Binoculars for Cricket

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England vs SA 18th Aug 2012

Eng vs SA - Who in the England Dressing room is using Binoculars to watch the cricket? Know the answer? Please comment below.

>> Skip the blurb, show me the best cricket binoculars

It does not matter if you are watching a test match between the old rivals, England and Australia, a limited overs one day international, county cricket game, a Twenty20 slog-fest or even just the local club game on the village green, a good pair of binoculars really will add to your enjoyment of the game and I highly recommend taking a pair with you.

When I lived in Zimbabwe and in the UK, I watched and even played quite a bit of cricket and would almost always take my binoculars with me. I find that I don't watch cricket with binoculars over really long periods of time as you tend to miss out on the overall experience of being at the ground, but they are ideal for getting a closer look at the batsman or bowler for a few balls at a time.

In between overs, binoculars are also perfect for taking a look at which fielders are in the slips, who is way down at fine leg or even checking out the scoreboard at the other side of the ground. Binoculars are also great for crowd watching in between overs, during innings breaks, or when the play has been stopped for rain or bad light.

Watching Cricket with Binoculars

Important Features on Binoculars for Watching Cricket

Really good cricketing binoculars will in many cases be quite similar to that of most good general sports binoculars and bird watching binoculars, but with a few small differences. Take a look below as I go over some of the most important features to look out for when choosing your binoculars for cricket:

Price

How much you should spend on your optics will largely be down to your circumstances, how often you plan to use them and just how highly you rate the importance of quality versus price. But if you were to take any advice from this page or indeed this website, then please don't opt for the cheapest binoculars out there. Very cheap binoculars are often no better than toys and in some cases you can actually get children's binoculars that will perform better! The worst binoculars will also most probably put you off using them, not last very long and the poor quality image will in some cases mean that you will be better off not using them at all.

However I am not suggesting that you have to spend a fortune on your optics either. Whilst it is true that the very best binoculars are also quite often some of the most expensive, there are also some really very good pairs of out there these days that won't cost you much more than a single ticket to a test match, yet you can use them for many years to come, safe in the knowledge that the view you get through them is of a very high quality. To give you an idea, take a look at some of the Best Value For Money Binoculars that I have reviewed in different price categories, or take a look at my winner for the overall Best Value For Money Binocular Award.

Size

  • Full Sized binoculars have objective lenses of around 42mm to 45mm
  • Mid-Sized binoculars have objective lenses of around 32mm to 36mm
  • Compact binoculars have objective lenses of around 21mm and 28mm

Without taking the time to consider all the pros and cons, I think most people will come to the conclusion that you need a really compact, lightweight pair making them very easy to carry to the game, which may indeed be the case for some people. But compacts do have their drawbacks and just maybe a mid or even full sized pair will actually be a better option for your cricket binoculars.

I say this because unlike activities such as birding or general wildlife observation, where you often have to carry your binoculars around in the field, with cricket, once you get to the ground, you'll most probably be seated most of the time. So as long as your optics are small and light enough to be stowed away in your bag (along with your sandwiches, sunscreen, hat and portable radio!), having a very compact pair of binos is probably not that critical to everyone and the benefits that mid-sized or even full sized ones have over compacts may be well worth the relatively small amount of extra weight and size:

There main advantages that larger binoculars have over compacts especially in relation to watching cricket include:

  1. Because of their larger objective lenses, full sized and even mid-sized binoculars are able to take in more light, meaning that the image that you view through them is sometimes brighter and usually of a better quality - Note: other factors like the size of your pupil in the current light conditions, lens coatings and quality of the lenses and prisms will also have a big baring on this.

    On a bright sunny day, image brightness should not be a problem even with compacts and is only really and important factor in poor light conditions. So as almost all cricket is played in good light conditions (or they will come off for bad light), this will not really be that much of a limiting factor. It may be still something to consider if you are going to watch a lot of Day/Night matches or if you also want to use your binoculars for other uses like birdwatching where bad light performance is much more important. For more on this please see my Complete Guide to the Exit Pupil and this article comparing 8x42 vs 8.5x45 Binoculars that go into detail explaining how the objective lens size affects image brightness and quality.

