What Do the Numbers on Binoculars Mean: The Fine Details of Binoculars

What Do the Numbers on Binoculars Mean The Fine Details of Binoculars

Depending on how specific your needs are when it comes to finding binoculars, you might be in a position to where you’re focusing on the finer details, such as understanding what the numbers on binoculars mean.

If there’s one thing that’s widely known about shopping for vision enhancing equipment, it’s that there are a lot of numbers you’ll have to pay attention to.

Similar to glasses and scopes, the numbers on binoculars can mean a wide variety of things ranging from the magnification to the field of view and knowing the meaning of these numbers is essential to buying the right pair.

Bushnell PowerView HighPowered Binoculars Review


Magnification Power and Objective Lens Size

Two out of the many numbers on your binoculars refer to the magnification power and the objective lens size and although this may seem daunting for beginners, it’s quite easy to understand their purpose.

When you come across a set of numbers that looks like “10x42” or “12x55,” the first number is always the magnification power and the second is the objective lens size.

The magnification power determines how close images will appear when you peer through your binoculars in comparison to what you would be able to see with the naked eye. For example, using binoculars that are 10x will allow you to see things 10x closer.

The objective lens size, however, does not refer to magnification but instead the amount of light that is allowed to reach the lenses and this is quite important for numerous reasons. First, the amount of light will determine the clarity and crispness of the images you’re looking at.

Second, it will affect the likelihood of you being able to notice finer details when using binoculars in low-light situations. The larger your objective lens size, the easier it will be to see at night, and the more detail you’ll be able to notice on faraway subjects.

However, there is a downfall to choosing a pair of binoculars with a larger objective size and it’s that it makes the binoculars much heavier. This is why compact binoculars typically offer the smallest objective lens size and full-size binoculars will have an objective lens size of 42 or higher.

Magnification and Stability

Magnification and Stability

Another important way to learn what the numbers on binoculars mean is to think about magnification and the stability of your binoculars. Although you might be participating in an activity where you’ll need high-powered binoculars, you might also need to consider buying a tripod or another piece of stationary equipment to hold them steady.

Even if you were to choose a magnification of 12x, it might be impossible to hold them in your hands without experiencing dizziness and discomfort.

Field of View (FoV)

There are plenty of ways you can explain field of view, but the simplest is that it is the amount of area that you can see when you look through your binoculars. It will determine how much land and sky is shown through each of the eyepieces and based on the type of activity you’re participating in, you may want a larger or smaller field of view.

With hunting, as an example, a large field of view can be beneficial if you’re tracking slow-moving animals, whereas a smaller FoV is recommended for keeping an eye on faster targets.

The field of view will always be shown as a specific number at 1,000 yards, for example, 300 feet at 1,000 yards and it will be determined by the magnification power of your binoculars. The higher the magnification, the lower the field of view.

Eye Relief

If you wear to glasses, you’ll want to pay special attention to the numbers that follow “eye relief” as they can significantly impact how comfortable you are when using binoculars.

Unfortunately, models that have a lower eye relief number aren’t recommended for some people who have to wear glasses, as it means you’ll have to hold the binoculars closer to your face.

It’s also important to take note of eye relief if you have astigmatism, as you’ll need one with a substantially long eye relief, so you can hold the device further away from your face.

With that being said, there are many people who find it easier to use binoculars with a shorter eye relief, even if they wear glasses and are near or far sighted. All you’ll need to do is remove your glasses and use the individual focusing wheels to compensate for lack of vision.

What Do the Numbers on Binoculars Mean? Understanding the Fine Details

There are many fine details that go into the manufacturing of binoculars, some of which are important to the consumer such as magnification, field of view, and eye relief.

As long as you take these numbers into account, you’ll be able to find the most comfortable pair of binoculars for a wide variety of activities ranging from sailing to bird watching in your backyard.