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The Best High Powered Binoculars in 2023
When we think of binoculars, we often think of twins. 10×50 binocularsor smaller binoculars such as 8×42 or 7×35. However, while these binoculars are great, there will be times when you need a little more.Perhaps you're a birder and need higher magnification, or you're an amateur astronomer and need a wider aperture.
Binoculars come in a wide range of magnifications and apertures, so where do you start? When should you use powerful binoculars? What should you look for? And what are the best high-power binoculars in 2023?
Explanation of magnification and aperture
People use binoculars for a wide range of activities, from astronomy to photography.bird watching concerts, hiking, hunting and sailing. However, before deciding which people could benefit from powerful binoculars, let's take a moment to consider what high-power binoculars are.
If you've ever bought or used binoculars, you probably know that they're always listed with two digits. For example, you may be thinking of buying 10×50 binoculars. The first number indicates the magnification, while the second is the aperture of the objective lenses, measured in millimeters.
Magnification is an indication of the size of an object that will appear through the binoculars. For example, if the magnification is 10x, the object will appear 10x larger, as if you were 10x closer to it. Most binoculars have a fixed magnification, usually ranging from 6x to 25x.
While you might think that the highest magnifications are the best, this isn't always true. For a start,higher magnification will also amplify any shaking from your arms, hands or even the environment. If, for example, you're on a boat, its sway can make it difficult to maintain your view, and this effect will be all the more marked the higher the magnification.
Aother problem is the field of visionor how much you can see through the eyepieces. On average, 10×50 binoculars will have a field of view covering around 6 or 6.5 degrees of sky, but (as you'd expect) higher magnifications produce smaller views, with 15×70 binoculars having a field of view of around 4 degrees.
As well as making your view a little less aesthetically pleasing, this can also make it harder to locate your target, especially if it's moving.
Before talking about aperture, it's worth noting thatthere are also binoculars with zoom magnification. They tend to produce a lower-quality image, but can nevertheless be useful in certain circumstances. Generally speaking, using the zoom function can affect the color and brightness of the image, so if you plan to use them, it's best to do so during the day.
When we talk about the aperture of binoculars, we're referring to thediameter of the objective lenses. These are the large lenses you point at your target, and the aperture is always measured in millimeters.
At first glance, the aperture may not seem that important, but it plays a very important role.Objective lenses collect light, so the larger the aperture, the more light the binoculars can collect.
During the day, this can produce a brighter, more colorful image, while allowing you to see better at dusk and during the night. If your hobby involves being outdoors at these times, you should consider using binoculars with larger apertures.
Unfortunately, thenot only are they physically larger, they also tend to be heavier. For example, binoculars with a 25 mm aperture typically weigh around 300 g, while binoculars with a 50 mm aperture weigh around 800 g.
Some binoculars have a maximum aperture of 100 mm, but many manufacturers produce binoculars with a maximum aperture of 70 mm. They generally weigh around 1.8 kg (4.0 lbs).
Given their weight, it isbinoculars on a tripod. This stabilizes the image and prevents arm pain. However, this will limit your use of the binoculars, as it is difficult to observe targets more than 45 degrees above the horizon comfortably.
What can powerful binoculars be used for?
Generally speaking, if you need to move around a lot, or if you simply want something you can grab quickly and use in the garden, your best option is to use smaller, lighter binoculars.
For example, you won't want to use high-powered binoculars when you're hiking or attending a concert (no matter how far away the stage is), as they're simply too heavy and cumbersome. In both cases, a lower magnification and aperture, such as 8×25, would be a better choice, as they will be both more compact and lighter.
Similarly, if you're on a boat, you'll find that a lower magnification is more appropriate, as it will give you a more stable view. However, a 50 mm aperture may be preferable, as it's better suited to low-light scenarios. In this case, 7×50 binoculars can provide the ideal combination of magnification and aperture for anyone on a boat.
Amateur astronomers, birdwatchers and hunters will often choose 10×50s, as they can provide the necessary magnification and aperture, while remaining relatively light and portable. If they need higher magnification or a wider aperture, 15×70s or 20×80s can be a good option, but the extra weight often makes a tripod necessary.
At first glance, this may seem like a problem, but it needn't be. If you plan to stay in one place for a while, powerful binoculars mounted on a tripod can give you the magnification and aperture you need to make the most of your time.This makes high-power binoculars a good choice for astronomers, birdwatchers and hunters, because they often find themselves in the same place for a long time.
How to choose the best high-power binoculars?
When looking for powerful binoculars, there are a number of factors to consider, such as... :
Lens magnification and diameter
Although your buying decision depends primarily on how you intend to use the binoculars, each of these factors can also have an influence.
Lens magnification and diameter
We already know what magnification and aperture mean, but how do they work together? To start with, let's take a look at how the two combined will affect your eyesight.
Many people like to use 10×50 binoculars, but some will opt for 20×50 binoculars instead. These obviously have double the magnification, but the aperture is the same. As a result, your target will appear twice as big, but you won't necessarily see twice as much detail, as the light-gathering capabilities of 20×50 binoculars are the same as those of 10×50 binoculars.
Even if your target appears larger, it won't be brighter or more colorful. For example, in low-light conditions, birdwatchers may not see extra markings that could help them identify birds. If you're an amateur astronomer observing the Pleiades star cluster, the cluster will appear twice as large, but you'll see the same number of stars.
This is whybinoculars also tend to have larger apertures.15×70 and 20×80 are common options, and some manufacturers even produce 25×100.
As high-power binoculars tend to have larger apertures, they can weigh considerably more than their smaller counterparts. This can limit their portability and make them difficult to hold for extended periods. Arm fatigue, which in turn can cause soreness, can quickly set in when holding heavy binoculars in front of your eyes.
You'll also need to pay attention to weight if you're planning to take binoculars on vacation or travel. In most cases, they'll still be small and light enough to travel with you, but if you want to travel light, you might consider taking less powerful binoculars instead.
Depending on where you are and the time of year, the weather can change rapidly. Even if you plan your trip to coincide with good weather, it's always possible for it to change. You need to keep this in mind when looking for powerful binoculars. Ideally, if you plan to be out in all weathers, you shouldlook for waterproof binoculars.
Unfortunately, more often than not, wide-aperture binoculars tend to beresistant towater-resistant, rather thanwaterproofand while this is probably sufficient for short periods, it may not be advisable to spend the whole day (or night) out in the rain, unless your binoculars are sufficiently protected against the elements.