Low light binoculars are an essential piece of outdoor gear for hunters, outdoorsmen, and nature enthusiasts. Usually during dusk or dawn is the best time for viewing animals, but the natural light conditions during this time make it nearly impossible to see clearly.
Low light binoculars magnify both the ambient light and image to provide a clear line of sight under poor light conditions.
In addition to hunters, many trail hikers use low light binoculars when exploring dense forests, dark shaded trails, and rocky caves
When looking for a great set of low light binoculars, it’s important to consider a few key factors like field of view, or the amount of area that you can see while looking through the binoculars, magnification, and objective lens diameter.
Typically, the higher the magnification of the lens, the lower the image steadiness. Likewise, the larger the objective lens diameter, the more detail that will be visible within your view.
In this guide we’ll explore the top options for best low light binoculars on the market today while taking into consideration all three of these key factors.
What Are Low Light Binoculars?
Low-light binoculars are binoculars designed specifically for poor light conditions. They are an affordable item that most hunters and wildlife viewers rely on during the hours of dusk and dawn.
Hunting in low-light is becoming more and more popular. Binocular manufacturers are supplying the demand by creating binoculars that can help you see in poor light conditions.
Low-light binoculars have exit pupils with a diameter of approximately 7mm, or the maximum value the human eye is able to use.
These kind of binoculars are built to gain as much light as possible. Low-light binoculars offer extremely high light transmission rates.
Usually, the objective lens is 50 or 56mm with a magnification of 7x or 8x using a Porro or Abbe Koenig prism system.
Even more importantly, low-light binoculars are usually built with individual focusing for each eye.
Why Would You Use Low Light Binoculars?
From a distance of a few thousand yards, you are waiting for elk to emerge from the trees and feed in the open field.
You are excited when they come out in the last hours of the evening, but grow disappointed when thirty minutes later, it has grown too dark to continue watching the animals through your binoculars.
If only you had your handy low-light binoculars. Low-light binoculars help hunters and wildlife viewers alike.
Many animals only come out in the safety of poor light conditions. In order to catch glimpses of very rare animals and situations, such as elk feeding, you will need to be ready with your pair of low-light binoculars.
How Do I Choose The Right Low Light Binoculars?
The best binocular for low light conditions has an exit pupil of 5mm or higher. The rest is arbitrary and depends largely on your preferences. Below is a list of three of the best low-light binoculars on the market:
- Vortex Optics Razor HD Roof Prism Binocular 10×50: This low-light binocular has an anti-reflective coating that guarantees the highest level of brightness during critical low light periods.
- Nikon 7572 PROSTAFF 5 10×50 Binocular: This binocular has turn-and-slide eyecups and long eye relief that will rest comfortably against your eyes.
- Bushnell PermaFocus Wide Angle Porro Prism Binocular: This binocular has a fixed-focus operation dial that can focus at any distance automatically.
What magnification for Low Light Binoculars Is The Best?
Being able to see distant objects in dim lighting is a common necessity in various hobbies and professions.
Wildlife viewers and hunters depend on the hours of dusk or dawn, which is the time of high activity for many animals. Marine-related professions may also need low-light binoculars to navigate in the twilight conditions.
The most recommended low-light binocular magnification factor is 8x or 7x with lenses of 50 or 56mm.
Our 5 Best Low Light Binoculars
|Vortex Optics Razor HD Binoculars|
|Bushnell PermaFocus Wide Angle Binoculars|
|Nikon Prostaff 5 Binoculars|
|Vortex Optics Viper HD Binoculars|
|Celestron Skymaster Binoculars|
1. Vortex Optics Razor HD 10X50 Roof Prism Binoculars – Our Top Pick
When it comes to visual optic products, Vortex is a brand that is consistently at the top of the charts in terms of durable, crystal clear, high quality products. Their binoculars are no exception.
The brand has knocked it out of the park again with a spectacular pair of low light binoculars – the Vortex Optics Razor HD 10X50 Roof Prism Binoculars.
It’s worth noting that the Vortex Optics Razor HD Binoculars are available in a variety of sizes. The 50mm objective model, however, is the best and most recommended for low light conditions.
The body of these low light binoculars is made from a magnesium alloy, making them much lighter than other competitors who construct their binoculars with aluminum. Lighter binoculars are much easier to manage, especially when you anticipate using them for long periods of time.
Features on the Vortex Binoculars
Magnifying power is one of the most important features to consider when shopping for your own set of low light binoculars, and Vortex’s Razor Binoculars do not disappoint. With a magnifying power of 10x, even the most minuscule details are easily viewed.
To add to this, these binoculars are equipped with an objective lens diameter of 50 mm, making them wide enough to grasp ample amounts of light, making images appear crisp even in low light conditions. These low light binoculars provide an impressive 315 feet field view at 1000 yards.
The lenses themselves are made from extra-low dispersion ED glass and are fully multi-coated. This glass is made specifically to prevent the images with sharp edges from experiencing color fringing while providing vivid, bright and color true views.
Beyond the lens, these low light binoculars feature a rubberized body and extremely comfortable grip. An O-ring seals out any kind of debris and moisture making it almost impossible to seep into the binocular meaning the unit is both water and fog proof.
2. Bushnell PermaFocus Wide Angle Porro Prism Binoculars – Best Unique Features
In their Porro Prism PermaFocus binoculars, Bushnell did not compromise when it comes to the width of the angle reach. Equipped with a 12×50 wide angle configuration, these binoculars are a serious competitor in the low light binocular market.
What sets these binoculars is the 12x magnifying power it’s designed with, which is much higher than a large amount of the company’s competitors. The only drawback to the higher magnification is a slightly reduced field of view of 265 feet at 1000 yards.
Another awesome feature of these low light binoculars is the focus-free function. This function is extremely helpful when trying to observe moving targets.
