Broadly classifying, there are two kinds of binoculars which are based on type of prisms they use. It can either be a roof prism or a Porro prism.
While the debate on which makes a better pair of binoculars is a little overwhelming, it would be safer to say that both the types have their own unique advantages and disadvantages. It comes down to the needs and differences as seen from a subjective point of view. Let’s quickly run over these two types and some other qualifications along with the purposes that best suitthem.
Roof prism binoculars
The roof prism refers to the type of the prism construct used in the binoculars. In the roof prism design, the alignment of the binoculars is done in a straight line. This makes these binoculars a little sleeker and more compact than their porro prism counterparts. These binoculars can be easily identified as the objective lenses line up to the eyepieces in a near-linear fashion.
- Compactness in design.
- Lesser number of internal parts.
- Includes more waterproof models than porro prism.
- Good overall protection from dust.
- Great for wildlife viewing and bird watching.
- Ideal binoculars for sports.
- Aligned lenses could lower image quality.
- Good binoculars become expensive.
- There’s no high-quality economic variant.
Porro Prism Binoculars
The non-linearity of the objective lenses and the eyepieces is perhaps the best way to identify porro prism binoculars. The reason for this is the prim design (porro) used in these models. Most good porro prism binoculars employ high density glass known as BAK-4. This can be identified by holding the binoculars away from the eyes and as close as possible to the source of light. The circular exit pupils will be easily visible in the eyepieces.
- Wider spaced objective lenses.
- Better stereoscopic image compared to roof prisms.
- Good quality porro prisms are generally cheaper.
- Good for stadium sporting events.
- Ideal for wildlife viewing in enclosed parks.
- Design less compact than roof prism binoculars.
- Higher number of moving parts.
- Fully waterproof models are highly expensive.
- Bodies are not dustproof.
Other notable binocular types
- Astronomy Binoculars
While telescopes are still traditionally preferred for viewing starts, binoculars that are categorically designed for the purpose are also ranked well and are used often. These binoculars are also referred to as the giant binoculars since the objective lenses and magnifications are generally very large. These binoculars can take in large amounts of light.
- Marine Binoculars
Binoculars constructed for operation around marine environments have a very special set of attributes. These binoculars are completely waterproof and naturally very tough. Some models have the ability to float. Most marine binocular models have built-in compasses and can be used as rangefinder binoculars. These are generally more expensive than the other kinds.
- Compact Binoculars
The roof-prism binoculars are known as compact binoculars in their lower variants. While these binoculars may not be as effective as the roof prisms in their prime, they come with [the general goodness of a linear arrangement between the objective lenses and the eyepieces. They are suitable for general use including bird watching.
- Wide Angle Binoculars
The wide angled binoculars could either be roof prism or porro prism. These offer highly wide field of view, something that is desirable for hunters and bird watchers. The wide angled binoculars generally have a lower magnification and are best suited for enclosed-wildlife viewing. These are also cheaper than the rest.
- Armored Binoculars
Armored binoculars offer greater protection from scratches and dents than the non-armored variants. A coating of soft-rubber is used in most of these binoculars. This absorbs a lot of noise for more silent use. This makes a clear advantage for perfectionist hunters. Also, the ones with rubber armors have a better tactile feel in marsh conditions.
- Galilean binoculars
The Galilieanbinovulars seem to be the result of years of exploration ever since the 17th century discovery of the telescope. This was typically to enjoy a binocular vision in astronomy. While the Galilean binoculars present erect images, the field of view is slightly narrow in astronomical terms. However, these make excellent and cheap options for opera and theaters.
- Giant binoculars
The telescopic binoculars are also referred to as the giant binoculars. These have reserved a star-viewing place for themselves. The giant binoculars are especially suited for the purpose because of the great size of the objective lenses that take in much more light than the general binoculars. The magnifications are also a lot larger than usual.
As you would know by now, there are several types of binoculars that can be sifted through. Most of these models have a specific purpose to serve. If you are looking for a preset for a 5-year old, you may happily go and pick a lower variant of any of these.For higher (and farther) purposeslook a little longer.
The types and kinds of binoculars give you a rough idea of which section to look. You will still have to get through a lot of products before making the cut.