Binoculars vs Telescopes

Binoculars Vs Telescopes: Which Should You Opt For?

binoculars and telescopes

We love to see things clearer more than our naked eye can do. Since our eyesight is only limited to how far could we see, we opt for using instruments to see things beyond the capability of our naked eye. That is when binoculars vs. telescopes come to our mind.

These two optical instruments can make us see things clearer while understanding the textures and features of distant objects. Whether you love seeing stars and planets, watching birds, or observing the surroundings, binoculars or telescopes could make it possible for you.

For sure, you’ll come to a point that you are weighing things between binoculars vs. telescopes. Which one should I purchase? Which one should I use for a specific activity? Or, which should I opt for? If these questions make you confused, this article will help you decide in the end.

So, let’s dive into knowing more about binoculars vs. telescopes.

Binoculars Or Telescopes: Which One Is Better?

Although binoculars and telescopes are the same optical instrument, there is a big difference between them. So to decide which is better, we need to know more about each of them, how they work. Here we go!

Understanding Binoculars

telescopes vs binoculars

Short History

Way back 1852, the first real set of binoculars were made by J.P Lemiere. The first binoculars eyepieces are inverted with curved glass lenses, which could magnify objects you see.

You can get to see the image “as is” since the shape of the lenses flips the image right side up because of the inverted eyepiece.

However, these old-styled binoculars are not as magnifying as they should. Later on, Ignatio Porro created the so-called “Porro or Prism Design’” which is the design of binoculars we still use today.

Different Types of Binoculars

The following are the different types of binoculars:

  1. Zoom Binoculars: This is the most common category of binoculars. It has a variable zoom control, which lets you magnify objects from a distance.
  2. Laser Rangefinders: This pair of binoculars is a must-have for your golf game or you want to go for a hunting game. It has a laser, which travels from your position to your focus object then bounce bank and returns. This feature has a calculated return rate that would give a precise distance of the object in focus.
  3. Ruby-Coated Lenses Binoculars: This pair of binoculars has a ruby coating in its lenses. It helps to minimize glare, reflections, and haze. Usually, lower-end binoculars have this marketing gimmick.
  4. Image stabilizing Binoculars: This is your must-have pair of binoculars if you have shaky hands endeavor. It helps you focus on things with stability. However, Image stabilizing Binoculars are a bit expensive compared to other types.

For a beginner, our team also previously cover an article for the recommended models for beginners or those new to binoculars.

Pro and Cons of Binoculars

  • Multifunctional use: Binoculars are not only for bird watching and seeing things from your surroundings. Binoculars or Telescopes can be used in stargazing.

  • Budget-friendly: Between binoculars instead of telescopes, a pair of binoculars is cheaper. You can get to have the same functionality as in the telescope for a much lower cost.

  • Using both eyes: It would be very comfortable to use both eyes to see beautiful things. That’s a big point for binoculars. It has two eyepieces, which will allow you to see faraway objects with your two eyes.

  • Portable: with binoculars, you do not have to worry about bringing it into your travels. Since it has a reasonable size, you can easily bring it along with your anytime and anywhere.

  • Not all binoculars are essentially useful for viewing celestial objects. The Binoculars’ capability to view celestial objects is only limited. It cannot give you a full-detailed view of heavenly bodies.

  • Unlike telescopes, a pair of binoculars is not as strong and sturdy.

  • If there are low light conditions, binoculars cannot give you a clear view of objects.

Understanding Telescopes

telescope vs binoculars difference

Short History

Galileo Galilei was known to invent telescopes. However, this is not the case. Hans Lippershey, a Dutchman was the first to make the telescope. However, it was denied due to the claims that he just stole the idea and some designs of it from another glassmaker, Zacharias Jansen.

After Galileo learned the news, he makes his version of a telescope, which can magnify objects up to 20 times. When he presented his invention to the Venetian Senate, it was approved and later on recognized as the one who invented the telescope.

Mechanisms of Telescopes

Telescopes have different viewing mechanisms. Here are the three most commonly used mechanisms of telescopes:

  1. Reflectors: As its name suggests, they reflect lights that entered into the telescope. This mechanism is perfect for beginners since it is low cost compared to other models of telescopes.
  2. Refractors: This model of the telescope is suitable for viewing celestial objects. Refracting telescopes are useful for seeing more distant objects. Its lens refracts light to convey an image through the eyepiece.
  3. Catadioptric: It combines the two other mechanisms. It works with a lens and mirror to reflect an image and refracts to convey a message.

Pros and Cons using Telescope

  • Upgradability: You can upgrade a telescope to how much you want it to magnify.

  • Stability: Telescope can be used with a mount to ensure proper stability, if you do not want to view objects in a blur vision, you can rely on telescopes with that.

  • Long-range view: This is one of the key reasons why you should also consider telescopes. It allows you to have an in-depth view of distant objects. Telescopes could be your buddy when it comes to celestial viewing.

  • When it comes to setting up the optics, you need to exert an effort to use it well unlike using binoculars.

  • You cannot bring a telescope with you in some circumstances. Since it requires an appropriate setup, it would be inconvenient to bring all the tools needed.

  • Telescopes are sensitive to movements. One slight movement could spoil the whole field vision.

Binoculars Vs. Telescopes: What Are The Main Differences?

To help you with deciding between binoculars or telescopes, here are the main differences between these two optical instruments. Since you already what they can do, you can refer to the following to fully understand them one-by-one.


