Wide Angle Binoculars

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What is the Angle of View?

To explain the angle of view it is easier to start with the field of view (FOV) of a pair of binoculars, which is a measurement that indicates the width of the view you see through the binoculars at a specified distance, it is most often represented in feet at 1,000 yards, but increasingly common is in meters at 1,000 meters.

The angle of view (AOV) is the angle expressed in degrees between the left and right extremes of the FOV and the center of the objective lenses of your binocular (sounds complicated, but take a look at the diagram below). So in the example represented in the diagram below, the field of view of theses binoculars is 315 feet at 1,000 yards and the angle is 6°

Field of View and Angle of Binoculars

Apparent field of view (AFOV)
Some binocular manufacturers list their field of view as the Apparent field of view, this is the value of the real field of view multiplied by the magnification of the binoculars (Apparent field of view = Magnification x Real field of view). This value is important because it is comparable even among binoculars of different magnifications.

On top of this there is something known as the Apparent field of view ISO 14132-1:2002 standard, that some manufacturers are adopting.

Advantages of a Wide View

When looking through an optical device, if it has a wide field of view, it can basically "fit" more into the image that you see when looking through them, this makes finding objects, especially moving ones that much easier. This is one of the main reasons why the best bird watching binoculars tend to have lower magnifications and higher FOV's especially if they are to be used for observing the smaller, fast and erratic birds that live in wooded areas.

Obviously if your main birding is done out in open areas, for example at sea or on coastlines, lakes and dams, then a higher magnification may be preferable over a wide field of view (take a look at my article on 10x42 Binoculars for Bird Watching).

The down sides to a wide FOV is that they tend to have reduced eye relief and to gain the wide angle it usually means reducing the binoculars magnification. So in general, the higher the magnification, the smaller your angle of view and so there is always a compromise between FOV and magnification and it is about getting the balance right to get your ideal setup depending on how you use your optics.

How Wide is Wide?

Ok, so now we know what the angle of view (AOV) is, the Apparent field of view (AFOV) and why in some areas and situations a binocular with a wide angle of view is preferable. But what should you be looking for and what binoculars are considered to be Wide Angle Binoculars? Well there isn't a magic number, but lets take a look at what most people consider to be some of the best wide field of view birding binoculars on the market to use as a reference point:

FOV of some Market Leading Birdwatching Binoculars

Model AOV AFOV FOV @1,000m FOV @1,000yds
Swarovski
The Swarovski EL range and in particular the 8x32 and 8.5x42 EL binoculars are regarded by many to be some of the finest birding binoculars you can get:
Swarovski EL 8x32 W B Traveler 64° 140m 420ft
Swarovski 8.5x42 EL 7.6° 64.6° 133m 399ft
Carl Zeiss
Of the Zeiss range, their most most highly regarded are the Victory FL binoculars:
Victory 8x32 T FL 64° 140m 420ft
Victory 7x42 T FL 8.6° 60.2° 150m 450ft
Victory 8x42 T FL 7.7° 61.6° 135m 405ft
Minox
Minox BL 8x44 HD 7.8° 62.4° 136m 409ft
Nikon
The top of the range series from Nikon are their EDG Binoculars:
Nikon 8x32 EDG 7.8° 62.4° 136m 409ft
Nikon 7x42 EDG 56° 140m 420ft
Nikon 8x42 EDG 7.7° 61.6° 135m 405ft

I'm not suggesting that to get a wide angle binocular great for bird watching, that you have to buy one of the top of the range binoculars listed above. What it does is to act as a reference point as almost every birder I know would be more than happy with any of those listed above. It also shows that some figures can be misleading and it is worth taking all of the measurements into account when deciding on the right pair for your needs.

Based of the binoculars above, I would say that to be considered as a wide angle binocular it would would have an:

  • Angle of View (Real field of view) of around 7.5° or more
  • FOV of around 132m @ 1,000m (396ft @ 1,000 yards)

Comparing binoculars can be difficult as not all manufacturers list all of the stats and so to make it easier I have created a Field of View Conversion Table, that should help.

