Binoculars: how to choose yours

Cet article est disponible en français, cliquez le paramêtre de langue en haut du site ! 

Whether you need them for bird-watching or to keep your children busy on your next camping trip, binoculars are an exciting addition to your gear pack, and there are some details you should know about them before you put them in your cart!

How to read a binocular model number
All binoculars will give you the information you need in their title. Let's take the ZEISS 8x42 Conquest HD Binoculars as our example.

Chosing binoculars : a guide

The "8x42" mention is what you need to look at first, it will determine what use you can have of it. The first number (8) is the Magnification Power and the second one (42) is the Objective Lens Diameter.

Magnification Power : how far you see, how wide you see. You will see further with a higher number, but your field of view will be decreased. It's all about balance!
Power Magnification in Binoculars explainer

Objective Lens Diameter: how much light goes in your lens. As the number goes up, more light enters your lens. So if you use your binoculars in the dark, choose a high number, if you use it during daytime, low numbers are fine!

You might think "the bigger, the better", but it really all depends on what you will use it for. 

What you should look for, depending on your use

Bird watching binocularsBird-Watching Binoculars
If you found this article, chances that you are a bird watcher are high. A common misconception would be that since birds are small, a higher Magnification Power would be handy; however, 90% of watching birds is "finding birds". Therefore, you will be better off with an 8-power magnification, which will have a wider field of view,  and a good Lens Diameter. 8x32 and 8x42 are your best bets!

Whale watching with BinocularsWhale-watching binoculars
Next on your list of cool animals to see in Canada, the whales of course, and their smaller but just as fascinating friends, the seals. While you might witness seals coming to you to sniff your boat, whales are protected by a lot of regulations and if they don't come to you, you will want a higher magnification power. Whales are big, so contrarily to birds, finding them  won't be an issue. 10x32 and 10x42 will suite your perfectly, but 8x32 or 8x42 are also a good choice. 

Kayaking BinocularsKayaking Binoculars
Rather than "what will I watch", what you want to focus on here is balance. Using a 10-power magnification will make your horizon very wobbly, which might end with an unexpected dip. And since you are on the water, light shouldn't be an issue. Go for an 8x32 or under!

Hiking BinocularsHiking Binoculars
Because you don't know exactly what you will want to look at, this is the category where you can't really know in advance. Prioritize size and weight. You won't go hiking in the middle of the night, so light shouldn't be too much of a concern either. So 8 or 10 magnification power and 25 to 28 lens diameter should be good choices. Check them out here!

Star-Watching binocularsStar-Watching binoculars
If you are on the road and don't have a telescope handy, binoculars are also a good option. Here, the higher, the better. Go for the highest magnification Power possible, and the biggest Lens Diameter possible, since you will want as much light to come into your lens as possible. 10x42 is a good start, but you can go as high as you want! You might also want to invest in a tripod to stabilize your vision, but the most compact and ideal option is to choose a pair with an image stabilizer! A telescope is probably a good call if you want to use it at home. 

Window watchingWindow watching
Please, just don't. 




Other important features

Depending on what you are going to use your binoculars for, you may have to look for other specific features! If you are going kayaking, you might want to look for a waterproof pair, and if you like early morning trails, fog-proofed binoculars are a must. 

It goes without saying that the weight of your item should also weigh in your decision. Are you going to be sitting in your kayak while using it, or are you going hiking for 6 hours? Manufacturers keep this in mind, so most models are rather light, but depending on your use, 200 extra grams around your neck can make a big difference. So mind the weight!

It goes without saying that size is also important. If you are on a tiny kayak, don't go for the bulky, full-size binoculars. If you use them in your backyard to look at the stars, to be afraid to go big, you won't have to carry them around anyways!

As a reminder, you might also consider purchasing an additional warranty with your pair. Manufacturers usually have a defect warranty, but it won't cover a lens crack if you trip on your shoelace. Excellent Photo works with CPS in that domain, you can check what they do here.


Still have questions? Contact the team in the blue-chat bubble, it'll be our pleasure to give you more information! 

Leave a comment

All comments are moderated before being published