Choosing High-Powered Binoculars (UK) 20

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If you are viewing scenery or spotting subjects from a longer distance, typically over 2 miles, then high-powered binoculars are a great choice. More magnification means that you will be able to see further and in more detail. The following guide explains how to choose binoculars for very long distance viewing. We also cover the features to look for when buying high magnification binoculars and the best models around for every budget.

High Powered binoculars

 

How to Identify Binoculars Power?

Two numbers always represent binoculars, for example 10×50. The first number is their power (or magnification) and the second is the diameter of their lenses. Generally, binoculars power will range between 8x to 20x. If you are spotting a very distant subject across your land or a sailing boat 2 miles from shore then you should opt for 16x to 20x binoculars.

Are High-Powered Binoculars the Right Choice?

It is very important to know that high-powered binoculars can be difficult to stabilise handheld. This is because every shake of your hands is also magnified as much as the image is. 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 other binoculars 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. 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. We usually recommend that you first purchase the binoculars and then visit your local camera shop to pick up a tripod for them (if you feel it’s needed). We also offer some heavier duty tripods specifically built for binoculars and spotting scopes. These are designed for carrying heavier weights so can sometimes be more expensive than your standard camera tripod.

Binoculars view

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 1.5 to 4 pounds. Astronomy binoculars will have larger lenses, 70mm 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. With optics, you really get what you pay for! Some reputable brands to look at are Nikon, Bushnell, Avalon, Bresser, Vortex and Zeiss. These all offer excellent binoculars for every type of user. Prices range from £100 to £400 for a good pair of high-powered binoculars.

 

Our Top 4 High-Powered Binoculars for 2018

** Note: All 4 binoculars recommended below are suitable for eyeglasses users **

Bresser 16×50 Hunter Binoculars – Featuring 16x magnification and an excellent quality for their price range. Not waterproof but will sustain rain or fog. Relatively good weight and easy to use. Optics wise they provide a clear, sharp image and certainly go the distance. Overall great value for buck. £125 inc. free delivery

 

Celestron Porro 20×50 – Ideal for seeing more detail from longer distance (2-5 miles). With an impressive 20x magnification they are extremely powerful yet still easy to handle. Large 50mm lenses allow for a brighter, sharper image. Can be used with or without a tripod. Discounted and available for £159 inc. free delivery

 

Celestron SkyMaster 25×70 – Astronomy binoculars but are just as good for watching land or sea. The most powerful pair you can own without dealing with a monstrous sized product. At 3 pounds they are not light but manageable handheld. Sharp lenses, bright images and, let’s not forget, an impressive 25x magnification! £195

 

Nikon Aculon 16×50 – High power binoculars by Nikon. Perfect for both long distance and general viewing. Made with environmentally friendly Eco-Glass. Wide field of view and bright, high contrast images. Nicely finished product and easily comparable to Nikon’s higher-end models. £219 inc. free delivery

 

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20 Comments

  1. Hello

    I would like to buy a pair of binoculars for my husband for Christmas. I have £100 to spend and am looking for something that is quite compact but with great magnification, any ideas. If do I would be very happy as I am quite overwhelmed at the numbers on the market. Thank you Carol.

    Carol P Ogbourne
    1. Hi Carol,

      As compact, affordable binoculars with high magnification (10x) we can suggest the Bushnell 10×25 H2O binoculars. This would be the highest magnification a compact model would handle. They are pocket size binoculars and waterproofed too. Details below: https://procular.co.uk/bushnell-10×25-h2o-compact-binoculars/

      Adam Murray, Procular
  2. Hi Adam,
    I need to know the difference between Nikon Aculon 16×50 and Action Extreme 16×50 ATB. Is the Waterproof/fogproof performance is the only difference… there is reasonable difference in price.
    Also waterproof with nitrogen and sealed has any impact on clarity of object being focused.
    For star watching option with 20×70 do you feel clarity goes compared to 10×50 or 16×50. Please recommend best binocular for both sky/territorial viewing but with great clarity.
    Thanks

    Navdeep Jamwal
    1. Hi Navdeep,

      The Nikon Aculon 16×50 is the newer version of the Nikon Action EX 16×50 which have been around for a while now. In terms of image quality, clarity etc. they are exactly the same. They use the same optics and the design is very similar too. The Action EX are Nitrogen filled while the new Aculon 16×50 are not. So that’s pretty much the only noticeable difference and why they are cheaper. This does not effect image quality or focusing at all. Most high powered binoculars are not Nitrogen filled – this is just how the manufactures tend to make them. Maybe because the other models (lower power ones) are designed for the field (hunting / bird watching) while the high powered ones designed for viewing from home or for star gazing. Regarding the best model for both star watching and general long distance viewing – we recommend the Celestron 25×70 binoculars reviewed above. Their extra large lenses (70mm) result in brighter images. They are better binoculars for star gazing than the 16×50 or 20×50 no doubt. Their only downside is their size and weight (1.5 Kg). But as long as you are not going on long hikes or over concerned about weight, this is not a big issue. You might need a tripod to achieve more stable views with the Celestron 25×70 though. You can read all about these binoculars here: https://procular.co.uk/celestron-25×70-skymaster-binoculars/

