Binocular Buyer and User Guides

Binocular Reviews Home > Buyer & User Guides

This section of the site contains articles and documents related to two main areas of interest:

  1. Buyers Guides: This area contains all the advice and information that you need to help you buy your ideal pair of binoculars.
  2. User/Owner Guides: In this section I have grouped articles and advice regarding all you need to know as a owner of an optical instrument.

Buyers Guides

Binoculars 101

The place to start if you are looking to buy binoculars and aimed at complete Newbies and beginners up to mid level users.

What to look for in binoculars - contentsWhat To Look For When Buying Binoculars

In this comprehensive guide, I take you through all the most important features and specifications to look for in binoculars when buying. A particular emphasis placed on easy to understand language and thus the aim is to help you to easily, quickly and confidently spot a good value for money binocular within your chosen budget without having to know all the complicated words and jargon (unless you want to!).

How to Choose Binoculars

Separating Real Features from Marketing Hype - In this guide, I focus on the basic, but important features to look out for on a binocular, the ones to stay clear of and how to separate essential and important information from complete marketing gibberish.

Further reading:

Top 3 Mistakes Binocular Beginners Make & How to Avoid Them

Top 3 Mistakes Binocular Beginners Make & How to Avoid Them

In this article, I go over the 3 most common mistakes Binocular Beginners make and how you can avoid them.

The Biggest Mistakes Newbies Make When Choosing Binoculars

And How to Avoid Them
The most common mistakes I see people new to binoculars (and other optics) make when choosing binoculars to buy and how not to make them yourself

ED Glass Lenses vs Non ED Glass lenses in Binoculars

ED and HD Binoculars

Hawke Frontier ED X, Bresser Pirsch ED, Celestron TrailSeeker ED, GPO Passion HD, Vortex Diamond back HD binoculars... the list goes on...

You see the HD and ED terms used in binocular names more and more these days. But exactly does it mean, are the binoculars that don't have ED or HD in their name somehow inferior (spoiler alert - no!) and is it worth thinking about when looking for a new binocular?

BBR's Hidden Gems!

Tract Toric 8x42 BinocularsThe Best Binoculars you never heard of!
In this series, my goal is to introduce you to what I feel is an exceptional binocular within its particular niche or price range, but from a brand that you otherwise would probably never heard of or given a second thought to >> Hidden Gem Binoculars

Introducing 3 New Brands to BBR

Very excited to announce that I have just received a number of instruments to test from brands that are new here on BBR.

Look out for my full reviews and thoughts on each these exciting new instruments as they will be up on this site in due course.


Annual Binocular Awards

Binocular of the Year 2020 - Vortex Razor UHD 10x42 BinocularsIf you are looking for some advice on some of the very best binoculars in a whole range of categories, why not take a look at some of the winners of awards handed out by myself as well as a selection of other optical experts:

Past Awards:
I always encourage readers to keep an eye on older models of binoculars because it is important to keep in mind that optics develop and improve at a much slower rate than electronics and as such, a good pair of binoculars that is 10 years old is still perfectly relevant today.

Winner Best Binoculars 201617 - Swarovski EL 8.5x42 BinocularsThis is also often a good way to grab a bargain and also remember that many will be updated over time, so a 2019 model may use pretty much the same optics as the 2015 model, but just have a different, perhaps more modern looking housing:

Binocular of the Month - June 2024

This month I have chosen to bring to your attention a mid-high level binocular from the German brand Bresser that I feel delivers a truly excellent performance to price ratio and is certainly one of the best I have ever tested at around the $400 /£/€ price point:

Bresser Pirsch ED 8x42 Binoculars

Exceptional Value for Money
In my review of them I made a point that I thought they have an excellent performance to price ratio because even though they are technically in the Mid-High price category (under $/£/€500), they actually cost around £340, and so despite such a high level of components and performance, they almost make it into the Mid-Level category below!

Main Specs & Features:

  • Mid-High End Binoculars approx: $350 / £340 / €340
  • Open Bridge Body Design
    • Metal and Polycarbonate
    • Waterproof & Fogproof
    • Metal Focus Wheel & Eyepieces
  • Fully Multi-Coated Optics
  • ED Glass Lenses
  • BaK-4 Roof Prisms
    • Dielectric Mirror Coatings
    • Phase Corrected
  • Wide Field of View: 375ft at 1,000 yards
  • Close Focus: 6.6ft
  • Excellent 17.1mm of Eye Relief

Outstanding Quality at a Reasonable Price
Considering the level of optical and exterior components used and the high quality of their construction, the relatively low price point is seriously impressive. Please note: Whilst I have found the Bresser Pirsch ED binoculars readily available both in the UK and the rest of Europe, they do seem to be hard to source in the US and Canada. Thus if you are having trouble finding them, or indeed if you are in Europe and want an alternative, I would highly recommend either the very evenly matched Hawke Frontier ED X above or the Celestron Trailseeker below.