  2. At the same magnification full size binoculars tend to have a wider field of view (see FOV below).

  3. With all other aspects being equal, the larger the objective lens, the better the resolution in the image. How much resolution you need depends on how much you're going to magnify an image. For magnifications of 8x or 10x, a 42mm objective lens provides plenty of resolution and there is no need to exceed your eyes' ability to see. The reason some people might choose larger objectives would not be for increased resolution but for more brightness in poor light and bad light or for use at night for astronomy.

  4. As long as they are well balanced a larger heavier pair of optics will resist moving better, so are often easier to hold steady, which can be a consideration if you are using a higher magnifications. They are also far easier to use and more comfortable to hold than tiny compact binoculars, especially true if you are using thick gloves in winter ... which will hopefully not be an issue when watching cricket!

If you do decide to go for a full sized binocular, it does however make sense to choose a pair that is small and lightweight when compared to others in their size class as some of the smallest, lightest ones really don't feel that much bigger than many mid-sized binoculars and yet you get all the benefits of having much larger objective lenses.

To illustrate my point, take a look at the size and weight specifications of the following full-sized binoculars:

  Vanguard 10x42 Spirit ED Kowa 10x42 SV Steiner 10x42 SkyHawk Minox 10x42 BV Swarovski 10x42 EL Barr & Stroud 8x42 Savannah ED
Weight: 22.6ozs (641g) 23.6oz (670g) 25.4oz (720g) 27.5oz (780g) 27.5ozs (780g) 28.9ozs (819g)
Length: 5.7in (14.5cm) 6.8in (17.2cm) 5.9in (15.1cm) 5.5in (14cm) 6.2in (15.7cm) 5.9in (15cm)
Width: 4.9in (12.4cm) 5.0in (12.8cm) 4.9in (12.5cm) 5in (12.7cm) 4.8in (12.2cm) 5.1in (13cm)

So to sum up:

The is no right or wrong choice and what size you do get for your cricket binoculars will depend on your personal preferences:

  • If size and weight is critical to you and more important than image quality and field of view go for a compact binocular
  • If image quality, brightness and the field of view is more important than size and weight choose a full sized binocular
  • If size is fairly important, but not critical and image quality, brightness and field of view are important but also not critical a mid-sized binocular may be an ideal compromise between the two

Magnification

The whole point of a taking a pair of binoculars to watch cricket is to get closer to the action, so most people come to the misguided conclusion that the more powerful the magnification the better the binocular. This is definitely not true as high powered binoculars have a number of drawbacks and three main ones that are related to watching cricket:

  1. The first problem with increasing the magnification is the higher the magnification, the smaller your field of view (FOV) will usually be (see field of view below). This means that a binocular with a high magnification and small FOV will enable you to see loads of detail, but less of the whole picture and so very high powerd binoculars with really narrow fields of view could mean that you could miss out on some of the action.
  2. 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 through the binoculars.
  3. High powered optics have a shallower depth of view, meaning that you will need to focus more often when looking at objects at different distances away from each other.

So you have to make a compromise between getting close enough to the action to really see what is going on in great detail, but not so close that it makes actually means you are missing out on the whole story!

Obviously how far away you are from what you want to look at will also play an important part in choosing the right magnification, but in my experience magnifications of about 8x to 10x is about right for most cricket grounds.

A more powerful Magnification has a Narrower Field of View

Field of View

The field of view (FOV) of a pair of binoculars is basically the width of the image that you can see through the binoculars. For activities like bird watching, where you are observing small erratic and fast moving objects, a wide FOV is very important as it helps you to quickly locate the bird as you have more chance of it instantly being in your view. For cricket where the "objects" you are looking at are large, relatively slow mammals dressed in white making them stand out, the FOV is really not that critical.

But having said that, a wider field of view does have the advantage in that it enables you to catch as much of the action all at once without having to move the binoculars about, so ideally you'll want is a pair of binoculars with a reasonably wide FOV within your chosen magnification. Remember: In most cases the more powerful the magnification, the smaller your field of view will be.

