Binoculars for Sports

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As we know, to get the very best views of most sports you are probably best staying at home and watching it on TV! However what television sport lacks compared to the live events is the unbeatable atmosphere. But just because you have decided to go watch you favorite sporting event live does not mean that you have to be content with just soaking up the atmosphere and watching tiny dots run around the field below! You can bring the action much closer to you with a good pair of sports binoculars and in this way you almost have the best of both worlds.

Football, soccer, baseball, athletics, golf, rugby, tennis, motor racing, basketball, ice hockey, beach volleyball.... the list goes on. The point is the right binoculars will most certainly improve your enjoyment of the action at most sporting events and in this section I will go over what makes a good all round sports binocular, perfect for taking to most events. However there are a few sports like cricket, horse racing, sailing and even surfing where a more specialist bin may be even better and so I have also created sub-sections for these that take the basic requirements from this page and adds to them.

So for now please take a look here at my guide to buying the best binoculars for sporting events:

Important Features: Sports Binoculars

When choosing any binocular for a specific purpose, first establish what the most important features are for their intended use and then you can find binoculars that match all or as many features that you are looking for.

Golf BinocularsSo what features are most important in a pair of binoculars for sports?

Magnification

The whole point of a pair of sporting binoculars is to get closer to the action, so you may be forgiven for thinking that the more powerful the magnification the better. Not True as high powered binoculars have a few drawbacks that will make viewing all the sporting action far from ideal.

The first problem with increasing the magnification is the higher the magnification, the smaller your field of view will usually be. This means that you will see plenty of detail, but less of what is going on the periphery and so could miss out on some of the action.

The next problem with high powered binoculars is that it becomes harder and harder to keep the image steady as any movement you make becomes progressively magnified. You can live with a small amount of movement for a short time, but if you are looking through your optics over longer periods, this can really get annoying and even give you a headache.

So in my opinion, for most sporting events any magnification between 7x and 10x will be more than adequate for most sporting events and will strike a good balance between getting closer to the action, but still maintaining a reasonably wide field of view and ensuring that the image that you are looking at is easy to keep still without the need of a rest or a tripod.

Already close to the Action?
There are some sports like volleyball, swimming, tennis and even some local or school events where you maybe already be fairly close to the action. Here a pair of bins can still help you view some more details, but you do not need the higher powers. Here I really recommend that you take a look at my page on butterfly binoculars! I know this may sound strange, but these optics which have a very close minimum focus, also usually come with lower magnifications and really wide field of views which as you will see below is also a really important factor to keep in mind.

These 6x or 7x bins will get you a nice close view of all the action (but so overpowered that you will be reading the label on the football!) and their wide FOV will ensure that you also get to see all the action around the point you are focusing on.

Wide Field of View (FOV)

The field of view (FOV) of a pair of binoculars is basically the width of the image that you can see through the binoculars and so a nice wide FOV enables you to catch as much of the action at once. So ideally what you want is a pair of binoculars with as wide a field of view as possible enabling you to observe as much of what is going on without having to move the binoculars all around the place.

The FOV is usually one of the most important features to look out for when choosing a binocular for most types of birdwatching and for me this is also true for a great pair of sports binoculars. Almost all manufacturers will advertise the FOV for their binoculars and it is usually expressed in feet at a distance of 1,000 yards, but increasingly common is in meters at 1,000 meters or it is sometimes described as an angle.

For most sporting events, I would say that a FOV of 315ft at 1,000 yards (105m at 1,000 meters / 6.0° ) should be fine, but as I say, the wider the better. If you want some more information, take a look at my page about wide angle binoculars that also lists some binoculars with really wide FOV's.

Type of Binocular

When deciding what binoculars to get for viewing sporting events, you will come across two main designs/styles of binocular: the Roof Prism and the Porro Prism - this refers to the type of prism used in their construction with both having their own unique advantages over each other, so which is best design for sports optics binoculars? As with many things in optics, the answer to this will be down to your personal preference:

Roof Prism Advantages: Compact Design and less moving internal parts, so tend to be longer lasting.
Roof Prism Disadvantages: In cheap roof prism binoculars, the image quality suffers when compared to cheap porro prism's, this is because it is harder to align the prisms and roof prisms require expensive coatings to ensure total internal reflection which cheap roof prisms obviously don't use. This is not a problem in mid, to expensive models, so if you are going to get very cheap binoculars which I would advise against anyway, you should rather rather opt for a porro prism design.

Porro Prism Advantages: Because the objective lenses are wider apart, they tend to have a better stereoscopic image and a wider field of view than porro prisms. They are also cheaper to make quality porro prisms than roof prisms and so tend to be optically superior in the cheap to mid price categories.
Porro Prism Disadvantages: Bulky in comparison to porro prisms. More moving parts and so it is harder to make them dust and waterproof.

