Choosing High-Powered Binoculars (UK) 39

[ Skip the details and just show me the best ones ]

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 £500 for a good pair of high-powered binoculars.

Our Top 3 High-Powered Binoculars for 2022

** Note: All 3 binoculars recommended below are suitable for eyeglasses users **

Bresser 16×50 Hunter – 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. £125 *** SOLD OUT ***

Celestron Porro 20×50 Binoculars – Ideal for seeing more detail from longer distance (2-5 miles and beyond). 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 + free delivery

Nikon Aculon 16×50 – High power binoculars by Nikon. Perfect for both long distance and general viewing. Made with environmentally friendly Eco-Glass. Bright, high contrast images. Nicely finished product and easily comparable to Nikon’s higher-end models. £285

Show me all the other binoculars


  1. Hi
    I am looking to find binoculars. For adults, teens and children for nature watching on a cruise and also stargazing . Could you suggest any good all round binoculars that would be suitable for both?
    Thank you

  2. What’s the best for watch keeping on ships bridge must be neck hung.

    1. Hi Bill, we have an excellent guide on choosing binoculars for marine use i.e. to view from onboards ships or boats. Details and recommended models below:

      Adam Murray, Procular
  3. Hi I’m looking for something to watch ships as they go past and in to harbour. I live on seafront and want something we can leave on windowsill and look over long distance. Don’t mind if binoculars or sports scope. Would it be better with a tripod. We have a cheap compact binoculars (10×25) that are ok to use but not strong enough to see clearly what we’re looking at.

    1. Hi Marie,

      The Celestron 20×50 or otherwise Nikon 16×50 binoculars reviewed in the post above would both work well for viewing ships in and past the harbour. They can be used without a tripod. But if you are looking for the best possible option, we would suggest investing in a spotting scope and tripod. A spotting scopes has a much stronger magnification which allows you to see the distant ship in greater detail. We can personally recommend the Avalon 60mm Venture HD Spotting Scope which has incredible power and an outstanding image quality for its price range. Details below:

      Note that it is quite a powerful scope so needs a good tripod in order to stabilise the image. It comes with a very basic table-top tripod included in the box but works best on a full-size tripod. We can recommend the Avalon Universal PRO Tripod for it. Details below:

      Adam Murray, Procular
  4. Hi can you help would really like some binoculars have my dads old ones which are 10×50 want to look at the ships from the cliff tops ,but they are to heavy to hold ,don’t want a tripod ,just want a pair that can hold or keep round my neck that doesn’t pull my head into my chest.
    Saw the tallships sail from sunderland out into the bay off seaham harbour but could hold dads old ones for long. Dont have a lot to spend

    Sandra stickley
    1. Hi Sandra,

      Many of the old binoculars used to be 10×50, heavy and bulky like your dad’s old pair. As a newer, better and lighter option we recommend getting a good pair of 10×42 binoculars. The new models now provide better images, wider views and many other features while keeping the binoculars much lighter and easier to handle. Our best multi-use model, at an affordable price, would be the Avalon 10×42 PRO HD Binoculars. You can use them to see the ships in the harbour as well as any other use. They have the same (10x) magnification but weigh only 550 grams which is probably about half the weight of your current 10×50 pair. You can read more about the Avalon 10×42 PRO HD Binoculars here:×42-pro-hd-binoculars-platinum/

      Adam Murray, Procular
  5. Hi Adam. I am thinking of buying binocleurs for a godson. He will need them for general use and to encourage him to use them I would suggest they should be light. But having said that I want them to be a life time present. What do you suggest? Christina

    Christina Dykes
    1. Hi Christina,

      Thank you for your message. We understand completely. This is quite a common criteria as most people prefer lightweight binoculars for their ease of use. Unfortunately most compact models don’t provide nice, sharp images as the medium or full sized binoculars. Overall we, and most of our customers, opt for mid-sized binoculars with superior optics. These models are not compact/pocket size but still lightweight, easy to handle and ideal for general use. They produce beautiful images and can serve your godson a lifetime. In specific we can recommend the Avalon 10×42 PRO HD binoculars which offer outstanding performance for their price range as well as a lightweight design (500 grams). They are available in black:×42-pro-hd-binoculars-black/ — or in the new Platinum colour below:×42-pro-hd-binoculars-platinum/

      Adam Murray, Procular
  6. Hi Adam
    I am looking to buy some small light binoculars.
    I and friend are going on Safari next March, which would you suggest.