A binoculars FOV 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. I would say that a FOV of around 315ft at 1,000 yards (105m at 1,000 meters / 6.0° ) is fine, but in general the wider the better (as long as the image remains sharp right to the edges), so if you are undecided between two models, check which has the widest FOV as this may help you to make your decision.

A less powerful Magnification has a Wider Field of View

Style of Binocular

In general, you will come across two main designs/styles of binocular depending on the type of prism they use: the Roof Prism or the Porro Prism. Both have their own advantages over each other and so as with many things in optics there is no best option or right answer and the choice you make will be down to your own personal preferences:

  • Roof Prism Advantages: The compact prism design usually means a smaller more compact binocular than porro prisms with the same size objective lenses. There are also less moving internal parts, so tend to be tougher and longer lasting.
  • Roof Prism Disadvantages: A cheap roof prism is usually optically inferior to a cheap porro prism's. This is because it is harder to align roof prisms and to ensure total internal reflection the roof prism design also requires expensive coatings which are obviously not used in cheaper models of roof prim binoculars. This is not a problem in the mid to expensive range, so if you are planning on buying a very cheap pair of binoculars (which I would strongly advise against anyway), you should rather rather opt for a porro prism design. For more: Cheap Binoculars – Is a Roof or Porro Prism Best?

  • 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 than roof prisms and so tend to be optically superior in the cheap to mid price ranges.
  • Porro Prism Disadvantages: Bulky in comparison to porro prisms. There are also more moving parts and so they are harder to make dust and waterproof and have slightly more chance of something going wrong.

Eye Relief

The amount of eye-relief the binocular has will be very important to those who use glasses and want to keep them on whilst watching cricket through their binoculars. Eye Relief is basically the distance from the ocular lenses or the last surface of an eyepiece at which the eye can obtain the full field of view. Eyecups on the binoculars ensure that your eyes will be at the correct distance for this to happen, but if you wear glasses, you can't get your eyes as close to the lenses as those without glasses, so you need to adjust the eyecups to ensure that even with your glasses on your eyes are the correct distance from the ocular lenses. Binoculars with a longer eye relief are ideal for those who wear glasses as they basically project the image further beyond the ocular lens, giving you plenty of room to play with. So if you wear glasses, you should be looking for an eye relief of at least 15mm, to see the full image full image. The down side to long eye relief is that it usually reduces the field of view.

 


Cricket Binocular Reviews

Below you will see that I have listed a few of the best binocular for watching cricket that I have reviewed in the three main size categories:

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

Full-Size Cricket Binoculars

 

Barr & Stroud 8x42 Savannah ED Binoculars

With high quality ED Glass lenses, Phase Coated Bak-4 Prisms and a very wide field of view these make an excellent choice as a birding, wildlife observation and general use binocular.

Price: (3/6) Mid Priced Binoculars
BBR Ratings:
Body Quality: 7/10 78%
Excellent
Body Stats: 7/10
Optical Quality: 8/10
Optical Stats: 9/10
Image Quality 8/10
Extras & Details: 8/10

 

Nikon 8x42 Monarch ATB Binoculars

The Nikon Monarch ATB 8x42 binoculars combine a tough ultra-rugged lightweight body, with excellent high quality Nikon Optics to produce a binocular that is ideal for birding as well as other forms of nature and sports observation. O-ring seals and nitrogen gas keep out moisture and dust whilst multilayer-coated lenses of the highest quality for beautifully defined images.

Price: (3/6) Mid Priced Binoculars
These Binoculars are On SaleDiscounted Binoculars: These Nikon Monarch binoculars are discounted on Amazon.com, Eagle Optics and Binoculars.com in the USA.
>> Check Prices
 

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
 

Hawke Endurance ED 8x42 Binoculars

Mid-range binoculars that to my mind offer a level of quality and performance that easily surpasses their price tag.

