Binoculars

Our Sporting Optics department encompasses binoculars, monoculars, spotting scopes, and laser range finders.  We carry a giant selection of sporting instruments designed to get you closer, whether to the stars, the wildlife, or that hole in one.  To help you choose the perfect pair of binoculars, spotting scope, monocular, or rangefinder, we have divided them up in several ways.  If you really love your Bushnell binoculars for astronomy and want a lightweight pair for hiking, click below to search by manufacturer.  Or if you know what you want to do but aren't married to a particular brand, click to search by use or activity.  From there the filtering bar will let you narrow down by a variety of choices to pick the absolute perfect thing for you.

Our Sporting Optics department encompasses binoculars, monoculars, spotting scopes, and laser range finders.  We carry a giant selection of sporting instruments designed to get you closer, whether to the stars, the wildlife, or that hole in one.  To help you choose the perfect pair of binoculars, spotting scope, monocular, or rangefinder, we have divided them up in several ways.  If you really love your Bushnell binoculars for astronomy and want a lightweight pair for hiking, click below to search by manufacturer.  Or if you know what you want to do but aren't married to a particular brand, click to search by use or activity.  From there the filtering bar will let you narrow down by a variety of choices to pick the absolute perfect thing for you.

Binocular Basics

Everyone should own a pair of binoculars.  There are many different types of binoculars designed for different purposes - astronomical binoculars, bird watching binoculars, image-stabilizers, opera glasses, waterproof, and so much more.  The best thing to do is start by learning some binocular basics.

Binocular Designs

Binoculars are highly technical in construction but come in a simple, easy-to-use package.  They consist of an objective lens (the large lens at the far end of the binocular), the ocular lens (the side you look through), and a prism (a light-reflecting, triangular sectioned block of glass with polished edges).  The prism folds the light path and allows the instrument body to be far shorter than a telescope and correctly orients the image.  The traditional Z-shaped porro prism design is well suited to astronomy and consists of two joined right-angled prisms which reflect the light path three times.  The sleeker, straight barrelled roof prism models are more compact and far more complex.  The light path is longer, folding four times and requires stringent manufacturing quality to equal the performance.  These models are better suited to terrestrial subjects and can include digital imaging systems and stabilizing features.  Many manufacturers offer different models of both the porro-prism and roof-prism designs.

Binocular Size, Magnification, and Exit PupilAll binoculars are named with a simple equation - the magnifying power X as the objective lens size.  For example, a binocular with ten times the magnifying power with 50mm objective lenses would be dubbed a 10x50 binocular.  For astronomical applications, these two numbers play an important role in determining the exit pupil - the amount of light the human eye can accept.  Our limits lie somewhere between 5 and 7 millimeters depending on age and condition of the eye. By dividing the objective lens (or aperture) size by the magnifying power, you can determine a pair of binoculars' exit pupil. So, a pair of 10x50 binoculars would be a great choice for the average user for astronomy.  Like a telescope, the larger the aperture, the more light gathering power.  But you should consider that you will likely be holding the binoculars and as the aperture increases, so do the weight and bulk.  There is help!  Stereoscopic views of the night sky through big binoculars is an incredible, dimensional experience and one quite worthy of a mount and tripod.

Binocular Field of View, and Eye Relief

Just like a telescope eyepiece, binoculars have a field of view stated in degrees.  This is the amount of sky or terrain you will see while looking through them.  To follow a moving target, such as studying wildlife, you may wish to consider a large field of view to decrease panning around to find the subject and therefore possibly missing it as it scampers away.  A narrower field of view, or FOV, is ideal for astronomy to give you a more exacting view with the distraction of the objects around your target.  No matter what you're choosing binoculars for, you must also consider eye relief.  Eye relief (how far away your eyes need to be to focus) is as important as magnifying power.  Anything less than 9mm eye relief will make for likely uncomfortable viewing.  If you wear eyeglasses to correct astigmatism, you may wish to leave your glasses on while using binoculars, so look for models which carry about 15mm eye relief or more.

Quality binoculars should have a two-part focusing system called a right eye diopter which allows individual eye focus. Also look for multiple lens coatings, which improve color and image contrast.

As you explore our binocular categories, you'll find more information about the different models, manufacturer series, and which binoculars are best for each use.

Monoculars

Monoculars follow a lot of the same rules as binoculars since they are, in fact, one half of a pair.  They make a great hyper-portable selection and most will fit easily in a pocket.  They are best used for quickly spotting things rather than long observations.  Waterproof models are particularly perfect for boating, where you need one hand free to hang on to the boat.  Monoculars also make a great partner to a high power spotting scope to serve as a comfortable hand-held finder.