Last Updated on January 14, 2023 by Mahnoor Asghar
If you are an outdoor enthusiast, you would surely know that the naked eye cannot entirely do justice to capture the beauty of all the attractive views. Here binoculars come to save the day for you. Different parts of binoculars perform various functions that altogether add to the functional quality of the unit.
So whether you want to go feast on the beauty of nature or enjoy a detailed view with edge-to-edge clarity of your favorite football match, want to go hiking those huge mountains or go stargazing with your loved one. No matter what your particular outdoor or indoor adventure is, a pair of binoculars is all that you need. So we will discuss the parts of binoculars and their functions so that you will be able to comprehend the whole concept, which will help you get the know-how of binoculars in a better way.
What are binoculars?
Binoculars are the optical miracles that enlarge and sharpen those outlying views for you so that you can get the best out of it. They enable you to see a clear and bright picture of the action taking place at a distance in a multitude of lighting conditions.
Important parts of binoculars
So here is a quick list of parts of binoculars that make up the whole assembly and working of these optical wonders.
- Objective Lens
- Eyepiece Lens/ Ocular Lens
- Focus Wheel
- Diopter Knob/ Diopter Adjustment Ring
Let’s take a detailed overview of all these parts by looking at each nook and corner of a pair of binoculars.
Before jumping straight towards the objective lens, it is worth stating that all the lenses used in a pair of binoculars, whether it be an objective lens or an ocular lens, are the convex or converging lens. In appearance, the convex lens is wider in the center and narrower at the ends. It brings distant rays into focus and enlarges or magnifies the final image.
Now talking about the objective lens, it is one of the core parts of binoculars. The objective lens is the one responsible for the brightness of the view. Effective lens diameter or objective lens diameter is the second number written on the binoculars, like 42 in the case of 10X42 binoculars. It shows the size of the aperture, which controls the amount of light transmitted; thus, a hefty objective lens displays excellent light-gathering ability. Hence the larger the lens diameter is, the more is the amount of light it transmits, and the brighter is the view you would get.
Moreover, the size of the objective lens also directly impacts the color reproduction. Let’s be honest; every one of us wants a pair of binoculars that provide bright and sharp imaging from dusk till dawn. You should consider the option that offers you a large, at least 42 or 50 mm of objective lens diameter that can ensure a quality view with true-to-life color from sunrise to sundown.
The recommended objective lens diameter varies with the purpose that you especially want the binoculars for. For instance, you should consider a pair of binoculars with an effective lens diameter of 50 mm or more for astronomy purposes. While for birdwatching in broad daylight or watching sports, you can quickly settle on a pair of binoculars that come equipped with an objective lens of more than 30 mm.
An important thing to consider is that this is one of the parts of binoculars whose size directly impacts the weight of the binoculars. Therefore a pair of binoculars equipped with a large objective lens weighs more than its counterparts.
The eyepiece lens or the ocular lens is closest to your eyes compared to other parts of binoculars. The eyepiece is placed near the focal point of the objective lens. They are responsible for the production of the final magnified image that is presented before your eyes.
To put it into simple words, if, on the one hand, an objective lens is responsible for the brightness and color fidelity of the images, it is the ocular lens that is responsible for the magnification of the desired sight of view. Speaking of the magnification, the eyepiece lens’s extent magnifies the image depending upon the focal length. The higher the focal length is, the more magnified and enlarged the newly formed image is. If we talk about the sizes, then the objective lens is the heftier and larger one compared to the eyepiece lens.
It is the part of binoculars that is mostly fixed, which means that they offer a fixed magnification and the field of view. But with the advancement in technology and introduction of versatile and better than before binoculars, some units also offer interchangeable or moveable eyepiece lenses, which can give you the control to alter the magnification and subsequently the field of view.
The binoculars enable you to see the far-flung objects or views while you are birdwatching, nature sightseeing, hunting, camping, biking, or traveling. So there has to be something that helps you with focusing those distant views to get a quick, stable, and clear view. That thing is none other than the focus wheel that gives you the control of bringing the distant blurred world within focus in a matter of seconds.
The focus wheel is one of the most significant parts of binoculars. They function to move the eyepiece’s inner lens to a small extent, which changes the distance between the ocular and objective lens, making the eyepiece’s focal point to match the objective lens’s focal point to get the view into focus.
The focus wheel is located in the center of two eye-pieces in case of central focusing binoculars, which allows you to focus both the eyepiece lens at the same time. The focus wheel lies between the barrels of the binoculars to help yield more definite images.
