What Binocular Magnification Is Best for Birding?

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What Binocular Magnification Is Best for Birding?

There are plenty of binos available for bird watching. And the first thing that will be different between all of those options is the magnification power. That is why most of the buyers wonder what magnification is good for bird watching.

Well, when we were choosing a bino for ourselves, we had the same question as well. And after having hands-on experience with more than 25 different types of magnification powers, we finally know the answer.

Our Recommend Best Birding Binocular For You

What Binocular Magnification Is Best for Birding?

It is a natural tendency for the buyers to opt for something that has more power. And that translates to binos as well. Usually, new buyers will get the ones that market themselves as 18x and 20x capable. After all, the idea is to zoom as close as possible and capture the natural beauty of the birds.

However, most of those new buyers do not understand that there are many sacrifices with higher magnification power.

What Happens When the Magnification Power Is Too High?

Firstly, the images will become exceptionally shaky in anything that is higher than 15x. Shaky images mean it will be hard to focus on the subject.

When the images are shaky, even the tiny hand movements will degrade the picture’s overall quality. It will basically ruin the overall bird-watching experience.

Secondly, higher magnification would also mean minimum focus distance. In other words, the field of view will be narrow.

Now, you might be wondering why the field of view is that important. Well, the field of view is what makes you capable of quickly spotting the birds in the wild. So, the higher the field of view, the more efficient you will be at spotting beautiful birds.

So, which magnification is actually ideal for bird watching? From our research, we have found the ones that are from 7x to 10x perform the best in terms of birding. Before, 8x was the standard in this range. And nowadays, most manufacturers will integrate their binos with 8.5x and 9x magnification.

What Size Binoculars Are Good for Bird Watching?

The magnification is just the first part of the equation. Even if you get something from 7x to 10x, you might not get the perfect birding experience with it if it does not have the right lens size. However, there is no need to consider both lenses. You just need to factor in the objective lens.

Generally, the objective lens will determine the weight, light transmission, size, cost, and field of view of the binos. As you can see, this one factor is leading to many others. And you will be making a couple of tradeoffs by combining one magnification range with a specific size of the objective lens.

Let us first talk about the combination that is quite popular in the market. That would be the 7×30. The seven by thirty can magnify up to 7 times, and the objective lens size is 30 mm. It is not that bulky, nor is it that huge. Also, it will not have that much light transmission capability or a wide field of view.

A general rule of thumb is to pick something that has a 1:5 ratio. That means if you are opting for something that has a 7x magnification power, you need to ensure that the size of the objective lens is 35 mm. The same goes for 10x, 8x, and 9x. Multiply the magnification power by 5, and you will find the right size of the lens.

But what is this ratio called? Well, it is referred to as the exit pupil. This ratio allows the user to determine the brightness of the image when the environmental light is reasonably low. And the binos that have more than 1:5 will usually offer extremely bright pictures, which are not ideal for birding during the day.

Is Higher Magnification Better for Binoculars?

As mentioned above, the main idea behind birding is to zoom as close to the subject as possible. For that reason, one would naturally think that the higher the magnification, the better. But the case is not that simple. There are a lot of criteria you would need to consider before you pick something with high magnification.

The unsteadiness of the image is the first thing you would notice with the binos that have higher magnification. You will need to freeze your hands if you want to get a stable picture of the subject with the high magnification binos, which is not really possible.

In our tests, we noticed that the binos with 10x power shake almost 1/3 times more than the 7x ones if both the options weigh the same. But in most of the cases, we found that the binos do not weigh the same. So,it is pretty vital to consider the weight of the bino.

Usually, the ones that have higher magnification will weigh higher than the lower magnification ones. The weight will also play a role in terms of the shakiness of the image.

Greater magnification power also translates to a reduced field of view. The field of view is basically how wide of an angle the lenses can capture. And a higher field of view will make it easier to focus and spot a bird flying overhead.You will be looking through a straw if you opt for something that has a narrow FOV.

Considering all of these, we can say that higher magnification is not always better for all cases. You need to consider the stability, the weight, and the field of view when you think of a higher magnification range.

Bottom Line

To recapitulate, the magnification range that is good for bird watching is between 7x and 10x. But you should remember the 1:5 ratio, consider the weight, field of view, and weight of the bino before jumping to a conclusion.

