Binoculars and other optics are a valuable tool for hunters,, fishermen, and outdoorsmen. Modern optics can be powerful, and vary greatly in quality and intended use. Learn the basics of what to look for in our discussion of How to Choose the Best Binoculars for You.

Variables to Consider when Choosing a Binocular

Binoculars come in many sizes. Just like anything it’s important to put some thought into how you plan to use the binoculars, in particular in what light, and from what distance. Those variables will impact what binoculars will work best in your application. 


Here’s how light effects optics:

The big window a the front of the lens is the objective lens, and that lets light into the binoculars. The bigger the window, the more light gets in. The objective lens is the blue lens.

Magnification also effect light, whereby the higher the magnification the less light that gets out.

The light exits the binoculars via the exit pupil which can be seen as the small opening of light in the eye pieces. Bigger objective lenses come with bigger exit pupils. The Exit Pupil in this example is indicated with the blue lines, and should correlate to your exit pupil in the light situations you expect to use the binoculars. 


How do you select between and 8x, 10x, or 12x magnified binocular. As Ron points out, with magnification comes shake, especially in the field where wind, cold, and fatigue can set in. The logic is simple whereby the binoculars are magnifying what you’re looking at, and they are also magnifying the shake. If you’re using a tripod then the shake issue is eliminated except for those times your tripod is inaccessible or just not practical.

In the end it comes down to practicality for most of us. 8x is easiest magnification to handle that provides a wider field of view. This makes it easier for you to find what you’re looking for, without being too shaky. And 8x works well in denser brush and forest. 10x provides greater detail, but the trade-offs are increased shakiness and increased magnification of obstacles in your field of view when in wooded areas. 12x is hard to handle, and less practical unless you expect to use a tripod most of the time.


Magnification Recommendation

8×42 – it’s versatile and works for most needs

our Favorite 8×42 Binoculars by Price

Binoculars vary greatly in price. With increased price comes higher quality. Our favorite all around binocular is the 8×42. These are our favorite options at various price points:

Under $125:

Nikon 8×42 ProStaff 3S Binoculars view details


Under $200:

Vortex Optics Diamondback Roof Prism 8×42 Binoculars view details


Under $250:

Nikon 7576 Monarch 5 8×42 Binoculars view details


Under $500:

Zeiss Terra ED 8×42 Binoculars view details


Under $1000:

Leica Trinovid HD8x42 Binoculars view details