How to Read Binocular Power: Terms, Numbers Explained

How to Read Binocular PowerIf you’re a beginner viewing enthusiast, all the terms and numbers on the binoculars might seem confusing.

And when you get the understanding of those numbers, the question of proper choice arises, not making the situation easier.

The only way to make things simpler is to learn the basics about binoculars and understand what numbers mean the item is perfect for you.

This is what we’ll do together in this article!

What Is Binocular Power?

The power of your binos is also called magnification. It determines how close the object will look when you try to view it. The number representing this quality means how many times larger the object will look.

Logically, the larger the number, the steadier your hands have to be. One of the most common mistakes beginners make is buying a pair of binos with great magnification and not having a tripod to use it.

The image becomes all shaky and blurry, and it’s easy to miss the object entirely, especially if it’s faint or you’re viewing in a low-light environment.

Binocular Power

Via: @goapewilliamsburg

How to Read Binocular Power

When looking at binoculars’ descriptions, you see two numbers, like 7×35 or 10×42. The first number with an “x” is the power or magnification.

There are 5x, 7x, 8x, 10x, 12x, and even 20x binoculars, but those are heavy-duty and shouldn’t be used without a tripod.

Usually, people buy binos in the 7x to 10x range. Anything smaller than 5x won’t provide a lot of benefits and is suitable only for theaters only.

Magnification of over 12x will be very difficult to handle if you’re not a professional. You’ll need a tripod or a special station for such an item.

Vortex Optics Kaibab HD Binocular with a tripod

Via: @transientoutdoorsman

These are stable magnification binoculars. There are also zoom binoculars that have two numbers at the beginning, like 10-22×50. You get several magnification options in one.

The construction of such binos is very fragile, so they aren’t compact and have to be handled with extra care. If you’re a beginner, it’s better to stay away from these for a while.

To add some useful information, the second number is the diameter of the lens. The larger the diameter, the more light is captured by it, providing you with brighter images with more saturation and contrast.

How to Read Binocular Power

Via: @moebius_kenobius

What Magnification to Choose

Here are some reference points that might help you choose a pair of binoculars:

  • For hunting
    Standard hunting binoculars are usually compacts, 7x to 10x. If you need more capabilities for long-range shooting, 12x to 16x binoculars will be more suitable. You can also choose more power for special occasions, but remember that you’ll need a tripod for them. Our hands shake a little bit anyway, and every small shake is amplified equally to the power of your binos.
  • For marine applications
    In marine applications, standard 7x, 8x, or 10x binoculars will be just fine. Lens diameter is more important in this case because you need more light captured by the lenses. 42-50 mm should be fine and remember that the unit should be waterproof and rubberized, so it doesn’t slip.
  • For bird-watching
    A regular bird-watching pair of binos is 8×42. But if you want to see birds located farther or the details of the scenery, nests, etc., 42 to 50 and 10x to 12x magnification are advised. Additional good features for bird-watching binos include closer focus and better eye relief.
  • For theater/events
    In this case, a small model with a wide view should work fine. You don’t need a lot of power, so even 4×30 will be suitable. You can also get 5×25, 8×25, or even 7×18/7×21.

Why It’s Important

The main purpose of buying a pair of binoculars is to magnify subjects and objects. So the magnification power of a unit determines how suitable it is for your purpose. If it’s long-distance viewing, a pair of binos with only 5x zoom won’t be suitable for that.

How to read the numbers on your binoculars

Via: @denverscopes

You should know basic terminology and be able to read the numbers on your binoculars. The choice of the right pair will be much easier then. To sum up, remember several rules:

  • Larger lenses give brighter images
  • Zoom binoculars are usually heavier
  • The larger the lenses, the heavier the binos
  • The first number is the power/magnification
  • The bigger the number, the closer the object will appear when you look in the binos
  • Compact binos are usually 7x to 10x

Estimate how far you want to see and buy binoculars according to your needs.

How to Read Binocular Power

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