For more information read my article on the differences between roof and porro prism binoculars.

Size

I personally like to take compact pair of bins with me to most sporting events as they are far easier to carry about and pack away when the event is over and you are trying to beat the rush home. Compact binoculars do have their drawbacks however and so some people may feel that the benefits that full size binoculars outweigh their increase in weight and size.

There are two main advantages that full size binoculars have over compacts:

  1. At the same magnification full size binoculars often have a wider field of view, which we have already established as being an important feature in our quest for the best
  2. Because of their larger objective lens, a full sized binocular is able to take in more light, meaning that the image that you view through them is potentially brighter and of a better quality, enabling you to view your chosen sport in all it's glory (other factors like lens coatings and quality of lenses and prisms will also affect this). Note: On a bright day you will probably not notice the difference in brightness between a good compact and a full sized bin (for the reasons why, take a look at this page on the complete guide to the exit pupil) this this is only really important in poor light conditions, so if you are watching night or indoor events for example.

Another point to mention is that good quality compact binoculars will use high quality glass and coatings and will actually often outperform cheap full sized binoculars. So if you are looking for a very cheap pair of binoculars (please don't!) I would suggest opting for a full sized pair of porro prisms, but if you are able to spend just that bit more, you could easily get the same performance from a compact porro prism that is far easier to carry around at the event.

Another option for you to consider would be a pair of mid size binoculars, which offer a great compromise - easier to carry and pack away than a full sized binocular, yet will produce a superior image than that of the same quality of compact binocular.

Below I have listed a few of the best sports binoculars that I have reviewed in the three main size categories:

Or you can take a look at All Binoculars ideal for Sporting Events that I have so far reviewed.

 
 

Sports Binocular Reviews

Below are some of the best compact binoculars for sports, sorted by size, that I have so far reviewed:

Compact Sport Binoculars

 

Levenhuk Rainbow 8x25 Binoculars

Available in 7 different bright colors, these low cost Levenhuk Rainbow binoculars also feature a very compact double hinge design, fully water and fog proof shell, BaK-4 roof prisms, twist-up eye-cups and multi-coated optics.

Add to this a very wide field of view, then these and their other features combine to make a compact ideal for general use, travel, hiking and especially for viewing outdoor sports like horse racing, tennis or cricket, where I can see their colors really making them stand out from the crowd. They also make great kids binoculars.

Price: (2/6) Low Cost Binoculars
BBR Ratings:
Body Quality: 6/10 63%
Very Good
Body Stats: 9/10
Optical Quality: 5/10
Optical Stats: 7/10
Image Quality 6/10
Extras & Details: 5/10

 

Levenhuk Energy PLUS 8x25 Binoculars

Low costing compact binocular from Levenhuk that comes with a number of higher end features including a water and fog proof shell that protects fully multi-coated optics within.

Highlights also include a very wide field of view and a close minimum focusing distance.

Price: (2/6) Low Cost Binoculars
BBR Ratings:
Body Quality: 7/10 70%
Excellent
Body Stats: 7/10
Optical Quality: 7/10
Optical Stats: 9/10
Image Quality 7/10
Extras & Details: 5/10

 

Swarovski CL Pocket 8x25 Binoculars

With the duel hinge design and compact body, these true pocket binoculars fold up to easily fit into the palm of your hand or indeed your pocket!

Fully fog and waterproof, you get a wide field of view and generous eye relief, which is complemented by fully multi-coated optics and phase corrected BaK-4 roof prisms for an image that you expect from Swarovski.

Price: (5/6) High Value Binoculars
BBR Ratings:
Body Quality: 9/10 87%
Outstanding
Body Stats: 9/10
Optical Quality: 8/10
Optical Stats: 9/10
Image Quality 9/10
Extras & Details: 8/10

 

Vanguard Orros 10x25 Binoculars

These low cost 10x Vanguard binoculars feature a lightweight rubber coated, water and fog proof body that protects good quality BaK-4 roof prisms and multi-coated lenses.

The also feature a unique offset hinge and focussing wheel that is designed to make adjustments more comfortable as well as helps them fold down to a compact shape for easy storage, making them a great take any and everywhere binocular.

Price: (2/6) Low Cost Binoculars
BBR Ratings:
Body Quality: 7/10 70%
Excellent
Body Stats: 9/10
Optical Quality: 6/10
Optical Stats: 8/10
Image Quality 7/10
Extras & Details: 5/10


Below are some of the best Mid Size binoculars for sports, sorted by size, that I have so far reviewed:

Mid size sporting binoculars

 

Hawke Endurance ED 8x32 Binoculars

Mid-sized, mid-priced Hawke binoculars that impress in almost single every area.

