Binoculars for Stargazing, Nature Viewing, and More
Gone are the days when cameras were the most popular imaging device. Nowadays, smartphones have taken over this role. However, for many outdoor enthusiasts, binoculars remain a staple tool for various activities such as stargazing, birdwatching, hunting, and more. If you’re looking to get into outdoor hobbies, a good pair of binoculars is sure to elevate your experience. But, with so many options available, it can be challenging to know where to start. In this article, we’ll discuss the common uses for binoculars, what to consider when buying them, and the best binoculars for various activities.
Common Uses for Binoculars
Binoculars can be used for a wide range of activities and hobbies. When shopping for binoculars, there are two key parameters to consider: magnification and objective lens diameter. The first number in the specifications represents the magnification, while the second number represents the objective lens diameter. For example, 10×42 binoculars have a magnification of 10 times that of the human eye and an objective lens diameter of 42mm.
Birdwatching, or birding, is one of the most popular applications of binocular use. This age-old hobby continues to inspire clubs and enthusiasts worldwide, who use binoculars to spot different bird species. Binoculars with 8x and 10x magnification are great for birdwatching.
Hunting is another popular use for binoculars. Whether you’re hunting for food or sport, binoculars can be used to spot targets on land, in the air, and sometimes even in water. Binoculars with a magnification of 7x to 10x are commonly used for hunting, with 10x being the most popular choice.
Although telescopes are more commonly associated with stargazing, binoculars can also be a useful tool. They are more portable and easier to use, making them a popular choice among amateur astronomers. However, it’s essential to find a pair of binoculars that works well in low-light situations. For stargazing, a minimum magnification of 10x is recommended, with higher magnification being even better. But, binoculars can’t replace a telescope when it comes to exploring deeper into space.
Sporting Events, Theater, and Live Entertainment
Binoculars can make live events even more enjoyable. Whether you’re at a baseball game, opera, or outdoor music festival, binoculars with a magnification of 4x to 10x can bring the action up close.
Taking in your natural surroundings can be a serene and peaceful pastime. Binoculars can enhance this experience, whether you’re trail walking, hiking, or mountain climbing. For general nature viewing, binoculars with a magnification of 8x to 10x and a lens diameter of 35mm to 50mm are more than enough to provide a balanced field of view.
What to Consider When Buying Binoculars
The price range for binoculars is quite wide, ranging from $25 to $500. If you’re looking to spend $100 to $300, there are many trusted brands that offer great models in this price range. For those with more money to spend, high-tech binoculars can range from $600 to $3,000, with luxury binoculars costing $2,500 or more. It’s important to consider your budget before making a significant investment.
Roof Prism vs. Porro Prism
The prisms in binoculars act as mirrors to amplify images from the objective lenses to the ocular lenses, where you see images up-close. Porro prisms are the standard for modern-day binoculars and provide a clearer 3D image and a superior field of view. On the other hand, roof prism binoculars are more streamlined, making them lighter and more durable. If you plan to use your binoculars on the go or in the elements, roof prism is ideal. If clarity is your goal, Porro prism is the way to go.
Specialty binoculars come with a range of features, such as night vision, waterproofing, low light vision, adjustable eye relief, and image stabilization. These features are usually directly related to the price, so it’s important to consider your primary intended use before splurging on extras.
Best General Use Binoculars
Nikon ProStaff 3S 10×42 Binoculars
These binoculars are among the best on the market, featuring waterproofing, fog-proof lenses, long eye relief, and more. They are compact and lightweight, making them easy to carry with you on the go. The price point is also reasonable.
Dick’s Sporting Goods
Best Binoculars for Birdwatching
Nikon Aculon A211 10×42 Binoculars
The Nikon Aculon line is excellent for both beginner and experienced birders, providing a superior viewing experience at a budget price. The fast and smooth central focus knob allows for rapid adjustments, and the environmentally-friendly ECO-GLASS lenses provide clear and precise images.
Dick’s Sporting Goods
Best Binoculars for Hunting
Vortex Optics Viper HD Roof Prism Binoculars
These binoculars are made for hunting, being lightweight, compact, waterproof, and fog-proof. Experienced hunters praise this pair for its high-density optical system and anti-reflective lens coating, which provide enhanced image quality in the field.
Best Binoculars for Stargazing
Celestron Skymaster 25×100 Astro Binoculars