Otherwise known as field glasses, binoculars are two telescopes aligned to allow the viewer to see distant objects. Most binoculars are sized to be handheld, but they vary according to use.

Binoculars provide the viewer with a three-dimensional image. Numerous designs have emerged on the market since people use binoculars for various uses. 

The activity one engages in determines the type of binoculars they select. Binoculars are not a one-size-fits-all item. 

How do you know what the different types of binoculars are and which ones to choose?

To answer that question, we delved into the different activities that one might need to use binoculars and how it would benefit them. We also determined the best type of binoculars required for each activity.

Hunting

Regardless of the form of hunting one engages in, binoculars are a necessary item for the hunter to take with to the game.

Unlike the rifle scope, hunters use both eyes to track down their prey. The biggest reason that hunters need binoculars is that they cannot get close to their prey. That’s due to the prey posing a danger to the hunter, or the hunter not wanting to scare away the prey by getting close to its proximity.

Hunters use binoculars to observe their surroundings and spot their prey. The binoculars help the hunter to determine the species, sex, or range of the prey. 

Hunters will need to determine the magnification and the field-of-view (FOV) applicable to them. Higher magnification does not mean that the binoculars are the best option, as it makes it more difficult to stabilize the image.

The other drawback of high magnification is that it narrows the FOV. Hunters who hunt in wide, open spaces should opt for high magnification binoculars. The best option for those hunters is the 10x magnification.

Hunters who stalk their prey in woods should choose a pair with low magnification (1).

Stargazing

Nothing beats lying on the grass at night or on a beach and looking up at the stars. The only thing that would surpass that is having good equipment.

While telescopes are a popular item for stargazing, binoculars might be less commonly used but are better. Since most telescopes use a single eyepiece, binoculars use two. 

Manufacturers such as Canon have designed binoculars with large objective lenses to let in more light at night, as well as higher magnifications to enable the viewer to see further. 

Depending on the binoculars that you choose, you can see 25 to 50 times more stars with them than with unaided eyes. That’s a possibility due, not just to the magnification alone, but to the “phenomena of perceptive narrowing driving a flow state.” (2)

What the layman would call focus or clarity.

The binoculars that Canon has designed enable the viewer to see 15x and even 18x magnification into space. Their 10X42L IS WP binoculars provide a brighter viewing for night gazing (3).

Opera

Believe it or not, the people who have field glasses in front of their eyes at operas are not only doing it to look suave. 

Although opera glasses are binoculars, they are specialized binoculars.

Manufacturers have designed opera glasses for indoor settings and theatrical performances such as ballet, opera, and musical performances. Patrons use the glasses to see fine details and facial expressions of the performers that most of the audience, usually, miss. 

Viewers who use opera glasses will find that a low magnification of 3x or 4x is the most relevant. 5x magnification is uncommon. 

The reason for the low magnification is that the glasses enable you to see a wider view of the stage, as well as close enough to see the details without missing the bigger picture.

Remember, the field of view decreases when the magnification increases. 3x opera glasses provide a 385 ft field of view. 4x glass provide a 228 ft FOV and 8x will provide only 126 ft FOV (4).

Manufacturers have designed opera glasses to be small so that it can fit into a pocket or a purse. Opera glasses contain roof prisms and have a single focus wheel to focus both eyes simultaneously.

Bird Watching

Spending the day in nature while looking at interesting birds is a favorite past-time for many people. The main reason that people use binoculars for bird watching is to see the detail of the bird while keeping a distance to avoid scaring it.

Binoculars enable the viewer to see the shape, size, and colors of the bird with unbelievable clarity. 

Choosing the right type of binoculars for bird watching can be challenging since what one viewer might deem important might not be important to another viewer.

Here are some of the things that bird watchers should consider when choosing binoculars. 

Magnification is, obviously, important. Bird watchers should choose between 7x, 8x, or 10x. If the bird watcher uses the binoculars for tree-dense areas such as forest, opt for 8x to 10x. For marshes or shorelines, bird watchers should choose 8x to 12x. (5)

Waterproofing is another feature to have if viewing birds early in the morning or close to beaches and lakes. Binoculars sealed with Q-rings are moisture-proof.

Determining the size and weight that is suitable for your hands is important to gauge if you can keep the binoculars at eye level for extended periods without shaking.

Sport Viewing

Watching sports on television is a different experience than watching it live. Some people say that it’s better to watch it on TV since you can’t get a good view when you’re sitting at the back of a large stadium.

If you have the relevant binoculars, watching sports live is better since you can see the players close while experiencing the ambiance. 

The first thing to determine is if you’re going to use the binoculars for indoor or outdoor use. You wouldn’t use the same pair of binoculars to see your favorite soccer player as you would to see the biggest basketball star.

Sports fans who are at outdoor events should opt for magnification of 8x to 12x. If you are indoors, you should opt for a range of 4x to 8x. For sports games that happen at night, we recommend that you choose binoculars that have a large exit pupil, offering a brighter view.

If the binoculars provide good optical performance, it will enable you to see facial expressions clearly at night. 

For indoor arenas, the viewer would opt for a wide field of view, hence the lower magnification. You need to grasp all the action that happens at a fast pace but also be close enough to the action. 

Final Thoughts

It should be obvious by now that certain activities will require a particular pair of binoculars. We have made suggestions about the binoculars that provide the best vision for the individual activities, but it is up to you to determine your preference.

After all, your preference might be different than the common use. The important take-aways are that the magnification and the field of view need to coincide so that you get the optimal viewing experience from binoculars.

Before purchasing binoculars, make sure to test them by looking through them, as that will help you to ascertain if you can hold them for prolonged periods. It will also help you to find out if they’re suitable and comfortable for your eyes. 

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