Binoculars get you closer to the action or to the nature around you but not all of us want to carry around big heavy binoculars. For those of us who like to travel light, compact binoculars are a great choice. This guide covers the most important features to look for when choosing compact binoculars. We’ve also included our Top 4 Compact Binoculars for 2016.
Why Choose Compact Binoculars?
The advantages are quite obvious. You can permanently keep compact binoculars in your bag and take them out quickly when the opportunity arrises. Compact binoculars will typically be much lighter and easier to hold and use for extended periods of time. Compact binoculars are perfect for hiking and are easy to carry single handed while freeing up your other hand. They are also very suitable as spectator binoculars for watching sports, concerts and other events. Compact binoculars are an elegant choice for when you simply need a closer look.
What Do the Numbers Mean?
The most important thing to know about binoculars is that they are always represented by two numbers. Magnification and lens size. So for example 8×20 binoculars means 8x magnification and 20mm lenses.
What is a Good Magnification for Compact Binoculars?
High magnification binoculars allow you to see further and in more detail. The problem with high magnification though is that you will find it difficult to stabilise the image. When holding binoculars, every small shake of your hands is also magnified – this creates a shaky image. A magnification higher than 10x will usually require the use of a tripod.
Lower magnification binoculars actually have a very clear advantage. Besides having a more stable image, they also provide a wider field of view. This allows you to simply see more. Because you are able to see a wider area you are also able to spot and follow fast moving subjects. So when choosing compact binoculars always look for a wide field of view.
Compact binoculars will typically have a magnification of 6x to 10x. The lower magnification models will have a wider field of view.
What is the Best Lens Size?
Large lenses allow more light to come into the binoculars. This means that you will get brighter images, especially in poor light conditions. Large lenses also mean that your binoculars will be much bigger, bulkier and heavier. So if you don’t intend to use your binoculars at dusk or in poor light then you don’t really need large lenses.
Compact binoculars usually have small to medium sized lenses between 20mm to 36mm. These are big enough to provide a clear and bright view during daytime.
What is a Good Weight for Compact Binoculars?
One of the main considerations when choosing the best compact binoculars will be their light weight. In general, anywhere between 200g and 500g is considered very light binoculars.
Should I Get Waterproof Compact Binoculars?
If you decide to go for waterproof binoculars just know that there are various types of available waterproofing. A lot of vendors say that they have waterproof binoculars, but they are only protected against water. If you need good waterproofing make sure that you get compact binoculars that contain an o-ring seal and are nitrogen purged.
This signifies that the body has been charged with dry nitrogen gas that stops the fogging, which usually occurs when the temperatures change very quickly. This will make sure that your compact binoculars are protected from all types of water and moisture and will not fog up. This also means that the inside of your binoculars will have protection from corrosion, which will be an added benefit if you like to use them while around water.
Which Brand Should I Get?
When it comes to compact binoculars, European brands have the best optics. This is why they are also the most expensive ones. Zeiss binoculars are probably the best around if you can afford them. Prices for these average between £400 to £1,000. Our more affordable brands include Nikon, Olympus, Fujinon (FujiFilm), Bushnell, Leupold, Bresser and Vortex. These all offer excellent binoculars for every type of user. Prices range between £60 to £200 for a perfectly good pair of compact binoculars you can use for the long term.
How Much Should I Spend on Compact Binoculars?
You can buy very basic compact binoculars for as cheap as £20-£30. Russian binoculars as well as lower range models of Tasco, Barska and others. Unfortunately these will often have a distorted image – especially when using the higher magnifications. Cheap binoculars will also provide a darker, blurry image in lower light conditions. Here at Procular we believe in proving the right binoculars to the right people and at the right price. We only stock quality brand name binoculars you will love to use! You can purchase a quality pair of compact binoculars for as low as £50-£100. With optics you really do get what you pay for but we have a few outstanding choices for very affordable prices. Below is a list of our best selling compact binoculars that we believe are also the best bang for your money:
Our Top 4 Compact Binoculars for 2016
** Note: All 4 binoculars recommended below are suitable for eyeglasses users **