Field of View & Binoculars for Birdwatching

Bigger is not always better

When many people are looking for a pair of birding binoculars, they tend to focus on the magnification and assume that the stronger the zoom, the better better the binoculars will be for looking at small objects like birds.

Sure magnification is important, but remember the stronger the zoom, the more chance you will have of image shake, making it difficult to clearly see what ever you are looking at without the use of a rest or tripod.

A stronger zoom also often reduces the field of view (FOV) that you get when you look through the binoculars.

For example the Minox 8x42 BV Binoculars have a FOV of 389ft at 1000 yards, whilst their 10x version, the Minox 10x42 BV Binoculars has a FOV of 342ft at 1000 yards.

What is The Field of View? (FOV)
Put simply, Field of view it is how wide the image is that you can see at a certain distance (usually measured at 1000 yards). For a detailed explanation take a look at Field of View on the glossary page, but this is often reduced the stronger you magnification.

So why is FOV important for Birdwatching?
The wider your field of view, the more you can see at one time when you are looking through your binoculars, with fast moving and small objects (like many birds) this is important as it will help you to quickly locate it before it moves away. This can often mean the difference between being able to identify the bird or not.

It is for this reason and a few others that many professional birdwatchers tend to choose binoculars with a lower magnification and a wider field of view, rather than the other way round. 8x magnification binoculars tend to be the most popular, although if you are often going to be looking at birds at far distances, water birds on a lake for example, you may also think of using 10x magnification, just keep in mind the field of view.

8x Binoculars with a wide field of view:

10x Binoculars with wide field of views:

For all the features that you should look out when choosing birding binoculars, read my article on Birdwatching Binoculars.

Photo: The photo at the start of this post is of an African Fish Eagle that I took whilst on holiday in Zimbabwe.


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