How far can I see with these binoculars?
When it comes to binoculars, it’s actually a question that just doesn’t make sense. Allow me to explain why. A binocular’s main goal is to magnify whatever you’re looking at, such as the moon, which is approx. 240,000 miles away. If you want to see even further than that, you can look at the sun which is 93 million miles away (not recommended unless you want to burn out the retina in your eyes!) So it’s not a matter of how far you can see, but how much you want to magnify the object you’re seeking to bring closer.
What Does Magnification Mean?
Magnification is how much larger an object appears when viewed through a binocular compared to how large the same object would appear when viewed with the naked eye from the same distance.
If your binocular has 10x magnification, for example, a deer will appear ten times larger through the binocular than with your normal eyesight. This allows hunters to more closely observe big game and see details like body and antler size more clearly from a greater distance, without the animal even knowing you’re watching.
Let’s simplify it even more. You’re standing at the edge of a 100 yard clearing and the tree line you’re looking at is at the opposite end. With a 10 power binocular, the trees will appear as if you’re only 10 yards versus what the tree line would look like with your unaided eye. Basically teleporting you 90 yards closer for a more detailed look (see diagram below)
How Do I Know What Magnification My Binocular is?
The first number printed on the binocular represents the magnification. For example, in this case a 10x42 6.5 the magnification would be 10x, allowing you see 10 times your normal vision. The “X” refers to how many “times” the binocular magnifies your view. A 10X binocular magnifies 10 times.
Best Magnification for Hunting
Binocular mgnifications range from 6-12 magnification or even higher, but powers from 8-10 are generally preferred for hunting. There are pros and cons to both higher and lower magnifications, and hunters should choose magnification based on what best meets their specific type of hunting and eyesight needs.
8x Magnification: In most cases, an 8 power binoculars will provide a wider field of view, larger exit pupil and longer eye relief than a 10x or higher binocular. The 8x binocular is a great choice when hunting in thicker timber or high brush areas and you need the maximum light gathering capability. You’ll also notice if you use your binoculars for a length of time, low powered binoculars like an 8x or lower provide a steadier image vs a 10x or higher. Faint shaking from the hands or wind will also seem greater with larger magnification binoculars
10x Magnification: Binoculars with 10 power do an excellent job of bringing your subject very close and providing the extra detail the lower powered binoculars cannot. Hunters who hunt in wide open fields, mountain ridges or large lakes, will appreciate the stronger power to see their prey at greater distances.
Too Much Power
Most hunters make the mistake of assuming that in all cases and for all uses, a 10x, 12x or higher binoculars are the best way to go than those with lesser powers. However, the most powerful binoculars are not always the best option and sometimes it is better to hold back a bit as there are many other important factors to consider when choosing the best long range hunting binocular for your specific needs.
Bigger magnification results in improving detail at greater distances but at the expense of more sensitivity to hand shake and less field of view. Plus, because the exit pupil is usually smaller in a 10x vs. 8x, the image will not be as bright during low light conditions. And while the image you see will be larger with higher powered binoculars, your field of view will narrow, and consequently, unless well practiced, you’ll find it more challenging to keep the image steady. Again, it depends on your needs, conditions and preferences.
JL explains the importance of finding the right balance of field of view in relation to magnification.
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