Best Binoculars for Surveillance: The Top 7 Picks

Mark Porter

Table of Contents

Magnification and objective lenses are not the only important things to consider when shopping for surveillance binoculars. You need to factor in build quality, eye relief, and price, and you can’t afford to take the manufacturer’s word for it. We have seen our fair share of high-spec binos with less than impressive performances.

Our small army of reviewers set out to find the best binoculars for surveillance. We are happy to share the entire report with you. Whether you are looking to get into birding or looking for hunting binoculars, this post has got you covered.

Here are the best surveillance binoculars of 2021:

Best Binoculars for Surveillance infographic

How We Arrived at This List

Simply put, binoculars are a series of prisms, lenses, and elements that magnify distant targets. Most manufacturers use a polycarbonate case to house these optics, then wrap the case in rubber armor to add anti-slip properties. It’s this setup that makes one pair of binoculars better than the other, even when the spec sheet suggests otherwise.

Here are some of the things we checked on these binoculars.

Magnification and Objective

You have probably noticed that all binos on this list have a number in their name, such as 10X50. These numbers represent the magnification and objective lens diameter, respectively.

Take the Nikon 8252 Aculon A211 10-22X50 Binocular  as an example.

The 10-22 represents a range between 10X and 22X magnification. This means the binos can magnify an image 10 to 22 times its size from a distance. However, this is not a common feature with binoculars. Most of them have a single magnification power such as 7X, and that’s it.

The second number represents the objective lens diameter in millimeters. In this case, 50 millimeters is our diameter, and it’s usually the bigger lens on the binos. It influences the size and weight of the binoculars, but the bigger it is, the better. Wide lenses allow more light to pass through, resulting in brighter, clearer, and sharper images.

To make this list, we carefully examined the magnification and objective diameters of over 30 binoculars to determine the best options for surveillance.

Exit Pupil

The exit pupil refers to the size of concentrated light that hits your pupils. Its dimensions depend on the magnification and objective lens diameter.

To see the exit pupil, hold the binoculars eight to ten inches away from your face. They are the small dots in the objective lens, and they should be larger than your pupil. Anything less would result in a peeking experience, which is not what you paid for.

The average human pupil is 1.5 millimeters in good lighting conditions and 8 millimeters in low light. You can calculate the exit pupil by dividing the diameter of the objective lens by the magnification. For example, a 10X42 has an exit pupil of 4.2 millimeters, while a 10X25 has a 2.5-millimeter exit pupil.

Eye Relief

Eye relief is the recommended distance between your eyes and the eyepieces. Most manufacturers include rubber eyepieces that place the user’s eyes at the right spot. 

However, things can get pretty hairy if you wear glasses. You need to remove the rubber eyecups and do the measuring yourself. And that’s when long eye relief comes in handy.

Usually, binos with long eye relief have a narrower field of view than similar products with shorter eye relief. We have included long and short eye relief options so you can choose, depending on your priorities.

Reviews of the Best Spying Binoculars

We scoured the internet looking for the best spying binoculars and have come up with seven of the best. The Nikon 8252 Aculon A211 10-22X50 Binocular is our top pick, but we have included six alternatives to accommodate most budgets. 

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1. Top Pick 

Designed for the person who wants the power of a telescope in a durable and portable package, this Nikon product is one of the few options that support scalable magnification. 

You can adjust the power anywhere between 10X to 22X and enjoy a wide field of view with the 50-millimeter objective lenses. Think of them as the ultimate multipurpose binoculars.

These are the binos you buy when looking to spy on birds and animals during the day and gaze at star constellations at night. The generous 50-millimeter objective lenses allow users to see bright and sharp pictures from 1000 yards out or more.

With this unit, you get highly versatile binoculars that will last a lifetime with proper care and maintenance. They also offer decent eye relief, allowing eyeglass wearers to get decent quality images in good lighting conditions.


  • Adjustable zoom.
  • Smooth central focus knob.
  • Waterproof and fog proof.
  • Generous eye relief.
  • Respectable objective lens for better picture quality.


  • Some users say the case can open accidentally.
  • High magnification can make it hard to focus.

2. Best Binoculars for Short Distance Surveillance


These Gosky binoculars provide a wide field of view and multi-coated lenses that produce bright images on the go. The 42-millimeter objective lenses work flawlessly with the 18-millimeter eyepieces to pull images beyond your eyesight. That makes them a great option for surveying areas with little to no obstructions.

The binoculars also have a UV coating that protects your eyes from the sun’s rays. As far as the build quality goes, you get a solid polycarbonate case, complete with rubber armor for added protection. You also get a smartphone mount, carry case, rubber lens covers, and a neck strap.

You can see the moon’s craters with this pair when the conditions are right. The dial is also easy to turn, making usage painless even for the least experienced person. Overall, Gosky did a great job with these cheap surveillance binoculars.


