Why do Binoculars have Red Lenses: Is it Good or Bad?

  • By: Michaela King

The most common feature among a majority of binoculars is that all of them have different coloured lenses. Sometimes we come across binoculars with “ruby coatings” as they are commonly called. Ruby coated binoculars have red lenses as the name depicts. But the question here is why do binoculars have red lenses? Variations in lens colour depend on levels of coatings applied on the optical lens of the binocular…

Some binoculars have a purple, green or blueish tint to them and recently ruby coated binoculars are getting very popular.

So what is the secret behind these “ruby coated lenses” and are they worth buying? Does ruby coatings equip binoculars with better refinement than other optical coatings?

To get to know all about why binoculars have red lenses, you better read this guide carefully.

Want to understand binoculars jargons and basics? Read my ultimate guide on binoculars for beginners.

Why do Binoculars have Red Lenses?

The all-important question why red lenses? Known as ruby coating, red lenses binoculars were first developed by a binocular brand called Steiner binoculars who specializes in making binos for a specific purpose.

Basically, red lenses binoculars were developed for hunting purpose. Hunting binoculars are coated in a way that makes the prey appear distinct in foliage.

Ruby coating developed by Steiner was intended for hunting and it did the job quite well by blocking out red and making other colours prominent.

…and it looked cool!!!

What happened next is quite interesting. Red lenses looked very cool and unique so Hollywood and many ad agencies started using it in advertisements and movies etc.

All this promotion encouraged the manufacturer on the lower strata of the market to make cheap binoculars with red lenses. And because they looked cool, people started buying them.

Quality Wise “Not so Cool”

Quality-wise ruby coated binoculars did not perform quite well. Looking through red lenses is like looking at a picture that is drained out of colour. Red lenses filter out the red in the picture and the blues and greens stand out too much.

Some manufacturers started coating their optics with a brighter red to cover up for their cheap quality binoculars. You couldn’t find low-cost binoculars without ruby coatings.

It’s true that minimizing red colour works well in some situations like hunting but in general use, red lenses usually provide you with an unnaturally greenish or bluish view.

And for that reason, many binoculars experts and users started to avoid ruby coatings. Manufacturers got discouraged and got back to normal coatings. And now you will find red lenses at very few places or in some TV ads.


We recommend you avoid red lenses binoculars if you are going to use them for general purposes. Instead, just buy normally coated binoculars if you wish to have a good view. Ruby coatings are not worth the price even if they cost you less.

If you are a hunter who heavily relies on binoculars while hunting for prey, then good quality ruby-coated binoculars can truly change your game.

We hope that after reading this guide you have no doubt about why binoculars have red lenses and if they perform well or not.

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