If you are an avid birder, hunter, nature lover, sports fanatic, stargazer or gig-goer, you know that good, high-quality binoculars are an absolute must-have accessory that can make or break your experience.
And, if you already have “practically vintage” binoculars, you may be wondering if you need to upgrade to a new modern one or if you can simply carry on with your old pair. The question is, “old binoculars vs new binoculars, which is the best option?”
Modern technology has progressed by leaps and bounds and so has the good ol’ binoculars. Today, binoculars have come a long way, which has taken birdwatching, hunting, hiking, sporting, marine life watching, surveillance, night-time observations, viewing the night sky and star gazing to an all-new level.
In this article, we will discuss old binoculars vs new binoculars and which is a better option.
Old Binoculars vs New Binoculars
When we consider the idea of old binoculars vs new binoculars, an individual is sure to opt for the latter because after all, binocular technology has undergone a sea of change.
Author Note: With the introduction of plenty of high-tech features such as EG glass, HD lenses, multi-coated lenses, superb clarity and color, sleek new designs and styles, all of which has made binocular use easy and exciting.
So, let us take a closer look at some of the key features that make new and modern binoculars worth investing in.
Typically, most binoculars have a magnification ranging between 8x to 12x and as the magnification increases the size of the objects also increases.
However, as the magnification increases the FOV (field of view) of the binoculars decrease. New, high-quality binoculars offer a good FOV even with higher magnifications.
Type of Prism
Binoculars typically come with two types of prisms i.e., roof prism and Porro prism. In traditional binoculars, because of reduced light transmission, the roof prism binoculars often produced less bright images compared to Porro prism binoculars.
However, in modern, high-quality binoculars, this problem has been resolved by the use of innovative and advanced lens coatings.
Type of Glass
Modern binoculars make use of HD (high density), FL (fluoride) glass or ED (extra-low dispersion) lenses that reduce chromatic aberrations and help to improve the clarity, sharpness, contrast and fidelity of the object you are viewing, and also reduce or completely remove color fringing.
The lenses of all modern binocular models today have coatings that provide vast improvements in your viewing experience.
The primary advantage of these coatings is that they increase the transmittance of light by up to 50% and as a result, the image is much clearer, sharper and brighter, especially in poor light conditions such as dusk, rain, fog, etc.
If the lens does not have a coating, then the images you see will be dark and foggy.
Modern binoculars also have coatings that help to prevent glare and enhance the contrast that enables you to view through the binoculars without any disturbance in a relaxed manner.
Today, modern binoculars are multi-coated, which means that they feature multiple layers of coatings on all the lens surfaces that enable better and more comfortable viewing with enhanced colors, resolution and contrast.
Size and Weight
Gone are the days of big, bulky binoculars that belonged to your grandad. Today, modern binoculars are super sleek and lightweight too. The use of roof prisms has eliminated the need for big, heavy and bulky binoculars.
The newer roof prism binoculars consist of a modern design having two straight barrels like telescopes, which are attached, resulting in more compact, lightweight, ergonomic, yet robust binoculars.
Modern binoculars include high-transmission and phase-correction coatings that reduce the negative effects.
Modern binoculars are more robust, rugged and less prone to shock damage and misalignment due to impact.
They are waterproof, fog-proof and dustproof, which make them excellent for use outdoors, especially in harsh weather conditions.
Further, the newer binoculars are quite lightweight, making them perfect to carry around or holding them for long periods without your arms feeling fatigued.
Adjustable Eye Cups
Typically, older binocular models do not have adjustable eyecups, which means that you have to make do with the binoculars, even if it does not have a good fit for your eyes. This will essentially mean that you will see kidney-shaped black spots around the periphery or the image will be blurry.
Author Note: Modern binoculars have adjustable eyecups that help to adjust the distance of eye relief that determines the correct focal point of the binoculars so that you get the best image and a clear view of the object. This is helpful, especially if you wear eyeglasses.
On the topic of old binoculars vs new binoculars, you may wonder why any person would opt to invest in or keep using their old binoculars.
While it is always a good thing to have modern and up-to-date equipment; nevertheless, old binoculars have a list of benefits that you simply cannot overlook.
If you consider optics technology in binoculars, although there have been huge advancements; however, it is still significantly slower as compared to other electronic devices like computers, smartphones, cameras, etc.
So, when you consider top-quality binoculars manufactured around 10+ years ago, the levels of performance can be comparable to good quality modern binoculars of today.
Performance Over Time
When you consider electronic devices such as computers, mobile phones, appliances and even vehicles, often newer and more advanced technology makes the older models and versions outdated and even obsolete.
With every level of newer technology, over time, the older models deteriorate in terms of the level of performance and even if you don’t want to purchase a new computer or smartphone, the older model starts lagging in performance gradually and finally stops working and so, you’re forced to purchase a newer model.
However, with binoculars, this same principle does not work and if you invested in high-quality binoculars right at the start and have cleaned and maintained it properly, then it is sure to perform as well as the time you purchased it, for several years to come, even if it does not have all the latest features and functions of newer, modern models.
And, this is especially a good thing for users because it means that there is no need for you to go binocular shopping every few years.
Even binocular manufacturers do update the features and functions of their binoculars or product range regularly, where sometimes, the improvements are real. For instance, the manufacturer may introduce a product with better quality glass, better coatings, etc.
While these upgrades are not adding to the technologies that were not available a few years ago, most of the improvements are changes in terms of the appearance, features, functions and accessories of the product to keep up with the changing trends, which will not alter the working of the binoculars themselves.
The latest or newer models of any device, including binoculars are quite expensive, especially when they are just introduced on the market.
And so, if you’re looking for some way to save your money and get a good deal on binoculars, then it may be a good idea to look at an older model.
Author Note: When you consider a binocular purchase, an avid binocular user generally does not stop at buying just one. Often, when there are new binoculars introduced, you may go out and purchase one and over the years, you may have a burgeoning collection.
Binoculars don’t become old and outdated in terms of their functionality and so, although you have newer models in your collection, you still enjoy using the older ones because of their good-quality optics, their compact and lightweight design or simply because they are your favorite pair.
And, if you’re planning to purchase binoculars, then it may be a good idea to do your homework before shortlisting one that you want to buy.
Make sure that the price of the binoculars is cheaper compared to newer models or if it is a high-end model, then it is less expensive compared to the more updated models.
So, now that we have discussed in-depth the pros and cons of old binoculars vs new binoculars, you can now decide whether you want to purchase brand-new binoculars or are quite happy to stick with your older model.
While it is always a good idea to purchase a newer and more recently introduced model, in some cases, an older pair may be worth purchasing.
However, the key thing to remember is to choose high-quality binoculars that will get you started well and a sturdy and durable device will ensure that not only will you be able to enjoy the binoculars now, but it is sure to serve you well for years to come.
Eventually, when your binoculars become old, don’t be in a hurry to sell them off at a garage sale; your old binoculars could be well on their way to becoming a valuable antique, which you can then keep as a vintage collectible.
Whether you are looking for squirrels or a sparrowhawk, have a good pair of binoculars old or new helps a ton. Be sure to check out our guide on the best binoculars for shaky hands as well.
Fly high friends!
Audubon recommends a pair of binoculars with a magnification of between 7 and 10 times is the best for using to watch birds. Our tip is to always try them out.
Monoculars are really referred to as scopes these days. They are portable but often need a tripod or monopod to keep them steady. I have seen friends use them to great effect but I always think that binoculars are better as they reflect what we naturally see through 2 eyes. Again, try them out.