How Do Binocular Magnification Work? – Here’s Everything You Need to Know with FAQs

What are binoculars? And most importantly…

How do they work?

Let’s find out together.

How Do Binoculars Work?

Binoculars are used for many different purposes, but they are most commonly used for hunting or watching birds. They are made up of lenses, prisms, mirrors, and other optical components. Binoculars use light waves to create an enlarged image. This process works by refracting light waves off of the object being viewed. Light waves are bent when passing through glass, plastic, and water. When these waves pass through the lens, they become focused on a single point. This point is then projected onto the retina of your eye. Your brain then interprets the image as a clear picture.

Binoculars are used to view distant objects. They magnify images and make them clearer. There are many different kinds of binoculars, but some of the most common ones include spotting scopes, rangefinders, and field glasses. Binoculars come in various sizes, shapes, and prices.

Binoculars were created when people realized that you could view things better if you had two eyes instead of one. This invention made it possible to view objects more clearly, especially those that were far away. People soon began using these new inventions for hunting birds and other animals.

Binoculars were invented by Giuseppe Porro in 1825. He also invented the Porro prism system used in binoculars. Binoculars are still being made today using this same design.

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How Do Binoculars Work?

Binoculars are used to take pictures or videos of distant objects. In this case, the objective lens captures images of distant objects while the eyepiece lens magnifies them.

Binoculars work by focusing light rays onto the retina of your eye. Your eyes focus the image onto your brain.

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Light Refraction

Light refraction is the way that light bends when it goes through different materials, such as glass in an objective lens in a set of binoculars. Binocular manufacturers can control the light by changing the objective lens.

Lenses Magnification

A convex lens is shaped like a bowl. In this case, the middle part is thickest, making the image focused inside the lens. The image is then enlarged for us to see.


Prisms are used to turn the image upside down. Two prisms are used to do this. Each prism rotates the image by 90 degrees.

Binoculars usually come in pairs. Each pair of binoculars contains 2 lenses. There are 4 lenses in each pair of binoculars. Porro prisms are cheaper and easier to manufacture than roof prisms. Roof prisms are larger and heavier than Porro prisms.

Porro Prism Binoculars are large and bulky but cheaper than Roof Prism Binoculars. Porro Prism Binoculars are made out of glass, while Roof Prism Binoculars are made out of plastic or metal.

Roof prisms are usually used in binoculars because they are easy to manufacture. They are not very durable, though. Waterproofing is important, and if binoculars aren’t waterproofed properly, they could be damaged by raindrops. Weatherproofing is also important, especially if binoculars are going to be used outdoors. Roof prisms are set next to each other, making them less compact than roof prism binoculars. Roof prism binoculars have a shorter focal length than roof prism binoculars.

Roof prism binoculars are more expensive than other types of binoculars. They are also more durable because they are made up of many smaller parts instead of fewer larger ones.

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Binoculars usually have a large central ring that spins to adjust both barrels simultaneously. Diopters allow you to focus on one barrel independently from the other. You may need to use this feature if you’re having trouble seeing objects clearly.

Field of View

Field of View represents how much area you’re actually viewing. It’s a measure of how many feet across you’re able to see through your devices, measured at 1, 000 yards. In general, high magnification means a smaller field of view. As you’re zoomed in with higher magnifications, you’ll be able to see a small area overall, but you’ll get a more detailed view of what’s happening.

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Exit Pupil

Binoculars have an exit pupil that measures how big the image is going to be when viewed by the human eye. A large exit pupil means more light gets into the eyes and makes objects appear clearer. Smaller exit pupils mean less light gets into the eyes, making things seem darker.

Exit pupil is the distance from the center of the eyepiece to the edge of the image circle. For example, if the eyepiece is 50mm long, then the exit pupil is 25mm.

Magnification is the first number followed by x. For example, an 8x binocular magnifies objects eight times. A 10x binocular magnifies things ten times. And a 12x binocular magnifies them twelve times. Binoculars are used to view distant objects. Objects appear closer when viewed through binoculars.

Binoculars with 8X magnification and 42mm objective lenses.

Binoculars are generally used by people who want to see things up close without having to get too close themselves. A bigger objective lens lets in more sunlight but makes the binoculars bigger and less portable.

how do binoculars work

How Do Binocular Magnification Work?

