Thursday, October 25, 2012

A Pep Talk for Low Magnification Bins

bin-vt-vpr-3206-m_xlargeAn ingenious and fairly simple instrument, a binocular does so much to enhance our enjoyment of the outdoors. But, one binocular can't be expected to fulfill every need of every user. Can it? I mean, we want our bin to give us the same performance quality when viewing feeders out our back window or spotting birds from our canoe. Lightweight enough to carry on an all-day hike, and small enough to stuff in a backpack or bring to the game or the concert. Bright enough to catch the last bird at dusk, versatile enough to bring to the Serengeti or to hand to your child in the Amazon.

I often talk to customers who want a binocular that can do it all. And while there is no absolute answer, my suggestion for the most versatility is a low-powered binocular.

-Low-power bins are user-friendly. A person of almost any age can hold it steady. It's also a great choice for viewing from watercraft, when movement from waves comes in to play.

- Low magnification affords a wide field of view (FOV), the distance you can see to the left and right in the image through the binocular. It isn't unusual to have a FOV of over 400 ft. in a 6 or 7-power binocular. Good viewing from bleachers, theater seats, and for ease in following things like birds.

- Brightness in low light. The large exit pupil, which is determined by dividing the power (6) in to the objective lens size (32), gives the viewer every advantage for available light in low-light conditions like dawn, dusk, or under tree canopy. With an exit pupil of more than 5, the 6x32 binocular is as bright (assuming we're comparing equal glass quality) as the 7x42, 8x42 or 10x50.

-Convenient size and weight. The models of 6x32 binoculars I've listed below all weigh in at under 20 oz., and are less than 5" in height and 5" in width (the porro prism Kingbird is closer to 6" wide).  Still exceptionally light, relatively small, and handy as all get-out. These will take up little room in your suitcase or glove compartment, and are easy to hold up to your eyes for extended periods of time.

Eagle Optics Ranger SRT 6x32 Binocular
Leupold Katmai 6x32 Roof Prism Binocular (Black)

Vortex Viper 6x32 Binocular
(pictured above)
Eagle Optics Kingbird 6.5x32 Binocularbin-lc-40292-m_xlarge1

Shopping for a full-size binocular but crave super-wide field of view? Two iconic high-end binoculars in this category would be the Zeiss Victory 7x42 T* FL LT and the Leica Ultravid HD 7x42 (pictured right). Truly amazing optics!

See what I mean? With the many roles it can fill, a bin with low (6x or 7x) magnification may be just what you need. For further assistance, chat with us at Eagle Optics. We're always happy to help you find a binocular that's best for you.

Nina Cheney
Eagle Optics Staff
Binoculars: Bring them. See what they bring you.


  1. Hi Nina - This is an article long overdue. Thank you! The push in the industry toward 8, 10 and even higher powered binoculars has been unfortunate. I grew up on 7x35 being the normal. That soon changed to 8x32 and even 10x32. I have never understood the focus on more power, either with birders or manufacturers. I have Zeiss 7x42's and the VV 6x32's in my kit and couldn't be happier. I'll take brightness and clarity any day over power. I only hope Swarovski reads your article. Their current pocket sized binoculars are long in the tooth and are virtually unusable with glasses. I keep hoping they'll make their new pocket sized binoculars with a 6x. What good is seeing something bigger, if you can hardly see it at all!? Thanks for this. It brings some sanity back to the issue. Power corrupts! :)

  2. Great perspective. Thanks, Scott!


  3. I have a pair of the Leupold Katmai 6x32 and they are stunning. We have a trail here that is overgrown with privet overhead and close to the sides of the trail. It is dark and the birds are close and moving fast. The FOV and brightness of these little Binocs can't be beat. I also use then on the beach at Sanibel Island-not just for birds but I can close focus on the shells at my feet.

  4. Thanks for your comments, Thomas. Especially fond of how you prevent "Sanibel Stoop" by using the nice close focus these bins are known for!

  5. Nina, overanalyzing this purchase beyond even my usual tendencies, I not only missed the sale or rebate Eagle had last year; now it seems Eagle no longer carries the Leupold Hawthorne. What's up with that?

  6. Hi Jim,
    Thanks for your comment! Eagle Optics is no longer a Leupold dealer, but if you were referring to the Leupold Hawthorne 7x42, a good alternative would be the Atlas Optics Intrepid ED 7x36. The lower magnification makes it easy to hold steady, and it has an outstanding field of view (477 ft./1000 yds.) Plus, right now it is on sale: it normally retails for $299.99, and sale price for a limited time is $239.99. Here is the link:
    If you have any further questions, don't hesitate to call.


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