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How to Compare Binoculars


Here is a checklist of questions to ask when comparing binoculars. The relative importance of the questions will differ for each individual.

Question

Answer

Do they resolve fine details both at the center and at the edge of the image?  
Do they display a bright, high-contrast image?  
Do they show colors accurately?  
Are all the air-to-glass surfaces coated, to cut down on internal reflections?  
Are they a roof-prism or Porro-prism design?  
If they're a roof prism design, do they have anti phase-shift coatings?  
Do they have a relatively flat field of view? The image shouldn't seem to curve or bow.  
What is their field of view? Do they show a big, eye-filling picture?  
How easy is it to bring the image into precise focus?  
How close can they focus?  
Does the level of magnification match your ability to hand hold them?  
How likely are you to have them with you when you need them? Do they seem bulky?  
Can you carry them comfortably for hours at a time?  
If you wear glasses, do they have long enough eye relief so you can see the whole picture?  
Is it easy to adjust the eyecups up or down for glasses wearers?  
If you plan to use them at twilight or dusk, how large are the exit pupils?  
How do they fit your hands?  
Is the surface pleasant to touch and secure to grip?  
Is the focus knob located to suit you? Does it turn smoothly? Is there a lot of slop?  
Where is the diopter adjustment? Is it likely to get accidentally bumped off its setting?  
How rugged is the internal construction? Can they take heavy use?  
Are they rubber armored?  
Are they actually waterproof, able to survive immersion? Or just water resistant?  
Are they nitrogen filled so they won't fog up internally?  
How do they mount on a tripod?  
Do they come with a case?  
What are the provisions for protecting the lenses when in the field? Are they practical?  
What's the warranty?  

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