In a previous life I sold quality optics... and here is a little of what I learned when it came to binoculars
As part of my role as sales representative for a large camera manufacturer, we had access to some premium gear, including excellent binoculars and microscopes (Not to mention some of the best digital cameras on the market). Great for an outdoor tech nerd like me. When it comes to binoculars, two numbers are always present, for example 10×50. The first number is their power/magnification and the second is the diameter of the outside lenses. If you are spotting a very distant subject across your land or a sailing boat 3 miles from shore then generally you want something more powerful like a 16x to 20x binoculars. But wait, before you go looking just for a pair of 20x binoculars because they are the most powerful, you need to know something first. The trade-off is that the more powerful magnification the harder it becomes to keep your image steady especially when holding the binoculars on an unstable platform like on a rolling boat.
Are High-Powered Binoculars the Right Choice?
This can lead to a shaky image and is a common issue with using powerful binoculars. Most people can still use up to 20x binoculars to quickly see something in the distance. If you are viewing for longer periods of time, it is recommended that you support your binoculars on a table, stand or tripod. This will eliminate the shakiness of the image. Or otherwise choose ones with lower magnification.
Do I Need a Tripod for High-Powered Binoculars?
Not necessarily. If you just need to “quickly see something” then you’ll probably be perfectly fine without one. You can also try leaning your elbows on a table, stand, veranda or other platforms to support your arms while using your binoculars. I tend to lean on the dodger of my boat to look forward. If you are often using binoculars from a fixed location or for longer periods of time then a tripod is still recommended. The good news is that nearly any tripod will do.
Can I get waterproof Binoculars?
Usually Nitrogen filled and rubber coated, waterproof binoculars will cost a little bit more, but are the preferred option for boaties because they are also mould resistant which will keep your image view crystal clear and pin sharp as long as you take care of the viewing surfaces.
What is the Best Lens Size and Weight?
Bigger lenses in binoculars make your image brighter and allow for a wider field of view. High magnification models are usually full sized binoculars with lenses of 50mm. These are still very easy to hold, stabilise and carry but are definitely not compact. They will weigh anywhere between 700g to 1.5 Kg. Astronomy binoculars will have even larger lenses, 60mm to 100mm, and can be even heavier than that.
Which Brand Should I Get?
There are plenty of good optic brands out there. Each brand has various binocular model lines depending on optical quality. Ranging from entry-level binoculars to high-end professional ones. You can browse our new and improving range of binoculars here. It is small but is constantly growing as we try and test each model.
At the end of the day, seeing is believing. You can pay a lot of money for good quality optics. But you don't have to if your intended use will be sitting in the bottom of your tinny to just look at the shoreline or view a distant ship on the horizon.