Types of Binoculars

Binoculars are by far the most versatile optics out there. They improve our vision when we are viewing objects at long distances or close ranges in different . There are different types of binoculars available out there and having a quality pair at your disposal will be the start of creating beautiful and lasting memories.

If you are fond of spending quality time outdoors getting closer to natures, it is important to get a quality pair of binoculars. These sighting devices make a handy companion when you are hunting, bird watching, watching wildlife, fishing, boating, watching marine life or going for an outdoor for an outdoor adventure like hiking, backpacking, camping or touring.

Binoculars come in different styles, shapes and design for you to choose a tool that works best for your needs. Better yet, the market is saturated with so many models from different brands so you are able to find a model that blends perfectly with your needs.

Choosing the right set of binoculars for whatever outdoor application starts by understanding how it works and knowing the different types available. So when you are in the market buying one, you will want to get a quality product that is durable and reliable.

If you are wondering what types of binoculars there are, we have you covered. In this article, we have an in-depth review of the different types of binoculars available out there. We have also included the pros and cons of each binocular type, what they are suitable for and the features you should look for when making your selection. Let’s have a look.

What Makes a Great Pair of Binoculars?

A great pair of binoculars is made of so many features and one of them is quality lenses. Binoculars that employ HD, ED or any other high-quality glass yield admirable resolution and stunning color accuracy in all environments and lighting conditions.

To complement the quality lenses, the binocular should have solid lens coatings. A model with fully multi-coated or full-coated lenses will maximize the transfer of light in all light settings and generate bright and crisp image views.

Furthermore, a good binocular has to have a robust construction that guarantees many years of use. The body should be covered with a rugged rubber armor to shield it from elements, shock and impact. Rubber armored binoculars also provide you with a secure, anti-slip grip, even when your hands are wet or you are wearing gloves.

Another important component in binoculars is weatherproof construction. It should be O-ring sealed to prevent moisture, dirt and any other debris from entering the optics. Additionally, the optics should be filled with an inert gas to be fully fog proof.

A good set of binoculars should also have a long eye relief which is essential for comfortable observation and a lightweight design for comfortable carrying in the field.

How Does a Binocular Work?

Binoculars are sighting tools that magnify the smaller targets and bring those that are far away closer. To achieve this, light passes through the different prism lenses and generate the image you see through internal reflection.

These sighting tools have a center wheel that you use to bring the image into focus. The placement of the focus wheel varies from one product to the other but most models have it placed on the center. Furthermore, binoculars come with a diopter correction ring usually put on the right eyepiece to further enhance the focus and distortions by accommodating for differences between your two eyes.

Binoculars with a smaller magnification offer a wider field of vision than the high-powered models. This allows the sight picture to come from different axes increasing the amount of eye relief. With ample eye relief, you will be able to use the binoculars comfortably, with or without eyeglasses.

Types of Binoculars

Modern style binoculars are available in two main categories: Roof prism and Porro prism.

1) Roof Prism

Roof prism binoculars are the most modern of the two. They are a more simplified version of the traditional Porro prism binoculars. They feature a streamlined, straight-tube design which makes them  more compact in size.

Furthermore, roof prism binoculars are lighter in weight and a perfect solution for outdoor activities that require you to carry the binoculars for a long period of time. On the outside, this type of  binoculars has a simple design for ease of use. However, they have much more complicated machination on the inside for more effective performance.

With the complex machination, roof prism binoculars are able to provide much higher magnification without sacrificing on the image brightness and clarity. They however have a downside of being more expensive.

General Uses

  • Bird watching
  • Wildlife viewing
  • Hunting
  • Ocean viewing


  • Lightweight design
  • Compact size
  • High magnification
  • Bright and crisp clear sight pictures


  • Costly
  • Some of the models have a smaller field of view

2) Porro Prism

Porro prism binoculars are the traditional style of binoculars. Since their introduction way back on the 19th Century, binoculars with this design is still in use up to today.

This style of binoculars works by transmitting light from the objective lens via interdependent pair of triangular light-catchers in a horizontal jag. After the light is transmitted, it is amplified and inverted to provide a sharp, magnified sight picture that you see on the lenses.

Porro prism binoculars have a zigzag design which makes them larger in size and heavier compared to the roof prism counterparts. However, they have the benefit of providing a wider field of view which is essential for effortless target finding. These types of binoculars are also much more simpler is design and cheaper in price.

General Uses

  • Astronomy
  • Hiking
  • Sporting events
  • Scouting


  • Crisp clear, three-dimensional images
  • More affordable
  • Greater field of view
  • Simple to use


  • Large, heavy and cumbersome to carry
  • Lower magnification power

3) Night Vision Binoculars

Night vision binoculars are made for use at night or in low light conditions. They amplify light through a series of photon-enhancing components to help you see the subjects you are viewing clearly in the dark.

General Uses

  • Hunting
  • Stargazing


  • Clear views in the dark
  • Versatile


  • Fragile
  • Expensive

4) Astronomy Binoculars

Astronomy is a fun outdoor activity that brings us closer to the celestial objects. Telescopes the most popular sighting tools for astronomy, but there are some instances where one isn’t feasible. That is where astronomy binoculars come in handy.