      Adam Murray, Procular
  3. Evening, I am looking for a pair of binoculars to observe sailing racing from the shore with the boats between 2 and 4 miles offshore. We need to see the detail of sail numbers so the binoculars need to be high powered. Can you recommend: 1. Best binoculars for purpose; and 2. Best binoculars for purpose if money is no object? Thanks Josh

    1. Hi Joshua,

      As you correctly stated to view details such as the sales numbers from 2 to 4 miles you do need high powered binoculars.A good model that we recommend is the Celestorn 25×70 binoculars. They feature 25x magnification which should be enough at that distant. These are one of our strongest binoculars. They have 70mm objectives so quite large binoculars. They CAN be used handheld but much better used on a tripod for better image stability (adapter is included). Details below:

      https://procular.co.uk/celestron-25×70-skymaster-binoculars/

      You also asked what would be the ideal tool if money is not an issue. In that case we believe that a spotting scope would be best. This is a small telescope that is designed for sea / land viewing. The advantage of a spotting scope is much greater power and also an option to control zoom. So you can effectively see small details from short as well as long distance. From 5Km you can even recognise the people on board. The downfall is that a spotting scope requires a good tripod and cannot be used hand-held. In your case our most recommended spotting scope would be the Barska 30-90×100. As it has a larger 100mm objective it is also ideal for use in low light condition (the larger lens takes in more light). It magnifies at 30x to 90x (!!) Details below:

      https://procular.com.au/barska-30-90×100-wp-spotting-scope-tripod/

      This spotting scope comes with an included table-top tripod but can also be mounted on a full-size tripod. It weighs nearly 3Kg so we suggest a sturdy tripod. If yours is only designed for SLR/DSLR cameras then check the maximum weight it can handle. Otherwise we have the Avalon Universal PRO (heavy-duty) tripod which is suitable for this spotting scope. Details of the tripod below:

      https://procular.co.uk/avalon-universal-pro-tripod/

      Adam Murray, Procular
  4. I live on the Greek Island of Aegina and have a house on the coast. I would like an affordable pair of binoculars so I can enjoy the Athens mainland day or night (about 17 nautical miles away) in front of me and the stunning mountains behind. Also for general viewing of ships, other islands across the water and so forth.

    Will the Celestron 25×70 be good for this? I don’t mind using a tripod and not bothered about weight but would like the best I can find at an affordable price. I have no idea about binoculars so your help would be appreciated.
    Many thanks
    Nick

    1. Hi Nick,

      As you don’t mind the extra weight or using a tripod and also want to use the binoculars for night time viewing, we believe the Celestron 25×70 will be an excellent choice. They have an impressive magnification (25x) to cover the 17 miles distance. They also very large lenses for bright images at evening / night.

      Adam Murray, Procular
      1. Thanks for your answer Adam, what would you say to the Celestron 20-100 x 70mm model>? I am reading so many mixed reviews i can’t make up my mind? Can you advise?
        Many thanks
        Nick

        1. Hi Nick,

          We are not crazy about zoom binoculars. Most of them, including the Celestron 20-100×70, don’t offer as sharp image as the fixed magnification models. When using anything more than 25x power you will find that the image is NOT as sharp. So no use magnifying an image that is not sharp because it only makes things worst. We had a-lot of great feedback on the 25×70 model so would surely recommend it over the 20-100×70 one. On another note, if you need extreme power (to see in even more details from a very long distance) you can look into getting a spotting scope. We have an excellent guide on choosing spotting scopes here: https://procular.co.uk/choose-spotting-scope/

          Adam Murray, Procular
  5. Hi,

    I’m looking for some binoculars for my husband and am going round in circles! He wanted a telescope for garden and far reaching views from our living room, but I feel binoculars would be more comfortable. I would like to be able to use them for a spot of ‘layman’s’ moon gazing too, and I know there are ones that will suit both. I want them mounted on a tripod preferably. I wanted to spend up to around £300, but am finding that they are either far below that, or way above in price, leading me to wonder what quality I will get for the lesser amount. I saw your previous recommendations of the Nikon Monarch 8 x 42, the Celestron Skymaster 25 x 70 and Bushnell 20 x 50, which all looked to be possibilities for me, is there one which would be the best for my needs? Or perhaps another one altogether.

    Kind regards,
    Zoe.

