Hello once again, and welcome to another episode of Optics Trade debates. We are doing a comparison between two popular categories of binoculars: 7×50 and 8×56. We get a lot of questions regarding which pair should you go for.
8×56 binoculars are very diverse because you can get them with three different prism types: Schmidt-Pechan, Abbe-König, or Porro prisms. You can get them either with an open bridge design, or a single hinge design. The focusing can be either central or the focusing can be individual, separated for each eye. In terms of materials, the most affordable models come with plastic housing, mid-range comes with an aluminum housing, and top-range, the best among them come with a magnesium housing. They are all waterproof and filled with nitrogen gas. Price-wise, they begin at 50 € and go all the way up to 2.500 €.
For the 7×50 configuration, it is easier. Almost all 7×50 binoculars come with a Porro prism, individual focusing, and are usually made out of plastic of aluminum, rarely out of magnesium. The majority of 7×50 binoculars are meant for marine use, so they come in materials that can withstand salt in seawater and a lot of direct sunlight. With 8×56, there are multi positioned or foldable eyecups, and with 7×50, you always only get foldable eyecups.
If we first take a look at the 7×50 category, the binoculars are either meant for marine use or twilight hunting. If we take a look at the 8×56 category, these binoculars are strictly meant for twilight hunting. Usually, 7×50 have a wider field of view. The best 7×50 binoculars have around 145 m of the field of view, whereas 8×56 usually have 125 m of the field of view. Price-wise, 7×50 are usually a couple of hundred euros cheaper. If we take a look at the whole price-rage, the 7×50 category stops at around 1500 €, and the 8×56 stops at a much higher price (2.500 €).
The exit pupil is almost the same, that is 7 mm on 8×56 binoculars, and 7.1 mm on 7×50 binoculars. If we talk about size, 8×56 are always taller than 7×50 and usually, they are also heavier. For the comfort of use, both are comfortable to look through because of the huge exit pupil. The twist eyepieces also play a huge role when it comes to comfort, and that is when we come to glasses. If you wear glasses, then 8×56 with adjustable eyepieces are a must.
Which ones to buy? If you are a sailor, you have a separate 7×50 category. If you are a hunter, it is still a difficult decision. The price is one factor, and also low-light usability. Both perform well In low-light, but 7×50 may be a better choice because when you are using it for roe deer hunting, you will still see details better than with 8×56. What is more, the close focusing is also shorter on 8×56 than on 7×50.
If you want to have all-around usable binoculars that excel in low-light conditions, go for 8×56 with the Abbe-König prism. You will get the best resolution and it will perform well in low light. If, however, your interest is only low light use, you are left with Porro prisms – 7×50 or 8×56, where the main difference is the price, as optically, they are very similar.
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Products mentioned in the 7×50 VS 8×56 Binoculars debate:
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