Binoculars are the world's most used optical instrument, other than eyeglasses, and they have a lot of different uses. Choosing the right binocular for your specific application can be a challenge and this guide is intended to help you understand binoculars better. Consider when, where, and how often you plan to use the binocular in order to select the right combination of features that are right for your needs.
General Use Binoculars - Hiking, Stadium Sports, Outdoor
Compact and wide angle binoculars are great for outdoor activities and getting closer to the action watching sporting events at stadium. Compact binoculars are usually found at 7x to 10x magnification ranges. Compact binoculars are easy to store in your pocket or on a strap around your neck and the wide angle presents a good field of view.
7x to 10x binoculars are best for hunting application. For long range shooting, such as varmint hunting, a 12x to 16x magnification is best. At larger magnification, you will need to use a tripod or to stabilize the binoculars, as the image will be very shaky if used in standing position. The shaking of your hands is amplified by the larger magnification.
The standard binocular for birding is an 8x42 binocular. To see more details on smaller birds at greater distances, you may opt for a 10x or a 12x magnification with a 42 or a 50 millimeter objective. Longer eye relief and a close focus are also great features to have on your bird watching binoculars.
Boating and Marine Binoculars
Since you're on the water, a high magnification binocular is not advised. Most commonly used magnification is a 7x, but 8x and 10x are also chosen by some mariners and boating enthusiasts. A 42 or a 50 millimeter objective lens should be used. A larger objective lens, waterproof and rubber armoring are main features to look for in a marine and boating binocular.
Compact binoculars with a wide angle are great for concert and theater viewing using a binocular. 4x30, 5x25, 8x25 and 7x18 or 7x21 are great for venues such as opera, theater and music concerts.