Welcome to another episode of Optics Trade debates. Today, we are doing a comparison between two types of binoculars: 8x20 and 8x32 – to be more specific, a pocket-size binocular and a compact size binocular. We should point out that we already have a buying guide on compact binoculars and if you are interested in this category, be sure to check it out here.
Let us first go through the general features of each of these two categories. If we start with prism types, the majority of these binoculars come with a roof prism, Schmidt-Pechan to be exact. When talking about the construction, there is always a double hinge design with pocket binoculars, so they can fold together as much as possible. With compact binoculars, there is usually either a single hinge design or an open bridge design – a far bigger selection on 8x32.
On the 8x32 models, the focusing is almost always central and they have twist-up eye-cups. On the 8x20 models, there are rubber fold-down eyepieces. In terms of materials, the more affordable models come with plastic housing, mid-range models come with an aluminum housing, and the more expensive models come with a magnesium housing. They are all waterproof and filled with gasses like nitrogen or argon. In terms of prices, compact binoculars start at 100 € and go all the way up to 2000 €. Pocket binoculars start at 50 € and end at 600 €-700 €.
Now, let us talk about suitability. The main advantages of the 8x20 binocular are the size and weight. For example, if you go cycling, you can put the binoculars in your pockets and whenever you see anything interesting, you have them ready immediately. They are also great for short, as well as long walks and you can even take them to the mountains.
If we compare them to the 8x32 category, it is obvious that the compact binos are bigger and heavier. For this reason, you will not be able to store them in your pockets. They are, however, more comfortable – the eyepieces are wider. Consequently, they are often used by hikers, travelers, professional birdwatchers, and mountain hunters.
When we talk about the field of view, 8x32 binoculars offer the widest field of view among all: 150 m. With 8x20, 110 m is already the maximum. 8x32 can be used in low-light, while 8x20 cannot. In terms of comfort of viewing, 8x32 are far more comfortable and the focusing mechanism is far more sophisticated than on 8x20. For those who wear glasses, 8x32 is also a better choice.
When to buy which one? If size and weight is an important factor, then go with the pocket binoculars. If you seek comfort, long-lasting binoculars, if you are a birdwatcher or hiker, 8x32 would be a better choice. But if you go to the Alps on an 8-hour hike, you should definitely take the pocket ones.
We think we covered everything. Thank you for watching and if you think we forgot anything, or if you have any additional questions – please use the comments below. Check out our other videos, and we will see you in the next one. Bye.
Products mentioned in the 8x20 VS 8x32 Binoculars debate:
Compact binoculars: https://www.optics-trade.eu/en/binoculars/compact-binoculars.html
Pocket binoculars: https://www.optics-trade.eu/en/binoculars/pocket-binoculars.html
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