10 Mistakes To Avoid When Choosing Binoculars For Beginners

In this guide, you’ll learn what mistakes to avoid when choosing binoculars, regardless of its purpose.


Did you know that over 19,000 zoologists and wildlife biologists work in the United States?

Whether you aspire to become one of these people or want to observe wildlife, you’ll need a good pair of binoculars. But without prior experience in buying these products, you’re prone to make mistakes. If you aren’t careful, you’ll end up with an overpriced product that underperforms.

Don’t feel discouraged yet.

In this guide, you’ll learn what mistakes to avoid when choosing binoculars, regardless of its purpose. Read on and find out how the right pair will change your sightseeing experience.

1. Choosing the Cheapest Pair of Binoculars

You need not spend a large sum of money and get overly expensive binoculars. Take note that a good pair won’t necessarily cost you over $100, but you shouldn’t skimp on it either.

No matter how often you plan to use your binoculars, stay away from the least expensive options in the market. In most cases, these binoculars will quickly make you decide to use your bare eyes instead. As a general rule, a low-cost pair of binoculars making realistic promises will be superior to very cheap ones touting lots of features since the former are likely to at least actually work.

2. Picking a Pair with Too Powerful Magnification

When buying binoculars, it’s to help you get close to what you desire to see. That’s why as a beginner, it’s often forgivable if you assume that binoculars with higher magnification power are better. But the truth is that in almost all applications, you’ll fare better if you use binoculars with moderate magnifications.

Choosing binoculars with higher magnification is disadvantageous for lots of reasons. But for the most part, you’re likely to get a dim, low-quality image with them. It’s because they use thicker glass, meaning less light goes through, resulting in the above mentioned problem.

Also, you’re liable to get a narrower field of view with high-magnification binoculars. The more it zooms in, the less you’ll see of the bigger picture. This could hamper your efforts in finding what you’re looking for.

The higher your binoculars’ power, the image you see through it isn’t likely to stay still. You can eliminate this by buying an expensive pair since it has digital stabilization capabilities. Otherwise, you’ll need a tripod.

These issues can stack, along with other issues inherent with high magnifications. Sometimes, it’s almost impossible to view any image with any degree of clarity and detail. This is the opposite of what you want to achieve when buying your binoculars.

3. Getting Cheap Zoom Binoculars

In general, you’re better off buying binoculars with fixed magnification levels. It’s especially when you’re running on a tight budget, where you can’t make mistakes. Some binoculars with variable magnification are great, but they’re rare.

Most telescopes and spotting scopes have this feature, but why is it not a good choice for binoculars? The primary reason is that it’s two separate telescopes fused together. Each must have perfect synchronicity to ensure the resulting image is clear and crisp.

In technical terms, this is difficult to achieve. But variable magnification makes it significantly more complex. It’s because the zoom mechanism requires moving lens elements in each, which means even zooming is hard to synchronize.

So, you’ll likely to get disappointed unless you opt for high-quality zoom binoculars.

4. Buying Binoculars with a Digital Camera

The binoculars market has a projected growth of $196.06 million during 2019-2023, with a growth rate of 5% during this period. This paves the way to technological advancements like built-in camera features. This allows you to snap photos and videos of the things you’re looking at, making it a great function in theory.

That’s why lots of people fall into this pit trap. In reality, it’s only a good idea if you’re willing to shell out lots of money. This means spending thousands of dollars to get the top-of-the-line digital camera binoculars.

Most of the time, you’ll get more value buying powerful cameras with a zoom lens. An alternative is to get binoculars that come with adapters allowing you to attach your camera to the tool. Some models are more convenient since they let you do the same function with your smartphone.

5. Buying Binoculars Without Rubber Eyecups

This mistake gets worse if you’re wearing eyeglasses since it should give an extra layer of protection to you. That’s why you must choose binoculars with detachable eyecups that you can fold or retract. With rubber eyecups, you’ll get brighter images since your ocular lens gets more light, especially while wearing eyeglasses.

With no rubber eyecups, you’re liable to suffer from eye fatigue. Take note, eye relief is the measurement of the distance between the binoculars and your eyes needed to avoid this problem. For people with normal eyesight, get a 5mm-23mm relief range while glasses wearers must get ones that offer at least 15mm.

6. Not Buying Weather Resistant Binoculars

Your binoculars aren’t likely to last long if they aren’t waterproof or weather-resistant. It’s especially when you’re using it in areas with severe weather conditions. That’s why you must get a pair of binoculars that can withstand rain, wind, and snow while ensuring it won’t break when submerged in water.

Also, make sure that these binoculars have features that keep dust particles out. That way, you’ll get the most out of its lifespan without undue damage. It works with different product sizes, so this isn’t an issue to worry about.

7. Not Buying Multi-Coated Lenses

Always go for a pair of binoculars with full multi-coating features. Often, cheap binoculars will only have a single layer of protective coating for their lenses. That’s why when looking for labels, dismiss it when it’s only coated, multi-coated, or fully-coated and go for fully multi-coated.

The primary benefit of using fully multi-coated lenses is their anti-reflection coatings. This helps in raising accuracy when focusing light on the focal point. This will further enhance an image without causing your eyes to get too tired.

If you’re using high-end binoculars, tinted lenses will prolong the lifespan of the lenses and give images with higher quality. Avoid tinted coatings otherwise since it does more harm to both the lenses and image quality.

8. Not Looking at Product Reviews for Binoculars

The internet is rife with reviews that give you a more informed opinion when choosing binoculars. That’s why it’s necessary to look at reviews to gauge whether the pair you want has the important binocular features you’re looking for. When doing your homework, looking at different reviews is a must since you must determine whether the reviews are consistent.

Some companies out there are shady enough to get people to give high ratings for their binoculars, even when it doesn’t perform well. A good alternative when looking for honest answers is to ask in forums related to the product.

9. Buying Fake Binoculars

The rise of eCommerce made it more convenient for people to get products with a mouse click. But this also made it easier for scammers to peddle their fake, shady products. When you want the right pair of binoculars, make sure to go for major online storefronts like Amazon.

Always check the legitimacy of the website selling the binoculars. Again, look for online reviews of the seller and gauge whether they’re legitimate. If you see that the price for the product is too good to be true, it likely is.

10. Picking Binoculars with the Wrong Prism Type

Binoculars have two prism variants: Porro and roof prisms. The former offers a wider field of view while maintaining a relatively easy operation. It maintains its focus, regardless of the distance.

It means you won’t suffer from out-of-focus images, as long as the magnification is high enough. If you want to know the number of miles you can see using binoculars, check that article out here. But Porro prisms aren’t great if you’re viewing things within 20 meters.

For roof prisms, they can focus sharply at almost any distance. For police-grade binoculars, they can zoom in on specific items. But these are more common in binoculars with varying magnification levels, meaning you’ll need to manually adjust them whenever you look at objects with varying distances.

If you’re sweeping large distances, Porro prism binoculars are great since they can focus as soon as you adjust it to your eyes. Only use roof prism binoculars when you’re observing things in a fixed position. Otherwise, you’re likely to suffer from eye fatigue.

Start Choosing Binoculars That Suit Your Needs!

These are the common mistakes you want to avoid when choosing binoculars. If you have no idea where to start, use this guide to ensure that you get the best binoculars around. It matters not whether you’re using it for observing wildlife or recreation.

Did this guide help you decide on a good pair of binoculars?

If so, we encourage you to read our other posts and learn other important tips and tricks related to buying products. We cover topics that range from travel to finance and everything in between!

Team JST

Team JST work with our sponsors, shop vendors, and many more to create informative and engaging content.

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