Binoculars VS. Telescopes: When to Use Which?


Though both of them are used to view faraway objects, a telescope only has a single viewfinder while binoculars have two. Using both eyes, the user can see a 3D image of an object with binoculars. Telescopes are also larger than binoculars and their lenses are stronger and more powerful. However, there are modern special binoculars that can be as powerful as basic telescopes.

The table below presents the differences of the two.




Consist of two telescopes mounted adjacent to each other

A long, cylindrical device generally used to view celestial objects


They cover shorter distances compared to telescopes distances

They can cover long distances
Type of Lens Binoculars use short, small lens Telescopes use long, big lens

Magnification power ranges from 4x to 12x

Special binoculars can zoom more

Magnification power ranges from 12x or 15x up to 45x or 60x

Special telescopes can zoom even more


Have closer focus, usually four to five feet away

Can focus farther, usually 15 to 20 feet but can be more if the lens allows it

Field of View

Have wider view

Have a specific and a more narrow view

Depth of Field

Allows the user to see a 3D image because both eyes are used

The user sees a flat image because only one eye is used


Easier to handle and carry around

Heavier and is difficult to move around


Usually, no installation required

Needs to be set up properly because it’s not a handheld device


Lighter than telescopes, usually 80 grams

Can be 1 to 2 kilos or more

Less expensive than telescopes

More expensive than binoculars

Surveillance, birdwatching, and animal watching on Safaris

Astronomy and Stargazing

When should you use which? Well, if you’ve read the table, you’ll find the answer on the last part. But why is that so?

Telescopes are perfect when you want to look at the stars and the other objects in the universe because they can reach farther distances. Telescopes are more powerful and have a narrower view compared to binoculars which make the study of a single star easier. If you want to study a particular star or wait for a certain comet, you better prepare a telescope to see a more detailed image of the celestial object.

On the other hand, binoculars can be used for stargazing as well. In fact, they’re recommended for those who want to identify constellations or star clusters. This is because they have wider lenses and that means a wider view. Because you’re using both your eyes, a whole constellation can fit in a single frame.

If you’re into birdwatching or animal watching, opt for binoculars. It’s also advisable to buy binoculars instead of telescopes especially if you’re not going to use the telescope for astronomy or stargazing for a long time. Binoculars are generally cheaper and portable as well, making them easier to obtain and carry around.

There you have it! The final decision is yours. Just make sure it’ll suit your needs. Happy viewing!