer multi-coated lenses as they greatly improve image quality, giving the user a detailed view of the subject with balanced contrast and clarity.
  • Rangefinder. If you’re planning to use your binoculars for really long-distance viewing, opt for one with this feature. Binoculars with this feature allow the user to know how far he is from the subject.