Top Light Gathering Binoculars Reviewed & Buying Guide
If you have been searching for the best light gathering binoculars with no luck until now, we hope that our guide will help you make your choice. We researched the market and according to our findings, the Celestron 71198 model is the one that should be a great choice. Those looking for binoculars that are good in low light will be pleased that this device has a lens dimension of 50mm, which means that the images are brighter and clearer and the field of view is wide. In terms of dimensions, it is also a good fit for most users because it’s light and compact enough to be carried with ease. Those that wear glasses will be able to use it without difficulties due to the well-made eyecups. If you can’t find the Celestron 71198 for sale anywhere, maybe you will want to have a look at the Celestron 20×80 SkyMaster which is our second suggestion.
Given that there are many alternatives to choose from, getting a light gathering binocular can be a hard task. But taking that decision can be easier if you have the necessary information. That’s why we tried to showcase the most important aspects in our quick guide below, to help you make the choice.
Magnification and objective
The main way to classify binoculars is based on a set of numbers that have the following format – 15×80 for example. These numbers refer to the magnification power of the binoculars and the objective lens diameter. A 10x magnification power means that the image appears 10 times closer.
Choosing the right numbers depends on what you want to do with the binoculars. If you just want to watch a theatrical piece, you only need something with a range of 3x or 5x. For those looking to hunt at long distances, a power of at least 10x is needed. But keep in mind that more experience is needed to hold the device for a long time without your hands shaking. This is where a tripod comes in handy.
Lightweight binoculars for birding don’t really need a big magnification power but they require a large lens diameter. The objective (the bigger lens positioned at the front of the binoculars) is measured in millimeters. Its size has a significant impact on the overall dimensions of the binoculars and on how much light the model is able to gather.
Good light gathering binoculars should thus have a large objective. They need a lens of at least 50mm to do a good job. If you are looking for night vision binoculars, they might require an objective that is even larger than that.
If you have read enough light gathering binoculars reviews you know by now that some have a sleek design while others are very chunky. That is mainly determined by the type of prism used by the binoculars. The prism is the element that vertically corrects the image, it turns it around so it’s not upside down.
The slimmer binoculars are those using a roof prism. The elements of the prism in these models are more aligned with each other, making the final product more compact. A Porro prism is one that occupies more space, but it has the advantage of providing a better image and can offer a better field of view by folding the light path.
A roof prism with the same capabilities as a Porro prism one is harder to make and that’s why two models with the same capabilities, each using a different prism, are not priced the same.
The exit pupil is a concept that can be most easily explained as the size of the image that gets to your eye through binoculars. It’s thus the dimension of the focused light hitting the eye. Its diameter should always be at least as large as your pupil. It can be calculated by dividing the objective diameter by the magnification power number.
The average pupil dilation for a human is 4 mm in medium light conditions. An exit pupil smaller than this is thus difficult to use and it feels like looking through a peephole and not binoculars. It is thus ideal to have an objective diameter as large as possible.
The most important parts of a pair of binoculars when it comes to producing quality images are the lenses and the prism. And they can all be coated with different substances that enhance their potential.
Coated lenses are the least you can expect from binoculars and it means that at least a lens has a layer of coating. An upgrade to that is the multi-coated ones. The best kind is the fully multi-coated lenses that show that each lens has been specially treated on all sides.
But the prism can be coated too and that increases the image brightness and light reflection. A dielectric coated prism is considered to be a very good one from this point of view.
Our 2018 list: Find the right light gathering binoculars for your needs
To make your choice easier we have showcased some of the models that we liked the most below. We took the time to analyze consumer reports, we read studies about how reliable the products are and we also had a look at the sales figures. This is how we managed to come up with this selection of top performing light gathering binoculars.
Ideal for being used as astronomy binoculars, when you want to watch the sky at night, these binoculars offer wide 50mm objectives that have a great light-gathering ability.
Due to the same aspect, the field of view offered by this model is also wide and it will allow the user to watch more of the sky.
The optics are great and the lenses are multi-coated, a feature that also makes images brighter. You will find it easy to use and to focus due to the large exit pupil. In low-light conditions, this is an important characteristic.
In terms of design, they are mid-sized binoculars with a body that is light enough to ensure that your hand won’t get sore after a long night of watching the stars.
To make them even more stable the binoculars offer the possibility to be fixed on a tripod. The eyecups are soft and comfortable and people that wear glasses will find them great too.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($25.99)
Celestron 20×80 SkyMaster
Celestron SkyMaster models have always been a good choice for those that want to watch the sky at night. This new model features some huge lenses that measure 80mm. This means that they are very capable of capturing light.
They offer a large aperture but they are still portable. These binoculars have a set of features that suit those that want to watch the stars and they’re also good for those looking for wildlife viewing binoculars.
Because its weight and size are quite considerable, this model offers a tripod mounting rail so it can be used for a long time. You can also mount a scope on that rail to be able to track objects better.
Every exterior glass surface is multi-coated with the brand’s specific XLT technology and that ensures clear and bright images. The eyecups are interchangeable and you can choose between a standard pair and one that can be folded down to be used with glasses.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($239.99)
The 50mm lenses offer good images in low light conditions like late evening or early morning. To protect the device and to allow it to offer quality images, it has been filled with nitrogen and the rings have been well sealed.
Quality BaK4 prisms provide good optical performances and the fact that the lenses are multi-coated help with that too.
To help the user in situations in which the binoculars are used for a long time, this model can be fixed on a tripod. It’s a lightweight and compact device, although it has a magnifying power of 10x.
The twist-eyecups are comfortable enough to be used with glasses.
Having an eye relief of 17.4mm means that you can keep your eyes far enough and you will still be able to see well. The binoculars are well protected by an armor made of rubber and that ensures a better grip too.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($98.78)
One of these binoculars’ best features is the dielectric prism coating that’s also made of multiple layers and it’s thus highly reflective. It is the main reason why the binoculars are able to produce high-contrast images and great colors.
The expertise of Nikon in making quality optics equipment can thus be seen in this model. The magnifying power is an impressive one, being rated at 20x.
This will allow the user to see objects at a really far distance. And he or she will be able to do that while the 56mm objective will make sure that the images are clear.
The large lenses offer the model good light-gathering abilities in less than ideal light conditions.
When discussing the prism, it’s important to notice that the one used here is of the roof type. That is important in making these binoculars as compact as possible, while still offering great viewing capabilities.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($896.95)
While still being comfortable to carry, these binoculars have an impressive lens size of 70mm.
This offers a wide field of view and at the same time helps the model provide the brightness needed in low-light conditions. The magnification power is also impressive, being one of 15x.
The prisms used are BAK-4 and the optics are fully multi-coated.
This greatly improves the binoculars’ performances and offers great light transmission and contrast. An interesting feature, you can adjust the focus separately on each of the eyepieces.
If you intend to use this model for extended periods the manufacturers suggest fixing it on a tripod. However, these binoculars don’t come with one or with a binocular tripod adapter.
The construction is aluminum and it’s heavy duty and the package also includes dust caps for extra protection and a binocular strap.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($199.99)