Looking Through Binoculars Properly

Looking Through Binoculars Properly

Perhaps you have bought a pair of binoculars, or you are thinking of getting one. Either way, it is crucial to learn how to look through binoculars properly.

While many people don’t think twice about how they hold a pair of binoculars, it can actually affect the image quality.

Properly looking through your binoculars will decrease image shake, increase stability and produce a high-quality image. 

If you do not know where to start, you have come to the right place. This guide will explain how to hold binoculars and will describe proper holding techniques.

We will also tell you how to adjust eyecups and width and how to set the focus. Finally, find out how to look through binoculars while wearing glasses. 

If you are ready to learn more about looking through binoculars, keep on reading.

How To Hold Binoculars

How To Hold Binoculars

If you want to make the most of your trusty binoculars, there are a few tips to remember when holding them.

Due to a phenomenon called image shake, you will need to hold your binoculars a certain way to achieve the clearest image possible. 

Image shake refers to all of the small movements that your body makes when breathing or shaking after a tough hike.

This shake can then transfer to your binoculars and produce a shaky image. Let’s see how you can avoid this.

Using Proper Technique

Take your binoculars and hold the pair with both hands. Then, bring the optical instrument up to your eyes and take note of where your elbows are.

If you are like most people, your elbows are probably spread wide, sticking out from your chest area. 

What you want to do is bring your elbows in towards your body. Then, lean them on your chest area for extra support.

You will notice right away how much clearer the image is because of this technique. 

Find a Spot To Sit Down

Instead of only having two sources of support (your feet), find a place to sit so you have a higher amount of support for holding your binoculars.

Doing this will increase the amount of stability you have and lower the chances of image shake. 

Find a Hard Surface To Lean On

Another easy way to increase the amount of stability you have is to find a hard surface to lean on. 

If you rely solely on your strength alone to hold the binoculars in place, you will inevitably experience image shake due to tiring muscles. 

To avoid this, find a bench, tree, rock, chair, or anything that you can lean your back against.

Once you find a spot, lean back and hold your binoculars with the technique mentioned above. 

Rest Your Binoculars on a Stable Surface

If your arms are getting a bit tired, you can always rest your binoculars on a stable surface and look through them from there. 

Find a rock, tree stump, or bench, and put your binoculars on the surface. Then sit down behind them and look through the eyepiece.

This technique is great for those who don’t have a tripod but want the same effect that the tool will give. 

Do Not Grip the Binoculars Too Hard 

One of the biggest mistakes that beginners make is holding the binoculars too hard.

While this is tempting to do since you don’t want to drop the expensive device, it will introduce tiny hand movements that will cause image shake.

Instead, hold the pair primarily with your thumb and index finger. Let the rest of your fingers rest on the lens lightly. 

Adjusting Eyecups

Adjusting Eyecups

Another important aspect of properly looking through binoculars is learning how to adjust the eyecups. 

There are three main ways that binocular users set their eyecups, including fully retracted, partially extended, and fully extended. 

Fully Retracted

The first way you can set your eyecups is to be fully retracted. The main advantage of this position is that you will experience a wide field of view.

This position will be good for hunting purposes when you want to cover a lot of ground. 

However, a higher amount of dirt and dust may get on the lens since there is less protection. 

Partially Extended

If you want to keep your eyecups only at one length, you should keep them extended halfway.

Partially extended eyecups will give you the most benefits with the least amount of drawbacks. 

At this length, you will have a decent field of view suitable for most activities.

Furthermore, the eyecups will provide a bit more protection for the lenses, which will prevent dust and dirt from accumulating.

Lastly, you will have about 13mm of room from the ocular lens, which will be a comfortable eye relief for most people.

Fully Extended

Lastly, you can always fully extend your eyecup, giving you around 20mm of room from the ocular lens. 

The main reason to do this is to protect the lens from dust and block out all peripheral light.

However, you will have a narrow field of view if you do this, meaning you won’t be able to see a wide area through your eyepiece. 

Adjusting Width

Adjusting Width

Another factor that will affect your experience while looking through binoculars is the width. The width refers to the distance between the two eyepieces. 

When it comes to the width, you want to adjust the eyepieces to be the same distance apart as your eyes. You can do this by moving each tube farther apart or closer together.

You will know you have the perfect width if you see full, clear images in each eye.

An easy way to check the width is to close each eye, one at a time, and make sure you see the same image in each eye. 

Setting the Focus

Setting the Focus

The Central Focusing Wheel

The central focusing wheel is the wheel in the center of the binoculars. Adjusting this will change the focus of both lenses simultaneously.

To focus on something, simply turn the wheel until the image is crystal clear. 

Calibrating the Diopter Adjustment

In order for the central focus wheel to work correctly, you first need to calibrate the diopter ring.

This ring adjusts each lens individually; if you don’t set this focus first, you might never get a crystal clear image. So here is how to do it. 

  • Find out what side the diopter focus wheel is on. If the focus wheel is on the left barrel, shut your left eye and leave your right eye open. If it is on the right side, do the opposite. 
  • Keep your eye closed and choose an object to focus on about 10 meters away. Adjust the focus ring until the object is clear.
  • Open your eye and close the other eye. While focusing on the same object, adjust the diopter wheel again until the object is clear. 
  • Open both eyes and look through the binoculars. You should see a full, clear image that is not blurry at all. Now you can adjust the central focusing wheel all you want.

What To Do With Glasses?

What To Do With Glasses?

If you wear glasses, you may have trouble looking through binoculars. Fortunately, there is a way to fix this.

The first component you should be looking at is your eyecups. With one easy adjustment, you will be able to look through your binoculars with ease.

Adjust the Eyecups so That They Are Fully Retracted

If you wear glasses, make sure to adjust the eyecups so that they are fully retracted, folded down all the way to the ocular lens. 

In order for your binoculars to perform optimally, your eyeglass lenses should be as close as possible to the binocular lens.

You can only do this if you fully retract the eyepieces.

Fully retracted eyecups will give about 12mm of room from your lens to the eyepiece, which is what most eyeglass wearers will need.                                                                    


Looking through binoculars does not sound like a difficult task. However, there are a few things you can do that will increase the image quality. 

First of all, you should be holding the binoculars correctly.

To do this, make sure to use the proper technique, find a spot to sit down and something to lean against, rest your optical instrument on a stable surface, and don’t grip the binoculars too hard.

There are also three ways to adjust the eyecups: fully retracted, partially extended, and fully extended. 

Fully retracted is best for eyeglass wearers and for those who want a wide field of view.

Partially extended will give you a decent depth of field and will block some peripheral light.

Fully extended will block all peripheral light but will lack a wide field of view.

When it comes to setting the focus, there are two rings you need to pay attention to, including the central focus wheel and the diopter ring. 

The first ring you need to adjust is the diopter ring. After you calibrate the diopter adjustment, you can use the central focusing wheel to adjust both lenses.

Be sure to follow these tips to experience the best image possible with your binoculars.