Binoculars are great for birding, whale watching, watching sporting events, and a whole lot more. Most binoculars give you a magnification of 10x or less because this is about all the magnification power you can handle when you handhold your binos.
But what if you want to look farther away?
The answer is high-power binoculars and a tripod or monopod. With binoculars over 10x, you need something to help you hold them steady. But the payoff can be immense.
Scanning terrain, watching for ships on the horizon, and even exploring the craters of the moon and Saturn’s rings with over 10x won’t disappoint.
So, let’s take an in-depth look at the best high power binoculars out there right now.
Top 7 Best High Power Binoculars To Buy In 2023 Reviews
1 ESSLBN Astronomy Zoom Binoculars – Best Budget High Power Binoculars
Size: 13-39 x 70
Let’s start with the most affordable high power binoculars on this list – the Astronomy Zoom Binoculars by ESSLBN. Now, 13x magnification isn’t the most powerful you’re going to find out there. But, when that zooms up to 39x, wow, that’s powerful.
These fully multi-coated porro prism binoculars are priced under $100, so they’re inexpensive. The objective lenses are 70mm in diameter and fully multi-coated to give a whole lot of brightness that you need when looking at faraway objects.
However, I think the power may be overstated here…
The number 39 is already pretty weird. When I tried these in comparison to other binos, I didn’t feel the magnification was over 25x. But, that said, even 13-25x is quite powerful.
Images in these binos are moderately clear, though they give quite a bit of color aberration. So, if you’re looking for bird-watching binoculars, these aren’t for you. For other types of spotting or backyard astronomy, though, they do a decent job for a remarkably low price.
Big and bulky…
However, these binos aren’t too heavy, weighing 2.71 pounds (1229g). And you’ll want to use them with a tripod. Luckily, they come with a tripod adapter. Likewise, they have a smartphone mount that allows you to take pictures with your phone’s camera through the lens.
And for glasses wearers, the eyecups pop out to give you about 10mm of eye relief. So, you can use these comfortably while wearing your normal glasses.
- Low, low price.
- Zoom with good power.
- Not the clearest image.
- Overstated magnification.
2 Celestron Skymaster Binoculars – Best Stargazing High Power Binoculars
Size: 25 x 70
Celestron is a relatively new optics company that has been doing well in the low-priced binoculars market lately. Their Skymaster binoculars come in different sizes, like 12 x 60 and 15 x 70. But here, we’re going to look at the highest power pair – the 25 x 70 Skymasters.
As the name suggests, these are high power binoculars for stargazing and amateur astronomy. At the high magnification of 25x, they give quite a tight view of the night sky. You only get 141 feet at 1000 yards in your field of view.
This may make it more difficult to spot objects of interest. However, once you do, you can get in nice and tight with these binos.
Comfortable and Clear
The Skymasters give you 13mm of eye relief which is plenty for comfortable use while wearing glasses. They make use of BaK4 (barium-potassium) porro prisms and multi-coated lenses to provide clear, sharp images. They’re also quite bright with a 70mm/2.75” objective lens diameter.
In comparison to the ESSLBNs, these give you a brighter, crisper image with less (though still a little) chromatic aberration.
You’ll need a tripod…
They’re pretty big and weigh 52 ounces (1474g), which makes them pretty hard to hold in your hand. But with 25x magnification, you’re going to want these up on a tripod anyway. The binos are somewhat water-resistant. Although, the manufacturer hasn’t provided an IP rating.
They are not, however, fog-resistant. That is a shame since nighttime stargazing can get chilly and cause these to fog up.
Overall, though, for just over $100 for the binos themselves or $130 with a tripod adapter, this pair is a good, affordable way to start with backyard astronomy.
- Affordable with a sharp, bright image.
- Strong 25x magnification.
- A bit on the heavy side.
- Not fog-resistant.
3 Nikon Aculon A211 Zoom Binoculars – Best High Power Zoom Binoculars
Size: 10-22 x 50
With Nikon’s $150 Aculon A211, we return to zoom binoculars with adjustable magnification. The benefit of a zoom is that you can zoom out, here to just 10x, to spot objects of interest. Then you can zoom in, here to 22x, to check them out in detail.
For these Aculons in particular, the 10x magnification makes them possible to be hand-held. They’re only 34 ounces (960g). Making them some of the best lightweight high power binoculars on the market.
This lets you use them in a lot of applications like sports and bird watching that fixed high-powered binoculars are no good for.
On the other hand…
Zoom binoculars can be harder to get in focus and keep there. For example, these 10-22x binos have a close focus distance of 49 feet, while most 10x fixed binos would let you focus on objects just ten feet away.
Zooming here is also not incredibly smooth. So, it’s easy to lose your item of interest while you zoom in unless you’re using the most stable of tripods. Also, there is no tripod adapter included with these binos.
There is an extra payoff here…
The high power of the 22x magnification. It’s enough to let you see moon craters clearly and even Saturn’s rings with some detail. They’re not as strong or as bright as the Celestron Skymasters as they only have 50mm objective lenses. However, using multi-coated lenses, the brightness is still acceptable.
