Whether we're attending an opera, a theatrical performance, a concert or a sporting event, we don't always manage to get the best seats. More often than not, we end up a little further back, glancing at the stage from a distance, or relying on the giant screens to try and see what's going on.
It's at times like these that theater binoculars or compact binoculars come in handy. Theyenlarge the view and let you see what's going on up close, without having to worry abouttiring your arms if you have to hold large binoculars for long periods of time. So, what should you look out for when choosing show binoculars or compact binoculars? What are the best models?
What's the difference between theater binoculars and compact binoculars?
When you think of theater binoculars, you probably imagine small binoculars with a handle.Perhaps you imagine the audience at an opera or theater wearing these binoculars to their eyes to get a better view. And that's exactly what they are.
Theater binoculars are designed to be small and lightweight, so they can be taken and used almost anywhere. Because they're specially designed for opera and theater-going,they generally have a low magnification of around 3x or 5xwhich is enough to enlarge the view in most theaters.
That's all very well for theater, indeed, but what about if you're attending a concert or sporting event? Many of them take place in large stadiums, where the musicians and players look more like ants than people. That's where compact roof prism binoculars come in.
Like theater binoculars, roof prism binoculars are designed to be small and light, but with higher magnification, giving you a better view.
Traditional binoculars, whose barrels are offset from the eyepieces to form a W-shape, are known as Porro prism binoculars. They are generally larger and heavier, making them more difficult for hikers, birdwatchers and concert-goers to carry and use over long periods.
Roof prism binoculars are designed to be lighter and more compact than traditional binoculars. This is due to the internal configuration of the prisms and, unlike Porro prism binoculars, the barrels of roof prism binoculars are not offset from the eyepieces. They are simply straight, giving the binoculars an H-shape.
Traditional Porro prism binoculars offer slightly better image quality than roof prism binoculars, but unless you plan to use the binoculars for stargazing, this is of little importance. That said,if you need binoculars for a concert or sporting event, roof prism binoculars will probably be a better solution.
What do the numbers on the binoculars mean?
Whether you choose theater binoculars, Porro prism binoculars or roof prism binoculars, you'll find that there are almost always two numbers associated with them. For example, you may see binoculars with the designation 8×42.
The first number indicates the magnification and indicates the number of times the view will be magnified. To return to our example, if you're observing a performer on stage, 8×42 binoculars will make that person appear 8x larger.
The second number refers to the aperture of the objective lenses, measured in millimeters. Lenses are the large lenses you point at your target, while eyepieces are the much smaller lenses through which you look.
The larger the aperture, the more light the binoculars are able to gather. This feature is important for activities that take place in low-light conditions (such as astronomy or, possibly, hunting and birdwatching), but is not a priority at the theater, a concert or a sporting event, as the stage or field will generally be well lit.
How to choose the best theater binoculars or compact binoculars
While there are a number of factors to consider when buying theater binoculars or compact binoculars (such as lens coatings and prism quality), the two key factors are:
As mentioned above, traditional show binoculars have a low magnification, around 3x or 5x, because you're usually much closer to the stage than at a concert or sporting event.
With binoculars, however, it's a different story. Magnification is generally between 6x and 25x, but as you'd expect, the higher the magnification, the heavier the binoculars tend to be.
The magnification you need really depends on the event you're attending.If you're going to the theater, a low magnification of around 3x or 5x will be quite sufficient. On the other hand, if you're looking forbinoculars for a concert or sporting event, then opt for a pair with 8x or 10x magnification.
The most important factor influencing weight is the diameter of the objective lenses. Fortunately, for shows, concerts or sporting events, you don't need a large lens, which means you don't have to worry about binoculars tiring out your arms. In any case, it's worth remembering that traditional Porro prism binoculars can sometimes be 2x heavier than their roof prism counterparts. So, considering the weight, you'll probably want tostick to roof prism binoculars.
Frequently asked questions
What's the difference between ordinary binoculars and theater binoculars?
Theater binoculars were mainly used in the theater.but in recent years they have fallen into disuse. They are smaller than ordinary binoculars and have a lower magnification, as the performers on stage are indoors and closer than the objects seen by binoculars outdoors. Their relatively low power (usually 3x or 5x) can make them unsuitable for concerts and sporting events where the stage or field is further away. Roof prism binoculars, on the other hand, are also designed to be compact and lightweight, but have the extra magnification required for outdoor use.
Can binoculars be used in the theater?
Yes, but make sure you use a lightweight, compact device with low magnification. Depending on the size of the theater, you may find yourself much closer to the stage than at a concert or sporting event. Low-magnification binoculars (8x or less) are therefore more suitable for this type of event. Size and weight are also important, as you'll be taking them with you to your seat and may need to hold them for the duration of the show.
Is lens diameter important when attending a theatrical performance, concert or sporting event?
In general, diameter does not play a major role. when it comes to binoculars for theater, concerts or sporting events. Larger-diameter binoculars (e.g. 50 mm or more) have the ability to collect more light and are therefore intended for use in low-light environments. As stages and stadiums are generally well lit, this is not a problem. But if you want to use your binoculars for other outdoor activities (such as birdwatching, hunting or astronomy), you may want to consider binoculars with a large diameter.