Knowledge about Binoculars

Compendium of Binoculars

With its comprehensive range of binoculars, ZEISS can help you find the optimum solution for any application. There are many different types of ZEISS binoculars, but they all have one thing in common: the quality of the ZEISS brand.

Join us as we take a look back at some of the key milestones in the development of binoculars. We have put together a wealth of interesting facts and figures about binoculars as well as an overview of the various types of binoculars made by ZEISS.

  • Development

    Development of the telescope

    The development of telescopes and the binoculars derived from them was triggered by a desire to see faraway objects up close. Although initially developed to get a closer look at the stars in the sky, telescopes gradually became valuable tools for terrestrial observations, too.


    Several names are linked to the invention of telescopes, including Hans Lipperhey from Middelburg in the Netherlands and Jacob Metius of Alkmaar. The two spectacle-makers independently submitted patent applications to the States-General of the Netherlands in The Hague in October 1608. It is also said that Sacharias Janssen from Middelburg invented a telescope back in 1590.

  • Kepler and Galileo

    A comparison of Keplerian and Galilean telescopes

    Galilean telescope

    Galilean telescope

    Keplerian telescope

    Keplerian telescope

    Although there is still a controversy as to the true inventor of the telescope, there is no doubt that it is a Dutch invention. This telescope became known as a Galilean telescope because Galileo Galilee presented a telescope in 1609 which used a converging lens for the objective and a diverging lens for the eyepiece, providing an upright, unreversed image.

    In 1611, Johannes Kepler described the beam path of his telescope, which provides the foundation for almost all present-day binoculars and riflescopes. However, the original design delivered a reversed, upside-down image. In 1615, Christoph Scheiner built the first Kepler-type, or Keplerian, telescope using converging lenses for both the objective and the eyepiece.

  • Milestones

    Milestones in binocular design

    Two key milestones in the history of binoculars

    1894 In 1894 Ernst Abbe, who was employed at the ZEISS works in Jena, received a patent for binoculars with an enlarged objective lens distance. Porro prisms were used on these binoculars for the image erecting system.
    1897 In 1897 Moritz Hensoldt from Wetzlar launched binoculars which used roof prisms as the erecting system for the first time. These binoculars also had an enlarged objective lens distance.

    These two developments heralded the dawn of modern binocular design. The advances in this field have since been inextricably linked to the names Moritz Hensoldt and Carl Zeiss.

    ZEISS in Jena acquired the Hensoldt works in Wetzlar in 1928. However, the company was known as "Hensoldt AG Carl Zeiss Group" until 2006 when it was renamed to "Carl Zeiss Sports Optics GmbH".

  • Designations

    Binocular designations

    The key information about a set of binoculars can be described by its magnification (M) and objective lens diameter (D).

    For example the values of the designations based on the Victory Compact 8x20 T*:

    Magnification (M) = 8x

    Objective lens diameter (D) = 20 mm

    What do these two values mean?




    This indicates how much closer, or larger, an object appears. For free-hand observations, the magnification should not be much more than 10x because hand shake makes the image too blurry.

    Objective lens diameter



    This determines the amount of light that can enter the binoculars. However, the larger the diameter, the larger and heavier the binoculars.

  • Types

    Types of binoculars

    The ZEISS range of binoculars

    Monoculars Handheld telescopes are quickly ready for use and ideal for seeing faraway details such as street names and house numbers. They are also referred to as visual aids.
    Pocket binoculars These are small, lightweight and easy to use, making them ideal for trips to the theater, vacations, traveling and hiking.
    Binoculars These include both all-purpose models and special binoculars for bird watching and nature observations. Some binoculars can even be used in the twilight, for example on hunting trips.
    Binoculars with image stabilization These binoculars are used for observation at maximum magnification.
    Spotting scopes These tools allow you to view the tiniest details at long range,
    e.g. observing animals in their natural habitat.
  • Visual aids

    Magnifying visual devices

    Handheld telescopes for greater mobility

    It is frequently the little things that make it almost impossible to be mobile without assistance from other people. Details either in the distance or close-up, such as street names, house numbers or bus timetables, simply cannot be read.


    Small, inconspicuous handheld telescopes from ZEISS provide additional safety and peace of mind when you are moving around outdoors. Whether you wear them around your neck or keep them in your jacket pocket, they are always ready for use in next to no time. With a practical and attractive design, they feature a large field of view and, of course, coated optics.