Unlike telescopes that are big and bulky, astronomy binoculars are more compact and portable. With a quality set of astronomy binoculars, you will be able to detect and view heavenly objects effortlessly. It will also be easier for you to trace the quick-moving meteors and other celestial objects.

The size of astronomy binoculars varies greatly. There are some compact models that fit easily inside your pocket so you are able to carry them wherever you go. Such models are great for camping. Then there are some models with high magnification and large objective lens which makes them less portable. Such binoculars provide a much wider field of view than a standard telescopes. But they are cumbersome to carry around and costlier.

General Uses

  • Astronomy
  • Star gazing


  • Available in different sizes
  • More lightweight and portable compared to telescopes


  • The large-sized models require a tripod

5) Marine Binoculars

When you are boating or travelling on the sea by ship, you will have a better view of the marine creatures with binoculars compared to when you view them with your naked eyes. Marine binoculars are specifically designed to be used on and around water bodies. Generally, they have a moderate magnification power of 7x and a 50mm objective lens.

The moderate 7x zoom power brings the distant targets closer and provides a larger field of view which is essential for quick and simple target finding. It also makes the binoculars easy to hold steady under the waves so you get clear views of the targets. These types of binoculars are also waterproof and fog proof for all-weather reliability.

General Uses

  • What watching
  • Boating
  • Marine operations
  • Diving and snorkeling
  • Ship gazing


  • Fully waterproof and fog proof
  • Versatility
  • Wide field of view

6) Image Stabilized Binoculars

Image stabilized binoculars employ an image stabilization technology which provides shake-free image views of mobile and static objects. When the shakiness is eliminated, you get sharp and shake-free sight pictures of the subjects you are observing. Image stabilization also reduces eye fatigue when you are observing distant subjects for a length period of time.

If you have shaky hands or you are looking for a high-powered pair of binoculars, it is best to invest in image stabilized binoculars. They are made with versatility in mind whereby they make a perfect sighting tool for a wide range of applications, including birding, boating and sports viewing.

General Uses

  • Bird watching
  • Boating
  • Astronomy
  • Long distance surveillance


  • Shake-free image views
  • Comfortable observation during lengthy glassing sessions
  • Multi-purpose


  • Heavy
  • More expensive

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Factors to Consider when Choosing Binoculars

There are a ton of factors you need to consider when looking to buy binoculars. Irrespective of the type you settle for, here are the key factors to take into consideration.

Intended Usage

The first thing to consider is the activity that you purpose to use the set of binoculars for. Is it for hunting, birding, wildlife watching, boating, hiking, camping, stargazing or astronomy. Having a clear knowledge of the intended application will simplify your selection process and help you choose right.


Magnification power in binoculars varies from one product to the other. Generally, what you plan to use the binoculars for will dictate the zoom power that you get.

For hiking and backpacking, birding, hunting and wildlife watching, a model with 8x or 10x magnification power will suffice. On the other hand, you will need a higher magnification power for astronomy and moderate 7x for marine and boating activities.

Eye Relief

Eye relief is the distance from your eyes to the eyepiece of the binoculars and it varies from one product to the other. Look for a model that offers an accommodating eye relief of at least 15mm. Such a binocular will ensure that your observe your subjects comfortably with or without eye glasses. A set of binoculars with a long eye relief will also ensure that you minimize eye strain and fatigue when observing subjects for long sessions.


Next, consider the weight. The weight in binoculars varies from one model to the other. Typically, the type and quality of materials used to make the chassis plays a big role in determining how heavy the binoculars weigh.

If you are going to be carrying the binoculars by hand or hanging them on your neck using a shoulder strap, go for a lightweight model. It will be more comfortable to carry from one point to the other without causing fatigue.

However, you don’t have to worry about the weight if you will be using the binoculars from a stationary point on a tripod. The tripod will take the weight of the binoculars off your hands and make your observation sessions more comfortable.


You will want to get a set of binoculars that is durable and long-lasting. With quality construction comes dependability in any environment.

Go for a set of binoculars whose chassis is built with top quality materials such as magnesium alloy or aircraft grade aluminum. Furthermore, the body should be covered with a durable rubber armor which provides additional protection from shock, impacts and elements. A rubber armor also provides a secure grip in all conditions.


Weatherproof construction is the other important feature that binoculars should have. Most types of binoculars are nitrogen/argon filled to prevent the lenses from fogging both internally and externally. They are also sealed with strong O-rings to prevent moisture, dust and debris from getting inside the optics.

Lens Coatings

To enhance light transfer, binocular’s lenses are coated with several layers of anti-reflection coatings. The more layers of lens coatings are applied, the more light is transferred.

Go for a pair of binoculars that either has fully-coated lenses or fully multi-coated lenses. It will maximize light transmission and reduce light loss due to reflection.

To complement the solid lens coatings, the binoculars you get should have premium-quality glass. Types of binoculars made with extra-low dispersion glasses are the best. They maximize resolution and color richness to ensure that the sight pictures generated are of good quality.


Hopefully, you have found this post on the different types of binoculars insightful. People use binoculars for different applications and the activity you purpose to use yours for will determine which type you get.

The task of finding the right set for your needs might be exhausting and time-consuming, but irrespective of what your needs or budget are, there is a model out there for you.