If you want to be able to see objects in the distance, a pair of rangefinder binoculars might interest you.
However, you might wonder if you really need them or if you should just stick to a regular rangefinder device.
What, exactly, are rangefinder binoculars?
These binoculars enable you to look at objects in the distance while measuring the distance between you and your target. This can be highly useful for various activities, such as hunting and archery.
But, are rangefinder binoculars right for you?
Here’s everything you need to know about them and how they compare to rangefinder devices. We’ll also look at rangefinder cameras.
What Are Rangefinders?
Rangefinders are devices that measure the distance between you and your target. Laser rangefinders, which are pretty common and have replaced other types of rangefinders for use in some activities, release laser beams that bounce off objects in the distance.
The rangefinder has a high-speed clock that measures the time it took for the beams to reach the object and then return. This provides an accurate measurement of the distance.
Rangefinders are used for various activities, such as hunting and military purposes. It’s obviously important to be able to view the target in detail so a magnification of between 8x to 10x is efficient for these devices.
What Are Rangefinder Binoculars?
If you want to make use of rangefinder binoculars, these can often be better than rangefinder devices. Here are some important things to consider.
- With rangefinder binoculars, you have increased magnification at your disposal to range your target. This can go up to 15x.
- Using binoculars instead of a rangefinder device means you won’t accidentally bump into a bush when hunting and alert the target of your presence as a result of lower magnification.
- Rangefinder binoculars increase your field of view and details that you can see better than what you’ll find in a regular rangefinding device (even though that device will provide extremely accurate readings).
- The range that you can get with rangefinder binoculars is much more than what you’ll find in a rangefinder device. Usually, rangefinders are said to offer 1,000-yard range but this can actually be around 300 yards because the laser has different reflective properties against hard versus soft targets, such as when it comes to hunting. You can find binoculars that have much higher ranges – sometimes up to 1,000 yards more than rangefinder devices.
- Rangefinder binoculars can be heavy. By comparison, rangefinders are generally much lighter to carry.
What About Rangefinder Cameras?
We’ve looked at rangefinder devices and binoculars, but there are also rangefinder cameras available. A rangefinder camera is a camera that allows you to focus through a window on top of it instead of by looking through its lens.
This type of camera was, interestingly, considered the first mirrorless camera, and it was liked because it was smaller and less bulky than other cameras, like the SLR camera.
The benefit of being able to look through the visual system that’s mounted near the lens is that you’ll see two overlapping images of the object you’re looking at. By joining the images, the distance to the subject can easily be worked out, and then you can focus the camera lens (via How To Geek).
Pros Of Rangefinder Cameras
- Rangefinder cameras can be better than SLR cameras because they don’t make use of any mirrors. Instead, wide-angle lenses are present and these can be designed in such a way that their elements are close to each other, thus creating less image distortion.
- Rangefinder cameras are very compact and small, which makes them portable and much easier to carry around.
- Rangefinder cameras are easy to use and they can save you time because of how you can see the quality of the picture before you take it. This means that if you’re not happy with the shot, you’ll be able to pre-empt a bad image and take a different one.
Cons Of Rangefinder Cameras
- The lens and viewfinder of a rangefinder camera are not completely aligned. This proves problematic when it comes to macro photography or when you use a long lens. You could find that if your lens is long, it could end up blocking some of your view in the viewfinder.
- Rangefinder cameras don’t have a large variety of lenses, as opposed to cameras such as SLRs.
- Rangefinder cameras have slower shutter speeds as compared to other cameras, which can be around 1/1000 of a second. The problem with this is that you can’t widen the aperture of the camera and it makes it more difficult for you to control the depth of field.
Tips For Buying Rangefinder Binoculars
If you’re sold on the idea of purchasing rangefinder binoculars, you should bear these important tips in mind to ensure that you get the best possible product.
Opt for high-quality lenses
It’s important to choose binoculars that have larger lenses as these will be able to collect more light so that your images are sharper.
In bad-light conditions, you’d need a lens diameter that’s approximately 50mm to improve your view, so use that as a guideline. The lenses also need to have good coatings, such as anti-reflective coatings that reduce glare which can obstruct your view.
Obviously, if you want to make use of long-distance views, you’ll need to have higher magnification.
But bear in mind that the more magnification you get, the less field of view you’ll have, so it’s really better to opt for higher magnification if you’re focusing on one object instead of needing to track its movement.
This feature will make your life easier because you won’t have to manually focus on your targets.
That said if you prefer doing manual focus, such as because the auto-focus feature of binoculars can sometimes focus on targets that you don’t want to focus on, then that’s something to look for in rangefinder binoculars.
Don’t forget about eye relief
Eye relief is important in rangefinder binoculars because it will make for more comfortable viewing. It will also open up your field of view because eye relief is the distance from the eyepiece lens’s outer surface to where the eyepoint is formed.
Basically, if your eyes are outside of this distance, you won’t get a full view. Look for eye relief that’s around 15mm.
Choose rugged construction
You’re going to be using your rangefinder binoculars outdoors so you want to ensure that they’re built with durable materials, such as rubber casings. They should also be waterproof to handle harsh conditions.
The Best Rangefinder Binoculars
Here are some of the best rangefinder binoculars you can find on the market.
Leica 10Ã—42 offers 10x magnification and can work up to a whopping 3,000 yards away. They’re designed with Porro prism lenses that provide excellent spatial vision.
These binoculars are ideal for when you want to use them to hunt or do target practice. They are constructed out of durable magnesium alloy but it’s worth bearing in mind that they are quite heavy.
Nikon LaserForce is waterproof and fog-proof, so you don’t have to let bad weather conditions hold you back from your activities.
What’s also great about them is that they provide you with accurate readings that are in .1-yard increments for objects that are up to 100 yards away. They also have a bright and clear display that’s easy on the eyes.
The one big drawback of these binoculars is that they have a rubber coating that tends to attract dirt and debris, so they’ll need to be cleaned regularly.
ZEISS Victory RF 10×42
ZEISS Victory RF 10×42 has an automatic brightness adjustment feature, which no doubt will come in handy when you’re outdoors.
They’re also Bluetooth-enabled and offer excellent 17mm eye relief. One of the drawbacks is that they are a bit heavy to carry around.
What are other uses for rangefinders?
You can use a rangefinder for activities such as photography, target shooting, and golf.
What’s the difference between a GPS and a laser rangefinder?
While rangefinders that make use of GPS help you to get general distances, a laser rangefinder will offer more accurate measurements.
If you want to make use of a rangefinder, you might wonder if you really need to or if you can trade it in for a pair of rangefinder binoculars instead.
In this article, we’ve looked at rangefinders, rangefinder binoculars, and rangefinder cameras in greater detail, featuring their pros and cons to help you make the best choice.