Buy & Compare Prices: Bresser Pirsch ED 8x42 Binoculars

Where to Buy Binoculars Online

USA Shopping Basket IconUK Shopping Basket Icon
Canada Shopping Basket IconGermany Shopping Basket Icon

The BBR recommended list of specialist optical retailers like Eagle Optics in the US and WEX (Warehouse Express) in the UK as well as online superstores like Amazon that sell binoculars in a range of different countries and regions, including the USA, Canada, the UK as well as Germany.

Discounted Binoculars

Minox 10x42 BV BRW Binoculars
Looking for a real bargain?
This section contains a list of binoculars on sale as well as all the current Cashback and rebates being offered by optical manufacturers and online retailers.

Also in this section on the BBR website, you'll find deals on ex-demo and ex-sample binoculars that are as good as new, but being offered at substantially reduced prices.

The Different Binocular Configurations & Which to Choose

Binocular Configuration chart10x42, 8x42, 8x32, 10x26... Which set-up is right for you and your particular requirements?

With the help of my "Binocular Configuration Chart", I go through each of the most common binocular combinations, pointing out their particular strengths and weaknesses to help you decide which is the most suitable for your needs:

Binoculars Zoom Comparison Test Title Image

4x, 6x, 7x, 8x, 10x, 16x, 20x, 30x & 60x Magnification Comparisons at Close Range

If you are not sure what binocular magnification you need or to get, then this series of detailed articles and and videos that I am working on will certainly help.

Images and video of spotting scope, monoculars and binocular magnification comparisons ranging from 4x all the way up to 60x, along with some thoughts and advice which I hope will help you determine the ideal zoom for your needs.

This comprehensive test showcases various zoom magnifications, objective lens sizes, and optical qualities. Discover the impact different magnifications have on the field of view, image brightness, and image detail, and learn how different factors contribute to achieving the best viewing experience.

10x Zoom Comparison

Wide FOV Binoculars

Wide Angle Minox Binoculars
Having a really wide field of view (FOV) is really important to some people and in some situations. Many birders particularly look for binocular with a wide viewing angle.

In this section, I explain the field of view, why and when it is important and list some of the widest available:
>> Wide Angle Binoculars
>> Wide Angle 10x42 Binoculars

Value For Money Binoculars

Bird Value Binoculars
What exactly makes good value for money and can you have a really expensive binocular that is better value than a cheap one?

I explore these and other questions as well as list why I believe are the best value optics is a range of different price categories:
>> Best Value For Money Binoculars
>> Best Value Birding Binoculars

High Powered Binoculars for Long Distance Viewing

Barska 20x80 Cosmos BinocularsWhilst the main purpose of almost all binoculars is to magnify your view and thus allow you to see the detail in distant objects, there are limits and quite a few considerations that you need to take into account when looking to get a pair of binoculars with a very high magnification for long distance observation:

Eye-ReliefLong Eye Relief & Eye-Glasses

If you use eyeglasses and want to continue to use them whilst looking through your binoculars, you need a pair of optics with an eyepiece that gives you plenty of room for adjustment to ensure that you still get to view the full image - in other words you need a good amount of eye-relief. For more on exactly what it is, what to look out for and some recommendations view my complete guides to:

Compact Steiner Wildlife XP BinocularsCompact Binoculars - Reviews & Guides

A section on BBR featuring in-depth & independent reviews as well as buyer and user guides to the best compact and pocket binoculars.

This section includes guides to travel, theatre and sporting compacts as well as features on the popular Steiner Safari and Wildlife as well as Pentax, Nikon, Kowa, Swarovski and Minox bins.

Best Binoculars
for less than $200 / £200

Bushnell 10x42 NatureView Binoculars
Over the past few years the amount of good quality binoculars available for less $200/£200 has dramatically increased and you can now get some really great value for money optics that compare surprisingly well to many top of the range options available. So which ones are the best?

In this guide, I highlight some real gems that I have tested and reviewed.

Best ED Binoculars
under $350 / £350

Vortex 8x42 Viper HD Binoculars
In recent times the amount of binoculars using ED (extra low dispersion) glass elements in their lenses has dramatically increased. This added competition has also brought the price down which is great for us.

