How aggravating is it when you see a faint outline of something amazing - an opera singer hitting the highest note in the song, an endangered species on a safari ride, the rarest bird in the world - but the object is just too far away to fully appreciate its beauty?
How many times have you wished to be closer to something so you could make out every last detail of it? Think of all the images in your head that could be crisper if you just had a pair of binoculars with you at that moment.
Low light binoculars are crucial for hunters and wildlife watchers, as nature tends to be most active in poor light conditions and they can enable you to see animals when the naked eye can’t.
The lenses play a crucial part in how well a pair of binoculars work in low levels of light - the size and quality, how it’s coated, and prism quality.
Below are five of our favourite low light binoculars, a buyer’s guide and a few frequently asked questions. Peruse and find the perfect model for you!
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Why it's our top pick?
Are you itching to get out there and study the stars, or perhaps the individual blades of grass?
Maybe a special bird that only flies once a year, and you don’t have time to read through this whole article to find your new binoculars?
Never fear - I’ll tell you right now that it’s the Vortex Optics Diamondback HD Binoculars. Find out why we chose this one below:
- Vortex is a reputable brand who are well known for making stunning optical components. They have built a loyal following and you cannot argue with their raving reviews.
- Lifetime warranty ensures that you won’t have a hassle on your hands if your product breaks or arrives faulty.
- High quality materials used to ensure the binoculars are waterproof, scratch proof and fogproof.
Best Low Light Binoculars - Comparison Table
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Best Low Light Binoculars - Reviews
The Vortex Optics Diamondback binoculars has a nice 10x magnification which is complimented by the large 50mm lenses.
Vortex has a good reputation for making excellent optical components and this model is one of their top-range models, so prepare to be amazed.
A point to be considered with this model is that there is a variation of different sizes, starting from 8x28mm. However, choosing a smaller size may impact on how well they work in poor lighting conditions.
This model has high density (HD) glass and special anti-reflective coatings on the lenses for excellent performance in low lit settings.
Hunting, birdwatching, hiking, exploring, travelling, watching opera, outdoor sports - these binoculars can help you see whatever you desire, in any weather condition.
10x magnification. 50mm objective lens diameter. Field of view: 262ft/1000yrds. What more could you ask for?
Carson offers high definition optics and ED glass for bright and sharp images, 20mm eye relief and fully multi-coated lenses. This model has been praised highly and some users even say that they have a better brightness than some better known binoculars, such as Nikon Monarch 7.
Not only are you getting a sweet deal on these high quality binoculars, you’ll also be getting a BinoArmor Deluxe carrying case, shoulder harness, neck strap, lens covers and a lens cloth.
Along with a hardcore name, there are a number of features that make the Eschenbach an excellent tool for low-light viewing.
It is rare to find a model with a magnification factor of 8x while the lenses are a huge 56mm, resulting in a very high exit pupil number of 7mm and immaculately bright images.
Unlike other low-light binoculars, the Eschenbach has been designed with hunting/ wildlife viewing in mind, which means you’ll be getting all the lens coatings and BaK-4 prisms you’d expect from a high-quality optical instrument.
If you’re looking for a cheaper model that doesn’t harm the quality, look no further than the Celestron Skymaster 25x70.
This model is ranked highly on the list of best low light binoculars for hunting, and the 25x magnifying power is a beast compressed into a compact shell. Along with the 70mm objective lens, these binoculars are all you need for a low light setting.
Such high magnification enables you to view distant objects with precision and clarity, and the lens allows a significant amount of light to pass through the binoculars with high-quality brightness.
Multi-coated optics and BaK-4 prisms deliver excellent light transmission for brighter images. This model is a favourite for being used in poor light conditions or for astronomy.
These Ronhan binoculars pride themselves on combining quality, functionality and reliability to make an affordable option for hunters and wildlife watchers alike.
FMC green film objective lens and premium BaK-4 prism give this model high light transmittance and HD vision performance.
You’ll be able to focus on objects with brilliant detail from 1000 yards out with a wide view of 184ft/1000yrds. Designed with 20x power magnification, 50mm extra large objective lens can help you see the target’s every detail clearly.
Ronhan have truly thought about everything with this one, down to the ergonomically designed shell for a comfortable grip which is also waterproof and fogproof.
Best Low Light Binoculars - Buyers Guide
There are several factors that enable low light binoculars to work like they do and assist you in poor light conditions. They tend to gather and retain available light to work effectively, which is why it’s vital that you choose a model that gathers and retains light efficiently.
This can be contributed to many different variables, including the lens size and quality. The bigger the lens, a larger amount of light is able to enter the binoculars and therefore your eyes.
A high quality lens will be able to allow more light into the binocular and prevent it from diffracting and spreading due to irregularities. The lens will need to be properly coated in order to smoothen its surface and remove those irregularities.
There are a number of other factors to consider when choosing your perfect model, including:
Binoculars' primary focus is to magnify images, however for low light binoculars the magnification of ambient light is essential as well.
