Choosing Long Distance Binoculars: A Buying Guide
Binoculars That Go the Distance
The most important thing to determine when looking to purchase binoculars is to consider when and where you plan to use them. Long distance viewing binoculars are ideal for both terrestrial and celestial viewing, so they make a good multi-purpose binocular. Keep in mind that they are large and somewhat cumbersome, but are usually more lightweight, transportable, and easier to set up than a telescope. Most models have the magnification already built in so you won't have the worry of purchasing, juggling, or losing eyepieces whether you're out in the field during the day or star gazing at night.
Since both eyes are used on long distance viewing binoculars, the image is stereoscopic and multidimensional as opposed to a one-dimensional result with a telescope using one eyepiece. This will give a more detailed appearance when viewing and won't seem as distant. They also can project a wider field of view than a telescope, so you can capture more of an object without the need for adjustment. Seeing more of the object at one time is more pleasing to the eye and makes it much easier to locate objects. If you choose a binocular with a zoom capability, you can use that to your advantage to bring in as much detail to your liking.
A Closer Look at Magnification
The magnification of long distance viewing binoculars is considerably factored by the size of the objective lens. A balance needs to coincide between the amount of light a binocular gathers and the amount of magnification that can be applied. Generally, full-size binoculars have a 8x-30x magnification and giant binoculars have 20-50x magnification. Both work well, but more light gathered and transmitted to your eyes is better as it will provide a brighter image. This is largely based on optical quality - the better the glass and lens coatings, the more light will pass through and reach your eyes.
Three Legs Are Better Than Two
Long distance binoculars are larger in size than your average binocular and can be heavy to hold over long periods of viewing. The use of a tripod is recommended for proper stability - some models are even sold in a package with a perfectly matching tripod. The magnification of long distance viewing binoculars usually spans from 11x-30x, making steady views hard to handle by hand. To avoid shaky images, frustration, and possibly a headache, mount your binocs on a three-legged friend.