I found images sharp with these binoculars, at least until fully zoomed in. At 22x, objects can start to get a bit out of focus with some definite fringing visible.
- Convenient 10-22x zoom allows many applications.
- Sharp, clear image.
- Some fringing at 22x power.
- Eye relief of only 8.6mm is not great for glasses wearers.
- Tripod adapter not included.
4 Barska AB10592 Gladiator 20-100 Zoom Binoculars – Best Magnification High Power Binoculars
Size: 20-100 x 70
For about $175, you could get your hands on the Gladiator 20-100 Zoom Binoculars from Barska. So far, these are the most powerful binoculars we’ve seen with a zoom from 20x up to 100x magnification. At least, that’s what they advertise.
I think that, like the ESSLBNs, the magnification is over-stated here. However, whatever the true magnification is, it sure is high. A quick flip of the magnification lever over the right eyepiece zooms you in super-tight to what you’re looking at in an easy and stable way.
They’re also large at 11 inches long and pretty heavy at 50 ounces (1417g). So, you’d better be supported on a tripod when you do zoom in. Unfortunately, like the Nikons, the Gladiator here doesn’t come with a tripod adapter. That’s sold separately but easy enough to get a hold of.
With 70mm objective lenses, these binoculars are nice and bright. They also use multi-coated lenses and quality BaK4 prisms to give you nice bright and sharp images at all magnifications.
The field of view is quite tight here. You get only 66 feet at 1000 yards at 22x magnification. So, of course, when you zoom in more, your field of view is going to go down further and further.
If you wear glasses, you’ll find the 16.5mm of eye relief more than comfortable for using these binos without having to take off your specs. The rubber eyecups make them comfortable for non-glasses wearers.
One complaint here…
These binoculars need some work to get them in focus. I’m talking collimation, which is setting the two different eyepiece lenses so that they can resolve into a single, sharp image that perfectly matches your eyesight. This is easily enough done with a small screwdriver and a few minutes of work.
- Incredible 20-100x magnification.
- The image is relatively sharp and bright.
- The price is affordable.
- Need to collimate to get a sharp image.
- Big and heavy.
- Tripod adapter not included.
5 Pentax SP 20×60 WP Binoculars – Best Waterproof High Power Binoculars
Size: 20 x 60
The Pentax SP binoculars come in 4 different sizes. You can get them in 8 x 40, 10 x 50, and 12 x 50, but here we’re going to look at the most powerful 20 x 60 pair.
These binos come in at around $220, so we’re starting to get a bit more expensive here. Although, we’ll see that these are still relatively affordable compared to some real high-end products. Again, they’re big and bulky at around 49 ounces (1398g). But you could manage to handhold them if you have something to lean or prop yourself upon. The magnification is, after all, only 20x.
Is that good enough?
Well, the field of view here is fairly broad, and the 60mm diameter lenses do give you enough light for most applications. They also use quality BaK4 porro prisms and fully multi-coated lenses to enhance brightness and sharpness.
These are some of the easiest to focus high power binoculars. That is thanks to just the right amount of throw in the central focus knob.
Ready for the Wilderness
While they don’t feature ultra-low dispersion glass, which would substantially increase the price, these are still our sharpest pair of binos yet. On top of that, they’re also the first properly waterproof (submersible down to 3 feet of water) binos with nitrogen-purged fog-proof lenses.
If you’re going to be using these for outdoor uses of any kind, especially in the cold, you’ll be happy for both of those features.
What’s not to like?
Compared to our other binoculars, the Pentax SP WPs have the lowest magnification. So, if you’re using them for far-away spotting, you might not get all the power you need. And, of course, it seems that the more you pay for binos, the less likely it is you’ll get a tripod adapter included for free.
- Nice sharp and bright image.
- Easy focus.
- Tons of eye relief (20mm) for glasses wearers.
- Tripod adapter not included.
- Lowest magnification.
6 Celestron Skymaster Pro Binoculars – Best Value for the Money High Power Binoculars
Size: 20 x 80
We’ve already had a look at Celestron’s Skymaster line. But here, we’re looking at the Skymaster Pro 20 x 80 binoculars in comparison. These have less magnification but larger objective lenses than the regular 25 x 70 Skymasters. They’re also priced at around $90 more at about $220.
Why is that?
For starters, they look cooler. The sleeker design is aided by a protective rubberized armor and also a central reflex sight rail (RSR) for increased stability.
You can use this rail to attach a red dot finderscope as you would use for spotting with a high-powered telescope. And guess what? It also comes with a built-in tripod adapter attached to the removable RSR rail! The other main improvements here are the XLT fully multi-coated lenses and a bigger objective lens diameter. Yes, these are only 20x compared to the 25x regular Skymasters, so you’d already expect them to be brighter.
There’s a lot to like here…
They don’t have the most magnification power on this list. But with the extra diameter, they’re way brighter, giving you some bright, clear views of astronomical bodies. And they are waterproof so you can use them in all outdoor conditions. They’re also been nitrogen purged, so they won’t fog up even on cool nighttime viewing sessions.