Extra Wide Binoculars

Apart from the standard wide angle binoculars there are a few specialist ultra or extra wide binoculars, that have huge fields of view, one of the best know is made by Bushnell and is primarily designed to be used for sporting events or even as opera or theatre binoculars.

Bushnell Xtra-Wide 4x30 BinocularsBushnell Xtra-Wide 4x30 Binoculars

With these binoculars your will never have a problem with the field of view being too narrow as these fit in a massive 900ft at 1000 Yards, this is a field of view that is more than twice as wide as that of most wide angle binoculars meaning you can see ALL the action.

These auto-focus, compact binoculars come with a hip pack, and as well as the impressive 900-foot field of view at 1,000 yards, they feature BaK-4 prisms as well as fully multi-coated optics for high resolution and enhanced light transmission.

Price Range
Bushnell 4x30 Xtra-Wide binoculars are currently discounted on Amazon and available for under $50 in the US and under £100 in the UK:

Shop In the USABushnell 4x30 Binoculars on Amazon.com

Shop In the UKBushnell 4x30 Binoculars on Amazon.co.uk

 
 

The Best Wide Angle Binoculars (Standard)

Below are some of the best standard wide field of view binoculars that I have either reviewed or know about and I hope this helps you to make up your mind:

Wide Angle Binoculars

Model AOV AFOV FOV @1,000m FOV @1,000yds
Barr & Stroud Binoculars
A British company with loads of heritage, the Barr & Stroud story goes right back to 1891
Savannah 8x42 ED 8.2° 65.6° 143m 430ft
Celestron Binoculars
Probably best known for astronomy Celestron now also produce some excellent quality "standard" binoculars.
Celestron 8x42 Granite 8.1° 64.8° 142m 426ft
Eagle Optics Binoculars
A family owned and run American company located right to the heart of Wisconsin, the Eagle Optics story began over 20 years ago.
Ranger ED 8x42 64° 142m 425ft
Hawke Sport Optics Binoculars
Based in the UK, Hawke Sport Optics have now spead their wings and also have offices in the US, offering good value, quaily binoculars.
Hawke Frontier ED 8x43 8.1° 64.8° 142m 426ft
Hawke Sapphire ED 8x42 8.1° 64.8° 142m 426ft
Kowa Binoculars
Kowa Binoculars are some of the most respected amongst the birding community.
Kowa SV 8x32 7.8° 62.4° 136m 408ft
Kowa YF 8x30 7.5° 60° 132m 396ft
Leica Binoculars
Leica binoculars are some of the best and most highly respected in the world of optics.
Leica 8x42 Ultravid HD 7.4° 59.8° 130m 389ft
Leica 7x42 Ultravid HD 56° 140m 420ft
Levenhuk Binoculars
Levenhuk specialize in producing low cost binoculars that well outperform their price tag
Levenhuk Sherman PLUS 8x42 8.1° 64.8° 142m 426ft
Meopta Binoculars
A top quality brand originally from Czechoslovakia, Meopta is now a Czech-American company that produces some of the finest optics on the market.
MeoPro 6.5x32 Binoculars 8.25° 53.6° 144m 432ft
Minox Binoculars
A top quality brand from Germany, Minox binoculars are some of the finest birding and hunting binoculars available.
Minox BL 8x44 HD 7.8° 62.4° 136m 409ft
MINOX BL 8x33 BR 8.0° 64° 140m 421ft
Nikon
The top of the range series from Nikon are their EDG Binoculars:
Nikon 8x32 EDG 7.8° 62.4° 136m 409ft
Nikon 7x42 EDG 56° 140m 420ft
Nikon 8x42 EDG 7.7° 61.6° 135m 405ft
Nikon 7x35 Action Extreme 9.3° 59.3° 163m 489ft
Nikon 8x40 Action Extreme 8.2° 59.7° 143m 429ft
Swift Binoculars
Amongst serious birders, Swift Binoculars are very well known and their Audubon range have some of the best wide field of view binoculars available:
8.5x44 Audubon ED Binoculars 8.2° 69.7° 143m 430ft
8.5x44 Audubon Binoculars 8.2° 69.7° 143m 430ft
Swarovski
The Swarovski EL range and in particular the 8x32 and 8.5x42 EL binoculars are regarded by many to be some of the finest birding binoculars you can get:
Swarovski EL 8x32 64° 140m 420ft
Swarovski EL 8x32 W B Traveler 64° 140m 420ft
Swarovski 8.5x42 EL 7.6° 64.6° 133m 399ft
Vortex Binoculars
Vortex's main focus is on hunting, nature observation and birdwatching and as such they have many with a wide field of view.
Vortex Fury 6.5x32 8.5° 57.8° 148m 445ft
Vortex Diamondback 8x42 64° 140m 420ft
Zeiss
Of the Carl Zeiss range, their most most highly regarded are the Victory FL binoculars:
Victory 8x32 T FL 64° 140m 420ft
Victory 7x42 T FL 8.6° 60.2° 150m 450ft
Victory 8x42 T FL 7.7° 61.6° 135m 405ft
 
