Learning how to use binoculars is easy. Once you know how to use binoculars, it becomes second nature. But if this is your first time, it can be confusing. You’ll need to know how to focus your binoculars, hold them, and keep your target in view. Maintaining and cleaning are also part of knowing how to use binoculars.

If you’re new to the world of binoculars, our guide is quick and easy and will point out all the basics. You’ll be able to get started in no time, even if you wear glasses and aren’t sure how to manage that. 

How to Use Binoculars

How to Use Binoculars

There’s more to using binoculars than simply looking through them, no matter what kind they are. Here is a simple guide on properly using and caring for your binoculars.

How to Hold Binoculars

  • Depending on the size, you can either wrap your entire hands on the barrels or hold them with just the tip of your fingers. To get stable images, tuck in your elbows slightly to your body. It may take a moment to steady the image depending on the size of the binoculars, their weight, and their magnification. The greater the magnification, the more steady you’ll want to hold them to keep your target in your frame of view.

How to Aim Your Binoculars

  • Find what you are looking for with your bare eyes, then without moving the position of your eyes or head, move your binoculars to your eyes. You may find that you lose your target on the first try. Lower the binoculars and try again. If you feel you’re close, you can keep them to your eyes and move very slightly, but this can be difficult if you’re not used to it. Depending on magnification, even the slightest movement could translate into looking very far from your intended target. If this happens, lower them and try again with your bare eyes. Use slow, slight movements whenever necessary to limit mistakes.
Occer Compact Binoculars

How to Focus Your Binoculars

  • Turn the main focus dial or wheel in the center of the binoculars with your right eye closed until you can clearly see your subject. Then, with your left eye closed, turn the diopter dial until you can clearly see your subject. Your image should be clear, and depending on your subject’s distance, you can turn the central focus wheel until your image is sharp.

Using Binoculars with Spectacles

  • You may be able to use binoculars without your glasses on at all. This depends on your vision and how you feel about doing so. If you like, give it a try and adjust the binoculars as we’ve detailed above to see if it works and is comfortable for you. If you are near or farsighted, then you can probably use the binoculars with no issue. However, if you have an astigmatism or a similar condition, then you’ll need to keep the glasses on. 
  • If you can’t use the binoculars without your glasses, or if you just prefer not to, then you will need to adjust the eyecups of the binoculars. You’ll want binoculars that have a higher eye relief than normal. Eye relief is the distance between your eyes and the eyepiece itself that allows you to get a clear view. For most binoculars, this is 14 mm to 15 mm. If you wear glasses, you’ll need more space, and you should look for binoculars that offer eye relief of at least 16 mm and up to 18 mm.
  • You’ll want to have eyecups on your binoculars and keep them up when you use them with glasses. Eyecups block peripheral light and make seeing when you have glasses on much easier.
  • You’ll need to try to adjust the eyecups to the frames of your glasses. This is easier said than done with some glasses. If you have rectangular frames, for instance, it will be harder to get a good fit, and the image may be harder to see as a result. Flatter lenses make it easier as well, so if your glasses have a bit of a curve to them, they will make it more difficult. You may need to spend some time tweaking and adjusting to get the best fit. 
  • Practice with your binoculars and glasses around the house to get the best view you can before heading out anywhere you want to use them for real. Sometimes a certain prescription and a certain pair of binoculars just won’t work well together, so you might have to shop around before you find the perfect pairing.

Maintenance and Care for Binoculars


To ensure your binoculars last and function well, here are some key maintenance and care tips.

  • Hang them on your neck during rest periods. Most of them come with a neck strap, and hanging it around your neck prevents them from falling and any consequential damage.
  • Once you are done using them, make sure you put back the lens cups and return them to the case. The lens cups protect the lenses from scratching, while the case ensures that your binoculars are in good shape and ready for next use.

How to Clean Your Binoculars

Night Vision Binoculars

Cleaning your binoculars is essential for their longevity and effectiveness. Let’s go through a step-by-step guide on how to do it properly.

You need to be extremely careful when cleaning your binoculars. Each set has a special way it needs to be handled according to the manufacturer’s recommendations. Therefore, before beginning the cleaning process, read the manufacturer’s manual. Normally, a section is reserved to provide cleaning instructions for the particular type and model of your binoculars.

Cleaning the Body 

  • Make sure you hold your binoculars properly (upside down, avoiding the lenses). Using a brush with gentle bristles, gently dust off the body of the binoculars.
  • Take a dry piece of lint-free cloth (does not give up any fluff or less probable to build up a charge) or microfiber and wipe around.
  • If the dirt is persistent, let’s say your binoculars are greasy, wet your piece of cloth with tepid water and wipe the body of the binoculars. Remember to avoid the lenses.

Cleaning the Lenses

  • Just like we did with the body, dust off the lenses with a soft-bristled brush or a brush specially designed for binoculars or camera lenses. This is to remove dust or any other microscopic particles, as not doing so will cause friction while wiping, damaging your lenses.
  • Next, grab a piece of microfiber and wipe the lenses as gently as possible. If dirt persists, use salt spray or warm water and wipe.
  • Do not use any other kind of solution since it may damage any special coating used on the lenses by the manufacturer to provide better vision protection.

Cleaning Inside the Binoculars

  • It is not recommended to take your binoculars apart since they may get damaged. Most of them have nitrogen or other special compounds that may be explosive or harmful to you.

The Bottom Line

Over time, with practice and attention to detail, you will get better at using binoculars, even without thinking about it. Always keep your lens caps safely and store the binoculars in their bag for durability. Avoid touching your lenses; don’t be rough while cleaning them. If not waterproof, rubber coat them to avoid damage since most of them are used for outdoor activities.