Binocular Vs. Telescope Comparison with Pros & Cons

Both binoculars and telescopes serve the same purpose of watching distant objects. While you can use a telescope to view stars, planets, and galaxies, a binocular can help you to watch birds, and distant wildlife, and in some cases gaze at the stars.

But, which is better for you?

A comparative study on the differences between binoculars vs. telescopes by comparing their features, pros, and cons will help you find the most suitable device.

Binocular Vs. Telescope

Binocular Vs. Telescope

Point of DifferenceBinocularTelescope
LensesDual-view (for both eyes)Singular view (one single eye)
MirrorDoesn’t use a mirror.Makes use of a mirror for better clarity of vision.
MagnificationZoom ranges from 4x to up to 12x.Ranges from 12x or 15x, to up to 45x or 60x, and can even be more.
Field of viewWideNarrow
ViewShort distancesLong distances
Depth of ViewLess depth but 3D viewing is possible for dual view.Flat vision with more depth of view.
WeightLighter in weight (usually under 2 Kg).Comparatively heavyweight (usually up to 12 Kg).
PortabilityFlexible and easy to carry.Difficult to fold and carry.
PriceLower than telescopes (₹100 to ₹120000).Higher than microwave (₹1000 to ₹180000)

Binoculars

In simple words, a Binocular is an optical device to help you see things at a long distance. It is intended for both of your eyes by using two smaller telescopes together for ease of vision for a distance further than you. Since they are suitable for both eyes, it is easier to use and provide comfort of vision and perception.

man using binocular for birdwatching

Types of Binoculars

  • Roof Prism Binocular: Quality vision, lightweight and compact design with medium to high price.
  • Porro Prism Binocular: Good image quality, lightweight with price in the medium range.
  • Night Vision Binocular: Best for low-light security, hunting, and wildlife viewing.
  • Marine Binocular: Individual vision adjustment for each eye, low light compatibility.
  • Astronomy Binocular: Ideal to explore the solar system, the milky way, and galaxies.
  • Opera Glass: Perfect for short-distance range at performance events like opera.
Read: Best Binoculars for Long Distance

Advantages of binoculars

  • As the name suggests, binoculars offer double vision. Because of this very reason, binoculars are easy to use, provide better clarity of sight, and in short, help you perceive things in a better way. Binoculars help determine the distance between the object and you in a much better way. A clear vision offers a clear and better perception of things around you.
  • Binoculars offer flexibility in vision. However, this is possible when only one of the eyes is damaged or blinded, and you can improve your vision by using a binocular. Though this may take some time to get used to, this is a healthy practice for enhancing your vision to look beyond.
  • Binoculars can help you in generating 3D vision using your eyes. Many people have been known to use these as they are comfortable using a binocular to see two images and translate them as one. This is how people can see the images in 3D while using binoculars.
  • Since binoculars offer two visions, they are suitable for allowing you to process both images together and create a wholesome picture. The binoculars help look beyond an obstacle and build the image by using both the visions in your mind. It is interesting to observe that if an obstruction blocks one eye, your other vision is clear while using a binocular.
  • Binoculars are lightweight (usually up to 2 Kg) making them easier to carry during bird watching, camping, trekking, or hiking trip.

Limitations of binoculars

  • When compared with telescopes, binoculars only provide clear vision and perception to a certain distance. Beyond this distance, you need powerful vision to assist you in viewing the image or the object.
  • Since binoculars allow you to focus on a single image or object, it becomes pretty challenging when you need to focus on something else. In short, if you are focused on one image or object using binoculars, you cannot focus on any other object or image around you. Your focus is completely taken away and captured by the use of binoculars.
  • Often it has been seen that the use of binoculars has led to a few medical conditions. They may cause headaches, blurred vision, eye pain, and diplopia. Because of these very reasons, you need to be careful while using binoculars. 

Best Uses of Binocular

Binoculars are handy optical devices. They can be used for a variety of things. You can make use of binoculars while bird watching, star gazing, camping, for any sporting events, underwater surveillance, above water surveillance, night vision, trekking, hiking, and many more. However, one of the most recent uses of binoculars is improving and focusing on an image or object from your phone camera. Place the binocular right on top of your back camera and see how the magic unfolds for yourself. 

Telescopes

A telescope is an optical device that uses curved mirrors and lenses and offers you to observe and perceive long distant objects like the moon, stars, planets, and galaxies. This is a suitable device for all those interested in stargazing. Get the best telescope in India to view the night sky properly.

stargazing with telescope

Types of telescopes

  • Refractor Telescope: Use a lens as its objective to form an image utilizing refraction.
  • Maksutov-Cassegrain Telescope: High focal ratio and narrower field for lunar and planetary imaging.
  • Reflector Telescope: Ideal for beginners with mirror reflection.
  • Dobsonian Telescope: High light-gathering ability makes it ideal for dim star clusters, nebulae, and galaxies.

