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Compact vs. Pocket Binoculars | Optics Trade Debates

Welcome to Optics Trade debates. In each episode, we talk about a different topic and try to answer the most common questions we receive about it. Today we are going to talk about compact and pocket binoculars.

There is a lot of confusion between these two categories, even though the binoculars from these two categories are very different.

Pocket binoculars are much smaller, mainly because of the lens diameter. Lens diameters on all pocket binoculars is smaller than 25 mm. All binoculars with lenses bigger than 26 mm and smaller than 36 mm are considered compact.

The majority of binoculars from these two categories have either 8x or 10x magnification. There are some rare models that feature 6x, 7x or 12x magnification.

The main advantage of pocket binoculars is that they are very small and can literally fit in a pocket. They usually feature a double hinged construction, which enables them to be really compact when folded. The interpupillary distance can be extremely small, so even the smallest children can use them.

There are some downsides, most of which occurred because of the effort to make a small product. The optical performance is a bit compromised. The eye relief is small which is a big problem for people who wear glasses and the eyecups usualy have only two positions.

In overall, compact binoculars are not that comfortable to use.

One of the advantages of compact binoculars is that they offer almost equal optical performance as full-size binoculars, but weigh 20-30 % less. They are really good for hiking and mountaineering. Compact binoculars are more or less limited to daytime use because of their small objective lenses.

Pocket binoculars are usually cheaper because there are more compromises in their optical build and are usually bought for children because of their small interpupillary distance or for their compactness.

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Products mentioned:
Compact binoculars:
Pocket binoculars:



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