What is the best magnification for binoculars

by Genius Sky October 15, 2021 4 min read

What is the best magnification for binoculars - SkyGenius Online

For beginners, it can be confusing to choose the binoculars with the optimal magnification. Below are some key factors for choosing the best magnification for binoculars.


What do the numbers on binoculars mean?

The numbers on binoculars provide information about the power (magnification) and size (lens diameter).

For example, on 10x50 binoculars, “10” represents the magnification.

What does magnification mean on binoculars

“50” refers to the diameter of the objective lenses.

What does lens diameter mean on binoculars

The size of the objective lens tells you how big the binoculars are and how much light they can collect.

Understanding what these numbers mean on binoculars can help you choose binoculars that are suitable for bird watching, stargazing, or hunting.

Why are binoculars with similar features more expensive than others?


Optics inside the binoculars are very expensive

Binoculars differ in price by hundreds of dollars because of the optics inside. The further development of optics is one of the reasons for this.

Depending on the purpose, it is worthwhile to look out for additional features such as rubber coating, waterproofness and anti-fogging.


How do I choose binoculars for a specific purpose?

Choosing the best magnification is totally up to the primary use. The following guide can help you narrow down your choices. Magnification and size are the starting points. But optics and additional features should also be taken into account.

What is the best magnification for hunting binoculars?

If you are mainly on the prowl, you should use a model with 8x magnification. In this environment 8x would be completely sufficient. On the other hand, if you are more in the hide, a higher magnification (at least 10x) is advisable. If you prefer hunting in the mountains or prefer elk hunting, then an even higher magnification is necessary. 

Another important aspect is the lighting conditions during hunting. If you want to use your binoculars primarily at dusk or dawn, you should make sure that the lens diameter is as large as possible so that a bright view is guaranteed even in low light.

An additional feature that is often desired by hunters is a built-in range finder.


What is the best magnification for bird-watching binoculars?

If size and weight are less of a priority, consider looking at medium and full size models. 8x42 binoculars are very popular with bird watchers. While 10x magnification is helpful for viewing a small animal, binoculars with 8x magnification will have a wider field of view, which is essential for finding birds.

Water resistance is also a good feature. Waterproof binoculars won’t fog up when moving from a warm vehicle to cooler temperatures outside.


What is the best magnification in binoculars for sporting events? 

The size of the stadium and the distance is important to consider.

If the players are 700 meters away from you, with the 7x binoculars they will seem to be only 100 meters far.

But larger magnification doesn’t always mean it’s better. They are often heavier. You won’t be able to hold them steady without a tripod.

Other than magnification, the field of view is very important for use at sporting events.

Higher magnification also means a small field of view. At fast-paced sporting events, you can end up missing a few important shots when focusing on one player. 

So it’s recommended to choose the magnification between 8x to 10x for sporting events. If the stadium is small, binoculars with 4x to 7x magnification will meet the purpose.

Binoculars for opera, concerts, and theater 

For opera, concerts, and theater, we recommend using binoculars with a magnification of no more than 5x. 

This means that the field of view is large enough and there is minimal blurring. Typical theater glasses usually have a 3x magnification. You should definitely refrain from using zoom functions. They reduce the image quality and are not suitable for use inside buildings. Since halls and halls have a limited size, a 3x magnification is almost always sufficient.

The objective diameter should have a value between 21 and 25mm. So binoculars are still lightweight and easy to transport, but there is still enough light even in darkened opera halls. Focusing is usually not necessary as opera glasses almost always have a fixed focus.

In terms of price, opera glasses are usually well below typical prism binoculars, also due to their much simpler construction. For binoculars under $50 you can buy a model that will last a lifetime.

Binoculars for backpacking and hiking

Backpack size and weight here are important considerations. Choose compact binoculars with a magnification of 8x or 10x and a lens diameter of less than 28. 8x21, 10x25 are all good choices.

A pair of rubber coating is more durable, and models that are waterproof will help with the stress of heavy rain.

Binoculars for whale watching, wildlife watching, and safari

Popular models are 8x32, 8x42, 10x42 and 10x50. Choose a higher magnification (10 instead of 8) if you are likely to be far from animals. If you’re looking for something more compact, choose a medium(32mm) lens instead of a large(50mm) lens.

Water resistance is also good if you want to watch whales from the boat rather than from the shore.

Binoculars for paddling

If you are out on the water in a canoe, kayak, SUP or boat, you should opt for binoculars with lower magnification, e.g. 8 or less, since a higher (10 times) magnification can make uniform observation difficult.

Choosing a waterproof model is a good idea too, for obvious reasons.

Binoculars for children

The magnification of children’s binoculars is 3x to 8x. They are well suited for observing nature, like bird watching.

Children have closer eye relief and smaller hands than adults. It is preferable to look out for binoculars that are small and handy.

For kids, a non-slip surface and a carrying strap ensure a secure hold and easy handling.  And a large central focus wheel enables quick zoom changes.


Binoculars for stargazing

Here you want to maximize the magnification as well as the light gathering ability. 10 × 42 or 10 × 50 are options to consider. If you opt for a higher magnification you will need a tripod to hold the binoculars steady.


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