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Collection: The Best 10x50 Binoculars in 2023

When people look for good, all-round binoculars, they’ll often invest their money in 10x50’s. With the power needed to produce close-up views of almost any target under a wide variety of light conditions, they’re the go-to choice for everyone from hikers and hunters to astronomers and bird-watchers.

But what should you look for when choosing 10x50 binoculars? And which ones are best?

What Do the Numbers Mean?

You’ve probably noticed that all binoculars have two numbers associated with them, whether it’s 10x50, 8x42, 15x70 or some other combination. The first number indicates the magnification of the binoculars, while the second tells you the aperture of the objective lenses, as measured in millimeters.

The magnification is fairly easy to understand - it simply tells you how much larger the target will appear through the binoculars. In the case of 10x50 binoculars, the magnification is 10x, so the target will appear ten times larger.

The second number, the aperture, works differently but is no less important. The aperture refers to the large objective lenses at the end of the binoculars. These are the lenses that you point toward your target. The smaller lenses, at the other end, are the eyepieces that you look through. 

The aperture of the lenses determines how much light your binoculars can gather. The more light, the more detail you can potentially see. Similarly, if you’re into astronomy, the larger the aperture, the fainter the object the binoculars can potentially detect.

Bird watchers, and anyone using the binoculars during the daytime, may not notice a big difference. However, if your birds are active at dusk, you use your binoculars for hunting at night or you’re into astronomy, the light-gathering power of a larger aperture will allow you to see more. 

Perhaps not surprisingly, there’s a downside: the larger the aperture, the heavier the binoculars, and weight is definitely an important factor when it comes to choosing the right binoculars for you. 

Why Use 10x50 Binoculars?

There’s a good reason why 10x50 binoculars are pretty much the standard: they can be used for almost any activity you need binoculars for. The combination of magnification and aperture means you’re able to see your target close-up and under a variety of light conditions.

This makes them an ideal choice for both daytime and nighttime use and for a wide variety of activities. For example, they’re powerful enough to produce great, close-up views of birds, planes, sea life and scenery, while the 50mm aperture gathers enough light for them to be used for bird watching at twilight or star gazing and hunting at night.

How to Choose the Best 10x50 Binoculars

There are a number of factors you should take into consideration when buying 10x50 binoculars, but four of the key factors are:

  • Weight
  • Prism Configuration
  • Optical Quality & Coatings
  • Water Resistance

In many respects the importance of each factor will vary, depending upon what you need the binoculars for. Weight and prism configuration can be considered to be important, no matter what, while optical quality can make a big difference if you intend to use the binoculars for astronomy. 

Lastly, water resistance may be important if you intend to use the binoculars during the daytime, but not so important for astronomy. After all, you won’t be seeing many stars if it’s raining, but you’ll still want to go for binoculars that are at least water resistant and, ideally, fogproof.


If you’re taking your binoculars with you as you hike, or you’re into bird watching or astronomy and could be using your binoculars for an extended period of time, then weight is definitely an important factor to consider.

While holding your binoculars up to your eyes for a few moments may not cause arm fatigue, any longer than a minute or two can be a problem - especially if you need to use them a lot.

On average, 10x50 binoculars weigh about 800g (1.8 pounds) but this can also depend on the prism configuration (see below.)

Roof prism and Porro prism

Prism Configuration 

There are two basic types of prism configuration: porro and roof. Porro prism binoculars are the traditional binoculars you’ve often seen in movies and on TV. They have two large barrels that are slightly offset from the eyepieces, giving the binoculars a W shape.

Roof prism binoculars are a more recent invention and first became popular in the latter half of the 20th century. They have straight barrels, giving the binoculars an H shape, and are designed to be more lightweight and portable than their porro prism siblings. 

This potentially makes them a better choice for hikers, but one downside to their compact design is that the apertures tend to be on the smaller side, with most maxing out with an aperture of 40mm or 50mm.

Besides weight, there are a few other differences to consider. The configuration of the prisms in porro prism binoculars provides a slightly better quality image, and they also tend to be a little less expensive to produce, but the price you pay can greatly depend upon the manufacturer.

Essentially, the biggest difference is in weight and, consequently, portability. With this in mind, if you’re a hiker or you intend to be on-the-go a lot, roof prism binoculars might be the better option. If, however, you plan on staying in one spot or image quality and aperture is important, then the traditional porro prisms are probably best.

(And if the binoculars are large and heavy, you can always connect them to a tripod.)

Optical Quality & Coatings

The quality of the optics can make a big difference in the quality of the image you’ll see. For example, binoculars can sometimes show chromatic aberration; this is the rainbow effect you might see when looking at a high contrast object (such as the Moon.) It’s hard to eradicate completely, but it’s far more noticeable in cheaper binoculars and those not produced by a reputable manufacturer.

There are a number of factors that contribute to the quality of the image, but two of the most important are the prism type and the coatings.

Essentially, there are two types of prism: BK-7 and BaK-4, with BK-7 being the inferior of the two. Most of the time, BK-7 is fine, but for a hobby like astronomy, BaK-4 is usually preferable (but not necessary.) Amateur astronomers will often use a star as a focus reference point, and being able to fine-tune the focus can make a lot of difference.

Either way, binoculars with other prism types should be avoided.

It’s a similar story when it comes to the coatings applied to the optics. These are anti-reflective coatings and can improve the quality of the image seen through the eyepieces.

When purchasing your binoculars, only multi-coated (MC) and fully multi-coated (FMC) are really viable options. Again, like the prism types, these are the two coatings most favored by reputable manufacturers, so any binoculars from unknown brands that say their optics are simply “coated” should be avoided. 

What’s the difference? Multi-coated means one side of one lens has been coated numerous times while the other lenses have been coated once on just one side. Fully multi-coated means that all sides of all lenses have been coated multiple times.

Water Resistance

While most binoculars from reputable manufacturers are water resistant, some might argue that having binoculars that are waterproof is really a matter of personal choice. As mentioned before, it could come down to what you need the binoculars for.

If you’re a bird watcher or a hiker and may need to use the binoculars throughout all kinds of weather conditions, then waterproof binoculars can be a good idea. This is especially true if you’re going to be using them near water, such as a river or on the beach.

If you intend to use your binoculars for astronomy, you might not feel it’s necessary to have waterproof binoculars. After all, you won’t see much if the skies are overcast and it’s raining. However, it’s worth considering fogproof binoculars as the temperature and humidity could cause your optics to mist over.

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