A Diopter knob is also one of the crucial parts of binoculars when it comes to focusing. They are located behind the eyepiece lens and come into play in case of individual focusing. In the individual focusing, the diopter knob allows you to focus both the left and right barrels individually to suit your needs.
The diopter knob or diopter adjustment ring adjusts for focal differences between your eyes. Thus it is useful for people with glasses and compensates for the difference between both eyes’ powers.
In most of the binoculars, a right diopter adjustment ring is present that can be fine-tuned to compensate for the dioptric difference.
So as we have already discussed, is the focus wheel focuses on the image, the ocular lens that magnifies it, the objective lens that brightens it, and the optical coatings that sharpen it. Still, the enlarged image that all of them create is upside down. So, My Friend! That’s where prisms come into play. Prism is the part of the binoculars that serves to invert the otherwise upside-down images so that you can see the view as it is.
Prisms are parts of binoculars that come into pairs that work together to correct the otherwise upside-down image’s orientation. Each of the barrels or tubes or the pair of binoculars has two prisms in it. Both of the prisms of a pair rotate the image at a 900 angle with an 1800 rotation in total, and Voila! The once upturned images are now upright.
Now talking about different arrangements that the prisms come in. So a pair of binoculars come equipped with either a Porro prism or a Roof prism. In the Roof prism arrangement, the eyepiece lens and the objective lens are in a straight line, while in the case of the Porro prism arrangement, both the eyepiece and the objective lens are offset. Thus, the binoculars equipped with Porro prisms are a bit heavier than those furnished with Roof prisms.
A Roof prism is lighter in weight, smaller in size, more streamlined with more optical precision, and a bit steeper than the bulky Porro prism. They ensure better light transmission and edge-to-edge sharpness, so most high-end optical devices often come equipped with Roof prisms.
With the ever-changing world of optics, some modern binoculars also offer dielectric coatings on their prisms that augment their clarity, brightness, and accurate color reproduction.
Apart from the optical performance that prisms provide, they are also responsible for reducing the overall length or the size of the binoculars as they bend the light rays when they enter the assembly, thus making the binoculars portable and easy to handle.
While we have individually discussed the parts of binoculars that add to their functional and structural features, the question arises that shouldn’t there be something that holds all these parts together? The answer to which is “Yes,” there is, and it is none other than the chassis or the barrels of the binoculars. It is the housing or the framework that holds all the individual parts together in a unit.
Different manufacturers introduced different binoculars’ models that vary in the type of their chassis material. The most commonly used materials to form the framework of the binoculars are aluminum, magnesium, or polycarbonate plastic.
Aluminum Chassis: Aluminum is the most popular choice when it comes to chassis material owing to its resilience, sturdiness, and lightness. Moreover, as the aluminum is corrosion resistant, that adds to the unit’s durability and is especially something to go for when it comes to marine binoculars.
Magnesium Chassis: Many manufacturers use magnesium in barrel formation due to its excellent strength to weight ratio as it is lightweight but at the same time is enough firm and robust. The binoculars with magnesium chassis make a great companion when you have to carry them for extended periods.
Polycarbonate Plastic Chassis: Polycarbonate, being the cheapest, is most commonly used to make the optical devices’ assembly. One of its perks is that it can easily forbear the temperature changes, thus negating any effect like expansion or contraction on alteration of temperature.
Moreover, the body of binoculars is also covered with rubber armoring in most of the cases, which adds an extra layer of protection that makes the unit shock-resistant and ensures that the unit can withstand a few falls easily without any significant damage.
Some additional structural features
In addition to the parts of binoculars discussed above, some other structural features add to the binoculars’ ease-of-use and optical quality.
- Optical Coatings
- Glass Material
It is also worth mentioning the optical coatings done on these lenses to ensure minimum light disruption. The binoculars lens coatings mostly add to the amount of light transmitted through the lens. Hence increases the brightness, saturation, and contrast of images with better color reproduction. The higher the contrast is, the sharper and brilliant the imaging is perceived to be.
The lens coatings are mainly classified as:
Coated Optics: A single anti-reflective coating is present on the side of the lens.
Fully Coated Optics: Multiple anti-reflective coatings (5-7 coatings) are present on the side of the lens.
Multi-coated Optics: A single anti-reflective coating is present on all the air-to-glass surfaces.
Fully Multi-coated Optics: The fully multi-coated lens has several coatings on all air-to-glass surfaces with different refractive indices.
