Low light binoculars is an essential item for people who go out for hunting and wildlife viewing. It acts as an outdoor gear that helps them to view things even in low light conditions. Hunters and wildlife viewers are aware that to catch a glimpse of very rare animals, they need to be ready with suitable equipment. Most animals tend to move at dusk or dawn and that is when the wildlife is most active and visible. But the light conditions during that time make it impossible for people to capture the spectacle. In this article, we will have a look at the best low light binoculars in the current market.
Low light binoculars are an affordable item that hunters and wildlife viewers can rely on. This is because, at dusk and dawn, they not only need to magnify the images using a binocular but also magnify the ambient light in order to have a clear sight under poor light conditions. And a low light binocular helps them do that. It is an equipment that allows spectacular view in good light as well as during the dark hours.
Imagine that you had been waiting all night long in the wilderness to see a rare animal. And when it does show up, you miss the chance due to poor optical equipment. You will feel devastated for sure. To prevent any such incident, a low light binocular is what you need.
While hunting, there is another concern that can be resolved by a low light binocular. Generally, the animals are classified as legal or illegal with respect to whether they can be hunted legally or not. When you hunt in poor light conditions, you can never be certain if hunting that animal is legal or illegal. In that case, you need to hold off your shot and miss your chance just because of a slight uncertainty. Using a binocular lets you be certain of your actions.
However, a low light binocular is not just meant for hunters and wildlife viewers. It can be used by anyone who wishes to take a moment and enjoy the amazing views of places that have been shadowed by poor lighting such as forests, caves, valleys, etc. It is a must for nature enthusiasts as well.
Before we go deeper into understanding how to evaluate a good low light binocular, you must be aware that it is very different from a night vision binocular. Low light binoculars work by maximizing the utility of the available light in low light conditions using lenses. Whereas, night vision binoculars make use of illuminators and light amplifiers to provide the much-needed vision in the dark surroundings.
There are several factors that enable low light binoculars to work like they do and assist you in low light conditions. Low light binoculars tend to gather and retain the available light to work effectively. And that is why the amount of light they are able to gather and retain becomes an important factor to evaluate a low light binocular, which can be attributed to many variables.
First, the objective lens is considered. The bigger the lens, the larger is the amount of light entering the binoculars and into your eyes. Lens quality needs to be ensured as well. A high-quality lens will be able to allow more light to enter the binocular and prevent the light from diffracting and spreading due to irregularities in the lens.
Further, the lens needs to be coated properly to smoothen its surface in order to get rid of those irregularities. Also, the light can be manipulated and concentrated to ensure the entry of the maximum amount of light through the binoculars.
Lastly, one should not forget about the prism quality. Prisms are used within binoculars to invert the light rays in order to show you the image the right side up. They can be thought of as glass mirrors and need to be of high quality in order to ensure proper transmission and reception of images drawn from light entering the binoculars.
When you begin your research to find the best and most suitable low light binocular, you will need to become aware of some concepts and terminologies involving low light optics. One such term is relative brightness. To understand how low light optics work, you need to be aware of what relative brightness is.
To be precise, relative brightness is a numerical rating that is able to indicate the amount of light entering the eyes through a set of lenses and prisms. Practically, the only thing you need to be aware of is that the higher the relative brightness of a low light binocular, the better is its ability to provide clear vision in low light conditions.
What to look for while buying low light Binoculars
Magnification or Power: The whole purpose of binoculars is to magnify the images and for low light binoculars, the magnification of ambient light is essential as well. So how do binoculars achieve magnification anyway? Binoculars employ convex lenses for this purpose. But because convex lenses tend to invert the image upside down, binoculars need to add an additional item called a prism in order to invert the image back again.
Prisms do this by bending the incoming light rays and showing the image correctly. But you need to be aware of the fact that the amount of magnification can affect the amount of light gathered and retained by the binocular. This means more the magnification, lesser is the brightness of the image. Therefore, you need to strike a balance between magnification and brightness. Try to stay clear of high magnification binoculars when using them in low light conditions.
Objective Lens Diameter: The diameter of the objective lens determines the effectiveness of binoculars in gathering and retaining light. It is pretty simple to understand that greater the diameter of the objective lens, broader will be the field of view. Along with the field of view, brightness will also increase because more light will be allowed to enter the binoculars. This makes it evident that smaller and compact binoculars with the small objective lens will definitely not perform well under low light conditions.
