Choosing the right binoculars first depends on their specific uses, which often translates into unique features. You can find hunting binoculars, bird watching binoculars, marine binoculars, sports binoculars etc. It is up to you to learn about their features and make the right choice according to your needs.
So how can you make the difference between hunting and astronomy binoculars?
There are some basic features to compare when it comes to the different types of binoculars: lenses and prism design, lens coatings, magnification, FOV (field of view), weight and more.
Hunting binoculars come in a variety of types, depending on hunting strategy, purpose, and terrain, and they are made to withstand harsh conditions.
- Spotting binoculars (20×25; 30×30 etc.) – they have a very good magnifying capacity – but only for small areas. These are generally used by experienced hunters who wait for the prey to come out from burrows or to pass through a certain area.
- Binoculars for forest hunting – these binoculars offer a rather reduced magnification, but provide a relatively large field of view (40-50), which is great for sprinted hunting in the forest. Large magnification is not necessary for these conditions, considering that trees, bushes and vegetation would have a negative impact on image clarity, but a wide field of view is obviously very important.
- Binoculars used for hunting in open areas – they offer a very good degree of approximation and a very wide field of view – at least 60.
If the average magnification for hunting binoculars is typically 8x-12x, when it comes to astronomy binoculars it increases quite a lot, and that is obviously due to the longer distance viewing requirements.
There are variations even within the astronomy binocular category, but it mostly concerns their magnification: a 7×50 model may be good enough for observing the moon, but if you wish to see faraway planets, observe galaxy structures, open star clusters and big nebulae, you should choose much more powerful objectives. Astronomy binoculars are also designed to use the light as efficiently as possible (big lenses for clearer pictures and Porro prisms – Bak-4, to allow the maximum of light). They are typically larger and heavier than hunting binoculars. A 12x can be handheld, but anything higher should be put on a tripod, in order to experience a clear view.
Furthermore, you won’t be hiding in forests, running through swamps, or faced with rain and snow when stargazing, and therefore astronomy binoculars are not equipped with the safety and comfort features hunting models usually come with to withstand harsh terrain or difficult weather.
Finally, while field of view is very important in hunting binoculars, so that you can spot fast moving or unpredictable game, such as birds, for astronomy models, this factor is not as essential.