The right pair of binoculars will last for years - but how do you make sure you're buying the best? With these top tips from Swarovski Optik's Michaela Leeb, of course!
You need to think about exactly what you need them for. Usually there is a trade-off between size, weight and optical performance. For example, a cycling trip from Aberdeen to Brighton might require a different binocular compared with a birding trip to Costa Rica. For the former, you would want a small and light model that doesn’t weigh you down unnecessarily, but for the latter you’d want superb optical performance and wouldn’t mind if they were a bit more bulky or heavy – especially as you’ll have the chance to see native birds on a once in a lifetime experience.
There are also all-round models available which would fit multiple purposes. You need to decide what you'll need them for most.
It's a question of comfort: the bigger the magnification, the larger the binoculars, meaning it’s harder to hold them without shaking – making observations harder. If you're on the move, you'll probably want a 10x magnification or less.
Magnifications greater than 10x are often used with tripods, monopods or with any other support, just to provide better stabilisation. 8x magnification binoculars are widely used since they represent a good compromise between image range and weight.
If you're tight on luggage space, then a pocket model is the right choice. Again, the correlation between optical performance, size and weight has to be considered. Heavier models usually have bigger objective lenses. Therefore, they offer bigger exit pupil diameters which results in increased viewing comfort.
A plastic binocular is usually less durable than an aluminium- or magnesium-based housing. A metal-based housing also guarantees a longer product life than other materials. However, weight must be evaluated for each model separately, since specific weight differs quite from material to material.