Best Compact Binoculars: See Far and Wide Minus the Extra Weight
See further away with these small and easy-to-carry compact binoculars
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Whether you’re watching birds, hiking through the mountains, or going to a concert or game, using a pair of compact binoculars will enhance the experience. They allow you to see further and more clearly if you’re way back in the cheap seats or want to see an animal up close without spooking it. Compact binoculars are small, lightweight, and can be stored in small spaces for convenience. Here are the best compact binoculars to consider if you need to expand your vision.
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Benefits of Compact Binoculars
- Easy to carry around. If you have two pairs of binoculars—a regular-sized one and a compact one—it is easier to grab the compact binoculars due to their portability advantage. You will feel more at ease, as you are not burdened by their size and weight. Compact binoculars are also less likely to bump into hard surfaces during concerts and other intense outdoor activities.
- Budget-friendly. Full-size counterparts of compact binoculars cost way more. With more compact binoculars available on the market nowadays, you do not have to buy large binoculars to experience the best performance. You can purchase compact binoculars for a much cheaper price.
- Better optical correction. Compact binoculars have smaller lenses than larger ones, so they have better edge sharpness and have more freedom from barrel distortion, flaring, and coma. Optical correction is even better with premium compact binoculars, so if you have the cash and are willing to spend it on high optical standards, then we recommend that you invest in a good set of compact binoculars.
Types of Compact Binoculars
Roof Prism Binoculars
Roof prism binoculars are less expensive, so they are more popular than the other type of compact binoculars. They are designed in a way that aligns the eyepieces and the front lenses for slimmer and more compact binoculars. For a much better version of the roof prism binoculars, you can go for models with phase-corrected roof prisms. They are more expensive, but they greatly enhance the performance of compact binoculars.
Porro Prism Binoculars
Porro prism binoculars make use of the reverse Porro prism design. This reverse Porro prism design is characterized by unaligned eyepieces and front lenses, so when you notice this in your compact binocular, then you can be sure that it is a Porro prism type. Porro prism binoculars typically have wider eyepieces than front lenses. Their high quality versions are also cheaper than those of roof prism binoculars.
Zeiss is a German manufacturer of optics and optoelectronics. It is a company dedicated to developing products and solutions for medical technology, microscopy, industrial metrology, semiconductor manufacturing, camera lenses, and vision care. Zeiss, as one of the leading manufacturers of precision optics, is capable of producing compact binoculars such as the Zeiss 8x25 Terra ED Compact Pocket Binocular.
Leica Camera AG
Leica Camera AG is an internationally operating manufacturer of cameras and sport optics products. For years, it has produced excellent lenses and optical devices. It is a company dedicated to producing better pictures in a highly perceptive and visual world that we have today. Its binocular products, for instance, are built to provide intense experiences and great visual detail. One of these products is Leica Ultravid BR 8x20 Compact Binocular.
As an American manufacturer of optical equipment for various purposes, such as hunting, bird watching, outdoor sports, and law enforcement, Vortex Optics have a wide range of products. Its binocular lineup, in particular, provides the public with binoculars with different price ranges and levels of optical performance. The Vortex Optics Diamondback HD 10x28 Binocular, for example, is a binocular that offers good value for your money with its cheap price yet impressive performance.
Compact Binoculars Pricing
- $18-$50: This price range obviously includes cheap binoculars. However, they usually have poor performance, especially in low light conditions. So, if you want a relatively affordable, mid-budget compact binocular, then you can go for the ones within the next price range.
- $50-$100: Within this price range, you can find mid-budget compact binoculars with satisfactory features. By satisfactory, we mean compact binoculars that can perform well even in low-light conditions and have a greater magnification. Compact binoculars priced within this range are great for bird watchers who want decent images without spending too much.
- $100 and above: This price range offers premium, high-quality compact binoculars. Aside from being top performers in the compact binocular category, they are also sleek-looking and are sure to catch the attention of fellow bird watchers and observers. If you are quite invested in bird watching equipment and have the money for it, then purchase a binocular in this price range.
Magnification power on compact binoculars is usually 8x or 10x. Naturally, you will go for the 10x, but keep in mind that a higher magnification does not always mean that it is better. A magnification of greater than 10x can be harder to keep steady.
Field of View
Magnification power affects the field of view, and a higher magnification narrows it, so consider this when you purchase your compact binocular. A narrow field of view can make it harder for you to see small and moving objects, especially in the dark.
Objective Lens Diameter
The diameter of your objective lenses affects light gathering. The larger the objective lens size, the more light it captures, and the brighter the image it generates. The quality of the optics also affect the brightness of images, so choose not only larger but also high-quality lenses.
- Protective Touches. Consider additional features that can keep your compact binoculars from retiring early. These features include rubber coating and waterproof and fogproof features. Not only will they help your compact binocular last a long time, but they will also help you save more money.
- Exit Pupil. A higher exit pupil means a brighter image. Low-light situations require an exit pupil of 5 mm or more, but this does not matter in bright daylight viewing.
- Eye Relief. Consider long eye relief in buying a compact binocular. This refers to the distance between an eyepiece and your eye. Go for adjustable eye relief if you do not wear eyeglasses on a regular basis.
Best Compact Binocular Reviews & Recommendations 2019
- If you wear glasses, use binoculars with larger eyecups to fit over the lenses. You can still see through smaller lenses, but it may not be as comfortable.
- Leave the lens covers on the lenses when not in use to prevent any damage while walking with the binoculars. The covers also act as a barrier to prevent dust and other debris from getting behind the glass.
- To find the exit ratio, or how bright the image is in the lenses, divide the second number by the first. For instance, 32 divided by eight is four, so binoculars with an 8x32 magnification would have an exit ratio of 4.0.
Q: Can I use a tripod with compact binoculars?
A: This will vary by manufacturer. First check if the specific brand of compact binoculars you are looking at is compatible with a tripod. Many may not have the proper adapter built in.
Q: How can I tell how far the lenses can see?
A: The numbers—such as 8x32—dictate the magnification and the overall distance the binoculars are able to see. The first number is the power and magnification of the lens. The second number is the diameter of each lens. These numbers are used to calculate the binocular’s exit ratio to determine how bright the image will be.
Q: How do I take care of binocular lenses?
A: Use a microfiber cloth to wipe away any smudges. If the binoculars do not come with a cloth, you can use a soft towel or piece of clothing that won’t scratch the surface.
For one of the most powerful and durable compact binoculars, consider the Wingspan Optics FieldView 8x32 Compact Binoculars.
Save some cash and check out the Bushnell H2O Waterproof Compact Binoculars for their strong magnification and clear view.