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Whether you’re a keen bird watcher, always end up sitting at the back for concerts and ball games, or are just about to head out on an African safari, a pair of 10×50 binoculars might be a useful purchase you never knew you needed. Favored by wildlife enthusiasts and astronomers alike for their sweet-spot specifications in terms of magnification, brightness, and portability, this guide runs through six of the best 10×50 binoculars on the market right now.
The Best 10×50 Binoculars
Our top pick is the highly recommended Olympus Trooper, which uses a light-efficient Porro prism and large BAK-7 lenses to deliver sharp, high-quality viewing. An anti-reflective lens coating further enhances image brightness, and the 5 mm exit pupil is ideal for use in any type of light.
The optics also benefit from UV protection and are housed in a durable, rugged shell with non-slip rubber grips so both your eyes and your binoculars will be safe outdoors. The large central focusing knob enables quick and easy focusing on fast-moving objects across an extra wide field of view, even at long distances.
Porro prism design
BAK-7 lens system
5 mm exit pupil
- Weight1.88 pounds
Durable, non-slip rubber coating
Extra-large focusing knob
Anti-reflective lens coating
Included carry case
No adapter or fitting for use with tripod
Lens covers are not attached
Case unlikely to provide protection against impact or weather
For a budget-friendly option, SkyGenius offers a durable and solidly built pair of 10×50 binoculars with a carry case, strap, and flexible, attached lens covers for maximum portability and ease of use when on the go. The aspherical lenses include a corrective multi-coating layer for optimal light transmission and vivid, true-color images. A large, centrally-positioned wheel enables smooth calibration while the fully adjustable diopter ring allows each eyepiece to be set separately for better, more personalized viewing quality. Fold-down, rubberized eyecups increase comfort for individuals who wear glasses and the easily accessed tripod fitting enables high-quality viewing free from vibration and unsteadiness in the hands.
Having said that, eyepieces are difficult to synchronize and focus correctly without full understanding of the instruction manual. Although these binoculars are described as water-resistant, even medium humidity can result in internal fogging and the need for replacement. Also, the strap is somewhat fiddly to attach and adjust correctly.
Aspherical lenses with multi-coating
Adjustable rubber eyecups
367 feet field of view
Package includes bag, strap, and cleaning cloth
- Weight1.76 pounds
Flexible, attached lens covers
Tripod adapter fitting
Adjustable diopter ring
Prone to issues from moisture ingress
Strap difficult to attach and adjust
Difficult to focus correctly
Our premium pick features phase-corrected roof prisms and top quality BAK-4 Extra-low Disper glass lenses inside a durable magnesium chassis that has been Argon-purged for ultimate water- and fog-proofing. The metal exterior provides extra weight, making extended use feel heavy but the rubber grips, ease of reach, and adjustable eyecups make for comfortable viewing. The exterior lenses have been treated with XPL layers for maximum scratch and dirt resistance, while the internal optics benefit from all possible coatings (phase correction, ESP Dielectric, anti-reflective) you would expect at this price point for extra sharp, true-color images with minimal distortion.
Focusing is made easy with a super-sensitive central wheel and non-locking diopter ring, which allows for adjustments to individual eyepieces. While the focusing wheel is great for minor adjustments, it does takes a lot of turning—and time—to achieve large recalibrations. Glasses-wearers may need a little more than the bare-minimum of 15mm eye relief provided.
Phase corrected roof prisms
BAK-4 ED glass lenses
341 feet field of view
- BrandAthlon Optics
- ModelMidas 10 x 50
- Weight2.06 pounds
Excellent image quality and color fidelity
Fully waterproof and scratch-resistant
Comfortable to use
On the heavy side
Takes a lot of turning to achieve large focusing adjustments
Minimal eye relief for glasses-wearer
These Extreme All-Terrain 10×50 binoculars from Nikon are waterproof and fogproof and feature a protective rubber-armored external coating for maximum durability and confident use even in the most rugged of environments. The fact that they are tripod adaptable is certainly a benefit, seeing as they are the heaviest and bulkiest binoculars on our list.
Internally, this model features a high index BAK-4 Porro prism and bright, multi-coated lenses which deliver high quality images in all types of light. We especially like that these binoculars have a particularly high amount of eye relief. Interpupillary distance can be adjusted in the normal way by adjusting the central hinge and you just need to check that the quoted range (56 to 72mm) will fit your face correctly.