 

Reviews of Wide Field of View Binoculars

Below is a selection of the best wide field of view binoculars that I have reviewed and all have a field of view greater or equal to 393ft @ 1000 yards (angle of view >= 7.5°)

View >> All Wide FOV Binoculars reviewed on Best Binocular Reviews.

Compare Side-By-Side:

Compare the main features of all these Wide FOV binoculars below Side-By-Side

 

Kabuki Glasses Review

Originally designed for the theater, the high quality Japanese made Kabuki Glasses are also ideal for many other hands free uses like the opera, ballet, concerts and both outdoor and indoor sporting events.

Price: (3/6) Mid Priced Binoculars
 

Levenhuk Sherman Pro 8x32 Binoculars Review

These low cost binoculars from Levenhuk deliver a good image quality and high level of brightness for a mid sized (32mm) bin at this price level, which almost certainly is a result of the relatively simple but good quality BaK-4 porro prism design combined with fully multi-coated optics.

Add to this a very wide field of view, tough water and fog proof exterior and you have a good all-round mid-sized take anywhere binocular with a really good value to performance ratio.

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

 

Eagle Optics Denali 8x42 Binoculars Review

Updated, the new mid priced 8x42 Eagle Optics Denali binocular comes with upgraded coatings and a higher quality prism.

You also get a closer minimum focus and even more eye-relief, making them an ideal all-round instrument and perfect for the eye-glass wearer.

Price: (3/6) Mid Priced Binoculars
BBR Ratings:
Body Quality: 7/10 72%
Excellent
Body Stats: 7/10
Optical Quality: 7/10
Optical Stats: 8/10
Image Quality 7/10
Extras & Details: 7/10

 

Levenhuk Sherman PLUS 8x42 Binoculars Review

Low cost 8x42 porro prism binoculars with a good quality and bright image, very wide field of view and plenty of eye-relief.

In my opinion, you are easily getting your money's worth and then some with the Levenhuk Sherman Plus binoculars...

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

 

Snypex Knight D-ED 8x42 Binoculars Review

'New and improved' that is how Snypex highlight their latest version of the Knight ED binoculars, which was developed and improved in response to customer as well as BBR's feedback.

Major changes include upgraded dielectric coatings on the prisms to improve light transmission and thus the brightness and image quality as well as changes to the exterior like a full metal focus wheel that not only works better but brings added class to what was already a great pair of binoculars.

Price: (5/6) High Value Binoculars
BBR Ratings:
Body Quality: 9/10 85%
Outstanding
Body Stats: 8/10
Optical Quality: 9/10
Optical Stats: 8/10
Image Quality 9/10
Extras & Details: 8/10

 

Eschenbach Trophy D 8x42 ED Binoculars Review

I believe these deliver a superior quality image than the majority at this price level - Not only is the image very bright, with great color reproduction, but these 8x42 Eschenbach binoculars also have an excellent wide field of view that remains sharp right to the edges.

Combine this with a very well made metallic shell, eye-pieces and focus wheel and you have a very high end binocular at what I would say is a very competitive price.

