The Best Magnification Binoculars

The Best Magnification Binoculars
High magnification does not necessarily translate into the best binocular experience. Purchasers should consider the diameter of the front lenses of binoculars as an important factor in usability. Binoculars are measured in two primary ways. Power, or magnification, measures the number of times greater than the human eye a lens enlarges a distant object in view. A greater diameter allows an abundance of light into the front lens, therefore producing a brighter image of the object.


Binoculars used for astronomy rate as high as 30 x 100, or 30 times magnification with a 100 millimeter diameter lens. While many stargazers prefer the stability and potentially greater magnification of a telescope, a powerful pair of astronomical binoculars allows a user to take quick glances at celestial objects without the need to extend tripod legs. The necessary size, though, of astronomical binoculars limits their portability and increases the need for tripods of their own for long viewing sessions. For this reason, most astronomical binoculars are designed for use with tripods.

Marine and Military

Military binoculars run a wide range of sizes and power, as variable as the missions of the military services themselves. Because they are designed for optimum performance mostly regardless of cost, military binoculars feature easy handling, watertight sealing, ruggedness, durability and glare reduction, among many other factors. Giant binoculars of 18 or 20 power or more might be used for such missions as border patrols or distant targeting as much as a mile away. Marine binoculars rate consistently around 7 x 50, offering plenty of light introduction.


Hunters using binoculars need them to be lightweight, waterproof and durable, and as such the optics they choose often mimic military or marine designs. Hunters tend to select binoculars in the middle ranges of magnification and diameter, typically 8 x 42 or 10 x 42. Hunting binoculars also feature camouflage exterior designs and hunting specific tools such as laser rangefinders.


While not as varied in their pursuits as military personnel, birders, depending on their areas of interest, use binoculars of different powers and diameters. A birder who generally focuses on backyard feeders, birdbaths, shrubs and trees should consider binoculars with 7 times magnification, as anything greater than that power might make focusing and location of a bird in such close quarters difficult. Birders who venture beyond the yard to open spaces like fields, meadows, beaches and even offshore on pelagic birding excursions might consider slightly more powerful optics. Mountaintop hawk migration watchers easily rate the need for even higher magnification and diameter, as their target sights tend to be more distant than those of the average birder.

Article Written By Johnny Galluzzo

John Galluzzo leads nature tours throughout the northeastern United States and since receiving his bachelor's degree in history from UMASS Amhest in 1993 has written 30 books on the Boston area, New England and the Coast Guard. He regularly contributes to "South Shore Living" and "Ships Monthly" magazines.

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