Best Low Light Binoculars for 2021 [Reviews]

Have you tried hunting late at night only to find that you cannot see far away in the dark? It is even worse if you can see a rare animal that only shows at night, but you don’t have the equipment to see it. Fortunately, there is a solution. All you need is a set of low light binoculars. 

The great thing about using low light binoculars is you also get to see the animal before you shoot it. As you know, hunting has its own set of laws. There are animals that you can hunt and others that you have to leave alone. Having some low light binoculars can help you see if you can pursue the animal you are targeting before taking your shot. 

But low light binoculars are not just for hunters or wildlife enthusiasts. It can also be used by people who want to enjoy the view of nature late into the night. Besides your viewing pleasure, you can also use the equipment in low light environments such as caves and forests. It will allow you to see everything with more detail than what you can see with your eyes.

Low Light Binoculars vs. Night Vision Binoculars

Before you go and buy a low light binocular, you first have to differentiate it from a night vision binocular. The two operate differently in low light conditions. Low-light binoculars allow you to see through the dark with the right lenses. It adjusts the requirements so that you can see it with your eyes. But with night vision binoculars, there is light. It usually has some form of light that illuminates the dark surroundings. As you can see, low light binoculars retain the low-light conditions while night vision binoculars make it brighter.

Low-light binoculars can make the environment brighter with the proper use of lenses and prisms. It doesn’t require power, and the materials can capture and retain the light. You can use them outside in the dead of night, even if you only have the moonlight as a light source. It can utilize that light source so you can see things from afar using the binoculars.

On the other hand, Night Vision Binoculars need some form of power to produce light to augment the dark environment. Usually, it has an infrared light that floods the environment with “invisible” light, which the equipment is then able to pick up. While it needs power, it is used for other purposes aside from seeing the environment. It can pick up heat signatures. Using it will allow you to see if someone just left a footprint or sat at a particular location. Because of these features, night binoculars are usually more expensive. You can use them not only at night but even in too dark settings. 

The reason why low light binoculars are so useful is their lens. It is equipped with an objective lens that can retain and control the amount of light that goes through it. Because it is such a unique lens, it can capture as much light from the environment and prevent the light from “escaping” the lens. 

The lens is only as good as the quality of its material.

The first factor that affects it is its size. The larger the lens, the more light it can capture. In effect, it also retains more light this way. 

The second factor is the smoothness of the surface of the lens. It must be made as smooth as possible to ensure that it is free from irregularities. With a smoother texture, light can pass through better, and it is also better for your eyes to see everything.

The last factor is prism quality. Prisms act as light inverters in binoculars. It is essential because it should show the image in the right direction. Binoculars can do that only because of the installed prisms. They are like mirrors that reflect the light so that the final image is shown the right way. 

As you can see, the quality of a low light binocular depends significantly on the lens. The factors mentioned above affect the relative brightness of the lens. Relative brightness pertains to how much light can pass through to reach the eye. The higher the relative brightness, the better you can see in the dark. 

Buyers Guide: What To Look For in Low Light Binoculars

Now that you have seen how useful low light binoculars are and how it works. It is time to look at other factors that you should consider when you buy a low-light binocular. From the essential features that allow the equipment to work, you will now take a look at the specific specifications of each low light binocular so that you can choose the one which suits your needs. 

Glass Quality

If you want to ensure that your low light binocular will show you the world as accurately as possible, you may have to look at the quality of the glass. It pertains to how well the glass is polished and how clear it is. After all, your binoculars are only as good as its glass – the primary material that absorbs, reflects and refracts light from the environment. The quality of the resulting images relies heavily on how well the glass is constructed. For low light binoculars, the light should pass through and be absorbed, but the binoculars should prevent the light from leaving the glass so that the user will see better in low light conditions. 

Objective Lens

Another factor that you should consider is the objective lens. Low light binoculars are only able to work because of this unique lens. It is the lens that is furthest from the eye, but it is also responsible for gathering and retaining light. So you may even have to look at the quality of this lens if you plan to buy some low-light binoculars. 