They have a better field of view of 168 feet at 1000 yards and a better close focus of 66 feet. So, they can be better applied to terrestrial applications, too.
- Waterproof and fog-proof.
- Very bright lenses.
- Tripod adapter built-in to RSR rail.
- Not the highest magnification around.
7 Vortex Optics Kaibab HD Binoculars – Best Premium High Power Binoculars
Size: 18 x 56
Vortex Optics gives us their Kaibab HD Binoculars for the last pair on this list. They’re also by far the most expensive pair. While everything we looked at so far was comfortably under $250, these Kaibabs are – ready for it? – about $950!
Are they worth that much more money?
Well, let’s look at how their stats stack up. First of all, these 18 x 56 binos have the least power on my list of the best high power binoculars.
They’ve only got 18x magnification, which isn’t enough for a lot of astronomical applications. However, if you’re using them for long-distance spotting here on earth, they might still be what you need.
Unlike all the others we’ve seen, these binoculars use roof prisms instead of porro prisms. This keeps them narrower and a bit sleeker. Although, they tend to let in less light and have a narrower field of view, comparably. At 18x, though, they still give you a decent FOV of 194 feet at 1000 yards distance.
The full multi-coated plus XR coated lenses and extra-low dispersion glass make up for this by leaps and bounds. The glass here is what is making all the difference in both the price and the image quality.
Compared to what we’ve been looking at, these are incredibly clear and sharp, with little to no distortion at all. Making them some of the clearest high power binoculars you can buy.
Also, they’re waterproof with their O-ring seals. They’re argon purged for guaranteed fog-proofing. Plus, they’re compact. They measure 7.7” long by 5.7” wide, making them less bulky while still weighing in at a decent 43.5 ounces (1233g).
All told, it depends on what you need high power binos for. These Kaibabs aren’t great for astronomy, but for long-range spotting during the day, they’re superb.
- Extremely sharp, clear image.
- Tripod adapter included.
- Waterproof and fog-proof.
- Lowest magnification on this list.
How to Buy Yourself the Best High Power Binoculars?
Getting your hands on high power binoculars is easy. But choosing the best pair for your money may not be. Here are some of the main factors to consider when making your purchase.
Magnification and Field of View
If you want to look at the moon and planets, you’ll probably want to go with at least 20x, if not stronger, magnification. A zoom can take that even farther, although keep in mind that zooming can disrupt your focus.
If you’re keeping your eyes on the earth, like for hunting, sports, or other long-distance spotting, something under 20x might still be an option.
The field of view tells you how wide an image you can see from a certain distance. This is usually measured in feet from a set distance of 1000 yards. With greater magnification, FOV decreases. But at equal magnification, the binoculars with a greater FOV will let you see more.
Size and Weight
Heavier and bulkier binoculars are harder to carry around and more difficult to operate. But at high magnification, this is less of an issue.
That’s because you’ll almost always want to use a tripod or at least a monopod to keep your binos steady. Still, if you have trouble holding up heavy objects, or have arm or writs issues, look for a lighter pair.
Binoculars use glass lenses and glass prisms to collect light and magnify images. Multi-coated lenses are bright, but fully multi-coated lenses are brighter. Some other proprietary coatings can further enhance brightness and reduce glare.
Your prisms are also tremendously important. Roof prisms let binoculars be more streamlined, while porro prisms transfer more light for brighter images. The glass quality and prism coatings are also important for clarity and brightness. Extra-low dispersion glass is the absolute best but is also very expensive.
Most binoculars these days are made from hard, durable plastics that can handle a few bumps. Rubberized armor helps to give even more protection to your binos. But, you also need protection from the elements.
Waterproofing can be a great help when you want to use your binoculars in light rain or snow. Fog-proofing, which is done by purging the air out of the body of the binos and replacing it with inert nitrogen or argon, is also a big plus.
This keeps your lenses from blurring when you face temperature and humidity changes while viewing.
Looking for more Superb Binocular options?
We can help with that. Check out our in-depth reviews of the Best Binoculars For The Money, the Best Binoculars Under $100, the Best Binoculars for Theater & Opera, the Best Binoculars for Whale Watching, and the Best Binoculars for Sporting Events you can buy in 2023.
Also, take a look at our detailed reviews of the Best Binoculars for Birding, the Best Budget Telescopes, the Best Headband Magnifiers, the Best Magnifying Glasses, and the Best Handheld Magnifying Glasses currently on the market.
What Are The Best High Power Binoculars?
I have to admit – this is the part of reviews that I dislike the most. I’ve just had the chance to take you through some great binoculars, but now I’m forced to choose one that stands out.
Well, this time, it’s not as hard as usual. For me, the best bang for your binocular buck is the…
They’re bright, clear, water and fog-proof, and come with an RSR and tripod adapter to make them ready for use. I think these are great pair of binos to start with if you’re not ready to invest in a truly top-of-the-line pair.
Here’s wishing you luck with your purchase and happy spotting.