Which Binocular Magnification is Better (8x or 10x)?

  • By: Michaela King

Perception of detail is one of the biggest advantages when you are viewing distant things through binocular lenses. But then there are a lot of options available when it comes to choosing binocular magnifications – which binocular magnification is better?

And hence it becomes very tough to decide which binocular magnification is better? Should you choose 8x or 10x binoculars or a different magnification? The answer depends on the purpose of use, but mostly 8x to 10x are preferred for hunting and birding. While for stargazing 12x works pretty well and for concerts and opera, 7x is good to go with. 

What is binoculars magnification?

Binoculars are meant to provide you with an up-close view of distant things. The image that you view through binoculars simply gets magnified and thus making the distant thing appear closer.

The magnification power of a binocular depends on the binoculars you are using. Usually, magnification is the number before x while the objective lens diameter is the number following the X. So, in a 10x42mm binocular, 10 is the magnification while 42mm is the objective lens diameter.

To help you understand which binocular magnification is better, you first have to become familiar with the concept of how magnification works?

What is the best binocular magnification?

Honestly speaking, there is no fixed rule to follow here. In order to know which binocular magnification is better for you first take a look at your priorities.

To get a good pair of optics with great magnification, you have to keep in mind the purpose for which you are going to use your binoculars. This is extremely important because, with magnification “the bigger, the better” is not true.

Even if buying a binocular with higher magnification might sound tempting, you cannot risk image quality and field of view for magnification only and eventually end up with a pair of binoculars that are useless for you.

To make it easier for you, we have examined different binocular magnifications that are suitable for different purposes. So let’s get on with it people.

Which binocular magnification is best for hunting?

Seasoned hunters usually prefer 8x to 10x magnification binoculars. 8x binocular is advisable when hunting in a narrow space like forest etc. 10x binoculars are ideal for wide terrains or when you are observing from a large distance.

Hunters keep their binoculars handy because without binoculars hunting is like a blind game. With good binoculars pair, you are always onto your target which makes your hunting expedition much more fun and easy.

While hunting, you need binoculars to determine the specifications of your prey and to gauge the distance between yourself and the target so you can have a better shot.

There are two important things to keep in mind while buying hunting binoculars.

#1 magnification

#2 field of view

Both of these aspects are dependent on each other. Most people would prefer high magnification for their binoculars but keep in mind that with higher magnification field of view will get shrunk.

In hunting, you need a broader field of view because most animals run fast. Spotting your prey requires a binocular with maximum field coverage.

As the magnification increase, image stability decreases. So every bump and shake of the hand is magnified too. This doesn’t bode well in hunting tours and distracts the hunter due to which he can lose his target.

Which binocular magnification is best for bird watching?

The ideal magnification for birding binoculars falls somewhere between 8x to 10x which are easy to hold and gives you a better image stabilization.

Bird watching is all about seeing birds from a distance and gathering as many details as possible. Birds don’t particularly enjoy human company so having a birding binocular is a no-brainer for any bird watcher.

Ideal binocular for birdwatching is not the one with higher magnification. You need binoculars that can give you a stabilized and bright picture of the exotic bird you are looking at.

With high magnification, image stability is compromised and the brightness of an image also dims down. This can cause inconvenience for birders because you cannot determine the details of a bird efficiently.

Field of view is another important aspect to consider because of higher magnification= limited field of view. Birds are not just going to sit there for you to observe them. They tend to fly away at any time. Spotting them easily would require a binocular which provides a wider field of view

8x binoculars can be used in different surroundings and are very popular among birders. They generate bright pictures and give you maximum coverage to spot your favorite birds.

10x binoculars are usually preferred for safari and wildlife observation. They give you more details and because you will be observing from a safe point, higher magnification is a plus point there.

Which binocular magnification is best for astronomy?

Usually 8x or 10x binoculars are ideal because of their wide field of view and perception of detail.

10x binoculars afford you more details and the sky appear darker which makes the objects more prominent. Although the visual difference between 10x and 8x is not very great but using lower magnification have its own perks.

For astronomy, telescopes are a common choice but did you know why binoculars are very popular in astronomers? In fact, most astronomers prefer them because of their ease of use and flexibility.

Unlike telescopes, binoculars are designed for both eyes which gives you a more natural and comforting angle when you are taking a spacewalk at night.

Want to enjoy milky ways, dazzling moon, clusters of stars and those enchanting galaxies just pick up a pair of binoculars and you will be amazed by the amount of detail provided by them.

If you are waiting for the eclipse to happen or want to spot a particular celestial body or a planet then you have to hold the binoculars for a longer period of time. Using less powered binoculars doesn’t wear you out which is a great advantage.

Which binocular magnification is best for sports and concerts?

Ideal sports binoculars should have a magnification of 7x to 10x. Most sports like football, cricket, rugby are fast-moving so going with high magnification can cause image stabilization problems.

10x binoculars are ideal for sports where there is not a lot of movement and the sporting field is also not very wide.

For musical events and concerts, you don’t need high-powered optics. Something between 5x to 7x magnification is suitable for musical events as you don’t need to focus on lots of details.

Sports enthusiasts, music or nature lovers also love using binoculars for maximum fun. Choosing the right binocular that covers your own requirement is very crucial.

For a sports enthusiast, there is nothing like watching a live football or cricket match in the stadium where the atmosphere and the sporting vibes are spectacular. But you don’t want to miss out on the real action.

Although you might want to look into the coatings and quality of lenses used because to get a clear picture of your favourite artist, these things matter most.

Final thoughts

Choosing a binocular is an important step and you should be absolutely clear about what you want. Remember don’t get impressed by high magnification or fancy features because if they are not going to serve the purpose, they are pretty useless.

Everything depends on you and what you want – from pricing to magnification to the field of view, choose a binocular that improves your life and gives you clear vision.

Magnification is the trademark of binoculars which is why one needs to be very careful when choosing it. We hope that this guide will help you determine which binocular magnification is better for your need.

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