Binoculars: It can view heavenly objects just like telescopes. However, it can only be limited and does not support farther celestial bodies.

Telescopes: It is a popular choice when it comes to terrestrial viewing. Telescopes can give a more detailed structure of the object in focus.

If you love seeing the night sky and exploring the universe, a telescope will be recommended to use.


Binoculars: Binoculars have two lenses and eyepieces. Viewing objects using both eyes could give a better view, more like 3D.

Telescopes: It is monocular, which only has one eyepiece. Nevertheless, it has curved mirrors and lenses that collect the light from distant objects.

You might be uncomfortable seeing things using only one of your eyes. Binoculars allow you to use both eyes. In this aspect, which is the best to use depends on how you’ll want to use it.


Binoculars: It can be used to watch heavenly objects but can be limited and will not give a full-detailed view of the thing you would focus on.

Telescopes: It is the perfect optical instrument for astronomy since then. Professional astronomers prefer to use telescope than binoculars.

Though binoculars can also view celestial objects, it might not give as view as you would want to see.

However, binoculars are also the best in some hobbies like bird watching, nature seeing, etc. If you are thinking of purchasing an optical instrument for astronomic purposes, then telescopes must be the one (in my opinion).


Binoculars: It has dual lenses, which can magnify from 4x up to 12x.

Telescopes: it only has a single view but can magnify from 15x up to 60x.

Whichever purpose you would want to use them, a telescope is capable of zooming an object much more than binocular can.

Other Differences between Binoculars vs. Telescopes

Aside from the differences mentioned above, here are some other differences between binoculars vs. telescopes:

  • Telescopes are a bit expensive compared to binoculars.
  • Binoculars are specially designed for bird watching, spying, surveillance, etc. while telescopes are designed for astronomical purposes.
  • The lens of telescopes is larger than binoculars. Telescopes can view objects in a much longer distance. On the other hand, binoculars have smaller lenses compared to telescopes. It means a shorter viewing distance.
  • Binoculars are portable than telescopes. You can easily carry it around anywhere without hassle. While the telescope should only be in one place since it requires complete setup and is not easy to assemble and dissemble. Usually, telescopes stayed only at one place because of its setup.
  • It can irritate your eyes using a telescope since it only allows a single view. Unlike binoculars, it is a dual view and could be comfortable and pleasant while watching.
  • Binoculars are way lighter than telescopes. That’s the reason why it is very handy. The smallest telescopes are still heavier than binoculars.
  • Binoculars are handheld. Telescopes usually come with a tripod, which is needed for stability.
  • Telescopes can focus things further than binoculars. It can see images clearer even on a most faraway distance, which binoculars could not or it can but not detailed.

Binoculars: When Is the Best Time to Use It?

So, when is the best time to use binoculars vs. telescopes? For sure, you are eager to know which optical instrument to use for your hobbies. To answer it simply, a pair of binoculars is the best to use if you are going to do an activity that requires moving around.

Since telescopes require time to set up, a good pair of binocular could be perfect to bring along with you in every move and location you go. Here are some of the activities, which you should definitely use binoculars:

  • Bird watching
  • Watching whales swimming on the sea/ocean
  • Nature tripping
  • Sailing
  • While playing golf
  • Animal hunting
  • Exploring places
  • Any sporting events
  • Stargazing
  • Mountain hiking

These are only some of the activities you would probably need to have your binoculars. If you are going to such situations, please do not bother yourself to bring a telescope with you.

Imagine yourself bringing a telescope with you in these kinds of situations. Do you think it is appropriate? And, are you able to handle it?

Telescopes: When You Should Use It?

The telescope could be a wise investment and much stronger and durable than binoculars. Though there are circumstances that using a telescope is not a good decision; there is a particular niche, which telescopes are perfect and binoculars cannot compete with.

For beginners, you can also check out our reviews on the selection of telescopes suitable for beginners. Here are the suitable times to use telescopes:


Exploring the celestial bodies through viewing them is what telescopes are made for. Using a telescope like Orion XT10 , you can be able to see heavenly objects in the ultimate quality as possible. Besides, it will give a clearer, detailed, and in-depth view of astronomical entities such as the moon, stars, planets, as well as nebulas.


Modern telescopes are with built photography in mind. You can attach a camera to capture beautiful images while watching them. Telescopes come with a tripod, which assures precise image stability. In addition, it can simply make long exposure photography possible.

Though telescopes are not portable as binoculars, you can have a great image view with its super zoom feature. Practically speaking, telescopes could be worth the investment. Even it’s a bit pricey than binoculars, you can use much longer since it usually stays in one place.

Final Thoughts – Have You Made Up Your Mind?

Binoculars and telescopes, you should have a better understanding now which one to use.

In fact, it all depends on what situation or activity you will be using them. Now you already know what their differences are, you can be able to tell if binoculars or telescopes are the best for your hobbies.

Each of the two might be similar when it comes to functionality, but they serve in different circumstances. If you are into stargazing, astronomy, and the like, you should opt for a telescope. That’s the wisest decision to make.

But if you are into using it for everyday life, then a pair of binoculars could be your best option. Know what and where you plan to use them, in that way, you can decide between binoculars or telescopes.

Most importantly, either you opt for a binocular or telescope, using them with care could make them useful for you much longer.

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