There are plenty of binos available for bird watching. And the first thing that will be different between all of those options is the magnification power. That is why most of the buyers wonder what magnification is good for bird watching.

Well, when we were choosing a bino for ourselves, we had the same question as well. And after having hands-on experience with more than 25 different types of magnification powers, we finally know the answer.

Our Recommend Best Birding Binocular For You

What Binocular Magnification Is Best for Birding?

It is a natural tendency for the buyers to opt for something that has more power. And that translates to binos as well. Usually, new buyers will get the ones that market themselves as 18x and 20x capable. After all, the idea is to zoom as close as possible and capture the natural beauty of the birds.

However, most of those new buyers do not understand that there are many sacrifices with higher magnification power.

What Happens When the Magnification Power Is Too High?

Firstly, the images will become exceptionally shaky in anything that is higher than 15x. Shaky images mean it will be hard to focus on the subject.

When the images are shaky, even the tiny hand movements will degrade the picture’s overall quality. It will basically ruin the overall bird-watching experience.

Secondly, higher magnification would also mean minimum focus distance. In other words, the field of view will be narrow.

Now, you might be wondering why the field of view is that important. Well, the field of view is what makes you capable of quickly spotting the birds in the wild. So, the higher the field of view, the more efficient you will be at spotting beautiful birds.

So, which magnification is actually ideal for bird watching? From our research, we have found the ones that are from 7x to 10x perform the best in terms of birding. Before, 8x was the standard in this range. And nowadays, most manufacturers will integrate their binos with 8.5x and 9x magnification.

What Size Binoculars Are Good for Bird Watching?

The magnification is just the first part of the equation. Even if you get something from 7x to 10x, you might not get the perfect birding experience with it if it does not have the right lens size. However, there is no need to consider both lenses. You just need to factor in the objective lens.

Generally, the objective lens will determine the weight, light transmission, size, cost, and field of view of the binos. As you can see, this one factor is leading to many others. And you will be making a couple of tradeoffs by combining one magnification range with a specific size of the objective lens.

Let us first talk about the combination that is quite popular in the market. That would be the 7×30. The seven by thirty can magnify up to 7 times, and the objective lens size is 30 mm. It is not that bulky, nor is it that huge. Also, it will not have that much light transmission capability or a wide field of view.

A general rule of thumb is to pick something that has a 1:5 ratio. That means if you are opting for something that has a 7x magnification power, you need to ensure that the size of the objective lens is 35 mm. The same goes for 10x, 8x, and 9x. Multiply the magnification power by 5, and you will find the right size of the lens.

But what is this ratio called? Well, it is referred to as the exit pupil. This ratio allows the user to determine the brightness of the image when the environmental light is reasonably low. And the binos that have more than 1:5 will usually offer extremely bright pictures, which are not ideal for birding during the day.

Is Higher Magnification Better for Binoculars?

As mentioned above, the main idea behind birding is to zoom as close to the subject as possible. For that reason, one would naturally think that the higher the magnification, the better. But the case is not that simple. There are a lot of criteria you would need to consider before you pick something with high magnification.

The unsteadiness of the image is the first thing you would notice with the binos that have higher magnification. You will need to freeze your hands if you want to get a stable picture of the subject with the high magnification binos, which is not really possible.

In our tests, we noticed that the binos with 10x power shake almost 1/3 times more than the 7x ones if both the options weigh the same. But in most of the cases, we found that the binos do not weigh the same. So,it is pretty vital to consider the weight of the bino.

Usually, the ones that have higher magnification will weigh higher than the lower magnification ones. The weight will also play a role in terms of the shakiness of the image.

Greater magnification power also translates to a reduced field of view. The field of view is basically how wide of an angle the lenses can capture. And a higher field of view will make it easier to focus and spot a bird flying overhead.You will be looking through a straw if you opt for something that has a narrow FOV.

Considering all of these, we can say that higher magnification is not always better for all cases. You need to consider the stability, the weight, and the field of view when you think of a higher magnification range.

Bottom Line

To recapitulate, the magnification range that is good for bird watching is between 7x and 10x. But you should remember the 1:5 ratio, consider the weight, field of view, and weight of the bino before jumping to a conclusion.

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