Which size is right for me?

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8x22 or 10x26 - Which One Is Right For Me?

From the AutoBright sunlight adaptive lens technology to the distinctive textured armor exterior, the two models in the new BluHorizons series share a number of excellent features. However, it is the differences between the 8x22 and the 10x26 configurations that I wanted to take a closer look at, which I hope will help you decide which is the best option for you and your particular needs.

Overall Size & Weight

For most users, but especially those looking to purchase a compact binocular, the size and weight of the instrument is one of the most important factors to consider.

In most cases, the difference in the dimensions and the weight between a 22mm and a 26mm binocular are quite minimal. Both are what you would consider being compact and thus easy enough to carry and pack away into your bag.

Comparing the BluHorizons binoculars:

BluHorizons 8x22 Binoculars
Weight 8.8oz
Dimensions (HxWxD): 4x4.6x1.8 in
BluHorizons 10x26 Binoculars
Weight 10.6oz
Dimensions (HxWxD): 4.5x4.6x1.8 in  

 

As expected, when we take a look at the two BluHorizons binoculars the differences in size and weight are minimal. But the 8x22 version is more lightweight and half an inch shorter.

For some uses and users, these small differences can be an important factor. For example, hikers, backpackers, and bikepackers looking for extremely lightweight and compact equipment. Or those who need to make sure the binocular that have can fit into a jacket pocket may pay particular attention to these small differences in dimensions and weight.

Magnification

The difference between the two magnifications is an important difference between these two configurations and it affects the binocular in a number of ways.

Most people automatically and somewhat incorrectly assume that the higher or more powerful the magnification the better. However, depending on your precise requirements, this is quite often not the case and I’ll explain why below:

Reach & Image Detail

Binoculars with a 10x magnification are in theory able to provide you with a more detailed view of an object than one with a lower 8x power. Or to put it another way, you are able to see more at greater distances with a higher powered instrument.

Thus if you are mostly going to be observing objects at further ranges, the 10x binocular may be the right option. Having said that, there are still a number of other factors and consequences brought about by the higher power that you still need to take into consideration before making your final choice:

Field of View

In general, as you increase the power, the field of view decreases. This makes sense as the higher the magnification, the more “zoomed in” you are and thus the result is you see less of what is going on at the edges of the view.

So whilst you get more image detail with the 10x magnification, you could miss out or may have to pan the view about to get a complete view of everything that is going on. The difference this makes often depends on the distance to the intended subject.

Thus, due to their wider view binoculars with an 8x magnification makes it easier and often quicker for you to locate and then follow fast moving objects. This is especially true at closer ranges and with small, fast-moving subjects like birds.

If we compare the two BluHorizons models:

The 8x22 model has a field of view that is 410 feet wide at 1000 yards. This is extremely good and will really bring a smile to people like wildlife observers and birders in particular who usually operate at closer ranges.

As expected, the view through the 10x26 BluHorizons binocular is substantially narrower than the 8x22 model, but at 321.5 feet wide at 1000 yards, it is still very good for a compact binocular with a 10x magnification.

Image Stability

The higher the magnification, the harder it gets to keep the image still as every tiny movement you make gets magnified by the power. So even though the higher power can, in theory, provide you with more image detail, there may be situations where you will not be able to enjoy it because the image is moving about too much.

In this case, the actual difference between an 8x power and a 10x power is minimal, but for some people and some specific uses this small difference can be important:

  • If you have particularly shaky hands, which is often the case with children or the elderly.
  • If you will be using your binoculars from an unsteady platform like a boat or canoe - this is one of the main reasons why marine binoculars tend to have lower 7x magnifications.

Close Focus Distance

Depending on the exact makeup of the optical system, the minimum focusing distance on lower powered binoculars can be less than higher powered ones.

In the case of the BluHorizons, this is true because the 8x22 version has a close focus range of 6.6ft, whilst the 10x26 BluHorizons is 9.8ft.

For most users, this difference will be of little consequence, but should you like to observe things like butterflies or flowers from a very close range, this could be important.

Objective Lens Size

As well as the overall dimensions and to a smaller degree the weight, the size of the different objective lenses often play a very important role on a binocular:

Image Quality & Brightness

Larger lenses are heavier and generally more expensive, but one of the most important factors is that they play a major role in determining the image quality and brightness of the view.

Think of them like the windows in a house, large sliding glass doors are able to capture and let in much more light than the small window in your attic. In the same way, the increased surface area on larger lenses enables them to capture more light. Assuming all else is equal, this increase in light ‘information’ will result in a brighter and in many cases a better quality view.

This is why binoculars for astronomy often have giant 50mm, 70mm or even 100mm diameter lenses.

In this case, the difference between the 22mm lenses on the 8x22 and the 26mm lenses on the 10x26 is relatively small, but there is still a difference.

Exit Pupil & Low Light Performance

Very closely related to the objective lens sizes is the size of the shaft of light exiting ocular lenses that then passes onto your eyes. Known as the exit pupil, it’s size on a roof or porro prism binocular is largely determined by dividing the lens diameter by the magnification.

So a standard sized 8x42 binocular has a 5.25mm (42/8) exit pupil, whilst an 8x22 compact has a much smaller 2.75mm one (22/8).

This is important because your eyes need enough light information in order for you to perceive a bright, high-quality view.

In good light conditions most people's pupils are about 3mm in diameter, so, for the most part, an exit pupil larger than 3mm is not really necessary as the extra light on the edges does not pass into your eyes.

However, in low light conditions, your pupils expand, allowing them to take in more light. The diameter the can expand to varies with age and from person to person, but in general, we take 7mm as being the maximum. Thus if you want a binocular with an excellent low light performance, you need a large exit pupil of around 7mm.

This is one of the weaknesses you have to accept when opting for a compact binocular. In poor light, they will not seem to produce as bright an image as a larger binocular with the same or similar magnification.

So when comparing the 8x22 against the 10x26 binoculars, we get the following exit pupil diameters:

22/8 = 2.75mm

26/10 = 2.6mm

Both are very similar and thus, in this case, the brightness of the image that you perceive when looking through them is going to be very similar as well, so in this case, I would not be too concerned with this aspect.

Conclusions

So as you can see, the configuration affects the binocular in a number of ways and making the right choice is more complicated than just opting for the one with the most power.

In the case of these two particular BluHorizon binoculars, in terms of image brightness and in particular low light performance, the different magnifications largely cancel out the objective size differences.

But if you are going to be operating at closer and extremely close ranges, need a very steady view or are particularly searching for the most lightweight, compact binocular, then the 8x22 model will most probably be the right choice for you.

If on the other hand, you are going to be out in the open and observing objects at greater distances, then the 10x26 BluHorizons binocular is probably the best way to go.