Optical Quality: To witness spectacular views, it is always recommended to use a pair of binoculars with lenses made of best quality glass. Quality refers to the clarity of glass used and the degree to which the lens surface has 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 color fringes. Also, they reduce the amount of absorption of light passing through them thereby increasing the brightness of the image.
Lens Coating: If the objective lens is not coated properly with several layers of anti-reflective elements, a portion of the light will be able to reflect off the glass thereby reducing the brightness of the image. This is because the light that gets reflected before entering the objective lens of the binoculars is lost and will not contribute towards the brightness of the image. By making use of advanced coating technologies, binoculars are now able to provide incredible light transmission. Also, lens coatings protect the lenses from scratches and make them easier to clean.
Exit Pupil: Just like we have pupils to allow the light to enter our eyes, binoculars possess pupils too. Two dots can be noticed in a pair of binoculars when held at an appropriate distance from the eyes. These dots represent the exit pupils of the binoculars. Exit pupils can be thought of as windows which allow the light to enter and pass through the binoculars. The larger the window, the more light is allowed to pass through. It is very important for the size of exit pupil to match the dilation of our eye’s pupil. And since our pupil dilates and changes its diameter with varying light intensities, it is important for the binoculars to have an exit pupil about five to seven millimeters wide, because our eyes tend to dilate that much in low light conditions.
Field of View: As the term suggests, the field of view refers to the size of the area of clear vision which a pair of binoculars can provide at a 1000 yards. It is an important factor that affects the quality of clear vision provided by the low light binoculars.
Additional features: Since binoculars are an essential outdoor gear, it is important for them to be waterproof. This will allow you to continue using binoculars even under harsh climatic conditions. You can be assured of clear sights even when it is raining. Also, you wouldn’t want the lens of your binoculars to become foggy because it would ultimately hamper your aim of clear vision. So it is better to ensure that your pair of binoculars is fog proof as well.
These factors make it quite evident that to pick the best pair of low light binoculars, it isn’t just one element that needs your attention but a combination of several factors. After considering these factors, you need to go for the one that is the best you can afford. Because just like other elements, binoculars vary highly with price and a cheaper pair of binoculars won’t be quite as effective as its higher priced alternatives. So set your budget straight and then pick the best option to avoid any regret or disappointment.
Before purchasing a pair of low light binoculars and making a decision about its size, design, brand, or quality, you need to ask yourself certain questions. For example, where will you be using your binoculars the most? Will the weight and bulkiness of the binoculars affect your activity in any way? What will you be viewing – stationary or moving objects? The answers to these questions will help you in deciding which pair of low light binoculars to buy.
Top 9 Best Low Light Binoculars 2018
Vortex as a brand has been known to provide exceptional optical products for a while now and has created a name for itself in the binocular industry. Vortex Razor HD 10×50 is one of their creations that can easily be considered as the best compact low light binoculars available in the market currently. The roof prisms used in the binoculars make them compact and less bulky with improved designs. These features make it the best compact low light binoculars.
A Magnesium alloy has been used to build the body instead of aluminum which is generally a little bit heavier. This makes the binoculars lightweight and manageable. Further, these binoculars come with a magnifying power of 10x which makes even the smallest of details sparkle in front of your eyes. The objective lens diameter of 50 mm is wide enough to gather sufficient amount of light to provide you with bright images even in low light conditions.
The lenses are made of ED glass (extra-low dispersion glass) to prevent color fringing with sharp image edges. They provide a field of view of 315 feet at 1000 yards, which is definitely a plus along with the 10x magnification.
This pair of Bushnell binoculars will not disappoint you in any way because of the wide angle reach. With a 12×50 wide angle configuration, it is a major player in the low light binocular industry. The 12x magnifying power is significantly higher than its counterparts. But due to the higher magnifying power, its field of view is reduced to 265 feet at 1000 yards, which is lower than the 10×50 binoculars.
Other than the magnification, it provides a focus-free function which is essential for observing moving targets. The lenses and prisms are of superior quality and multi-coated to provide clearer images which enhance the imaging quality of these low light binoculars. This attributes to their outstanding low light performance. On the exterior, they are protected by a rubber armor which makes them non-slippery and shockproof. These aspects make it the Best Binoculars with Outstanding Low Light Performance.