The fully multi-coated optics being on the high-end ensures the amount of reflected light to its lowest and, at the same time, considerably increases the optical performance along with ensuring impressive low light performance. Last but not least, the fully multi-coated lens also guarantees the absence of any chromatic aberration.
Glass materials are used to make many parts of binoculars like lenses and prisms. Many of you would have heard the terminologies like BaK-4, BK-7, or SK-15 glass prisms. If you have wondered what those terminologies mean, you need not worry as we will give you a clear idea about them.
BaK-4: They are made of the barium crown glass and have higher refractive indices as compared to BaK-7 glasses that ensure a brighter view with minimum or no chromatic aberration.
BK-7: They are made out of borosilicate crown glass and a high reflective index along with a refractive index of 1.52. This type of prism glass can be used in the manufacture of both the Roof and Porro prisms.
SK-15: They have their properties midway between the two above mentioned prism glasses.
Apart from the prism glasses, some expressions like HD, ED, HT, or FL used for the glass types add to the optical quality and precision of a pair of binoculars.
HD: High definition or HD is not the type of the glass; instead, it is the outcome of the Extra-low Dispersion glass, which is of excellent resolution.
ED: The most expensive and optically best quality Extra-low Dispersion (ED) glasses ensure the absence of color fringing and other chromatic aberrations. Thus the image of the distant view would be crystal clear and ultra-sharp.
HT: High Transmission or ET glasses are well known for their excellent light transmission ability that adds to the view’s brightness.
FL: Fluoride lens or FL is a type or subcategory of ED glass known for its high quality.
Eyecups play an essential part in the deterrence of stray light to enter the eyepiece and prevent image distortion, making them one of the vital parts of binoculars. In people with glasses, the distance between the eyepiece and eye increases because of the eyeglasses being there. The image won’t be formed on the retina, putting pressure and strain on the eyes and presenting a low-quality image.
So the binoculars for people with glasses are furnished with adjustable eyecups. Multi-position adjustable eyecups serve to make sure a comfortable view with or without glasses, as they can be twisted up or down to suit your requirement. Thus, if you are an eyeglass wearer, you can fold in the eyecups to reduce the eye and eyepiece’s distance to get an excellent quality image.
Now it is time to wrap up the whole discussion. To cut a long story short, the objective lens controls the light transmission and brightness of the image. The eyepiece lens magnifies it. The focus wheel focuses for sharpness, the prism inverts it, and the chassis is the housing that protects all the binoculars’ elements.
We hope that after reading this in-depth analysis of the parts of binoculars, you will now be capable enough to understand each component’s functioning. When you have the right knowledge, you can easily know what you want and which features you should look for that make you more confident in each of your purchases.
Frequently asked questions regarding Parts of binoculars:
Q. What is the function of binoculars?
Ans: Binoculars enlarge and sharpen those outlying views for you so that you can get the best out of them. They enable you to see a clear and bright picture of the action taking place at a distance in a multitude of lighting conditions. They are designed in such a way that they produce an upright image of the object that is correctly oriented from left to right.
Q. What is the construction of binoculars?
Ans: A pair of binoculars consists of an outer chassis that withholds two barrels, with each containing an objective lens, a pair of prisms, and an ocular lens or eyepiece. The objective lens controls the amount of light transmitted within the assembly of binoculars and also focuses light while the eyepiece magnifies the image. The prisms serve to invert the otherwise upside-down images so that you can see the view as it is. They come into pairs that work together to correct the otherwise upside-down image’s orientation.
Apart from these, binoculars also contain a focus wheel, diopter adjustment knob, and eye-cups.
Q. How many lenses are there in a pair of binoculars?
Ans: A pair of binoculars has two lenses, an objective lens, and an oculars lens or eyepiece. The objective lens makes a focused image of the view and is the one responsible for the brightness of the view. On the other hand, the eyepiece or the ocular lens is placed near the focal point of the objective lens. Thus, it is responsible for the production of the final magnified image that is presented before your eyes.
Q. Are binoculars reflecting or refracting?
Ans: Binoculars are refracting as they bend the path of the incident light at an angle. Occasionally, you will come across a reflecting pair of binoculars.
Q. Which type of lens is used in a pair of binoculars?
Ans: All the lenses used in a pair of binoculars, be it an objective lens or an ocular lens, are the convex or converging lens. In appearance, the convex lens is wider in the center and narrower at the ends. It brings distant rays into focus and enlarges or magnifies the final image.