Most people in America have a lot of opportunities to go to sporting events. I’ve heard that football is one of the most popular spectator sports in the U.S., and I think binoculars can be extremely useful at the games.
Some will wonder whether they can bring binoculars to these events. In most cases, binoculars are allowed.
Since the implementation of the clear bag policy in the NFL, binoculars are allowed as long as they are not in their own case. Here is the NFL’s official website: http://www.nfl.com/qs/allclear/index.jsp.
Some will argue, to get the best view of the players and the action, watching on TV is the best way. But there is a lot to be said about the excitement and atmosphere at the stadium that you just don’t get on your couch at home.
With compact binoculars, you can bring the action and the players closer to you while still enjoying the atmosphere, as long as you choose the right pair.
In this post, I’ll tell you the most important features in choosing binoculars for sporting events. If you think high-powered binoculars are the best, you must read this first!
What features are most important in binoculars for sporting events?
With players running around the field in football, baseball, soccer, etc., you need a wide field of view. With a narrow field of view, it’s hard to follow the ball and the players in action.
Contrary to expectations, powerful binoculars are rather useless for watching these games because they usually have a narrow field of view.
Let’s take a look at my Zeiss 10×40. This pair is really impressive and produces a stunning image.
They have a 6.3 degree field of view, which is wide for this magnification. But it is not wide enough for ball games at stadiums. In my experience, binoculars with a field of view wider than 8 degrees are much more useful.
The Hinode A5 5×21 has an 11 degree field of view, which I believe is optimal for watching ball games. You won’t miss the crucial plays with the Hinode A5.
Another advantage of low-powered binoculars is that you do not have to adjust the focusing knob as often. In other words, they have a greater depth of focus.
For ball games at stadiums, choosing low-powered binoculars with a wide field of view is a golden rule.
For horse races, you need a powerful pair.
For horse races, I’ll take my Zeiss 10×40, which have relatively high-magnification.
I chose this pair because I want to see the number of each horse during the race. They also have a wide apparent field of view (6.5 degrees), which enables me to find my horse easily.
Sometimes you need high-magnification, but you have to remember this: be sure to choose binoculars with at least a 6.0 degree field of view. Otherwise, you’ll have trouble tracking moving objects.
A journal of my experience at a soccer stadium
I live in Urawa, which is a famous soccer town because of the Urawa Reds, one of the most renowned soccer teams in Japan. My son, who plays on a boys’ soccer team, and I had a chance to go to Urawa Stadium to see the Reds game.
I knew we had a long walk from the parking lot, so I didn’t want to carry a lot of stuff. I chose my compact Porro Prism binoculars, Hinode A5 5×21, for watching the game.
As expected, our seats were very far from the field (about 130 meters from the center circle). It felt as if we were looking down from the fifth floor of a building.
I could barely see the uniform numbers and could not recognize the players.
During the warm-up before the game, my son asked to use my binoculars. On his team, he’s a goalkeeper, so he wanted to watch the goal keeper’s punt kick.
The trajectory of the ball was not only powerful but also very accurate. I asked my son for my binoculars back, but he wanted to keep using them.
Before leaving home, I had asked him if he needs binoculars, but he said, “No.” I should have brought another pair!
The Red’s supporters were so enthusiastic! They kept standing, cheering, chanting, and clapping during the game. I love this kind of atmosphere.
I took some pictures through the binoculars from my seat. The center circle (about 9 meters in diameter) fits well in the field of view (see below).
I felt very comfortable with the 5× magnification. The Hinode A5 has an 11 degree field of view, which is wide enough not to miss any action.
It was windy and cold and my fingers got numb, which made it difficult to hold binoculars firmly. However, the image was not shaky because of the low magnification.
It was a really exciting game. In the first half, the opponent scored 1 point, which made for an edgy atmosphere. However, the Reds scored in the extra time at the end of the first half!
With many players in front of the goal, those around me couldn’t see what happened. However, my binoculars enabled me to catch the moment one of the players tied the score with a header.
My son kept my binoculars for the entire second half. The game reached its climax when a young Reds player fired a volley, which put the Reds ahead for a 2 to 1 win!
When my son handed back my binoculars, he said, “His trapping was amazing!” I thought he didn’t touch the ball before shooting, but my son could see it all with the binoculars.
The long walk back to the parking lot was a little tiring. I’m glad I didn’t bring a bigger, heavier pair of binoculars.
I was reminded of the fact that compact binoculars are a must item for watching ball games. I only regret not bringing a pair for each of us.
In the U.S., football is more popular than soccer. As a comparison, here is the size difference between a soccer field and a football field (see below).
The football field is a little smaller, but it’s clear that compact binoculars with low-magnification are also useful for a football field.
Keep the lens caps on the ocular lenses.
While watching games, you’ll naturally talk and cheer a lot. You’ll probably also enjoy eating and drinking. If you hang your binoculars from your neck, you might notice little drops of spit on the ocular lenses.
These spots will be hard to clean if they are left on the lenses for a long time. Remember to use the lens caps on the ocular lenses when they are not in use. These days, many binocular caps come with straps so you won’t lose them.
If you see spots on the ocular lenses, please clean them using these instructions (read the article: A Guide To Cleaning Your Binoculars).
For most ball games, compact binoculars with low magnification are very useful. With the players running around the field, you need to track them. The wide field of view makes it easier to find and follow them quickly.
Low-magnification also reduces shake. When it’s windy or cold, each little shake of your hands is intensified with high magnification binoculars.
Even with a low-powered pair, you can recognize your favorite players on the field.
For horse races, I recommend that you bring a more powerful pair such as 10×40. Higher magnification enables you to better see the numbers on the horses.
During the game, you should cover the ocular lenses with lens caps to keep them clean.
Unlike watching games on TV, with the right pair of compact binoculars, you can enjoy the atmosphere of the stadium while having a great view!