How To Choose Binoculars For Concerts (Best UK Guide)
If you’ve bought tickets to see your favourite band or solo artist live only to realise your seat is so far back in the arena you won’t be able to see any of the action. Then you might want to consider investing in a decent pair of binoculars. Then you’ll see the live show you paid for, instead of just hearing it from afar.
For concert going binoculars you’ll need a clear image, a wide field of view but you won’t want a hunking great pair of binoculars that are hard to carry and hold. The most important concern with binoculars for concerts is the quality of the image. Then you need a wide field of view because you’re going to want to see all of the action, not just be confined to small areas and having to move the binoculars constantly.
Weight and size are also extremely important, firstly, you have to carry them to your seat, and then, you’ll need to be holding them for the entire show. Either just in your hand or up to your eyes to get a great view of what’s happening on stage. This article is all about giving you enough information for you to buy the perfect binoculars for you, to take to the concert.
Top Considerations For Concert Binoculars
The first thing you need to get right is the field of view. That is the amount you can see through the lens of the binoculars from side to side while looking straight ahead. On the binocular specs the field of view (FoV) is expressed in one of three ways. They are;
- Angular Field of View
The angular FoV is shown as degrees and the best angular FoV for concert going is between 6° to 8° .
- Linear Field of View
There are two ways of expressing the linear FoV, either in metric or imperial measurements. For binoculars to take to a concert you’ll need anywhere between 105m per 1,000m to 140m per 1,000m or 315 feet per 1,000 yards to 450 feet per 1,000 yards.
All of the above figures are exactly the same but expressed in three different ways. Something else to think about is the magnification of the binoculars you choose. This is because as the magnification increases, the field of view decreases.
The Best Magnification For Concert Binoculars
The magnification of binoculars is an important factor, especially when it comes to choosing binoculars for concerts. This is because not only does the level of magnification determine just how much of the stage you’ll be able to see without having to turn your head constantly. The magnification is also responsible for how much detail you’ll be able to see as well.
High magnification is not always a good thing, firstly the level of magnification has a great deal of influence on the width of the FoV. Secondly, too much magnification can mean a far poorer quality image. When holding anything up for extended periods of time, our arms begin to shake, that shake when magnified by 12 to 15 times through the lens of a pair of binoculars will result in at best a blurred image and at worst dizziness, headache or migraine (definitely not what you need at a concert).
The level of magnification needed for watching concerts depends on whether the event is indoor or outdoors. For indoor venues we would recommend a magnification of between 4x to 8x, opera glasses for example average at around 3x, but most indoor concerts are held in venues larger than the average opera theatre.
If it’s an outdoor event, like Reading or Glastonbury, then you’ll do better with 10x magnification.
How To Tell The Magnification On Binoculars
Stamped onto the body of the binoculars you will find a set of numbers, something like 7×35, 8×42, or 10×50. These numbers indicate the level of magnification and the diameter of the objective lens. The first group followed by the X is the magnification (the X indicates times), the second group is the objective lens diameter in millimeters.
So if the numbers read 8×42 we know that they have a magnification of 8 times (which means everything through the lens will appear 8 times larger than with the naked eye), and an objective lens diameter of 42mm.
The Best Objective Lens Diameter For Concerts
Now we can tell the size of the objective lens diameter just by looking at the body of the binoculars. We can work out which diameter will be best for use at a concert. The diameter of the objective lens is an important factor because binoculars can only work by directing light through the objective lens (the lens nearest to the object you’re looking at, in this case the stage) to our eyes via the ocular lens (the lens closest to your eyes).
A large diameter objective lens will allow more light to enter the binoculars, which in turn means a clearer, brighter image. The larger the objective lens diameter, the heavier the overall weight of the binoculars will be. Plus the stage will be well lit during a show so light shouldn’t be too much of an issue.
The other thing we can tell from just knowing the magnification and the objective lens diameter is the exit pupil.
What’s The Exit Pupil And Why Does It Matter?
If you turn a pair of binoculars with the objective lens facing you and hold them towards a light, the circle of light you can see through the lens is the exit pupil. It’s important because once the binoculars are in front of your eyes, the only light you can see is coming through those lenses. If the exit pupil is too small, your image will be dark and hard to focus on so you need the correct exit pupil size if you’re going to get the most from the concert.
The human pupil has a diameter of around 7mm at the age of 30, this decreases by one mm every decade so at the age of 40 it’s 6mm and so on. To get the most from the show, you’ll need your binoculars to have an exit pupil the same as, or as close to your own pupil size as possible. It’s not too bad if the exit pupil is larger than yours, but if it’s smaller, you’ll not be able to see the action as clearly.
How To Determine The Exit Pupil
Just by using the objective lens diameter and the magnification, you can determine the exit pupil for that particular pair of binoculars. All you need to do is divide the objective lens diameter by the magnification. So in our earlier example of 8×42 the exit pupil is 5.25mm because;
This size exit pupil will be great if you are 50 years of age or more, or for taking to concerts too. A 5mm exit pupil is more than sufficient for both regular outdoor activities using binoculars and indoor concerts too.