Lens Diameter

As I have mentioned earlier, the lens size matters when it comes to capturing light from the environment. The larger the diameter, the more light it captures. But more than that, you will need broader lenses if you want it to capture a wider field of view. With a larger diameter, you can expect the lens to be brighter and allow you to see the environment better. So if you were to choose between different low light binoculars, go for the ones with a bigger lens diameter. The recommended size is 50mm. Anything smaller than 50mm will often result in a poor image output in your low light binoculars. 

Light Magnification

Low light binoculars also can amplify the light that is existing in the environment. Light magnification is how well the binoculars can utilize the existing light and use it for better vision in low light settings. Binoculars can do this with convex lenses. It can capture light this way. But it also needs a prism to invert the image again so that it looks upright. With light magnification, you don’t have to aim for something too high. Once the magnification becomes too high, the brightness lowers. It can result in a more inferior looking image. When it comes to magnification, choose the middle ground. This way, the binoculars will have enough magnification and brightness to create a decent picture.

Lens Coating

Binocular lenses are usually coated with a substance designed to prevent light from reflecting. While a portion will still reflect, the binoculars will retain some of the light. Lenses now have coating technologies that allow binoculars to transmit light effectively. It is a good thing because it also protects the lenses from scratches and other environmental damage. 

Field of View

While your low light binoculars can extend your vision, it can only do so for a specific distance. You cannot expect it to go beyond what it says it can do. So let’s say your binoculars can reach up to 1000 yards. Then that is the field of view of the binoculars. You also have to consider this if you plan to use the binoculars for hunting purposes.

Exit Pupil

Did you know that binoculars have pupils too? They are called exit pupils. It acts in the same way as pupils do in our eyes. It allows light to pass through as if it is a window. Then it dilates (which means it changes its diameter). Binoculars have pupils too, and it is usually in the middle. These systems change in diameter and adjust to the eyes as you move to low light conditions. 

Required Eye Distance

Every binocular requires a certain eye distance before you can see the image through it. Some binoculars need your eyes to be close. But this cannot work if you are wearing some eyeglasses. If that’s your case, you may need to look for a binocular that has a 10 mm eye relief. It means that it allows up to 10 mm distance between the eye and the binoculars.

Waterproof Feature

You may also want to buy some low light binoculars that are also waterproof. If you plan to use it outdoors, you’ll want it to continue to perform well even in harsh weather conditions. It is better if the lens doesn’t retain water or get foggy when the environment is cold or rainy. You’ll want to be able to use it regardless of the weather. 

Weight

Another factor that you should consider is the weight of the binocular. While low light binoculars are generally lightweight, the weight can add up if you have to carry it for an extended period. It is even worse if you plan to wear your binoculars on your neck. It can strain your neck if you have to take it with you for a long time, especially outdoors. So if you plan to buy some low light binoculars, do consider the weight. Look at your options and try to find one that you can easily carry for a long time. 

Camera and Mount Compatibility

Did you know that you can also use your low light binoculars to shoot photos and videos? All you need is a trustee tripod, and you can mount your binoculars in there while having a phone camera shoot the images. In some cases, you can even attach the binocular right to your phone. In this sense, the binoculars become the eyes of your phone camera, allowing you to shoot images and videos in low light environments.

Lens Magnification

Aside from the magnification of light, it would help if you also looked at how well the lens magnifies objects. The magnification level will dictate how close the image will appear through the binoculars. Ideally, you’re looking for magnifications that are between 7 to 25 times.  

So if you are planning to buy a pair of low light binoculars, you need to consider these factors. Buying the perfect binocular is not just about considering one aspect. You need to consider everything and strike a balance between the elements to get the ideal binoculars for your purpose. As with other products, binoculars are very highly based on materials and price. You must have a fixed budget before setting out to buy one, so you know what you can afford. 

Another thing that you should consider is the purpose. Do you plan to use the binoculars for hunting? If so, how long do you plan to take it with you? What environment are you going to use it in? Does it have light in that area, or do you need a little illumination? How far do you need to see to fulfill your purpose? Answering these questions will help you find the right low light binoculars for your needs. 

If you are looking for some suggestions, here are some low light binoculars that are affordable but have the necessary features that you can use. The Bushnell PermaFocus Binocular is a 50-mm objective lens and the Celestron 71008 SkyMaster Binoculars with the largest lens and the lowest price. Try them to see if they work for you. 

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