Irish Christmas Gift Ideas: Binoculars buyers guide from the experts

Looking for inspiration for this year’s Christmas shopping? We’ve made this blog to try help with some suggestions of what to get your loved ones this holiday season. Our fifth blog of the Galway Camera Shops Christmas gift suggestions will focus on Optics such as binoculars, monoculars, and spotting scopes.

We are the only family run specialist photographic store in the west of Ireland. Operating since the late 70’s we are conveniently located on 1 William St, Galway, and have had our new online store recently launched. We have an extensive range of optics with 9 brands including Nikon, Hawke, Canon, Celestron, Kite, see our full list here:





We stock over 100 different models of optics and definitely have something that would suit your needs and your budget.

Considerations for buying Binoculars:

  1. What do the numbers mean?:

A popular size for an example is 8 x 42. The 8 x refers to the magnification it will bring what you’re looking at 8 times closer. The second number means 42mm which is the objective of the lens, simple put each prism is 42mm wide.


  1. Lower or higher magnification?:

A lower magnification will give you a wider field of view and is easier to hold steady. A higher magnification will give you a narrower field of view. Please note 10x magnification is typically the highest magnification you can operate handheld. Usually once you get a higher magnification a tripod with a binocular mount would be required. We will explain further later in this post.


  1. Compact, porro, or roof design?:

Your needs and preferences will dictate your choice here. Compact as the name suggests are smaller and lightweight.


 In general, porro prisms provide brighter views, but are much bulkier than roof prism binoculars.


 Roof prism binoculars are significantly more compact and portable than porro prism models.


  1. Extra Considerations:
  • Protective (Rubber Coating)
  • Waterproof body
  • Fogproof body
  • Image stabilisation:

Image stabilized binoculars are specially designed to help counteract tremors or shakes from the user. This allows the user to maintain a steady view for long periods of time and makes it easier to observe and study their surroundings. They tend to be more expensive binoculars


  1. .Binoculars for Specific Uses:
  • Birdwatching Binocular Recommendations:

Compact or Roof binoculars with 8x magnification

A body with rubber coating for durability

Water resistant or waterproof



  • Backpacking & Hiking Binocular Recommendations:

Compact with a 25mm or 32mm objective

10x or 8x magnification

Built for being out in the elements: water resistant or waterproof, fogproof


  • Whale watching, wildlife viewing or safari Binocular Recommendations:

If you are likely to be far away from the animal then 10x magnification is recommended.

A 32mm compact binocular or 42mm roof binocular

Water resistant or waterproof

Please note we recommend marine binoculars such as the Hawke Marine Endurance ED range if you are whale watching


  • Boating or Paddling Binocular Recommendations:

We recommend a marine binocular with a lower magnification such as 7x. With a higher magnification on the water steady viewing becomes more difficult.


  • Stargazing Binocular Recommendations:

With this you would need to maximise magnification. We recommend the Celestron Skymaster range. They come in 15x, 20x, 25x. Each model comes with an adapter mount for using with a tripod. Please note you would need a tripod to use these. An affordable tripod we recommend is the Slik Pro 400DX tripod.


  • Farming Binocular Recommendations:

Compact or Prism

8x magnification for the wider field of view.

Built for being out in the elements: water resistant or waterproof, fogproof


  1. Why buy Monoculars?:

Half the size of binoculars. Monocular are smaller, lighter, and more portable.

See our full range of monoculars here:



  1. Spotting Scopes:

A spotting scope offers larger magnifications than binoculars. Sometimes up to 70x. A spotting scope also has a larger objective lens (for example 80mm). This allows more light to enter the scope.


Spotting scopes are ideal for a living room that has an amazing view.

They need to be used with a tripod, we recommend the Slik Pro 400Dx or Dorr Pro Black 3XL tripods.

See our full range of spotting scopes here:



We hope this blog has been of some help. If you have any further queries then feel free to contact us on our websites contact page or call into us in Galway.

Have a merry Christmas from the Galway camera shop.

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