My Daughter copying daddy with her Homemade Binoculars!

Kids Binoculars

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Childrens BinocularsChildren's Binoculars
Getting your kids interested in what you are interested in is always a rewarding experience, especially if it is educational as well. Think about it, what could be better than having your child outdoors, learning about and enjoying the wonders of nature.

If your kids are anything like my daughter (main image above), they will want to join in and do whatever it is you are doing, even if as it was in this case just copying dad by pretending to use binoculars using a couple of toilet rolls!

But there will be times when pretend toilet roll bins are not enough and the equipment that you are using may not be ideally suited to small, sticky hands!

The best alternative to having your kids use your expensive optics is to get them a pair that is not only less painful for you should they drop them, but ones that are actually designed to be better suited for a child so that they can get the full use and enjoyment out of them.

There are many "children's binoculars" on the market, many of which are very cheap toys that do little more than blur the image when you look through them! With a pair of these don't be surprised if their interest is very short lived. So in this article, I hope to point out some of the features to look out for in a binocular for a child, as well as take a look at some of the best ones available.

Important Features

Below are the most important features and aspects to keep in mind when looking for a good pair of binoculars for kids:

Magnification
Try to keep the magnification down and I would say that your maximum should be 8x.

Whilst a high powered binocular sound like a great idea at first, there are many downsides to this that have an even greater impact when younger eyes are using the device:

  • A highly magnified image is much harder to keep still and shake free and therefore it becomes harder to get a good view of what you are trying to look at. As you know kids find it hard to stay still at the best of times and they tend to have less stable hands than adults, so if they only see a blurry, shaky image when looking through their bins, it won't be long until they get bored of using them.
  • Another advantage of keeping the magnification down is that lower powered bins tend to have wider views (see field of view below)
  • A lower powered binocular will produce a larger exit pupil than one with the same size lenses, but a higher magnification. This means it will not only produce a brighter image in poor light, but makes it much easier to line up your eyes with the shaft of light exiting the eyepiece of the binocular. This in turn makes it easier for your child to actually use them and helps to make sure they see the full image without any dark rings forming on the edges of the view.

Field of View (FOV)
A wide field of view (the width of the image that you see through your optics) will make it much easier for your child to locate what it is they are looking for through their optics. It will also make it easier for them to follow fast moving or erratic objects like birds for example.

So if you have a choice between two binoculars that are very similar in all other aspects, take a look at their FOV's and go for the one that is wider.

Tip: Binoculars with higher magnifications tend to have a more zoomed in and much narrower field of view, so to make sure you get a wide view, keep the magnification to under 8x and possibly look for bins with a 7x or even 6x power.

Size & Weight
Binoculars with large objective lenses take in more light and therefore in general will produce a brighter image which is optimal. The down side to this is obviously that the binoculars become larger and heavier.

So even tough they may not perform as well in lower light, I would still opt for pocket or compact binoculars that will make it much easier not only for you child to carry, but also hold up to their face and keep steady.

The two images below are of my two and a half year old daughter showing off that she "can use my binoculars" and even one handed! However whilst these Hawke Nature-Trek 8x42 Open Hinge binoculars are particularly lightweight, I would not suggest getting them specifically for your child. What these pics do not show is how long she could hold them for or how steadily she was holding them!

My Daughter using the Hawke Nature-Trek Open Hinge 8x42 Binoculars
My Daughter using the Hawke Nature-Trek Open Hinge 8x42 Binoculars

Interpupillary Distance (IPD)
If you do decide to get a binocular that has not been specifically designed for a child, something to look out for as well as the binoculars physical size and weight is the minimum Interpupillary Distance (IPD).

Most manufacturers advertise the maximum and minimum IPD distances that you can adjust their binoculars to, so you just need to make sure that the binocular barrels can be adjusted to match the width between the centers of the pupils in each eye of your child.

To be 100% sure, just measure the distance between the centers of your child's eyes, but for older children a binocular with a minimum IPD of around 5.1cm - 5.3cm should easily accommodate their smaller faces.

Price
This is a personal and I suppose relative option as what may be expensive to you and me will be considered cheap to someone like Bill Gates! I would however like to recommend that you don't go for the very cheapest binoculars in any class as they will usually only end up frustrating your child and eventually put them off using them.

