What Should be a Binocular’s Field of View?

Binoculars Ideal Field Of View

As you know already, binoculars are a type of viewing device best used to watch distant things up close and personal with clearer vision.

Binoculars assist in various activities such as hunting, stargazing, birdwatching, nature-watching, astronomy, sports watching, plane spotting, as well as animal spotting, boat spotting, concert watching, police surveillance, and much more.

You might be hunting for the right pair and might be confused about the right field of view.

So In this article, we discuss, What is FOV in detail and the ideal field of view for various activities, so that you can make an informed decision.

There are a variety of binoculars available in the market, and these can be identified/categorized separately based on their design, manufacturing, and purpose of use. The main categories are: –

  1. Roof Prism binoculars 
  2. Porro prism binoculars
  3. Night Vision Binoculars
  4. Marine Binoculars
  5. Astronomy Binoculars
  6. Opera Glasses
  7. Foldable or Mini Binoculars
  8. Wide Angle Binoculars
  9. Zoom Binoculars
  10. High-powered Binoculars
  11. Focus Free Binoculars
  12. Image Stabilizing Binoculars
  13. Waterproof Binoculars
  14. Tripod-mounted Binoculars

We choose binoculars based on their qualities like prism type, waterproofing, lens size, magnification strength, fog proofing, infrared, coatings, size, and armor.

One metric that also matters is the ‘field of view’ for a particular task a binocular provides. Also called ‘angle of view’ it is expressed in degrees.

 Field of View

Source: https://imaging.nikon.com/lineup/sportoptics/how_to/guide/binoculars/basic/basic_08.htm

‘Field of view’, in layman terms width of the area, a binocular user can see.

A ‘field of view’ is a result of the diameter of the objective (front) lens in relation to magnification, along with other design and structure factors.

It may be noted that the greater the magnification of a binocular, the smaller is its field of view, meaning a binocular with greater magnification provides a sharper and clearer view.

A greater field of view is required in situations when the user is watching something that is in motion, such as birds in flight, horses running, planes flying, cars racing, and so on. 

For binoculars with a magnification of 6x, 7x, the field of view is between 6.5° – 8.5° degrees in general.

For binoculars with a magnification of 10x the field of view is between 5°-7° degrees, and for the binoculars with a magnification of 12x, the field of view is approximately 4.7° – 5° degrees.

Similarly for binoculars with a magnification of 20x the field of view is between 2.2° – 3.2° degrees.

A Field of View Can Be Usually Described In Two Ways: –

A. Angular fov

B. Linear fov

An angular field of view is the real angle that is seen through the binocular and can be usually measured in degrees (°).

The linear field of view on the other hand is the width of the area seen through the binocular and is observed in feet per 1000 yards.

The larger number of angular or linear fields of view/value implies that a user can see a larger area.

The angular field of view can help calculate the linear field of view, by multiplying the angular field with 52.5. e.g., if the angular field of a particular binocular is 8°, then the linear field of view at 1000 yards will be 420 feet (8 x 52.5).

Recommended Field of View for Binoculars?

All binoculars have a different field of view. The field of view of a binocular is a matter of eyepiece design. The more powerful the binocular means it has a narrower field of view.

It is technically impossible to get both a powerful magnification and a wide field of view in a binocular.

Do note that binoculars with wide-field-of-view eyepieces have shorter eye relief and may not be suitable for use by eyeglass wearers. If you are a hunter, birdwatcher, plane spotter using a binocular; for each task, the field of view should be as follows: –

1. Hunting

As a hunter, you need a binocular with power and field of view that allows you to watch and spot moving targets. A binocular with a wide field of view makes it easier to spot animals without scanning or moving your binoculars A binocular with 8x magnification is the best recommended for a: –

  • field of view of 357 feet @ 1000 yards – 6.8° degrees
  • field of view of 367 feet @ 1000 yards – 7° degrees
  • field of view of 393 feet @ 1000 yards – 7.5° degrees
  • field of view of 420 feet @ 1000 Yards – 8° degrees

A binocular with a magnification power of 10x gives a narrower field of view of 6° degrees. Such binoculars are a little more expensive than binoculars with 6.8 degrees field of view.

See Our List of Best Binoculars For Hunting

2. Traveling, Hiking

For traveling and hiking the recommended binocular should have a magnification of 10x or 12x.

You as a hiker are going to observe moving objects like hunters but distant static objects. Those who can’t afford such an expensive binocular can make do with 8x magnification.

The magnification of 10x or 12x is suitable because some objects may be far-off and require a more powerful binocular. For hiking and traveling recommended field of view is around 5° degrees provided by binoculars with a magnification of 10x or 12x.

