Choosing the right binoculars for the right price can be somewhat confusing. There are plenty of brands and models to choose from and many technical aspects to consider. This guide covers the basics of choosing a good pair of binoculars for traveling, general use, sports watching or a special gift to your loved one. We’ve also listed our Top 5 All-Around Binoculars for 2018. If you’re looking for birding, astronomy, hunting or marine binoculars, you might want to check out our more specific Buyer Guides.
What Do the Numbers Mean?
Binoculars are always represented by two numbers. The first number being the magnification, also referred to as the power or zoom, and the second number being the lens size. 10×42, for example, means 10x magnification and 42mm lenses.
What is the Ideal Magnification?
High magnification means you will be able to see further. For general use and travel binoculars 7x 8x or 10x will be plenty. The problem with any more than 10x magnification is that you will NOT be able to get a steady image while using your binoculars. Every little hand movement or shake will be magnified resulting in an unstable image. This can only be resolved by using a tripod. So for good, affordable and easy to use binoculars simply go for 8x or 10x magnification.
What is the Best Lens Size?
Bigger lenses mean more light coming in which means a brighter image. If you will be using your binoculars only at daytime or where there is plenty of light, then this is not an issue. You can choose any size lens (20mm to 42mm). Small lenses mean compact and lighter binoculars that are easy to carry around anywhere. If you intend to use your binoculars early mornings, twilight or even at night, you will want to choose 42mm or 50mm binoculars. You will then enjoy brighter images but also suffer from a heavier, bulkier pair of binoculars. That said, many people are more than happy to carry and hold large binoculars to get better, brighter images. Some actually find large binoculars easier to hold and stabilise. The most common choice for binoculars and a good balance between power and size is 8×42 or 10×42.
What Other Features Should I Consider?
Features like waterproof and fog-proof are not a must but are definitely favourable. Especially for frequent use in extreme weather conditions. Another feature to look for is long eye relief. In plain English, this means that you will be able to hold your binoculars further away from your eyes and still see a clear image. This is important if you’ll be wearing your glasses or sunglasses while using the binoculars. Most mid-priced binoculars have a long enough eye relief for all users. So you will be able to use them either with or without your eyeglasses.
Which Brand Should I Get?
When it comes to binoculars, European brands have the best optics. This is why they are also the most expensive ones. Carl Zeiss binoculars are perhaps the best around if you can afford them. Prices for this brand average between $1,000 to $3,500. Our more affordable brands include Nikon, Avalon, Olympus, Fujinon (FujiFilm), Bushnell, Vortex and others. These all offer excellent binoculars for every type of user. Prices range from $100 to $800 for a perfectly good pair, which can often last you a lifetime.
How Much Should I Spend on Binoculars?
You can buy very basic binoculars for as cheap as $50. Russian binoculars as well as lower range models of Simmons, Tasco, Vanguard and others. Unfortunately, these will often have a blurry image – especially when using the higher magnifications. Cheap binoculars will also provide a darker, fuzzier image in low light conditions and might be harder to focus. Here at Procular, we believe in providing the right binoculars to the right users and at the right price. We only stock quality brand name binoculars you will love to use! And you can purchase a solid quality pair of binoculars for as low as $100-$400. With optics, you really do get what you pay for but we do have a few outstanding choices for very affordable prices. Below is a list of our best-selling travel / general use binoculars that we believe are also the best bang for your buck:
Our Top 5 All-Around Binoculars for 2018
** Note: All 5 binoculars recommended below are suitable for eyeglasses users **