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Binoculars Buying Guide


Night-vision Binoculars and Other Handy Optical Instruments
This pair of night-vision binoculars made by Night Owl retails for close to $500 on Amazon. It comes with 5x magnification.
This pair of night-vision binoculars made by Night Owl retails for close to $500 on Amazon. It comes with 5x magnification.
Image courtesy Amazon

So maybe you're not that into nature, but for good reason: You're a double agent and your covert spying activity doesn't allow you a lot of time under the sun. Good news! You too can benefit from binoculars that allow you to see images while hiding in dark alleys.

Even better? Night-vision binoculars are no longer limited to those employed in secretive government ops. In fact, if you're not looking for anything with a magnification too crazy, you can get night-vision binoculars for less than $400. Keep in mind these binoculars are all mostly lower quality (called "first generation" due to their older technology), and the image won't be too sharp. But if you have the money (or the support of a sovereign nation), keep in mind you can buy second- or third-generation night-vision binoculars that could set you back anywhere from $1,500 to the almost $20,000 Fujinon Stabiscope pair, with infrared vision that can also switch to day vision with 12x magnification. One note: You really do have to be a member of a military or law enforcement agency to buy these more advanced guys.

If your activities are a little more subdued -- more along the lines of soccer games, a Lady Antebellum concert or a nice production of "Die Fledermaus," consider any magnification of 4x or higher (no need to be much more than 8). Aperture isn't going to be as important, unless you're very interested in seeing Beyonce's wedding ring from the third tier of the stadium.

Keep in mind you also might see opera or theater glasses for sale; these types of binoculars are great for stage settings, as they have a wide field of view. They don't have great magnification (somewhere around 5x generally), but their light and compact design are a good fit for shows or events.

If you haven't yet gotten your binocular fix, you're in luck. Take a gander at the next page to learn lots more information about binoculars and which ones are right for you.