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

 

Helios Lightwing HR 8x42 ED Binoculars Review

Mid priced Helios binoculars with a host of features that you would only expect to see on high end, far more expensive instruments.

This includes a a magnesium chassis, fully multi-coated optics and phase corrected BaK-4 prisms that have been dielectrically coated for the highest levels of light transmission.

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

 

Swarovski EL 8.5x42 Binoculars Review

By combining the highest quality optical components and coatings with their technical expertise, there is no denying that these Swarovski's produce an image that is unsurpassed.

Add to this their tried and tested exterior and the inclusion of their new FieldPro package and you really do have a special pair of optics.

So If you are looking for the ultimate pair of 42mm binoculars, then you will most certainly not be disappointed with the Swarovski EL 8.5x42 binoculars. These are for me now the reference point and by which all others need to aspire towards.

Price: (6/6) Expensive Binoculars
BBR Ratings:
Body Quality: 9/10 93%
The VERY Best
Body Stats: 8/10
Optical Quality: 10/10
Optical Stats: 9/10
Image Quality 10/10
Extras & Details: 10/10

 

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

 

Meade 8x42 Rainforest Pro Binoculars Review

These low cost binoculars from Meade Instruments come with features that those in the mid level would be proud to have.

This includes phase corrected and silver coated BaK-4 roof prisms, fully multi-coated optics and a tough nitrogen filled waterproof housing.

Combine these with a wide field of view, good amount of eye-relief and close focus and you have a very capable and versatile binocular that at this price offers excellent value for money.

Price: (2/6) Low Cost Binoculars
BBR Ratings:
Body Quality: 7/10 72%
Excellent
Body Stats: 7/10
Optical Quality: 7/10
Optical Stats: 8/10
Image Quality 8/10
Extras & Details: 6/10

Compare Side-By-Side:

Compare the main features of these all Wide FOV binoculars Side-By-Side

View >> All Wide Field of View Binoculars that I have fully tested and reviewed here on Best Binocular Reviews.

 

Wide Angle 10x42 Binoculars

As we have discovered in this article, the width of view and magnification are related to each other and in order to have a really wide view you have to sacrifice power. So for your specific needs, you need to establish just how much detail you need to observe against how much of the whole picture you need or want to view at once.

There are situations where you need a higher power, but still a reasonably wide view, this is where 10x binoculars fit in. But even here it is still sensible to try and get as wide a FOV as possible within your chosen power.

This makes sure that your bins are really versatile, providing you with loads of detail, without making it too difficult to locate and lock onto fast, erratic birds or even scan for wildlife over wide areas.

For more, take a look at my article on Wide Field of View 10x42 Binoculars.

 
 

Handy Field of View Conversion Table

Not all binocular manufacturers list all of the specifications and so to make comparing binoculars easier, the table below can be used as a quick conversion aid:

ANGLE OF VIEW (AOV) APPROX FIELD OF VIEW (FOV)
DEGREES FEET/1,000 YARDS METRES/1,000M
5 265 88
6 320 107
7 370 123
8 420 140
9 480 160
10 530 177
11 580 193
12 640 214

Field of View Conversion Formulas
You can convert field of view from meters to feet or degrees to meters of feet using the equations below:

  1. "x" ft @ 1000 yds
  2. "y" m @ 1000 m
  3. "z" degrees

To convert 3) to 2):
y = tan(z)*1000 (result in meters)
example: for 6 degrees you get y = tan(6 deg)*1000 = 105 [m]
FOV = 105m @ 1000m

To convert 3) to 1) :
y = tan(z)*1000*3 (result in feet)
example: for 7 degrees you get y = tan(7 deg)*1000*3 = 368 [ft]
FOV = 368ft @ 1000yds

To convert 1) to 3):
z = arctan(x/3000)
example: for 262ft@1000yds you get z = arctan(262/3000) = 5 [deg]

To convert 2) to 3):
z = arctan( y/1000 )
example: for 140m@1000m you get z = arctan(140/1000) = 8 [deg]

To convert 2) to 1):
x = y*3

 
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