    1. Hi Zoe,

      If your husband will use the binoculars at night, for viewing the moon and stars (as well as other things) we strongly recommend the Celestron 25×70 binoculars over your other options. Their large lenses take in more light resulting in a brighter image. This is very important for night viewing. They also offer VERY strong magnification (25x) and an excellent image quality for their price range. He will need to use them with a tripod though. Details of the Celestron 25×70 SkyMaster binoculars below:

      https://procular.co.uk/celestron-25×70-skymaster-binoculars/

      For astronomy use, in opposed to general viewing, we recommend to mount them on the Avalon Universal PRO Tripod below:

      https://procular.co.uk/avalon-universal-pro-tripod/

      This tripod both supports their weight and makes it easier to control the altitude and azimuth when stargazing.

      Adam Murray, Procular
  6. Want to buy my husband binoculars but haven’t a clue what to get, he would be using them for motorbike races, airshows and just general use he has a pair of travel ones but is always complaining that they are not strong enough. Wouldnt want really big heavy ones that need a tripod.

    1. Hi Florence,

      The issue with compact (travel) binoculars is not always their magnification but rather their small lenses and narrow field of view. They can therefore be sometimes problematic in providing a clear image, and even more so when trying to follow moving subjects such as motorbikes or planes. If your husband already has compact binoculars for travel you will be best off buying him full size binoculars with stronger magnification. We can highly recommend the Nikon Aculon 16×50 binoculars for example. They have an excellent image quality thanks to good Nikon optics. They have a 16x magnification which is strong enough for seeing detail from very long distance yet not too strong for him to require a tripod for them. details below: https://procular.co.uk/nikon-aculon-16×50-cf-binoculars/

      They are mid to high-end binoculars so not cheap. As a similar entry-level model we would recommend the Bresser 16×50 binoculars. They also have a nice image and are of good quality. They have very similar specs to the Nikon. Their image is just not as bright or vivid as the Nikons’. Details below:

      https://procular.co.uk/bresser-16×50-hunter-binoculars/

      Adam Murray, Procular
  7. I Live in a flat and am on the first floor with a sea view.and am approximately 25 miles away from London. I would like a pair of binoculars to be used at night and day so I can see things clearly I don’t mind putting it on a tripod as I will not be taking it away from the flat. I see you have several options could you recommend something please .i thought the Celestron 20×50 or similar.

    1. Hi David,

      As you will be viewing from quite a long distance you will need all the magnification you can get. Also larger lenses will help you achieve a brighter image at night time. We would suggest either the Celestron 20×50 or the Celestron 25×70. If you don’t mind a tripod then the Celestron 25×70 would be a better choice due to their larger objectives (i.e. more light intake). Details of the Celestron 25×70 binoculars below:

      https://procular.co.uk/celestron-25×70-skymaster-binoculars/

      They come with a tripod mount which you can use to set them up on nearly any tripod. As long as the tripod is strong enough to hold their weight. If you also purchase the Celestron tripod please take extra care when mounting and un-mounting your binoculars on it as the tripod’s head is quite fragile.

      Adam Murray, Procular
  8. Hi Maurice,

    In your case high magnification will most certainly be useful. Note that even with a standard 8x or 10x binocular you will still be able to see the 20-30 mile horizon. It is just that with a 16x pair you will notice much more detail. For example the exact type of cargo ship that is passing by. Or spot for example the containers onboard that cargo ship. Your decision will have to be if you want 16x binoculars which can be stabilised hand held, or 20x-25x binoculars which will need to be placed on a stand/platform/table or mounted on a tripod in order to enjoy a stable view. If you are planning to use the binoculars for other uses such as travel etc. we recommend the Nikon Aculon 16×50:

    https://procular.co.uk/nikon-aculon-16×50-cf-binoculars/

    It will be good all-around choice and also a very nice pair of binoculars. Good optical quality at a good price. If you specifically need high powered binoculars for long distance viewing (i.e. do not care about taking them out and using for travel etc.) we would go with either the Celestron 20×50 or the Celestron 25×70. The 25×70 ones are larger and heavier, they can easily be used hand held for short periods of time but for extended views a tripod is recommended. For the Celestron 20×50 you should be fine without a tripod. Details of these two models below:

    https://procular.co.uk/celestron-20×50-porro-binoculars/
    https://procular.co.uk/celestron-25×70-skymaster-binoculars/

    Adam Murray, Procular
  9. We live high on a hill with great veiws over the sea on one side and the mountains on the other, the veiw over the sea would be like 20 – 30mile to horizon, so see many ships etc. we are after a good pair of binoculars that can scan that distance comfortably. What do you recomend for that sort of thing. Regards Maurice

    Maurice Parker
  10. Thinking of buying Celestron Skymaster 25×70 binoculars for stargazing.Which tripods could be used with these binoculars?

    1. The Celestron 25×70 binoculars can be used with any standard photographic tripod. You can either purchase the binoculars and then pick up a tripod you like from a camera shop or otherwise we have and recommend the Avalon Universal PRO Tripod on Procular. Details below:

      https://procular.co.uk/avalon-universal-pro-tripod/

      Adam Murray, Procular

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