Your trusty pair of binoculars will employ convex lenses to do so, however these tend to invert the image upside down. Due to this not being the desired outcome, the binoculars will need to have prisms in order to convert the image back round again.
Prisms do this by bending the incoming light rays and showing the image correctly, however the amount of magnification can affect the amount of light gathered and retained in the lens.
This means that the more magnification there is, the lesser the brightness of the image. Therefore you need to find the right balance between magnification and brightness, as high magnification binoculars are unlikely to work well in poor light conditions.
Objective Lens Diameter
The diameter of the objective lens determines the effectiveness of binoculars in gathering and retaining light, meaning as well as how broad the field of view is, the size of lens will affect the brightness.
If you’re wanting binoculars to use in low light levels, models with larger objective lenses will be more likely to cater to your needs and give you the image you desire.
The term ‘you get what you pay for’ is evident when shopping for binoculars, especially ones to work in poor lighting. It is always recommended to use a model made with premium quality glass in terms of clarity and how it’s been polished.
Better the optical quality of the lens, the lesser is the extent of reflection or dispersion of light, resulting in a high-quality image. Good quality lenses and prisms keep the light from entering the binoculars uniform and result in clearer images with sharp edges and reduced level of colour fringes.
Furthermore, they reduce the amount of absorption of light passing through them thereby increasing the brightness of the image.
The objective lens should be coated properly with several layers of anti-reflective elements to ensure that the light will not be able to reflect off the glass and reduce the brightness of the image.
Light that gets reflected before entering the objective lens is lost and won’t contribute towards the brightness of the image, highlighting the importance of lens coating for low light binoculars. Make sure you choose a pair of binoculars that make use of advanced coating technologies as these are able to provide excellent light transmission.
Efficient lens coating will also prevent the lenses from scratching and make them easier to clean.
Just like the pupils in our eyes that allow light in, binoculars also have a similar contraption called an exit pupil. If you look through a pair of binoculars from a certain distance away from the eye, you’ll be able to see them as two dots.
The larger the exit pupil, the more light is able to pass through into the binocular. It’s important for the size of the exit pupil to match the dilation of a human eye’s pupil, and since our pupils dilate and changes with varying light intensities, you’ll want a model with an exit pupil with around five to seven millimeters wide as that’s how wide our eyes tend to dilate to in low light conditions.
Weight and Eye Strain
As binoculars are often used for a prolonged amount of time it is important to consider the weight of the model and how long you’ll be able to hold them before your arms start to hurt.
Similarly, certain binoculars can be taxing on the eye and cause straining. Especially for low light binoculars, where the risk of eye strain is higher, it is vital that you can use binoculars that are comfortable.
As binoculars are mainly used for outdoor activities, you should ensure you choose a model that you can use in any unexpected weather conditions.
Look for models with a degree of waterproofing and, ideally, fog proofing. Whilst most models are able to be used in the rain for a few minutes, higher end binoculars tend to be undamaged after a couple of hours of water submersion.
Not only are external features on a binocular important in terms of usability and durability, but they can also tell you a lot about what the level of optics and potential view quality is likely to be. When a manufacturer has taken the time to make the outside high quality, it is implied that the materials inside are also high quality and more likely to give you the desired image.
Notice what material the chassis is made out of, better quality models are made from either magnesium or aluminium. Some models use rubber eye cups that bend to the shape of your eye, whilst others twistable versions that give more adjustability and are often said to prevent eye strain.
Another thing to look out for is lockable diopter adjustment rings or ones that are integrated onto the central focus wheel, as it is small details like this that will separate the excellent models from the good.
Frequently Asked Questions
Which features are most important when choosing low light binoculars?
All of the features talked about in the buyers guide are important when choosing a model of low light binoculars and all work together to create a good image in poor lighting. If you choose a model that follows most to all of the advice in the previous section you’ll be more likely to receive a better quality image.
However, not everyone can afford high end binoculars, so if you’re not prepared to spend thousands of dollars, the more vital features are: the correct exit pupil size, a good magnification and objective lens size, and glass quality.
What’s the best magnification and lens diameter to choose for low light binoculars?
The best magnification size for poor light conditions usually range from 7x to 10x and 50-56mm objective lens. This allows you to see bright images in low light whilst still maintaining a great amount of detail, as well as offering comfortable handling due to less weight.
Any magnification higher than 10x will lessen the brightness of the image greatly and defeat the object of low light images. You’ll want to choose a model of binoculars with a good magnification to lens diameter to ensure the light is being used to its full capacity.
How much should I spend on a pair of low light binoculars?
Highly renowned and reviewed binoculars can be more expensive because you are paying for the quality of the materials used and often the longevity of use. If you are looking for a pair of binoculars for casual use to look at the wildlife on your birdfeeder out of the kitchen window once in a while, perhaps a cheaper model would be perfect for you.
If you’re an experienced wildlife watcher and often find yourself outside for hours at a time in all weather conditions, you’d most likely benefit from a more expensive binocular. Assess what and how often you’d be using your low light binoculars for and choose a budget accordingly.