Celestron SkyMaster 25×70 is the best low light binoculars for the purpose of hunting. With the magnifying power of 25x, it is a beast compressed into a compact binocular. Such high magnification enables it to view distant objects with clarity and precision. They can easily be used for both celestial and terrestrial purposes. Along with the high-end magnification, the 70 mm objective lens allows a significant amount of light to pass through the binoculars resulting in high-quality brightness. For a low light binocular, that’s all you need.
But this superior configuration comes at a price. The binoculars are slightly on the bulkier side and not that compact. Because of this reason, they come with a tripod which helps you to get stable views for longer periods. On the other hand, the high magnification results in the decreased field of view of 141 feet at 1000 yards.
Swarovski EL Swarovision is the perfect binoculars for low light conditions. They not only offer superior quality images but are laden with luxury. If you are a person that doesn’t mind shelling out big bucks for luxurious yet high-end items, then these pair of binoculars are for you. The 10x magnification and 50 mm objective lens are enough to provide high-quality images, but these binoculars have something more to offer.
The lens and prism are made of European glass which makes the much-needed difference and the innovative multi-coatings enhances the light to produce the brightest image possible. Although they are expensive, they can be referred to as the best all-around binoculars in the low light binocular industry.
For an affordable price, Holisouse 8×40 HD binoculars are a great value for money and a popular choice. For a fair price, you can get your hands on a pair of well-designed binoculars with quality optics. The 8x magnifying power is sufficient to get stable views and the 40 mm objective lens provides a fair amount of brightness as well. This can be considered to be the best affordable low light binoculars.
Given the lower magnification, the field of view for Holisouse binoculars stands at 168 meters at 1000 meters. And to top all of it, they are even waterproof and fog proof at this price. This pair of low light binoculars are worth the money and have been showered with praises by those who have already bought it.
Vortex has curated yet another pair of binoculars that are exceptional yet affordable. For the price range of up to $1000, Vortex Viper HD 10×50 binoculars are the best in business and remain unmatched. The 10x magnification and 50 mm objective lens is enhanced by HD or high definition vision using HD glass for its lenses and prisms. This low dispersion glass makes these binoculars excel in poor lighting. Considering all these factors this is one of the best low light binoculars under $1000.
Nikon can never fail to amaze you. Yet another 10×50 binocular with best low light performance and that too under 500 bucks. That’s a steal deal. Without compromising on the quality, Nikon PROSTAFF is a must for all those who want quality binoculars at affordable prices. The body is made of fiberglass that reduces the weight and makes them lightweight and sturdy. The lenses and prisms are made out of Eco-glass to get rid of harmful metals and protect the environment. Additionally, they are waterproof as well as fog proof. If you are looking for something under $500 then this is your best bet.
When you expect good quality low light binoculars within a price range of up to $250, most often you end up being disappointed. The lower the price gets; the quality of the binoculars dive deeper. But Nikon understood the need of the customers and introduced a pair of binoculars that are not only affordable but produce good quality images as well. Nikon TrailBlazer ATB 10×50 is capable of providing you more than you anticipated. Although the quality of images isn’t the same as its expensive counterparts, yet it is a great product for its price. With the use of slightly cheaper components, Nikon TrailBlazer is able to pull off quite decent images.
For a dirt cheap price of under $100, it is almost impossible to find good quality and durable low light binoculars. But if you are on a tight budget and cannot go farther than this, Nikon ACULON 10×50 is a savior. It is capable of providing clear and bright images under the low light conditions and is far better than any other product in the same price range.
Nikon ACULON makes use of Porro prisms instead of Roof prisms which are much cheaper but still provide decent quality images. They do take up more space than their counterparts but are able to keep the cost of binoculars low.
Low light binoculars are indeed the optical marvels that you need to witness beautiful views and bring objects closer to you even under low light conditions. Getting your hands on the best low light binoculars shouldn’t be a problem anymore, now that you are more informed about the factors to consider before buying low light binoculars and the various models available in the market.
You can start by making a list of all your requirements like better magnification, higher quality images, compact and lightweight design, brighter and sharp images, etc. Further, decide a budget for yourself because the market is filled with all kinds of binoculars belonging to varying price ranges. Once, you are ready with your requirements and a budget, all you need to do is search for the best low light binoculars for yourself that is a perfect match.