Advantages of Telescopes

  • The telescope comes with a larger aperture than binoculars. Thus, a telescope makes it easier for you to see objects and images far away and even beyond the reach of a normal human eye. 
  • A telescope offers a large field of magnification. Also, the field of view in a telescope is comparatively larger than in binoculars. Thus, it gives you a wider angle and a wider distance range to observe the celestial objects in space.
  • Telescopes can be used to gather light as well. This is possible when the telescope has been equipped to record the light using electronic detectors or photographic film. However, please note this point that when a long-exposed photograph is taken from the telescope, it still reflects the objects to be very tiny and distant. 
  • Maksutov-Cassegrain and refractor telescopes offer superior resolution when compared to binoculars. 
  • A camera can be attached to the telescope to get pictures of interstellar bodies which are not visible to the naked eye.
  • Even in low-intensity areas, where the light is not much, you can make use of the Dobsonian telescope without having to compromise on the quality and the product. 

Drawbacks of Telescopes

  • High cost is a major disadvantage of telescopes. The price of a good-quality beginner-level telescope starts from around ₹10000, which is significantly higher than binoculars.
  • To properly use a telescope, you will also need to maintain and keep the telescope prim and proper. Regular maintenance can be a little on the expensive side.
  • Unlike binoculars, telescopes are not easy to carry. They are bulky, heavyweight, and not portable. You also need to move the equipment properly and carefully to ensure they are not damaged in the process.     

Best Uses of Telescope

Telescopes are very useful for those interested in stargazing and astronomy. They offer a clean and proper vision of celestial bodies, stars, and planets, which is impossible to the naked eye.

A telescope is also helpful for collecting and analyzing radiation from a cosmic object and further help in getting to know the universe better. It comes in various shapes and sizes, depending on your need and requirement.

Even though telescopes may take up a lot of space in your room, think about the more enormous benefits you can reap from them. If you study celestial objects and space, then a telescope is an ideal partner for you.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What is the difference between a telescope and a binocular?

Telescopes are used for longer distances and are majorly used in astronomy to learn about celestial bodies. On the other hand, binoculars are used for shorter distances and can be used for bird watching, wildlife, etc. Both offer long-distance vision, but the depth of view and coverable distance is more in a telescope.

Can you see planets with binoculars?

Binoculars offer a much shorter distance than telescopes. They can’t show you minute details of planets, as binoculars can cover only smaller spaces. However, you can use a telescope to see the endless space. Regular binoculars may help you in bird watching, surveillance, CCTV footage, etc. But some high-end astronomical binoculars can allow you to see the closer planets, moon, and celestial objects.

Are high-end binoculars worth the money?

Binoculars are available in the most affordable range. High-end binoculars offer better features and can also be delicate. It entirely depends on the usage of the binocular. Some of these binoculars come with night vision. Some can be used underwater and to watch space. Depending on your requirement, you can opt for high-end binoculars. As long as they serve your purpose, they are definitely worth your money.

Are binoculars better than telescopes?

Both Binoculars and Telescopes have their distinct features with different pros and cons. Depending on the situation and the requirement, you may have to choose between a binocular or a telescope. In some cases, binoculars may be better, and some telescopes will be advantageous. So, it won’t be easy to point out which one is better because both have distinct features and offer better vision and perception. For instance, if you plan to use it for stargazing, choose a telescope over a binocular. At the same time, unlike binoculars, which are easy to carry, telescopes are bulky and make them hard to move around.

Why do people use telescopes instead of binoculars?

Telescopes are majorly used to cover more considerable distances and study celestial objects. They are professionally used to study astronomy and require proper space to place your telescope on a tripod. This is not possible in binoculars as they offer a shorter vision span.

So, Binocular or Telescope – which one suits you better?

Depending on the requirement, you can weigh and measure the pros and cons of binocular vs. telescope and decide accordingly. Telescopes offer a higher range of vision for stargazing, while binoculars are suitable for comparatively shorter distances.

Each optical device has its pros and cons. While binoculars are small and easy to carry in the bird sanctuary, trekking destinations and camping places, telescopes are enormous and bulky, making them difficult to move around. Binoculars are suitable for bird watching, and observing wildlife, and often offer night vision. However, you cannot get such features in a telescope. 

So, depending on the need of the hour, you can opt to buy either of these two. Both are valuable products and are very good on their own. However, the final choice remains with you. So, choose wisely and enjoy the sight offered by these optical devices. 

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Soumya

Author, NatureDiary
Soumya is an avid traveller, founder, photographer and chief editor of NatureDiary. A nature lover by heart, he writes and edits articles on various travel destinations, attractions, and gear on NatureDiary from his vast experience of travelling, trekking, and camping across India.

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