First, it's good to think about the ways you'll be using your binoculars. Will it be for bird and wildlife viewing? Hunting? To see more detail at the theater and sporting events? Will you use your binoculars to view things close up (butterfly watching) or far away (ships at sea)? Will you be able to prop your arms on something for support while using your binoculars? Do you want a small binocular that you can fit in a pocket or a larger one that gathers more light?
Low to moderate magnification (6x to 8x) are the most popular binoculars than ones with more power (10x, 12x, etc.). Lower magnification binoculars typically have wider fields of view and are easier to hold steady than the binoculars with higher magnifications. A wider field of view is important when trying to follow fast-moving action like game on the move, warblers on the wing, or athletes at a fast-paced sporting event.
Higher magnifications (10x and beyond) will make things bigger, but are generally more difficult to hold steady. Binoculars with higher magnification often have a narrower field of view. Binocular users that go 10x or higher are looking to pull distant objects in a little closer and concede the compromises they're making for the extra power.
For a practical demonstration, see our short video below, Understanding Magnification:
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