Binoculars Buying Guide
Welcome to our binoculars buying guide. While our range of binoculars can be used for a number of different interests and hobbies this guide will specifically be a binoculars buying guide for bird watching.
If you read our guide and still require assistance please reach out to us:
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We’ve all been there as nature lovers. We walk into a shop full of wonderful binoculars and feel totally over whelmed. The sheer amount of choice now means that its hard not to be.
Having been open for over a decade we have sold binoculars to a huge range of customers, from beginners to professional bird watchers. So no matter which category you fall into our guide will help guide you towards the right binocular for you.
However, after reading our guide, we strongly recommend giving us a call, dropping us an email, or visiting us in our North Norfolk shop where we have a huge range of binoculars available.
Pens down, eyes to the front of the class please pupils and listen carefully, this bit is important.
There are several key terms which we first need to understand before we can get anywhere near the right binocular.
First of all, lets look at some basic information which can be found on the focus wheel of most binoculars.
There are some other useful things to know which are often not shown on a binocular:
- Eye relief – The distance your eye should be from the binocular to get the optimum view. Users who wear glasses should aim for binoculars with a long eye relief.
- Phase Corrected – Phase corrected prisms stop the light entering the prism from dispersing, resulting in a brighter, crisper image.
- Close Focus – How close the binocular can focus. Anything under 2 metres will allow great viewing of insects and flowers.
- Exit Pupil – The diameter in millimetres of the beam of light which exits the binocular into the eyes. The larger the exit pupil the more light enters the eye which is useful in low light conditions.
- Lens Coatings – Higher quality binoculars use advanced coatings to enhance image quality, brightness, and reduce damage to lenses.
It is also worth being aware that there are two types of binocular commonly available; Roof Prism Binoculars and Porro Prism Binoculars.
Porro Prism Binoculars are the type you usually see in old war films. While they have improved since then they are also bigger and harder to waterproof than the more compact and easier to manufacture roof prism binoculars.
That’s the crash course in terminology done, lets move on.
What makes the perfect binoculars for bird watching?
The question we hear multiple times a day. Simply put there isn’t a single perfect binocular. Every one of us is different and therefore what will be perfect for you may not be perfect for me, and visa versa. So we have simplified matters by tackling the three major points that you should start with.
Step 1 – Budget
Even this can be difficult to answer as its often tricky to know just how much binoculars cost. However, more often than not, it is the best place to start.
The table below breaks down what you should be looking for at each price point in order to get a good pair of binoculars, with what each price point adds on top of the one below it. We have also listed our favourite binoculars at each price.
Step 2 – Size and Weight
It would be reasonable to assume that choosing magnification would be the next step. However, the size and weight of a binocular can dictate factors such as magnification and objective lens size. So we feel its important to consider how a binocular feels in the hand first as we find that if a binocular is too big and heavy then you are unlikely to use it.
Before choosing a binocular consider what you want it for and how the size and weight of it will affect that use. Its common sense but for someone going travelling with a strict weight limit choosing a large and heavy binocular is not the way to go. While someone keen on watching birds right up to sunset will probably want something with a larger objective lens, which will in turn increase weight and size.
A quick way to see how much weight you are comfortable with is to hold a 1KG bag of sugar. Pretty much all mainstream binoculars will be lighter than this, with the typical range being 250-850 grams, depending on specification.
Typically compact binoculars with an objective lens diameter of 25mm is going to be the smallest and lightest binocular available. Larger and heavier binoculars with an objective lens diameter of 42mm or more are generally better for higher magnification, viewing at long distance, and have better light gathering.
Step 3 – Specifications/Key Features
So we know how much we want to spend and the size and weight of a binocular we are happy with.
Now lets look at specifications
Remember to really think about what use your binocular is going to have when looking at these specifications. For example if you want a wide field of view it would be best to look at an 8×32 or 8×42.
Also refer back to the table in Step 1 and the Key Features column. While this list is not exhaustive we feel these are the key things to look for when choosing a binocular at a specific budget. There will be some variation but these features should guide you towards the right binocular for you.
Congratulations on passing your crash course in choosing the right binocular for you.
If you follow the steps we have learnt here then you will find the buying experience a whole lot easier.
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If you still have questions please reach out to us and we will be happy to help you further: