Thinking about buying myself some good binoculars for Christmas, advise me...

I want maximum magnification without making them unusable without a tripod. There is a field/woods border about 500 yds from my back deck. I would like to observe wildlife along this border. I have been told not to go over 10 or 12x magnification because any movement of your hands is compounded by the magnification. ? I’ve looked around online but would be interested in what you all know.

Swarovski, if money is no object.

I’ll bet those have nice optics Chefguy, but damn. No need to spend that kind of money unless you need the finest.

My advice: go big.

I’m not a binocular expert, but I was in the same situation. I wanted a set for years because my back yard was a field with deer and occasionally coyotes. Someone wanted to give me a gift, and knowing that I was into photography, took me to a camera shop. They didn’t know that anything I wanted but hadn’t bought was in the thousands, but they did have Nikon binoculars, so I ended up with some 7x35 binoculars. I’ve used them on many occasions, but I wish I had a higher magnification and bigger lens.

As you’ve probably already researched, binoculars are commonly listed as two numbers. My 7x35 means it has 7x magnification, and has a 35mm primary lens. Get the 50mm lens, as they gather more light and offer a brighter image. There are trade-offs with weight and portability, but if you aren’t humping it around, the bigger lens will mean better viewing, especially in low light conditions.

Depending on your budget, though, I would get a zoom, like this one. Then you can decide how much magnification you need, and whether hand-shake is a problem.

The bigger the numbers the better, up to a point. Given my druthers I’d go with a bigger 2nd number before a larger first number. Wider field of view though that gets you a relatively heavier unit.

Look through them. 35 years ago I bought an inexpensive pair from J.C. Penny’s, made in Japan. Crystal clear, well made and still in great shape. A couple of years later a friend gifted me a pair of expensive Bausch and Lombs. Not nearly as good optically, more difficult to use, though more compact. Expert opinions and reviews count, but it’s your eyes that will be the judge.

Just a thought, might you want to capture images of said wildlife? If so, go with this Nikon. It’s not the fastest or ‘bestest’ camera they make but it’s more than enough for most people & it’s got one helluva zoom lens on it.

Don’t dismiss ebay as a source. I have a pair of Bell & Howell 8X40 binocs I inherited from my father. Great for animal watching, and there are ones going for less than $20. Bushnell also makes any number of models that are more than adequate for your needs without breaking the bank.

But really, for what you want to do a spotting scope and tripod are your best option. (Sorry about the tripod!)

I’ll disagree here. That’s a heavy pair of glasses and you will need a tripod on any but the lowest zoom. It’s more binocular than you will likely need, the zoom may be awkward in the field and a lot of the range might be functionally unusable. If you are a strong person and absolutely know you have very steady hands, 12x might work( but be a little bulky ). I’d stick with 8x-10x. Recommendations are going depend a little on what you want to use them on.

I linked to this page in the other recent thread on binoculars, but if you are birding here is the binocular review page from Audobon. They break it down into budget segments and I see most of the popular models I’ve played around with listed. They mostly stick to 7x-8.5x( which are very popular for birders ), but matching 10x models exist for almost all of those.

Agreed. I had a pair of zoom binos years ago and hated them. The optics were fuzzy and the zoom was awkward. My everyday binos are Nikon 10x42, which do a nice job without requiring a tripod.

I use 10x42 as well. My glasses are discontinued( got them on sale when the line was cancelled )but are basically upper mid-range Vortex bins that were branded as optimized for birding. Plenty of decent glass on the market these days to choose from. Nikon and Vortex make good stuff that will perform 97% as well as the traditional pricey luxury trio of Leica, Swarovski and Zeiss( all of which make excellent glass, but are kind of “price is no object” equipment ).

What time of day will you be observing? That’ll factor into what size objective lenses you’ll want (larger = more light gathered).

I’d go here:

In particular, these stood out as ones that could be good(I have an old 8x56 pair in the same series and they’re excellent):

or these:

If the tripod is negotiable, I’d look at spotting scopes; they are probably your best bang for the buck for what you want to do.

That is generally true, but there is a way around it: optical image stabilization. Canon has a whole lineup from a 8x25 (street price ~ $330) up to 18x50 ($2000). I used to have the 10x30 and the stabilization makes a huge difference.

But the other disadvantages of high magnification are: (1) Narrow field of view, so it’s more difficult to find the target, and (2) a finite amount of light is spread over a larger image, so the image is dimmer. My primary use of binoculars is for casual amateur astronomy, so both of these are very important factors. So I now use 8x42 binoculars.

p.s. I agree zoom binoculars are useless. Not only do they have poor image quality, but with most zoom binoculars, the apparent field of view shrinks when you zoom out.

Thanks for the info everybody. I don’t think I want anything with a tripod because it’s often a situation where I glimpse something I want to see more closely so I run inside, grab my current binocs and rush back out to see if I can spot it before it’s gone. I have woods across from me in the other direction too so I want something that’s grab and go. I also sometimes use my current pair to look at the moon and sky. Lots of light gathering ability would be more important to me than compact physical size. I won’t be backpacking them so weight isn’t critical either. There’s a big outdoors place near where I work and they have a lot of different ones to try but even in the big store it’s hard to get an idea of how they’d work outdoors.
I just checked the ones I have and they are 7 X 50mm. I would like a little more magnification.

Those high end ones look pretty nice but I’m thinking 200-250 max.

You seem to have a lot more binocular experience than I do, but two pounds doesn’t seem all that heavy for backyard viewing. I have camera lenses that weigh that much, and while I don’t like carrying them around, they are manageable. It’s the shake I would worry about at the higher magnification levels, and maybe that makes anything above 10x unusable.

I did stipulate that there are tradeoffs for weight and portability. If I had to carry a set of binoculars for miles I wouldn’t opt for a 50mm. For back yard viewing, though, why not get the biggest that you can use for a few minutes?

I’m a little surprised that it seems the zoom binoculars are blurry. I wouldn’t expect a company like Nikon to sell a substandard optical product. I know zoom lenses tend to reduce clarity due to the extra elements, but they are still reasonably sharp.

I bought a 8x40 binocular used from Ebay.

It’s missing the rear lens cap.

This place sells them, but in mm’s?

How can I know what size to buy?

They may not appear blurry, but comparably priced non-zoom binoculars are generally slightly better.

But it’s not just image quality. As I said above, zoom binoculars tend to have small field of view. Your 10-22x50 has a field of view of 199.0 ft @ 1000 yd distance at 10x magnification setting. The non-zoom 10x50 model, also the Aculon series from Nikon, has a field of view of 341.0 ft @ 1000 yd distance. (And costs $70 less.) Even the 16x50 model has a larger field of view (220 ft @ 1000 yd) than the 10-20x zoom at the lowest (10x) setting.

Your basic Stanley tape measure is calibrated in metric along the bottom, so…measure the other lens cap?

Both lens caps are missing.

But, I can measure the lens diameter?

I wasn’t sure if the mm measure was the circumference or diameter of the lens.

I guess they want the glass measured? Not including the housing around the glass?

Most lens caps I’ve seen fit around the entire housing.