In this section, I take a look at the best ED bins costing less than $350/£350 that I have reviewed, including the Vortex Viper HD, Vanguard Endeavor ED & the Celestron Granite.

OpticsHunt's Best Binoculars Under $100 / £100 / €100

Swarovski 8x30 CL Companion BinocularsAccording to the OpticsHunt website, these are their top 5 recommended binoculars for less than $100.

I may not necessarily agree with all or indeed any of their choices, but I feel they are worth sharing.

I also offer my own opinions and alternatives for you to take a look at and consider if you are in the market for a cheap binocular.

Cheap vs Expensive Binoculars

Swarovski 8x30 CL Companion BinocularsIn these documents I explore and point out the main differences between cheap, mid range and expensive binoculars to discover just where the extra money goes when you buy a top of the range model.

I also take a look at what makes a binocular good or even great value for money and give some of my recommendations to some of the very best that I have reviewed:

How to Choose Between Binoculars

So you have read all the reviews and narrowed your shortlist down to a few or perhaps even just two binoculars, but now you are not sure which one to choose. Read my guide on how to choose between a few binoculars and make sure that you get the one that is best suited to your specific needs.

Ocular Lens Size in Binoculars

Did you know that it is not only the objective (main) lens size that is important on a binocular. Most people do not consider the size of the lenses that you look through (oculars) as a factor when comparing and choosing between binoculars. In this article I discuss why the ocular lens size in binoculars can be important and then also list some of the binoculars that I have come across and reviewed that have large oculars for you to consider and compare.
20 Most Popular Binoculars Amongst BBR Readers

The 20 Most Popular Binoculars Amongst BBR Readers

Take a look to see which are the best selling binoculars here on BBR - Pentax, Steiner, Nikon, Swarovski, Meade Instruments, Celestron, Vanguard, Levenhuk, Vortex, Eagle Optics... the list includes old favorites as well as some new models that will most certainly be a surprise to most.


Interpupillary Distance (IPD)

On almost all binoculars you can change the distance between the eyecups and therefore the ocular lenses to match the distance between your eyes.

This is usually achieved by opening and closing a hinge, but what if you have particularly close or far set eyes or if you are looking to specifically get a binocular for a child?

Digital Camera Binoculars

By the amount of e-mails I get on the subject, I can tell that there is a lot of interest in binoculars with built-in cameras and it is not surprising as the concept of being able to photograph or video whatever you are looking at is very appealing.

However the technical difficulties of implementing this means that there are very few that get it right.

This section contains a number of article I have written over the years on the subject and thus explores digital camera binoculars in detail, lists the very few good ones, exposes those that are little better than toys, offers advice, alternatives and discusses the best uses for them.

More Buyers Guides:

User & Owner Guides

Below are what I hope are some useful articles and bits of information, should you already own binoculars and need some advice on things like focusing, repairs, cleaning, aiming, etc.

How to Focus BinocularsHow to Properly Set Up & Focus Binoculars

Many people may ask why I would have a whole article dedicated to focusing binoculars: "It is easy, just turn the dial" they say.

But that is the problem - I have met many people that either did not know that you could or if they did know, did now how to properly adjust their binoculars to compensate for any differences in each of their particular eyes vision.

Using Binoculars in WinterSelecting & Using Binoculars in Winter

Using binoculars with gloves on can get a lot more tricky unless you use a little bit of common sense and if possible choose a binocular that will make it much easier for you.

In this article I pass on some tips on what to look out for when choosing and using binoculars when it is really cold especially when you are wearing gloves. Also includes a small section on using binoculars in the snow.

Cleaning Your Binoculars

Zeiss Lens Cleaning Kit It is vitally important that when you clean your binoculars, and especially it's lenses that you do it properly and make sure that you don't damage, what are quite often quite delicate coatings on the glass.

In this section, I take a look at a number of ways that this can be achieved using just a cleaning cloth or specialised optical cleaning kits.

Binocular Repairs

Cutaway of the interior of a binocular What should you do if your device has collimation problems, or what if some of the rubber deteriorates?

In this article we explore what can be repaired, what are the costs and some binocular repair companies that I have been introduced to over the years, in the hope that they may be able to help you with your problem.


How to Focus BinocularsBino Basics: Aiming Your Binoculars

Those of us who use binoculars all the time probably take being able to quickly and accurately lock onto a target a little for granted, thinking that it is easy and everyone can do it.

Well I have seen some people really struggle and the extra time it sometimes takes them can mean the difference between catching a glimpse of that rarest of rate birds or not!

The good news is that anyone can do it, but like most things in life, it takes a little takes practice, in this document I also pass on a few hints and tips that should help.

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