Binoculars can be used for a variety of activities, from birdwatching, to sports, to opera, to hiking...and more. The size and specifications you will need for each particular activity will vary. For a fun and easy way to determine which binoculars are best for you, see Nikon's Web site. It has a great stepstep questionnaire to help you choose the right binoculars. Binoculars can cost as little as $50 and as much as $3,000. Of course you shouldn't expect the same quality from the two price extremes. Fortunately, not everyone needs to spend $1,000 on a pair of binoculars. (Professionals, consider yourselves exempted.)

Intended Use

Try the linked searches. They come up with some excellent results: * '''General Use''' ** Get the most compact and lightweight models available. ** If you don't plan on traveling with your binoculars, get a night vision binoculars for use in the dark. * '''Sporting/Concert Events''' ** Zoom binoculars can be useful for viewing objects that are very far away. However, if you are closer, you need to have a fuller range. The same goes for hunting where you need to keep the object in view without letting it escape your range.

Specifications and Other Considerations

* '''Basic types''' include Diopter adjustable binoculars are also useful for people with vision problems. This finely tuned focus ring around the eyepiece can make for a more focused image when you see better out of one eye than the other. * '''Lens coating''' comes in various levels. The coatings clarify the image by attempting to preserve the light that might otherwise get lost while passing through the lens. Higher levels of coating are more desirable because they offer better clarity and, naturally, they are more expensive. A single coat is a coated layer on one lens surface, and a fully coated lenses mean that all the lenses in contact with air are coated. Then there is multicoating; all the lenses are coated with multiple layers. * '''Focus type''' varies from model to model. Most are Lever (instafocus) uses a little lever between the lenses for quick focusing, which is good for sports and hunting. ** Autofocus binoculars are a good start, but may make it difficult to resolve details at a great distance or at short distances. * Image Stabilizing * '''Fogproofing''' is a great feature if you plan to work outdoors or on a boat. * '''Eyepiece''' '''covers '''that are attached to the strap are a handy feature; covers are very easy to lose. * '''Tripod compatibility''' is a feature to look for if you plan on using your binoculars for long periods of time or if you need an extra steady view. Nikon StabilEyes series.

Underwater Specific Binoculars

* '''Waterproof:''' Waterproof binoculars and specifically designed for bad weather conditions and severe rain. These can get wet because they are entirely 'O' sealed. Dropping them in a a puddle is nothing to fear, but these are not made for underwater use. Under the pressure of deep waters the seal can spring links and these leaks will rarely be covered by a manufacturer's warranty. * '''Deep Sea:''' floating Deep Sea binoculars for extra security when riding on a rough boat. 

Number Games

All binoculars will have a set of numbers on them that represent key technical specifications. For example, take these 16x32 binoculars: * '''Magnification power''' of 16x: This means that you will see objects 16 times bigger and/or closer than they actually are. For opera or bird watching the magnification doesn't have to be as high because the objects are usually closer than, let's say, stars. * '''Diameter''' or '''Objective Size''' of 32mm: This is the diameter of the lenses, which allow light into the binoculars. The bigger they are, the more light they let enter. The more light they let enter, the better you can see in dark environments. Another way of measuring nighttime performance is called "twilight performance" for hunting, bird watching, and stargazing. ** In this case, 16x32 would give you a 512 twilight performance rating. A 7x35 gives you a 245 rating, which is not as good for seeing in dim light, but works quite well in sunlight. ** Another number that you get from the magnification and the diameter is the '''exit pupil'''. Taking our first example, 16x32: the exit pupil number would be 2 (32/16=2). The larger the exit pupil, the more light your eye gets, and the easier it is to see through your binoculars in dim light. * Another measurement is '''field of view''': This measures the width of the view you will get at 1000 yards from where you are standing. Opt for a wider field of view than high magnification if you will be hunting or watching sports, since it makes it easier to follow the fast-moving objects. ** Field of view is represented either as an angle (6 degrees is good wide view) or as the width of the image when you're standing 1000 yards out (330 feet is the equivalent of 8 degrees, calculated easily by multiplying the angle by 52.5).

Top Picks

Budget hunting binoculars ($300-$550) recommended by Field & Stream:

Top of the Line

These are just about the best binoculars you can buy.

Related Products

Related Guides

* Hunting * Camping Backpacks * Hiking Boots * Tents * Sleeping Bags