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I'm torn between getting an 8x20 compact binocular, which weighs next to nothing and can be carried in a shirt pocket, and a ful

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  • I'm torn between getting an 8x20 compact binocular, which weighs next to nothing and can be carried in a shirt pocket, and a ful

    I'm torn between getting an 8x20 compact binocular, which weighs next to nothing and can be carried in a shirt pocket, and a full-size 8x40 binocular, which is larger, heavier and more expensive but would be sharper and have better low-light performance. Which one should I carry into the field for big-game hunting? -Homer Watson, Cody, WY

  • #2
    As you've implied, there are trade-offs between the easy-to-tote compact binoculars and the sharper, brighter full-size models with larger objective lenses. Though many of today's compact binoculars are amazingly good for casual glassing in reasonable light, they simply don't cut it in hunting situations that involve low light or prolonged periods of glassing. That's why most knowledgeable big-game hunters use full-size binoculars. Consider, for example, the relative resolving powers (image sharpness) and light-gathering powers (image brightness) of the 8x20 and 8x40 models you mentioned. An 8x40 has the potential to produce images twice as sharp and four times as bright-assuming that both instruments are of excellent optical quality.

    If you want maximum resolution and brightness I recommend an even larger and heavier binocular with 550mm or 56mm objective lenses. An excellent compromise between compacts and full-size models are those that have 30mm or 32mm objective lenses.

    -Bill McRae, Optics Editor

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    • #3
      as you have said the more expensive pair is heavier in the long run they wil probly last longer, you get what you pay 4, u wont b happy til u do wat u mant

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      • #4
        In your part of the country I'm betting the larger binocular would be much more useful.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by outdoorlife-editor View Post
          As you've implied, there are trade-offs between the easy-to-tote compact binoculars and the sharper, brighter full-size models with larger objective lenses. Though many of today's compact binoculars are amazingly good for casual glassing in reasonable light, they simply don't cut it in hunting situations that involve low light or prolonged periods of glassing. That's why most knowledgeable big-game hunters use full-size binoculars. Consider, for example, the relative resolving powers (image sharpness) and light-gathering powers (image brightness) of the 8x20 and 8x40 models you mentioned. An 8x40 has the potential to produce images twice as sharp and four times as bright-assuming that both instruments are of excellent optical quality.

          If you want maximum resolution and brightness I recommend an even larger and heavier binocular with 550mm or 56mm objective lenses. An excellent compromise between compacts and full-size models are those that have 30mm or 32mm objective lenses.

          -Bill McRae, Optics Editor
          Those heavy binoculars would probably be left at home if I had to carry them. I like my 8x40's the best.

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          • #6
            I personally have always doubted the usefulness of 8X20 binoculars. I know that some people really like them, and hey; maybe I've never really had a good pair, but I can't say I'd endorse them. If it were me, I'd get the field glasses.

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