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Choosing binoculars

RSPB binoculars

Choosing a pair of binoculars can be confusing. These pages will help you through the selection process.

The most important criterion is comfort. The binocular must be comfortable to hold and the focusing wheel easy to reach and turn. It must also be possible to look through them without straining your eyes - you want to enjoy using them!

The first step is to decide on the following:

  • how much do you want to spend?
  • are size and weight important?
  • what magnification and what type of binoculars do you want?

These will give you good starting points when going to a shop to make your choice.

Field days

The RSPB runs field days where you can try binoculars under field conditions. This will help you to make sure you are completely happy before purchase. The shops on reserves listed on the right keep a good range of binoculars. Contact them directly for details of products and events. You can also follow the link (top right) to see if there's an equipment demonstration near you soon.

Alternatively, follow the link on this page to visit the RSPB online shop. Don't forget, all sales will benefit our conservation work and help birds and wildlife!

How you can help

Thinking of buying binoculars, a telescope or accessories? Purchase them from the RSPB and the profits help our conservation work.

Buy your optics from the RSPB

What type of binoculars do I need?

There are two main body types of binocular. Porro-prisms have a 'traditional', stepped shape with an angled body. Roof-prisms are recognised by a straight-through appearance. More...

What type of binoculars do I need?

What magnification do I need?

For general birdwatching, lower magnifications such as 7x or 8x are recommended, especially if you also use a telescope. Higher magnifications (10x) are more suitable for use in hides or for viewing estuaries, reservoirs or other large, expansive areas. More...

What magnification do I need?

What do the figures mean?

All binoculars have a set of two figures indicating their specification (for instance 8x32), sometimes followed by a letter code such as B or GA. More...

What do the figures mean?