BAK-4 high index porro prism
Multicoated eco-glass lens system
Guaranteed 100 percent water- and fog-proof
Includes limited lifetime warranty
- Weight3.1 pounds
Extra long eye relief at 17mm
Perform well in low light
Heaviest and bulkiest pair on the list
Battery required (not included)
Slow focusing mechanism
These roof prism 10×50 binoculars from Celestron are sure to perform even in the roughest, wettest conditions. They are constructed out of tough magnesium and filled with dry nitrogen gas for guaranteed waterproofing. The metal body makes the binoculars a little heavy, but this can be overcome by attaching a tripod during extended use. Fully multi-coated ED lenses and top quality phase-corrected, dielectrically coated BAK-4 roof prisms all but eliminate chromatic aberration and deliver razor sharp, high resolution images, even in poor light.
We like that the eyecups are adjustable for maximum comfort and are made out of metal—as are the focusing wheel and diopter ring—for improved durability. Unfortunately, all have an issue staying in place. The focusing knob has too much play, the diopter ring easily swings loose, and the eyecups have a tendency to shift unexpectedly as a result of the twist-up mechanism.
ED fully multi-coated optics
Phase-corrected BAK-4 roof prism
Tough magnesium alloy body
- Weight3 pounds
Solid performance in low light
Adjustable, twist-up eyecups
Diopter ring prone to swinging loose
Eyecups do not stay in place
Too much play in focusing wheel
A great value pair of binoculars from Bushnell with durable but lightweight rubberized chassis to prevent against accidental damage and a porro prism with a full lens coating for clarity of viewing. The minimum close focus distance is 25 feet and instead of a focusing wheel, there’s a handy central lever capable of insta-focus for convenience and ease of use. Unfortunately, it has a little more play than you’d like, which makes maintaining focus tricky.
Fold-down eyecups block unwanted light and provide 9 mm of eye relief for comfortable use with glasses, while interpupillary distance and individual eyepieces are also fully and easily adjusted. The eyepieces are a little loose and wobble around somewhat and the lens caps are not attached, which is inconvenient, but overall this is a good value choice. The quality of the image is decent enough for the price point and shouldn’t cause hobbyists or casual users any cause for concern, but there isn’t the same sharpness you get with more expensive models.
Autofocusing Porro prism
Central insta-focus lever and 25 feet close focusing distance
300 feet field of view
5mm pupil exit
- Weight1 pound
Fold-down eyecups for 9 mm eye relief
Decent image quality for price
A lot of play in the focus lever
Lens caps are not attached
Best 10x50 Binoculars Buying Guide & FAQ
Choosing the right pair of binoculars for your specific needs might seem intimidating and confusing, especially if it’s your first pair. How are you supposed to make the right decision when there are so many to choose from over such a massive price range? Plus, the jargon in the product description hardly helps.
Fortunately, whether you know your roof prisms from your Porro prisms or not, we’re here to help. Our buying guide covers everything you need to know before settling on a pair of 10x50 binoculars, including the different types available, the key features you really need to consider, and whether or not 10x50s are the best way to go.
Do You Need a Pair of 10x50 Binoculars?
So you’re in the market for a pair of binoculars. What reasons are there for choosing higher or lower magnification, or a bigger or smaller objective lens? In short, are 10x50 binoculars suitable for your needs?
10x50 binoculars have 10x magnification and 50mm objective lenses. By default, this results in a wider field of view than offered by an objective lens with a smaller diameter. A wider objective lens should also capture more light and, all things being equal, should deliver a brighter image.
Increasing the magnification will allow you to focus on objects that are further away but, without also increasing the lens size, you’re unlikely to capture enough light to really benefit from this. It must also be noted that, as magnification increases, so does the difficulty in holding the binoculars still enough to avoid shaky images.
- 50 mm objective lenses capture more light than smaller lenses and, everything else being equal, should result in brighter better quality viewing.
- Higher magnification means even the smallest arm movements become pronounced and hand-held binoculars may become unusable.
- 10x50 binoculars provide the best all-round viewing in terms of magnification, brightness, and field of view.
Different Kinds of 10x50 Binoculars
Binoculars come in a variety of sizes and designs with different levels of magnification, objective lens size, and lens coatings depending on their intended use. When it comes to different kinds of binoculars with the same optical specifications—those with 10x magnification and 50 mm objective lenses—they are more often categorized by prism type.
Prisms must have two smooth faces at acute angles and, in their simplest forms, are triangular. In optics, prisms are normally made out of glass and are used to extend the light path from the objective lens to the eyepiece. The increase in magnification without having to increase the length of the tube is what makes binoculars so useful.
- Porro Prism
Invented by Ignazio Porro, the Porro prism is made up of two right-angled prisms that face each other. Binoculars were originally designed with this setup. Devices incorporating Porro prisms do not position the eyepiece in line with the objective lens, so the light is bounced sideways across the two prisms.
