What do the Numbers on Binoculars Mean?

To a newbie, the numbers on binoculars don’t make any sense whatsoever. And if you’ve found your way here, I guess you’re one of those people. Some people think that it is a name for a specific model, or don’t really know what it means, and that’s the problem we are going to solve today.

Why is it important to know what those numbers mean?

If you are not planning on buying or using a pair of binoculars, don’t worry, you don’t really need to know this. But chances are that you planning to do either of them and then it is tremendously important. You don’t want a pair that’s not optimal for the purpose you’re buying them for, most people think that the higher numbers on the binocular – the better, but that’s usually not the case unless you are in need of a pair with high magnification and large objective lens diameter.

Two very important words were just mentioned.


The first number that is shown is the magnification, which is how many times further you can see with this pair than your own eyes. The magnification can vary all the way from 6x to 14x on binoculars (or sometimes higher), and they are useful for different things. If you’re birding, you might want to be able to look at birds from a long distance to not scare them away, while when you’re looking at something at a closer range you might just see parts of the objects since it is way too close to looking at it with the same power of magnification.

Make sure that you figure out what the main purpose is with your binoculars before you purchase a pair. Of course, sometimes you might use them for different things, but the type of binocular you need whether you are hunting, birding or stargazing varies heavily. So figure out the main purpose.

Objective lens diameter

The objective lens diameter adjusts how much light is let into the binocular. Having a wide lens diameter often provides a brighter image than what a smaller lens does, on the other hand, the wider the lens, the heavier. The same question comes back again, what will the binocular be used for exactly? Do you need compact binoculars so that you can carry it for hours while hunting, or do you need to be able to let in more light (if you’re using them in the woods or at dawn for example)?

And that’s what the numbers on binoculars mean! How far and how light do you really need? Usually, the higher numbers, the pricier, but it doesn’t always mean the better. So choose wisely.