A fully fog and waterproof magnesium housing protects high quality and fully multi-coated optics with highlights that include ED glass lenses, BaK-4 roof prisms that have been phase corrected.

The result is a high quality and bright image that has a wide field of view, good close focus and delivers plenty of eye-relief.

Price: (3/6) Mid Priced Binoculars
BBR Ratings:
Body Quality: 8/10 80%
Outstanding
Body Stats: 8/10
Optical Quality: 8/10
Optical Stats: 8/10
Image Quality 8/10
Extras & Details: 8/10

 

Opticron Discovery WP PC 8x32 Binoculars

For a mid-sized binocular, the 8x32 Opticron Discovery is ultra compact and lightweight, has a very wide field of view and extremely minimum close focus.

Add to this good quality optics and a mid range price point and you have an instrument that is ideal in a very wide range of uses and thus will appeal to a huge selection of users.

Price: (3/6) Mid Priced Binoculars
BBR Ratings:
Body Quality: 7/10 80%
Outstanding
Body Stats: 10/10
Optical Quality: 8/10
Optical Stats: 9/10
Image Quality 8/10
Extras & Details: 6/10

 

Pentax 10x30 PCF CW Binoculars

Mid sized porro prism binoculars from Pentanx that manage to combine a low price point with a good quality optics system and a high level build quality to produce a versatile instrument that delivers a superior quality image for it's class.

Highlights include fully multi-coated optics, fully sealed, nitrogen filled, water proof body, twist-up eyecups and very long eye-relief.

Price: (2/6) Low Cost Binoculars
BBR Ratings:
Body Quality: 7/10 68%
Very Good
Body Stats: 7/10
Optical Quality: 7/10
Optical Stats: 6/10
Image Quality 8/10
Extras & Details: 6/10

 

Minox BL 8x33 HD Binoculars

The Minox BL HD is an updated and reworked version of the really popular and already excellent Minox BL 8x33, that now includes HD lens elements that improve the image quality even further.

Made and hand finished in Germany, other highlights include a fully waterproof compact and lightweight open bridge body design, phase correction coating on the roof prisms, long eye-relief and a really wide field of view.

Price: (4/6) Mid-High Value Binoculars
BBR Ratings:
Body Quality: 8/10 80%
Outstanding
Body Stats: 8/10
Optical Quality: 8/10
Optical Stats: 9/10
Image Quality 8/10
Extras & Details: 7/10


Below are some of the best Full Size binoculars for sports, sorted by size, that I have so far reviewed:

Full size sports binoculars

 

Vortex 8x42 Razor HD Binoculars

The use of the very best quality optical components and coatings like high density ED glass lens elements and dielectric and phase correction coatings on the roof prisms contribute to producing an extremely high quality and bright image.

These Vortex binoculars ooze quality and the water and fogproof body is nice and light as well as strong thanks to a magnesium chassis. I also really like the exterior design that is both comfortable and secure to hold.

Price: (5/6) High Value Binoculars
BBR Ratings:
Body Quality: 9/10 90%
The VERY Best
Body Stats: 9/10
Optical Quality: 10/10
Optical Stats: 8/10
Image Quality 9/10
Extras & Details: 9/10

 

Vanguard 8x42 Spirit ED Binoculars

These 8x42's combine very high quality optics that includes extra low dispersion glass, phase correction coatings on Bak-4 prisims with a tough, lightweight body that is 100% fog and waterproof and what you get is a great pair of binoculars ideal for birdwatching as well as everyday use.

Price: (3/6) Mid Priced Binoculars
BBR Ratings:
Body Quality: 8/10 80%
Outstanding
Body Stats: 9/10
Optical Quality: 8/10
Optical Stats: 7/10
Image Quality 8/10
Extras & Details: 8/10

These Binoculars are On SaleDiscounted Binoculars: Vanguard are currently offering a $50 Mail-In Rebate on these bins in the US and a £20 cashback in the UK
>> Check Prices
 

Nikon 10x42 EDG Binoculars

Designed to compete with the best binoculars in the world, the 10x42 Nikon EDG binocular comes with Nikon's fantastic ED glass lenses and advanced multilayer coating and phase correction roof prisms that produce stunning clear images with a powerful 10x magnification, a tough, waterproof and fog-proof body and so much more.

Price: (6/6) Expensive Binoculars
BBR Ratings:
Body Quality: 9/10 92%
The VERY Best
Body Stats: 8/10
Optical Quality: 10/10
Optical Stats: 9/10
Image Quality 10/10
Extras & Details: 9/10

These Binoculars are On SaleDiscounted Binoculars: The Nikon EDG 10x42 binoculars are available at a discount on Amazon.com and Binoculars.com in the USA
>> Check Prices

View >> All Binoculars for Sporting Events

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