Porro prism binoculars are fairly ubiquitous because of the superior clarity and depth perception that results from this simple light path. They also deliver a wider field of view and overall better image quality than roof prisms but, due to their awkward shape and positioning, require heavier and bulkier housing than the alternative. This, and the difficulty in making them waterproof, means Porro prism binoculars are generally less durable than roof prism binoculars.
- Roof Prism
The two common styles of roof prisms that are found in binoculars are the Schmidt-Pecan and the Abbe-Koenig. The latter comprises two connected prisms in a V-shape, which extends the light path by bouncing it across a number of different internal angles before it exits through the opposite side. The Schmidt-Pecan also comprises two prisms, but with a small gap between them, which creates a lot of unusual angles through which the light must bounce before it leaves the prism. The light path is longer in this prism, which improves light absorption and image brightness.
Roof prisms are not offset, and this results in more compact and lightweight binoculars with a narrow, streamlined design for better durability. However, this also reduces the maximum field of view. Although the extended light path provides better magnification, roof prisms provide less clarity at a higher price point than Porro prisms.
What to Consider When Buying 10x50 Binoculars
You might have already decided that 10x50 binoculars are the right choice for you in terms of field of view and magnification. But not all pairs of binoculars are created equal and, unless you have an idea of what to look out for, you run the risk of paying for features you don’t want or need. Or worse, you may end up spending a lot of money on an expensive pair of binoculars that don’t meet your needs. Whatever you need to know before making a decision, we have you covered.
The type of prism in your 10x50 binoculars will dictate a number of things you need to think about. Roof prisms result in a more compact set of binoculars but, unless you’re looking to spend a lot of money, do not generally match Porro prisms in terms of image quality. Porro prisms are offset within the housing, with lenses in the front being closer together than eyepieces, and usually offer superior better optic quality. They tend to be less durable than roof prisms.
Prisms are constructed out of glass and you’ll see this described as BAK-4 or BAK-7. The BAK-4 is higher in quality and therefore delivers superior viewing than BAK-7. Not all manufacturers will advertise the quality of glass used in their prisms and that should speak for itself.
- Prism Coating
The coatings used on the prism will also determine the outcome of your viewing experience and may be considered as important as lens quality. All prisms reflect some light away, which affects the brightness and clarity of what you can see, so thin chemical coatings are applied to reduce this as much as possible. Different coatings are also added to improve color fidelity, and phase correction coatings are used to improve contrast in roof prisms, but are not required in Porro prisms.
The optics in binoculars are described as either coated, fully-coated, multi-coated, or fully multi-coated. The very top end models may have been subjected to up to 80 different coatings to optimize as true color reproduction as possible.
- Pupillary Distance
Pupillary distance is a measure of how far apart your eyes are. Everybody is different, so binoculars are adjustable to fit most faces. If you’re buying for a child, or you have particularly wide-set eyes, check the range of adjustment before you set your heart on any one pair.
Tips for Buying and Using 10x50 Binoculars
Different people will need different things from their 10x50 binoculars and, aside from the main features, will be looking for certain specifications. Here are a few tips we’ve picked up from our research to help you make the right decision.
- If you’re buying binoculars for travel or using on the move, make sure they’re light enough to wear comfortably around your neck.
- While some models are guaranteed to be waterproof, most are only weatherproof. If you’re not sure, don’t risk using binoculars in bad weather because once they’ve fogged up, it’s almost impossible to rectify.
- The higher the magnification, the more steady you need to hold your binoculars to see anything. You can get around this by using a tripod and most of the models on this list are tripod-adaptable.
Best 10x50 Binoculars FAQ:
We’ve covered what level of magnification and field of view to expect from 10x50 binoculars and have gone over the key features that you need to assess before making your choice. You should also have a pretty good idea about the differences between Porro and roof prisms. So what else do you need to know?
Q: Can I use binoculars if I wear glasses?
Of course! However, you’ll want to choose a pair with eyecups that offer comfort and protect the eyepiece and your glasses from scratching each other.
Q: Are 10x50 binoculars good for astronomy?
A: For hobbyists and wandering astronomers who need something portable and lightweight, 10x50 binoculars are ideal. They’ll sufficiently improve large features like the Milky Way, but you’ll need considerably more magnification for anything smaller.
Q: How do you correctly focus binoculars?
A: Start with just your left eye. Find an object to focus on and adjust the focusing wheel until the image is really sharp. Then look at the same image with your right eye through the right eyepiece, but only adjust the diopter ring.
Our Top Pick
We’ve chosen the Olympus Trooper DPS I Binoculars, with its coated optics and Porro prism design for bright, clear image, as our top pick of 10x50 binoculars. These binoculars feature both UV protection and anti-slip grips, so you’re good to go in all weather conditions.