It is fair to say that most binocular models tend to conform to a fairly narrow set of specifications.
Magnifications are, for the most part, either 8x or 10x. Which magnification chosen is largely dependent on the ability of the user to hold the binocular steady as any increase in our own shake will be magnified.
In order to allow enough light to enter the user’s eye in most daylight conditions, the choice of objective lens diameter (literally the lens closest to the object being observed) is kept as large as possible without making the binocular too heavy or bulky. 42mm is the commonest objective diameter as this equates to a relatively large exit pupil (or aperture) ensuring a bright image even in duller conditions.
The physical dimensions of 8×42 models are very similar as are the average weights. Brightness is highly desirable and weight can be mitigated to some extent by wider, comfort straps and harnesses which help with both carrying and comfort.
Although modern instruments are relatively compact and lightweight, if the user desires a smaller and lighter weight binocular, 32mm objective lens models offer a reasonable compromise. Most binocular models come in 8×32, 8×42 and 10×42 versions. (Less commonly, some manufacturers have 10×32 as an option which is perfectly acceptable for those who can hold 10x steady but desire a smaller unit).
Having said this, by far the most popular specification for birdwatching (and indeed general wildlife observation) is the 8×42 as it offers the best stability, light gathering whilst still being reasonably lightweight and compact and powerful enough for most observations.
When looking to purchase for the first time (or upgrade), the choice can appear overwhelming with a very wide range of brands, models and prices.
It is fair to say that, due to the massive increase in interest in natural history, that very high quality binoculars are becoming available at much lower price points.
Most binoculars are now completely waterproof and the prevalent design is the roof prism which is more compact than any equivalent specification porro prism (or ‘traditional’) binocular.
Our advice is to factor in any criteria important to you and we can help find the best fit.
Viking Optical Centres offers a range of high quality, affordable binoculars to nature enthusiasts for over 30 years and our aim is to help people to find the right fit in terms of both image quality, ease of use and budget.