Here is Our List of Best Hiking Binoculars

3. Birdwatching

if you are into bird watching then the best-recommended binoculars are the ones magnification of 8x, 10x, or 12x.

For watching flying birds best to go with a binocular magnification of 8x. For watching stationary birds, the best option is to use a binocular with a magnification of 10x or 12x.

The 12x has a narrower field of view, of around 4.7° or 5° degrees. 10x has a field of view of around 6° degrees, while 8x has a standard field of view of 7° or 8° degrees.

This magnification in binoculars also allows users to get ‘Close Focus’ on and ser things in close up in detail.

4. Sporting Events

If you are an avid sports watcher who likes to watch sporting events live at stadiums, tracks sitting in the gallery; then you need to use a binocular that is compact enough to be carried in a small bag and allows you to view events happening at a distance long enough to strain your eyes.

For this purpose, it is best recommended to use binoculars with a magnification of 8x or 10x, with good magnification and a wide field of view of between 6° – 8° degrees field of view.

Compact binoculars that allow the full grip of the hand are helpful as they allow for comfortable long viewing sessions.

Best Binoculars For Sporting events

 5. Theatre, Concert viewing

If you are a theatre enthusiast who likes using binoculars to watch performances in theatre or concert halls, the best-recommended binocular are the ones with a magnification of 3x or 4x.

This is because the performance is happening at a distance that is comparatively less than a stadium as such you don’t need a powerful binocular. A compact binocular with a wide field of view is ideal as it provides a field of view of 6° degrees @ 327yards/1000 feet.

6. Marine trips

If you are fond of the sea and love to go on marine trips to watch exotic aquatic life, then you need a sophisticated binocular. The binocular with a magnification of 7x should have a digital compass for help in navigation and a reticle that helps measure distances. 

Besides, it must have rubber body armour for protection and should be tripod adaptable. However, sometimes you may also need more powerful binoculars with a magnification of 10x, 12x, 15x, or 20x to have a close detailed view of marine life.

The increase in magnification power results in the field of view becomes narrow. Ideally binocular with 10x magnification provides a field of view of 6° degrees, while binocular with 12x, provides a field of view of 4.7° degrees.

The ones with 15x, 16x magnification provide a field of view of around 4.2° degrees @ 220yards/1000 ft. For magnification 20x, the field of view is around 3.3° degrees @ 199yards/1000 ft.

Best Binoculars for Boating and Marine Uses

7. Astronomical observation

If you are an avid stargazer then for astronomical observations you need a powerful binocular with a recommended magnification of 20x, 25x.

The binoculars with a magnification of 20x come with a field of view of 3.2°-3.7° degrees, while binoculars with a magnification of 25x come with a field of view of 2.7° degrees.


Binoculars are used to watch distant things up close and personal with clearer vision. They help users to carry out various types of activities such as hunting, stargazing, birdwatching, nature-watching, astronomy, sports watching, and more.

The user selects a binocular based on its qualities and categories, but what matters is the ‘field of view’. All binoculars have a “sweet spot” in centre of the ‘field of view’ where an image is sharpest.

A field of view typically decreases with higher magnification. A wider field of view leaves ample room for error when users put binocular to eyes, keeping the viewing object within the binocular image’s range.

A higher magnification helps to get a close focus at the lowest distance from the object of view.

Some binoculars are given a “wide-angle rating” based on their utility; however, it will be a bad choice to go for a low-cost binocular in order to get a wider ‘field of view’, it may turn out to be a poor investment.

More Read: How To Use Binoculars Correctly


"Smith is an outdoor enthusiast and Just loves everything about binoculars. Since his childhood he has been a fan of optical gadgets & going into the Jungle with his uncle was his favorite pastime. Besides, He loves watching & studying birds & animals. He is a mechanical engineering graduate and New Jersey Resident. He loves to review binoculars and related optical Instruments and loves testing each one of them." When he is not fiddling with one of his binoculars, you can find him playing his favorite sport Pickleball."

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 2 comments
Gary Altenburger - January 2, 2022

I nearly made a big mistake by NOT buying the Nikon Monarch 5 8X42. The field of view is less than most. I did buy the Nikon M5 and found out to my surprise that at normal viewing distances there is VERY little difference. The brightness and superb clarity more than make up for the smaller field of view. Nikon also made the eye piece covers quite loose. Supposedly they did that on purpose so that they would fall off by themselves when you raise the binos for a quick targeting.

    Smith - January 31, 2022

    The Nikon binoculars offer great value for the money and they are a cost-effective choice too. Congratulations on your purchase!


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