Different Sizes of Binoculars

Compact binoculars are great for mobile adventures. They’re compact enough to fit into a pocket or purse. But if you want to see it up close, you’ll need something larger. Midsize binoculars are the perfect choice for most people. You get the wide-angle view of a compact binocular, but with more power than a compact.

Full-sized binoculars are great for seeing distant objects. They can be used for hunting or fishing.

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Additional Categories of Binoculars

Binoculars come in many different sizes and shapes. There are some that are designed specifically for night viewing or hunting. Some are used by law enforcement officers. Others are made for astronomy. Still, others are used for military purposes.

Mini Binoculars

Mini binoculars fold down and fit into a small pack. They aren’t as powerful as full-size binoculars, but you can carry them around more easily than large ones.

Wide Angle Binoculars

Binoculars have a pretty big field of view, to begin with. But when you need the widest field, wide-angle binoculars open up the field of view and make everything visible. Wide-angle binoculars are great for spotting things in large, open areas, such as wildlife, sports, etc.

Zoom Binoculars

Zoom binoculars allow you to see objects up close without having to move very far away from them. This allows you to take a better look at your subject.

High powered Binoculars

Binoculars are great for seeing far-away objects. Their size makes them difficult to use, but they’re still useful for people who want to see things from afar. High-powered binoculars are large and bulky, but they’re ideal when looking at distant objects.

Auto Focus Binoculars

These cameras are very easy to use because they are always in focus. They are also very cheap.

Image Stabilizing Binoculars

Binoculars are used by people who want to see things up close without having to move around too much. Image stabilization helps them get clearer pictures. These are very expensive because they need to be stabilized.

Waterproof Binoculars

Waterproof binoculars are essential when you’re out on an aquatic adventure. You need them to be able to see underwater without getting wet.

Tripod Mounted Binoculars

Binoculars are used by photographers who want to be free to move around without having to hold a camera or a tripod. Their lenses focus on objects up close, but the images aren’t as sharp as those taken with a regular camera.

Binocular Uses Recommendations

Binoculars are useful tools for hunters. A wide field of view helps them to see what they’re looking for more easily.

Binoculars are used by sports fans to watch games. A binocular field of view is wide enough to see the whole game.

Birders are people who love birds. They spend time looking for them in forests and skies. Binoculars help them see more details about birds. Zoom pairs let them watch them better.

Nature watchers are people who love to observe nature. They use zoom binoculars to get a better view of what they’re looking at.

Binoculars should be held by the eyepiece, not the eyepiece. Tripods are great for keeping binoculars steady while you’re looking at the stars. Holding them by the eyepiece will cause strain on your arms.

Binoculars are two simple lenses set side by side. Each lens captures an image and sends it to the other lens. Prisms have to rotate the images because the light rays cross and the image gets flipped. Binoculars magnify the image for you.

These prisms can be aligned vertically if they’re Porro prism binoculars, or they can be aligned horizontally if it’s roof prism binoculars, resulting in more compact but more expensive binoculars. Aside from roof prism binoculars and Porro prism binoculars, there are also plenty of other specialty binoculars available such as zoom binoculars and wide-angle binoculars.


No matter which set you pick the basics of how they function is the same. And, in the end, they allow us to see farther than we ever could with our bare eyes. Featured image credit: Pat Scrap, Pixabay about the author Robert Sparks Robert’s obsession for all things optical started early on in life when his Optician father would bring home prototypes for Robert to play with nowadays Robert is dedicated to helping others find the right optics For their needs. His Hobbies Include Astronomy, Astrophysics, and Model Building originally from Newark, NJ, He resides in Santa Fe, NM, Where the night sky is filled with glittering stars

There are many different types of birds. Some birds fly high above the ground while others stay close to the ground. Some birds migrate long distances while some stay near their homes. Some birds eat insects and other bugs while others eat fruit or seeds. Some birds are aggressive while others are shy. Some birds hoot during the day while others do it at night.

How can owls rotate their heads 270 degrees? Top 6 largest owls in the world.

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  • John Moses

    John is the Editor in Chief here at The Outdoor Stores. His area of expertise ensures that there is no one better to suggest which rifles are most suitable for your hunting experience. He is also available for you to contact him personally to discuss the types of animals you want to hunt and the terrain you will be hunting on. Feel free to read his posts for expert opinion on Rifles, Scopes, Rangefinders, Bonoculars and Monoculars.

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