Recommended Binoculars for Children

So now we know the most important features to look for, we still have a couple options available depending on your budget, what the age and interests of your child are:

  1. Binoculars specifically designed for children - usually more suited to younger kids
  2. Standard binoculars suitable children - often a better solution for older children or teenagers and should last for many years

Binoculars Specifically Designed for Kids

A pair of binocular that has been specifically designed with children in mind should have all of the features listed above. This however is sadly not always the case. Children's binoculars come in two guises, ones that are little more than toys and are really not suitable for anything other than pretending to look through them and then there are a few ones that are actually pretty decent binoculars and with the features that we are looking for. So now all we have to do is separate the chaff from the wheat!

Levenhuk LabZZ B2 6x21 Binoculars

Levenhuk LabZZ B2 6x21 BinocularsWhilst the Levenhuk LabZZ B2 binocular may be bright and colorful, it is not a toy, rather a fully functional roof prism compact binocular and they have an optical performance that matches a standard binocular at the same sort of level.

What I Like:
As we have already discussed, the 6x magnification is ideal for children, helping them to keep the image shake free and ensuring a wide view to make finding their intended subject easy:

At 360ft wide at 1000yds, the width of view is indeed nice and wide which is great news as I know from my daughter that one of the biggest things that younger kids struggle with is actually finding what they want to look at.

The shape is very compact and thus ideal for small hands. They also have a large centrally located focus wheel that is easy to reach and adjust. The Levenhuk LabZZ B2 binocular is also very lightweight, so once again ideal for youngsters.

I also like the tough housing: The main chassis is made from a polycarbonate plastic and the exterior is rubber armored to withstand the inevitable knocks and bumps. In fact Levenhuk are so confident that their LabZZ B2 can handle what you children can throw at them that they come with a lifetime guarantee!

As well as the (amazing) lifetime guarantee, these instruments come with a soft carry pouch, wrist strap and cleaning cloth, just like Mum and Dads!

The optical glass that Levenhuk use in these is coated with an anti-reflective coating for a brighter and better quality image than what you get on the many imitation kids binoculars that don't have any coatings and which are now available.

Diopter adjustment on the Levenhuk LabZZ B2 6x21 BinocularsJust like standard binoculars, these have a diopter adjustment ring to calibrate them to cater for any differences in vision between the left and right eyes.

Age Range
Levenhuk suggest that these are suitable for children of 4 years and above, however I know from experience that my daughter was capable of using these from around 3 years old.

As for a maximum age, a lot depends on their previous exposure to optics, but these should be perfectly fine for kids of about 9 to 10 years old. For older or more experienced kids, take a look at some of the standard compact binoculars that I suggest below.

One last thing to mention is that these have an IPD range of 5cm to 6.5cm. So, once again perfect for smaller faces with closer set eyes.

Price Range
Absolutely perfect for younger kids and the best bit is you can buy them direct from Levenhuk to save money. Currently they have them on offer for $19.95 in the US, CDN$29.95 in Canada, 17,95 € in Germany and Europe and £14.95 in the UK!

USA Shoppers - Where to BuyUK ShoppersCanadian ShoppersFerngläser für den Verkauf in Deutschland Buy Direct: Levenhuk LabZZ B2 6x21 Binoculars on Levenhuk.com

Levenhuk Labzz B2 Binoculars, Carry Case and Cleaning Cloth

Bresser 6x21 Junior Compact Binoculars

Bresser 6x21 Junior Compact BinocularsProduced by Bresser, these 6x21 Junior Compacts are very similar to the Levenhuk's above.

They come with Bk-7 prisms and has a fully coated optical system that delivers crisp, colorful images to the eyepieces.

The body of the binocular is rubber armored to withstand plenty of punishment.

Bresser Junior Compacts come with a five year guarantee. Also included is a neat carrying case and small wrist strap.

Read full Review - Read my full review of these binoculars.

Price Range
These great little binoculars are available for approx $20 in the US and £30 in the UK:

UK Shoppers Bresser 6x21 Junior Binoculars on Amazon.co.uk

USA Shoppers - Where to Buy Children's Binoculars on Amazon.com

Plane Spotting Binoculars for Airshows

Standard Binoculars Suitable for Kids

I think for slightly older children and those that are genuinely interested in nature, birding or even for use at things like sporting events, getting a standard pair of binoculars that is suitable (with all the features already mentioned above) is the way to go as this pair of binoculars should last them far longer and you can be more certain that the image quality would be as you expect it to be.

