Top 5 Best Binoculars in 2020
Binoculars can magnify a view, making distant objects appear more clearly by making them look larger or closer. However, not all kinds of binoculars can provide a clear image. As such, you need to inspect the product’s features and specifications to ensure you’re buying a high-quality product.
No matter what you’re using your binoculars for, you’ll find what you need in this list of the best binoculars.
Types of Binoculars
- Galilean Binoculars – Named after Galileo Galilei, this type of binoculars is commonly used as opera glasses or toys. It uses a pair of concave eyepiece lens and convex objective to let you see far-away things more clearly. Unfortunately, Galilean binoculars have limitations. For one, they a narrow field of view. Moreover, they are not capable of producing a high degree of magnification.
- Porro Prism Binoculars – Named after Ignazio Porro, the Porro prism binoculars can be distinguished easily due to their classic design, which is a wide joint between two objective lenses. Plus, the optical pathway between the lenses is bent like the letter Z, resulting in wide and bulky binoculars. Typically, Porro prism binoculars are inexpensive, but they provide a high-quality image. However, this type of binoculars is not extremely durable.
- Roof Prism Binoculars –The roof prism binoculars may look simpler than the Porro prism binoculars, but they are more complicated on the inside. Plus, their optical pathways are narrow and straight, so they are smaller and lighter than the Porro prism binoculars. However, this type of binoculars is expensive due to its complicated optical system.
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Founded in 2002 by Daniel Hamilton, Vortex Optics is an American manufacturer of optical equipment for law enforcement, bird watching, wildlife watching, hunting, and other outdoor recreational sports. This company offers high-quality products that are not only efficient but built to last as well.
Aside from its rugged design, the Vortex Optics Diamondback 10×42 Classic Binoculars is also portable and comfortable, thanks to its lightweight aluminum casing. The casing is also sealed with O-rings and purged with argon gas, making it fog proof and waterproof. Also, the body of this binoculars, together with its diopter and focus ring, is rubberized for non-slip operation.
Additionally, this product has a magnification of 10x and an objective lens diameter of 42mm, which results in a field of view of 345 feet. Plus, it has a close focus of 5 feet, so you have a lot of focus range, enabling you to get a clear picture of faraway and nearby subjects. Moreover, it uses multi-coated lenses and phase-corrected prisms on a roof prism assembly to deliver a clear image with true color and contrast. Lastly, this product comes with several accessories, such as a rain guard, neck strap, tethered objective caps, and carry case.
- Great value for your money
- Features a VIP lifetime warranty
- Waterproof and fog proof protection
- Tripod adaptable
- Low glass quality
Headquartered in the USA, Bushnell Corporation was founded in 1948 by David Bushnell. This American company manufactures sporting optics and other outdoor equipment. All Bushnell products come with a reputation for excellence and decades of innovative thinking.
The Bushnell Legacy WP 8×42 Binoculars is an excellent option for those who are budget-minded. Aside from being well-built, this product also offers excellent performance. But, that’s not all. It also has a lot of great features.
This pair of binoculars from Bushnell comes with a Porro prism system with multi-coated optics for maximum light transmission. It also has BaK-4 prisms that ensure outstanding image clarity. The 8x magnification and 42mm objective lens diameter result in a wide field of view, making it the perfect choice for bird watchers and hunters who frequently use their binoculars at dusk and dawn.
Aside from those features, the body of this product is coated with a shock-absorbing rubber for a sure grip and ultimate protection. Moreover, it is 100% waterproof and fog proof, ensuring you the optics will not be damaged if you accidentally submerge it in water. Also, this product is great for those with glasses, thanks to its long eye relief and adjustable eyecups.
A downside for this amazing product is its size and weight. Unfortunately, it is bulkier and heavier due to its Porro prism system. Nonetheless, this pair of binoculars is one of the best in terms of price and performance.
- Clear, multi-coated optics
- Wide angle magnification for a wide field of view
- Rubber armor absorbs shock
- Limited lifetime warranty
- Eye pieces are not individually adjustable
Best for Bird Watching
Vortex Optics is often mentioned along with great optics. This is not surprising because this American company manufactures high-quality products made with premium material and world-class craftsmanship.
The Vortex Optics Viper HD 8×42 Binoculars has a compact size, making it the perfect tool for your bird watching adventures. For its features, it has a 8x magnification and a 42mm objective lens diameter, which results in a field of view of 341 feet. This field of view enables you to cover more ground when you’re searching for specific types of birds. Aside from that, its high-density optical system delivers superb resolution and clarity while its XR anti-reflective lens coatings provide a bright, full-view of your subject even in low light conditions.
This model also has a rubber-armored chassis with seamlessly placed thumb indents that is not only easy-to-grip but provides superior ergonomics as well. Plus, the chassis is also purged with argon gas and sealed with O-rings, making it a waterproof and fog proof product. Also, it has twist-up eyecups that rest comfortably against the face and provide excellent eye relief. Lastly, this pair of binoculars comes with a chest harness, allowing you to carry it all day with ease.