    1. Hi Kim,

      We have an excellent buyer guide on choosing compact binoculars. It also includes the best small and light models we recommend. Here’s the link:

      Adam Murray, Procular
  7. Do The Celestron binos fit onto the Avalon tripod easily as buying for slightly disabled person

    1. Hi John,

      Yes, they fit in quite easily and can also be removed easily. The Avalon tripod is recommended for these binoculars as it is very sturdy with a large head to mount them on without breaking the mechanism. It is designed for high powered binoculars and spotting scopes.

      Adam Murray, Procular
  8. Hi Adam,

    I’m buying a set of binoculars for a mate, he wants to scan for whales and then photograph with drone from shore.

    What magnification is suitable for scanning the ocean from an elevated location on shore? Detail is not so important.

    Would an 8×40 enable the ocean to be scanned for whales 2-3km away?

    Would a 12×50 have too narrow a field of view at distance?

    Binoculars will be used on cliff/lookout by hand.

    Kind Regards


    Anthony Holmes
    1. Hi Anthony,

      Although higher powered binoculars are better to see in more detail, and from further away, to scan from only 2-3 Km he will be best off with lower powered binoculars. 7x or 8x magnification. This is because he only needs to spot the whale i.e. the quick back/body/splash popping out of the water to know its general location. We would say, to be on the safe side, 7×50 marine binoculars or otherwise 8×32/8×40/8×42 binoculars will all be good choices. 12×50 would be a-bit too narrow in his case.

      Adam Murray, Procular
  9. 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:×25-h2o-compact-binoculars/

      Adam Murray, Procular
  10. 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.

    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:×70-skymaster-binoculars/

      Adam Murray, Procular
  11. 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:×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 Avalon 80mm Venture HD. As it has a larger 80mm objective it is also ideal for use in low light condition (the larger lens takes in more light). It magnifies at 20x to 60x (!!) Details below:

      This spotting scope comes with an included table-top tripod but can also be mounted on a full-size tripod. 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:

      Adam Murray, Procular
  12. 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

    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

        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:

          Adam Murray, Procular
  13. 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,

    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:×70-skymaster-binoculars/

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

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

      Adam Murray, Procular
  14. 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:×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:×50-hunter-binoculars/

      Adam Murray, Procular
      1. Hi Adam, I have been talking about getting myself new binoculars for years, I currently have compact ones. My partner does a lot of photography so I like to pass my time with binoculars. The Nikon Aculon 16×50 do sound as if they would be suitable for for me, we are either at nature reserves or somewhere on the coast but I also like bird/butterfly watching from my living room down the garden so I would also like your opinion on autofocus binoculars. When I’m watching in the garden I can be moving from top to bottom quite a bit and find what I am watching has perhaps moved on before I’m refocused.

        1. Thank you very much Adam, that is a big help.

  15. 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:×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
  16. 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:×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:×50-porro-binoculars/×70-skymaster-binoculars/

    Adam Murray, Procular
  17. 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
  18. 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:

      Adam Murray, Procular
      1. Hi I’m wondering what would be the most suitable binoculars for bird watching. I live near a forest and would want to look at birds

        1. Hi Joan,

          We have an excellent and extensive buyer guide specifically about choosing bird watching binoculars. Please have a read here:

          Adam Murray, Procular

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

TrustedUK Retailer
Free DeliveryUK Wide
Special OffersDaily
SSL SecurePayments
60 Daysfor All Returns