Highlights include a Magnesium Housing, ED Glass Elements in the Lenses, Phase Corrected BaK-4 prisms, 18mm of eye-relief and a close focus distance of less than 2 meters.

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

 

Celestron Trailseeker 8x42 Binoculars

Aimed at the more price conscious user, but who still want a high quality instrument, the Celestron Trailseeker binoculars come with an impressive array of features.

A fully sealed Magnesium alloy body, with metal twist-up eye-cups protect high quality and fully multi-coated optics that include phase and dielectric coated BaK-4 prisms to offer a performance that easily surpasses their price tag and thus almost all of their direct competition.

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


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

Mid-Size Cricket binoculars

 

Swarovski 10x32 EL 32 Traveler Binoculars

With a beautiful fine aluminium and tan finish the EL 10x32 Traveler binoculars are compact and lightweight making them ideal for travelling with. This combined with Swarovski's unique wrap-around grip also makes them easier and more comfortable to carry in the field. If you then combine this with the quality that only comes with a Swarovski binocular, a tough magnesium housing, tested under extreme conditions in the desert, Arctic and rainforest they also make excellent wildlife observation and birdwatching binoculars and so are one of the best binoculars in the world to take on safari.

Price: (6/6) Expensive Binoculars
These Binoculars are On SaleDiscounted Binoculars: The Swarovski EL 10x32 Traveler binoculars are available at a discount on Amazon.com, Binoculars.com and Eagle Optics in the USA
>> Check Prices
 

Nikon 10x32 EDG Binoculars

The Nikon 10x32 EDG binoculars come with Nikon's fantastic ED glass lenses, advanced multilayer coating and phase correction roof prisms not only do they produce stunning clear images, but they weighing just 650g and are only 14cm long these really are exceptional binoculars.

Price: (5/6) High Value Binoculars
These Binoculars are On SaleDiscounted Binoculars: The Nikon EDG 10x32 binoculars are available at a discount on Amazon.com, Binoculars.com and Eagle Optics in the USA
>> Check Prices
 

Nikon 10x36 SHE Safari Monarch ATB Binoculars

Nikon & SHE Outdoor Apparel have come together and designed a pair of binoculars for women ideal for most outdoor adventures including especially safaris. The Nikon SHE Safari Monarch is not only good looking, but include high spec quality optics that produce an excellent quality image.

Price: (3/6) Mid Priced Binoculars
These Binoculars are On SaleDiscounted Binoculars: The Nikon SHE Safari binocular is available at a discounted price on Amazon.com, Eagle optics and Binoculars.com in the US
>> Check Prices

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

Compact Cricket binoculars

 

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

 

Steiner 8.5x26 Wildlife Pro Binoculars

These Steiner 8.5x26 Wildlife Pro binoculars not only small and light when in use, but their duel hinge makes them compact enough to easily fit into a coat or even shirt pocket.

The 8.5 x 26 has a wide field of view for a small compact, the roof prism has been phase corrected for a sharper image and the lenses have been fully multi-coated with anti-reflection coatings to increase image brightness.

Price: (3/6) Mid Priced Binoculars
 

Barr & Stroud 10x25 Sahara Binoculars

Top quality Bak-4 Prisms and fully multi-coated lenses. The Barr & Stroud Sahara 10x25 is a tough go anywhere compact binocular. Equally at home on safari, on a camping trip or most sporting events.

Price: (2/6) Low Cost Binoculars

View >> All General Sporting Binoculars that will also be ideal for Cricket



Steiner Wildlife XP 10x26 BinocularsRelated Articles & Further Reading

  • Best Compact Binoculars for Sports & Concerts
    In this answer to a question from a reader, I take a look at a number of different compact binoculars in a range of prices points and discuss which of their main features and specifications might make them an ideal choice to take to an outdoor sporting event or concert.


Comments & Opinions

I would love to get your comments and well as your opinions, have I missed out anything or do you think that some of opinions or assumptions that I have made are wrong? Do you want to or do you already own the ideal pair of binoculars for watching cricket? If so please let us know what you think:

 
 
 

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