- Excellent Optical System
- Wide field of view
- Light and portable
- Exceptional eye relief
- Waterproof and fog proof
Best for Travel and Hiking
Leica is a renowned German company established in 1914. For over 100 years, this company has been manufacturing lenses, cameras, binoculars, ophthalmic lenses, and rifle scopes. Most Leica products are highly rated and popular due to its top-notch quality and innovative design.
Despite having a small objective lens diameter, the Leica Ultravid BR 10×25 Binoculars can offer exceptional brightness and great clarity. This benefit is due to its innovative design that combines phase-corrected BaK-4 roof prisms, HighLux system, and multi-coated optics to produce a clear and bright color-neutral image. Plus, the lenses are coated with AquaDura coatings that allow you to clean the lenses easily.
This product from Leica has a magnification of 10x and an objective lens diameter of 25mm, which results in a field of view of 273 feet. Furthermore, it has an aluminum alloy chassis that is enclosed in rubber armor, making it slip-resistant. Plus, it is fog proof and waterproof to up to 16.5 feet. Lastly, it weighs about 9.3 ounces, so you can carry it all day with ease.
Although a great product, the Leica Ultravid BR 10×25 Binoculars is expensive. Nevertheless, you’ll get all your money’s worth because this pair of binoculars is one of the best compact binoculars you can bring as you hike challenging trails or travel around the world.
- Small and lightweight
- Has a solid and stylish housing
- Waterproof to up to 16.5 feet
- Has easy to fold lens barrels
- Excellent focus system
- Easy to use
Best for Stargazing
Based in the USA, Gosby has been a popular brand of optics and accessories for many years. This company is committed to providing its customers with cost-effective yet high-quality products.
The Gosky SkyView 15×70 Binoculars is the perfect product for astronomy enthusiasts because it is built specifically for low-light viewing. Plus, its 15x magnification is great for single-point viewing, and its 70mm objective lens diameter can collect enough light so you can see the dimmest celestial bodies. However, its high magnification might be too much for other uses.
This model also has large BaK-4 roof prisms and fully multi-coated optics to boost image clarity and light transmission. Also, it comes with a smartphone digiscoping adapter that allows you to capture photos and videos and a tripod mount that creates a steady platform. Lastly, it has a durable aluminum polycarbonate housing wrapped in a rubber armor, which provides a non-slip and shock-proof grip.
- High magnification
- Large objective lens diameter for excellent image clarity in low light conditions
- Aluminum chassis
- Produce exceptional images
- Includes a smartphone digiscoping adapter and tripod adapter for taking photos and videos
- The magnification is too high for some casual users
What to Look for in Binoculars
Magnification is the number written before the x. For example, 10x means that the pair of binoculars can enlarge the image of an object ten times. For instance, a bird that is 1,000 meters away will appear as if it’s 100 meters away when you use a pair of binoculars with a 10x magnification. When buying, always opt for a product with a magnification between 7x to 12x.
Objective Lens Diameter
The objective lens is located on the opposite side of the eyepiece. Its diameter is important because it influences the amount of light that goes into the binoculars. For example, you’ll get better images under low light conditions if you have a pair of binoculars with a bigger objective lens. However, binoculars with a large objective lens are bigger and heavier. Thus, you need to pick a product that you can carry with ease. You can determine the size of the objective lens by checking the number after the x. An 8×40 lens creates a better image compared to an 8×25 lens.
Field of View
The field of view (FOV) is the visible area you’ll see in your binoculars as you look through them. In some cases, manufacturers will state the angle of view instead of the FOV. To determine the FOV, you can simply multiply the angle of view by 52.5. For example, an angle of view of 8 degrees will have a field of view of 420 feet. If you’re going to use a pair of binoculars for birdwatching, it is best to pick a product with a larger field of view.
Waterproof and Fog Proof
Binoculars are commonly used outdoors, so they must have some degree of waterproofing. Typically, manufacturers will indicate how long and how far a product can last underwater. As much as possible, pick a product that is waterproof, not weatherproof.
Meanwhile, fog proof can help prevent your lenses from fogging in humid or moist conditions. To achieve this, the binoculars must be filled with dry nitrogen or argon gas. Oftentimes, you’ll see in the description the terms “nitrogen filled” or “nitrogen purged” to denote that the product is fog proof.
Minimum or Close Focus
Close focus is the measure of how close you can get to your focus or subject and still get a clear image. This feature is vital if you like viewing insects, flowers, or birds on a nearby tree or bush. Typically, anything under 6.5 feet is an excellent choice.
The chassis is located underneath the rubber coating of binoculars. Most of the time, this shell is made from polycarbonate plastic, aluminum, or magnesium. Most budget-friendly binoculars use a polycarbonate material for its housing. Aside from costing less, this material is also lightweight and less susceptible to contraction and expansion caused by temperature. However, binoculars made with polycarbonate are not as strong as those with metal housings.
The weight of the binoculars is also vital. Remember, you’re going to use it for an extended period, so it is crucial to pick a product that you can carry with ease.
If you’re wearing eyeglasses, you must consider eye relief. In general, binoculars with good amounts of eye relief are great choices. Plus, you also need to opt for a product with comfortable eyecups.