Whether you are taking them to a sporting event or bird-watching, nothing gets you up close to what you are looking at quite like a good pair of binoculars. No matter what you will be using them for, a little bit of research is all you need to find a pair that fits your needs without costing you too much. In our buyers guide below, you’ll learn everything you need to know about the different types of binoculars as well as some tips for finding the best deals.
- How to Buy Cheap Binoculars
- Final Considerations
How to Buy Cheap Binoculars
Even when shopping on a budget, the best cheap binoculars can go far. As proof, they are even used by professional hikers, sportspeople, or hobbyists. It goes to show that the most expensive binoculars are not always worth the investment. Since there are thousands of cheap binoculars to choose from, a few characteristics can set them apart and reveal the best options.
The actual shape of the binoculars is not a priority for many buyers. However, it is the first complaint whenever the fit in the hands is not right. The shape of the binoculars also affects how it is carried. Most of the time, the binoculars sit in the pocket or around the neck. The right shape is crucial as a result. For many users, the shape of the binoculars needs to fit specific purposes.
Those using binoculars for sporting events will not need the largest design inside a stadium or another sports facility. Those hiking for days also value more compact designs. There’s no clear distinction as to what can be considered for each type of use. However, users always prefer binoculars, which offer clear images and may forgive larger designs as a result. A poor choice would involve large binoculars with optics around 50mm but which would lack image sharpness.
Ergonomics also impacts the shape of the binoculars. Some of the ergonomic designs of the moment can easily be held with a single hand. Others struggle to keep up when it comes to travel, and accidents happen fast as a result. Simultaneously, some of the best ergonomic designs are also made with a rubberized contact surface to further improve grip strength and avoid all types of accidents.
Water, Dust and Fog Protection
Even standard optics need adequate protection. Unfortunately, this is something many users find out too late. It is when sand or water particles get inside the lenses that they can cause real trouble. From developing a mold to fogging up the optics from the inside, there are many problems to avoid.
Some of them can be avoided by choosing binoculars that are appropriately protected. It means that waterproof binoculars should be a priority for all users. One of the best-kept secrets of waterproofing in the cheap binoculars range is that it is not the best users can get. It mostly protects the optics against the odd splash.
However, a few gems can be found in the affordable category as some binoculars can also survive a short submersion accident. For this to happen, the water depth needs to be shallow, and the time underwater also needs to be brief. However, as seen with some of the binoculars above, this can be the case, even within the budget.
Focus Adjustment Systems
The focus adjustment ring is one of the few moving parts of regular binoculars. As a result, it is also one of the first pieces to show signs of wear. With many binoculars, this is also a sensitive area in case of drops. A direct drop on the focus ring will automatically put many binoculars out of order.
But apart from the risk of accidents, the focus ring should be easy to adjust. It should be smooth. If jerky, the focus system will not offer the best user experience, especially with full zoom, which is the case in situations such as bird watching.
The actual diameter of the lens has its role as well. In general terms, the wider the diameter, the more light the binoculars can capture. The smaller the lens diameter, the more compact the binocular is. For many people, it is also the opportunity to get the best results when it comes to brightness in low light conditions.
Most users will not be going too far in low light. Others, such as bird watchers, might be waiting for the best dusk moment to see their subjects in action. This is one of the situations where larger lenses are recommended on binoculars. Furthermore, some of them can also struggle to keep up with modern users’ demands, who are now using binoculars for multiple purposes.
Apart from the optics’ size, the treatments and further glass improvements play their part as well. Various lens coating options offer distinct advantages when it comes to dealing with UV light and mirroring. Reducing glare is an important benefit, as is offering better brightness. The good news is that brightness and contrast can be improved using multi-coating technologies. Even in cheap binoculars, they are used to enhance the user experience.
The accessories considered by those using cheap binoculars are numerous, and they are not limited by the price of the optics. For example, smartphone adapters can work just as well on cheap binoculars as on premium binoculars.
But the list of accessories also needs to contain a soft cleaning cloth. Such materials can remove dust and dirt particles from the optics without any scratches. A carrying pouch might also be needed together with a strap. But accessories should always include eyecups. Used to protect the optics, they should be designed so that they don’t get separated from the binoculars easily. Their role is to protect the optics of the binoculars during travel.
What Is Multi-Coating?
Multi-coating refers to the various treatments applied to the optics of binoculars. They can have multiple purposes, from filtering out UV lights to improving contrast and adding brightness in low light conditions. The quality of the lens’ coating is different from brand to brand, even if the description sounds similar.
Are All Types of Waterproofing the Same?
There are various classes of waterproofing. Water-resistant or Class 1 are mainly made to deal with the occasional splash. Class 2 waterproofing is made to deal with top to bottom watering applications, such as the occasional light rain. Class 3 waterproofing binoculars are made to resist water submersion at low depths.
Can I Use Binoculars if I Wear Glasses?
Those wearing glasses can still use binoculars for various objectives. The adjustable diopters make this easier. Apart from focusing and adjusting the sharpness of the image, the diopter adjustment adds a new dimension to the binoculars as it adapts to each user’s needs.
I Only Hike on Occasion, What Else Can I Use Binoculars For?
Those who only go out in nature on occasion might not be as motivated to purchase binoculars. But they can be used for sporting events as well. Some binoculars are even used in astrology, and they can offer a better view of the universe from the backyard.
How Do I Take Photos With Binoculars?
Taking photos with binoculars is not too complicated. A smartphone adapter is needed. It places the smartphone right behind the binoculars so that it captures whatever goes through the lens. Such adapters are already included with some cheap binoculars.
Can I See During the Night With Binoculars?
Seeing during the night with regular binoculars is not possible. All binoculars above are made to be used during the day. Only some perform better in low light conditions during the morning or the evening, but never in complete darkness.
Some of the best cheap binoculars under $50 / $100 are now made to last for years. The days of plastic designs that struggle to get some type of serious use out of them are now gone. Within a low budget, binoculars can be used for all kinds of reasons.
As seen from the examples above, users can even get their hands on astronomy binoculars for a low price. This being said, not all cheap binoculars are a worthy purchase. Even if the physical construction doesn’t feel as reliable as many would hope for, hood optics can make the difference.
As seen with sharp optics such as those offered by Nikon or Celestron, finding reliable designs is not too complicated. Without a doubt, they can be found with many manufacturers. All major optics producers are now entering the binoculars world with affordable products, and this is proof users rely on them. However, the compromises can be considerable in many cases, and navigating these cheap optics should only be based on their performance in the most demanding light conditions.
Depending on the main use of the binoculars, the options above offer a pocket-friendly solution with magnification starting from 7X and up to 25x. Used for landscapes, most binoculars do their job well. It is with remote subjects in the distance that the highest magnification is preferred. However, finding the balance between the highest magnification and the best stability is important. In many cases, these two characteristics don’t have to be mutually exclusive.