Levenhuk Rainbow 8x25 BinocularsLevenhuk Rainbow Binoculars

The Rainbow series consists of seven very colorful, low cost compact binoculars that whilst not specifically designed for kids, are perfect for them and make what I believe an ideal introduction into the world of optics. Indeed as you can see from the photo below, my 5 year old daughter has and uses a pair.

Optical features include the use of BaK-4 Roof Prisms and Multi-Coated Optics.

The chassis are completely sealed and filled with nitrogen gas making them water and fog proof. They also feature twist-up eyecups, something that is fairly rare at this price level on a compact.

However the biggest highlight for me is their double hinge design, which allows them to be folded up into a tiny package when not in use - these are true pocket binoculars and once again makes a big difference for those with small hands and pockets.

Available Models:

There are currently 7 models within the Rainbow series, all of which are identical apart from the colors. Colors available are White Snow, Red Berry, Orange, Lime, Lemon, Blue Wave and Amethyst.

Levenhuk Rainbow binoculars - available in 7 bright colors

Shopping Basket IconPrices & Where to Buy

These cheap compact binoculars retail for about $60 in the US and £55 in the UK:

 
 

More Binoculars Suitable for Older Children

Below are some more examples of standard binoculars that I believe are most suitable for older children that I have fully reviewed:

They are either all lightweight, reasonably compact, have a magnification of 8x or less and are fairly inexpensive and where known I have limited their minimum IPD (Interpupillary Distance) to being 5.2cm or less and so should be able to adjust to fit their smaller faces:

 

Levenhuk Energy PLUS 8x25 Binoculars Review

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

 

Kowa 8x30 YF Binoculars Review

This 8x30 Kowa YF Series binocular is great low cost mid-sized porro prism binocular with fully multi-coated optics that produce an excellent quality image.

The body is tough, fully waterproof, fog proof and very lightweight.

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

 

Levenhuk Broadway 325F Opera Glasses Review

Designed as a useful fashion accessory to take to the theater or opera, these Levenhuk Opera Glasses with their all metal construction and high quality finish both look and feel far more expensive than they are.

Optically these Galilean type binoculars are fully multi-coated and use BaK-4 glass, which beats many others in this class.

Price: (1/6) Cheap Binoculars
BBR Ratings:
Body Quality: 8/10 72%
Excellent
Body Stats: 8/10
Optical Quality: 8/10
Optical Stats: 7/10
Image Quality 5/10
Extras & Details: 7/10

 

Opticron Savanna R 8x33 Binoculars Review

A more than capable, great looking, low cost, mid sized binocular that covers all the most important areas well and thus makes for a very versatile instrument that competes well within their price bracket.

Highlights include a waterproof aluminium & polycarbonate shell that protects full multi-coated optics and aluminium coated BaK-4 roof prisms.

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

 

Pentax 8x21 UCF R Binoculars Review

The Pentax UCF R Binoculars are ideal cheap take anywhere compact porro prism binoculars and come with excellent quality BaK4 prisms and feature a tough exterior.

Price: (1/6) Cheap Binoculars
 

Kowa 8x25 BD Binoculars Review

Very high quality compact roof prism binoculars that are fully fog and waterproof. They also feature fully multi-coated optics and phase correction coatings on the prisms that produce a excellent qaulity, bright image with a wide field of view.

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

These Binoculars are On SaleDiscounted Binoculars: These Kowa Binoculars have been reduced in price on Amazon and Eagle Optics in the USA.
>> Check Prices
 

Opticron Discovery WP PC 8x32 Binoculars Review

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

 

Nikon 8-24x25 EagleView Zoom CF Binoculars Review

These good looking, but inexpensive compact porro prism zoom binoculars from Nikon have a centrally located zoom control lever that enables the user to select any magnification from 8 power to 24 power with the push of a finger. The Multilayer-coated lenses produce a good quality as well as bright image especially at the 8x magnification setting.

Price: (2/6) Low Cost Binoculars
BBR Ratings:
Body Quality: 5/10 52%
Above Average
Body Stats: 6/10
Optical Quality: 5/10
Optical Stats: 4/10
Image Quality 6/10
Extras & Details: 5/10

 

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