The use you intend to put your binoculars to will help you decide which magnification is best, but generally you will find that lower magnifications offer a brighter image and are easier to hold steady in the hands. An 8x magnification binocular has always been the most popular option, especially for bird and wildlife observation. 10x is the next magnification up and is a common alternative and some models also come in a 12x magnification.
The important thing to keep in mind if looking at magnifications higher than 8x is that you will have a narrower field of view and they are a little harder to hold steady by hand. However, there are times when higher magnifications have their uses – stargazers will benefit from magnifications of 10x, for example – and in these situations it is best to consider an optic with a larger objective lens, usually 50mm or larger as this will compensate for the loss of light commonly experienced with higher magnifications. It is also possible to compensate for the loss of light at higher magnifications with better quality glass, though this will add to the price of the binocular. Extra-low dispersion (or ED) glass is a common feature in binoculars and it offers a number of benefits, the most noticeable being the sharper, more detailed image and the reduction (or even absence) of colour fringing around the edges of objects, something particularly evident on bright, sunny days.
There are also image stabilised binoculars available; these are usually higher-powered than standard binoculars and the IS system means that it’s easier to keep them steady.
The vast majority of modern binoculars are filled with nitrogen during the manufacturing process to ensure that the inside of the optics will be free from fog or condensation which can otherwise ruin your view.
The majority of the binoculars we sell can be mounted on a standard photographic tripod for extra stability, especially if you’re going to be standing observing in one location for some time – we all need to give our arms a rest now and then! A simple adapter is all that’s needed.
In short, for bird and wildlife observation we would typically recommend an 8×42 binocular to start with, that’s 8x magnification with a 42mm objective lens that gives you a good balance between brightness, magnification and the physical size and weight of the binoculars themselves. There are other sizes and magnifications available and the best way to find what’s right for you is to try them out before buying and we always have an excellent range of makes and models in stock.