How to Choose Binoculars’ Lens Coating

Binoculars are a wonderful tool for exploring the world around us, whether it’s for bird watching, stargazing, or even just enjoying the view at a sporting event. One crucial factor that greatly affects the performance of binoculars is the type of lens coating used.

Lens coating plays a vital role in enhancing image quality, improving light transmission, and reducing glare. In this article, we will delve into the importance of lens coating and provide you with tips on how to choose the right lens coating for your binoculars.

Importance of lens coating in binoculars

Lens coating is a thin layer applied to the surface of the lenses in binoculars. The primary purpose of lens coating is to reduce reflection and increase light transmission, resulting in a brighter and clearer image. Without lens coating, a significant amount of light would be lost due to reflection, leading to a dimmer and lower quality image. Lens coating also helps to protect the lenses from scratches and other damage.

Types of Lens Coatings

Anti-Reflection Coatings

Anti-reflection coatings reduce the amount of light that is reflected by the lens surfaces. These coatings increase the light transmission and minimize ghosting and flare. They come in various levels of effectiveness, such as single coating, multi-coating, and fully multi-coated coatings.

Coated Optics

Coated optics refer to binoculars with a single layer of anti-reflection coating on the objective lens surfaces. While these coatings are basic, they still provide better light transmission compared to uncoated optics.

Fully Multi-Coated Optics

Fully multi-coated optics feature multiple layers of anti-reflection coatings on all lens surfaces. These coatings maximize light transmission, minimize reflections, and enhance image brightness and contrast.

Dielectric Coating

Dielectric coating is a type of reflective coating applied to the prism surfaces inside binoculars. It increases light transmission and improves color fidelity. Binoculars with dielectric coatings offer sharper, brighter, and more vibrant images, especially in low-light conditions.

Phase Coating

Phase coating is another type of coating applied to specific binocular models that feature roof prisms. It corrects the phase shift of light passing through the prisms, resulting in improved image sharpness, contrast, and resolution.

Hydrophobic Coating

Hydrophobic coating repels water, dust, dirt, and fingerprints from the lens surfaces. It makes cleaning easier and ensures that the lenses stay clear and free from obstructions.

Factors to consider when choosing lens coating

When choosing the right lens coating for your binoculars, there are several factors to consider:

  • Budget: Lens coating can significantly impact the price of binoculars. Coated lenses are the most affordable option, while fully multi-coated lenses are the most expensive. Consider your budget and prioritize the level of lens coating that suits your needs and preferences.
  • Intended use: Think about how you will be using your binoculars. If you are a casual user or using them for general purposes, fully coated or multi-coated lenses should be sufficient. However, if you are a serious birdwatcher or stargazer, investing in fully multi-coated lenses would be worth it for the enhanced image quality.
  • Quality of optics: The quality of the binoculars’ optics, including the lens material and design, also plays a role in image quality. Higher quality optics combined with superior lens coating will result in the best overall performance.
  • Lighting conditions: Consider the lighting conditions in which you will be using your binoculars. If you often find yourself in low light situations, such as dawn or dusk, opt for binoculars with better lens coating to maximize light transmission and improve visibility.

Evaluating Coating Quality

Transmission Efficiency

A high-quality lens coating should provide excellent light transmission. Look for binoculars with high percentages of light transmission, such as 90% or higher.

Reduction of Glare

Glare can significantly affect your viewing experience. Ensure that the lens coating you choose minimizes glare, especially when viewing objects in direct sunlight.

Contrast Enhancement

A good lens coating should improve contrast, making the image appear sharper and more detailed. Compare different coatings and opt for ones that offer superior contrast enhancement.

Considering Specific Needs

Hunting and Wildlife Observation

For hunters and wildlife observers, binoculars with anti-reflection coatings and fully multi-coated optics are ideal. These coatings enhance image brightness, color fidelity, and contrast, allowing for better target identification.


Birdwatchers benefit from binoculars with fully multi-coated optics and phase coatings. These coatings enhance color accuracy and sharpness, allowing you to observe fine details in bird plumage.


Astronomy enthusiasts should prioritize binoculars with high light transmission capabilities, such as those with dielectric coatings. These coatings will ensure that you can observe celestial objects with maximum clarity and brightness.

Advantages of lens coating

Lens coating offers several advantages that greatly enhance the performance of binoculars:

  • Increases light transmission: Lens coating reduces reflection and allows more light to pass through the lenses. This results in a brighter image, especially in low light conditions.
  • Reduces glare and reflections: Lens coating helps to minimize glare caused by bright light sources. It also reduces unwanted reflections, improving visibility and clarity.
  • Improves image sharpness and contrast: With reduced reflections and increased light transmission, lens coating enhances image sharpness and contrast. This makes details in the image more distinct and colors more vibrant.

Maintenance and Durability

Scratch Resistance

Opt for binoculars with lens coatings that offer scratch resistance. This will protect your investment from accidental damage and ensure the longevity of your binoculars.

Water and Dust Resistance

Consider lens coatings that repel water, dust, and dirt. This feature will make cleaning easier and allow you to use your binoculars in various weather conditions without compromising image quality.


Choose lens coatings that are known for their durability and longevity. Research the reputation of different brands and models to ensure that you are investing in binoculars with coatings that will last.


Choosing the right lens coating for your binoculars is crucial for achieving the best possible image quality and performance. Consider your budget, intended use, and lighting conditions when making your decision.

Remember that the level of lens coating directly affects light transmission, glare reduction, and image sharpness. Investing in higher quality lens coatings, such as multi-coated or fully multi-coated lenses, will significantly enhance your viewing experience.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I add lens coating to my existing binoculars?

No, lens coating is applied during the manufacturing process and cannot be added later. If you want better lens coating, you will need to purchase a new pair of binoculars.

Can I add lens coating to my existing binoculars?

No, lens coating cannot be added to existing binoculars unless you send them to a professional for recoating. It is recommended to choose binoculars with the desired level of lens coating when making a purchase.

How do I clean binoculars with lens coating?

To clean binoculars with lens coating, use a microfiber cloth or a lens cleaning solution specifically designed for optical surfaces. Avoid using harsh chemicals or abrasive materials that may damage the coating.

Are fully coated lenses good enough for casual use?

Yes, fully coated lenses are good enough for casual use and general purposes. They offer better image quality and light transmission compared to coated lenses at an affordable price point.

Does lens coating affect the durability of binoculars?

Lens coating does not directly affect the durability of binoculars. However, it does provide some protection to the lenses against scratches and other damage, resulting in a longer lifespan.

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