The high quality lenses and prisms of these Bushnell binoculars are multi-coated allowing for clearer, shapers, and more enhanced quality images.
The outer portion of these low light binoculars are covered with a rubber armor. This feature is provides a non-slip surface and shock protection.
This is a perfect binocular on a budget.
3. Nikon Prostaff 5 10×50 Binoculars – The Bargain Binoculars
Nikon, the camera giant, is no stranger when it comes to visual optics.
Knowing that some outdoor and nature enthusiasts can’t afford fancy high dollar optical equipment, Nikon created their line of binoculars that are fantastic for both viewing and your pocketbook. These are some of the best most affordable low light binoculars on the market today.
The body of Nikon’s Prostaff binoculars is made of fiberglass reinforced resin. This reduces the weight of the binoculars while increasing the durability making them now only lightweight but also sturdy.
These 10×50 binoculars provide a wonderful low light performance at a reasonable price without compromising quality.
Another great feature of these low light binoculars is the adjustable eyecups that make utilizing the binoculars comfortable for both those who wear glasses and those who don’t.
The lenses of these binoculars have a very unique composition, they are made of eco-glass. The eco-glass rids the lenses of harmful metals like lead and arsenic and provide staggeringly good views all while being environmentally friendly.
These lenses are also both water and fog proof, adding in yet another bonus to the binoculars. They are also fully multi-coated allowing for bright images with sharp colors all the way to the edges.
4. Vortex Optics Viper HD 10×42 Binoculars – A High-Quality, Water Resistant Competitor
Vortex Optics has done it again with their Viper HD 10×42 low light binoculars. These binoculars are very similar to the other product by Vortex reviewed in this guide.
Like the other model, Vortex’s Viper has an O-ring that locks out all debris and moisture creating, again, both a waterproof and fog-proof device.
These low light fully multi-coated binoculars feature a high-density extra-low dispersion glass that provides spectacular image quality. This glass allows the binoculars to perform exceptionally well in low light conditions.
The lens in the Viper binoculars has an innovative coating applied that enhances the light to keep it all together in your eyes—the result? A crystal clear image without color blending.
This model does, however, have a little smaller of a field view compared to some others on our list. One stand out feature of these binoculars is the completely rubberized body, which gives the binoculars an extremely comfortable grip.
A perk when buying from Vortex –the company is known for it’s exceptional customer service and the low light binoculars come with Vortex’s Lifetime Warranty.
5. Celestron Skymaster 25×70 Binoculars – Top Choice For Hunters
Celestron is known in the hunting world as being one of the best when it comes to optics makers. The Skymaster 25×70 Binoculars are no exception.
At the magnifying power of 25x, viewers are able to view distant object with extreme precision and crispness. The high magnification is perfect for both sky and land viewing.
In addition to the high powered magnification, the objective lens is 70mm allowing for a great amount of light to pass through the binoculars. The result of this is very high quality brightness which is exactly what you should be looking for in a low light binocular. This feature inspires us to list this on our best binocular for concerts post as well.
The high magnification also provides a field of view of 141 feet at 1000 yards.
These binoculars are somewhat bulky in comparison to some of the other low light binoculars on our list, but they do come with a tripod that assists in stability when viewing for longer periods of time. These binoculars are also not quite as compact as some others in the category.
Things to Consider When Shopping for the Best Low Light Binoculars
Field of View
The field of view of binoculars is the amount of area that you can see while looking through the binoculars. It is important when comparing these low light binoculars to pay attention to the magnification and diameter size of the objective lens of the binoculars as they both will affect your field of view. The simple rule when looking at field of view for comparison purposes is higher magnifications = smaller field of view, larger lenses = larger field of view.
Magnification is most likely the first thing a person will look at when shopping for a set of binoculars. When it comes to magnification, bigger doesn’t necessarily always mean better. It really depends on what you are planning on using your low light binoculars for. For example, in hunting or hiking or watching whales from a ship, one may not want to take the time that is required to steady a higher magnified lens. The higher the magnification of the lens, the lower the image steadiness. You will almost always see the magnification of a pair of binoculars labeled with the diameter of the objective lens.
Objective Lens Diameter
The objective lens diameter is typically reflected as the second number you see when referring to pair of binoculars. For example: 10×50. The first number (10) is the magnification of the lens, the second number (50) would be the objective size in millimeters.
The larger the objective lens diameter, the more detail you will be able to see in your view. Typically when shopping for low light binoculars, you will notice that the higher the objective lens diameter, the higher the price of the pair of binoculars.
Higher objective lens diameter typically means better performance when it comes to low light. If you are planning on using your binoculars in both low and normal levels of light, you may be okay with getting a lower objective lens diameter if you are comfortable sacrificing a bit of view quality. It is also worth noting that the larger the binocular lens, the heaver the unit is.
Go For A Hike & Take Your Low Light Binoculars!
When it comes to a bargain low light binocular, you can’t beat the Nikon Prostaff 5. These binoculars are both inexpensive and powerful giving you quite the bang for your buck.
The focus-free function in Bushnell’s PermaFocus Wide Angle Porro Prism Binoculars makes focusing in on a moving target a breeze, making it a fantastic choice for wildlife spectators or hunters.
We chose the Celestron Skymaster model as the top choice for those who love to hunt. With it’s high magnification and 70mm objective lens, it is perfect for low light viewing.
Vortex has released two quality products including both the Viper and the Razor. In the Viper you will find Vortex’s signature quality lenses with an O-ring that seals out all dust and debris.
And of course, the Razor, which we chose as our top pick. This low light binocular is at the top of the charts when it comes to crystal clear, sharp images.
The design of these binoculars is impeccable and of the highest quality while also remaining durable and water resistant.