The eye relief is the perfect distance between your eye and the ocular lens (lens closest to your eye) and still see the full FoV. it’s quoted in the specs in millimeters. Most decent binoculars have sufficient eye relief to be comfortable. If you wear glasses however, you’ll probably need long eye relief. Long eye relief allows enough space for your glasses whilst still keeping the perfect distance to see the full FoV.
What Size Binoculars Are Best For Concerts?
Binoculars come in three sizes which are determined by the objective lens diameter. The sizes run as follows;
- Compact Binoculars
These have an objective lens diameter of less than 30mm.
- Mid Size Binoculars
These have an objective lens diameter of between 30 to 40mm
- Full Size Binoculars
These have an objective lens diameter of greater than 40mm
As you will be carrying the binoculars and holding them for the duration of the concert, we would recommend either compact or mid size binoculars as these will weigh less than full size binoculars.
The Best Binoculars For Light Transmission
The only way we can see an image through the lens of a pair of binoculars is by the transmission of light. Better light transmission is achieved by using top quality optical glass when manufacturing the binoculars.
BAK4 is the top quality, precision optical glass with the least imperfections that’s used to make the prisms in the best quality binoculars.
This is also high quality precision optical glass, but BK7 has slightly more imperfections than BAK4.
ED or Extra low Dispersion glass is used to make the lenses by the better binocular brands. If glass has a low dispersion it produces crisp, clear images with no colour fringing or haloing around the image.
If all the other specs line up and you have a choice for binoculars, go for the pair that have fully multi-coated lenses (FMC). This ensures that every lens, inside and out will be fully coated with multiple layers of glare reducing, light enhancing coatings. To give you the best viewing performance ever.
Which Type Of Binoculars Are Best For Concerts?
There are two main types of binoculars, Porro prisms or roof prisms. Porro prism binoculars tend to be larger and heavier than roof prisms unless you go for reverse Porro prisms. Reverse Porros are more compact than traditional Porro prisms but can be more costly. Roof prisms are usually better quality than Porros, and they are smaller, lighter and more compact.
Roof prisms cost more to manufacture than Porros and that cost is passed on to the purchase price, but they’re far superior quality (as long as you buy a decent pair) and easier to waterproof. We would recommend either reverse Porro prism or roof prism binoculars for concerts. Even though they have the objective lens set wider apart than Standard Porros, we still recommend roof prisms or reverse Porros for taking to concerts.
The Best Binoculars For Indoor Concerts
For indoor concerts the requirements for binoculars are;
You’ll need something that’s small enough to fit in your pocket or handbag.
If they’re too heavy, you’ll get tired just carrying them.
- Relatively Low Magnification
For indoor concerts 4x to 8x will probably suit you best.
- Wide FoV
The wider FoV the better, as you’ll be able to see the whole stage without moving your head.
Most decent binoculars will be protected by a rubber or polycarbonate coating. This will help stop any accidental damage if you were to drop them.
Under usual conditions, you’ll only be looking through binoculars for a short period of time. However, at a concert, you could realistically be using them constantly for hours, so they need to be comfortable. Look for rubber or soft plastic eye cups as these will be more comfortable for long term use.
The Best Binoculars For Outdoor Concerts
For outdoor concerts we’d recommend;
A smaller pair of binoculars will always be better for taking to concerts.
There’s usually even more carrying and walking at outdoor concerts than indoor events.
- Slightly Higher Magnifications
A magnification of up to and including 10x will be more than sufficient for outdoor concerts.
- Wide FoV
A wide FoV is always an advantage for watching concerts, it will save you from having to move your head too much and still see the stage.
Just because most outdoor concerts are held during the Summer months, it doesn’t stop it raining. IPX6 binoculars will prevent any water from entering and damaging your binoculars. IP codes are industry standards for waterproofing levels. IPX6 will prevent water entering no matter how intense the rain, or the angle it is falling at. IPX7 will be able to withstand up to 30 minutes submerged in one metre of water without causing any water entering the binoculars.
- Fog Proof
Extremes of hot or cold can cause the lens of the binoculars to fog up. All it could take is a sudden downpour after hours in the brilliant sunshine and the temperature can drop dramatically. To make binoculars fog proof the manufacturers purge all of the air from the lens tubes and replace it with an inert gas like nitrogen or argon. As these gasses contain no moisture, they cannot react to sudden temperature changes and so won’t fog up.
As an added bonus, once the gas is sealed inside the lens tubes, nothing else can enter. This means no airborne dust or microbial debris can get into your binoculars to cause any problems.
There’s always that chance of dropping your binoculars especially if you’ve been holding them for hours. So go for a pair with a good quality rubber or polycarbonate protective coating to prevent accidental damage.
Some outdoor concerts can last for three days, that’s a lot of hours with the binoculars stuck to your face. Soft plastic or rubberised eyecups will make them far more comfortable to use.
Frequently Asked Questions
For concert binoculars, the best magnification is between 4x to 8x for indoor concerts and up to 10x for outdoor concerts.
Opera glasses tend to have a lower magnification than regular binoculars, also they use a far simpler optical system. This keeps them cheaper than binoculars but they are only suited to one specific purpose, watching opera performances in theatres. Whereas binoculars can be used for many other applications.
You can use opera glasses as binoculars, but they wouldn’t be anywhere near as good as binoculars. Less magnification, smaller objective lens diameter, just generally less powerful.