  • Waterproof and fog proof.
  • Multi-coated lenses for brighter images.
  • Rubber armor makes them durable.
  • A quality smartphone mount, carry case, cleaning cloth, and neck strap.
  • Great close focus.
  • Generous eye relief.


  • Some users have reported problems with focusing.
  • Users say they’re heavy and clunky.
  • The phone attachment can be faulty.

3. Best Compact Binoculars 

The Hontry 10X25 can work for various outdoor activities, including surveillance, birding, and hunting. They feature a decent 10X magnification but end up sacrificing the field of view with a 25-millimeter objective lens. Still, this pair makes a great beginner unit for spying with binoculars.

The most interesting thing about these puppies has got to be the lightweight, foldable design. The foldable pair feel comfortable in any size hand as they weigh only 0.6 pounds. That makes them perfect for long-distance adventures and long surveillance sessions.

The build quality of these binoculars is acceptable for the price. You get high-quality rubber armor that provides extra protection and anti-slip properties to the already sturdy build. The eyecups can easily twist up and down to accommodate sunglasses. And let’s not forget about the dioptric adjustment knob that allows users to compensate for the difference in their eyes.


  • Respectable eye relief.
  • Multi-coated lenses for bright and clear viewing.
  • Sturdy construction with rubber armor.
  • Compact design.


  • The small objective lens results in a tiny field of view.
  • Some users say they’re too small for adults.

4. Best Compact and Lightweight Binoculars


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The Stilnend 12X50 are 100 percent shockproof binoculars with a compact and lightweight construction. They feature 50-millimeter objective lenses and 12X magnification that make them perfect for surveillance, hunting, and road trips.

In the optics department, you will find aspherical, multi-coated lenses that allow decent light transmission. The result is a bright, crisp image that rivals most binos in their class. Also, their smart BAK 4 prisms make images clearer and help retain true colors. 

The odorless rubber armor protects the device from extensive damage in case of a fall. It also adds anti-slip properties and makes the unit shockproof. This setup looks decent, but it’s the durability that makes them a perfect tool for the outdoors.


  • Multi-coated lenses for sharp and clear viewing.
  • Beautiful design.
  • Odorless rubber armor.
  • Sufficient eye relief.
  • Affordable.


  • Some users have had trouble focusing with this device.
  • Eyecups on this piece can easily get lost.

5. Best Binoculars for Low-Light Performance


For strong and affordable binoculars, the Pokoo 10X50 are hard to beat. They’re a powerful and lightweight unit designed with a polycarbonate case wrapped in rubber armor. But the best part has to be the generous 50-millimeter objective lenses that deliver bright and crisp images. That, coupled with a tidy 10X magnification, allows users to pull clear images from 800 feet away.

You get superior low-light performance with every pair, thanks to the 5-degree exit pupils on these beauties. This setup allows you to see images that are out of eyesight in bright, true colors. 


  • Study construction.
  • A decent field of view.
  • Quality optics that work in most weather conditions.
  • Quick and easy focus.
  • Compact and lightweight.


  • Some users have reported double vision while using these binoculars.

6. Best 20X Magnification and 50-Millimeter Objective Lens 

These binoculars feature 50-millimeter aspherical lenses with multilayer coatings that provide decent picture quality. This makes them an excellent option for a wide variety of outdoor uses, including surveillance, birding, and hunting.

The field of view on these puppies can extend 1000 yards or more, giving you edge-to-edge sharpness when the conditions are right. The rubber armor provides a non-slip functionality and also makes them shockproof. 

Still, it’s worth noting that these binoculars won’t withstand heavy rainfall, despite the waterproof claims on the box. Submerging them in water is also another bad idea. The water protection is enough to keep small spills and showers out, but that’s it.


  • Decent optical setup.
  • Multi-coated lenses for sharper viewing.
  • Rubber armor.
  • Sufficient eye relief for contact-lens wearers.
  • Affordable.


  • Glass wearers might have an issue with the eye relief.
  • Not the best option for long-distance surveillance.
  • The focus knob on these binos is apparently hard to turn.

7. Best Adventure Binoculars

The E-shine 10X50 is one of the best-selling binoculars right now, and for good reasons. They sport a respectable 10X magnification and 50-millimeter objective lenses that deliver crisp images from 1000 yards out. That makes them a great surveillance instrument as you can watch moving targets from a safe distance.

Like most high-end binos, the E-shine 10X50 comes with an ABS and metal case that’s waterproof and fog-proof. They also covered them in rubber armor to bring a soft touch to the firm and compact construction.

The decent eye relief on these babies makes them a good option for eyeglass wearers. But it would be a great idea to use a tripod for long surveillance sessions.


  • Fully multi-coated lenses.
  • Lightweight and compact design.
  • Waterproof and fog proof.
  • Precision-aligned optics.
  • Rubber armor.


  • Some users say the eye protection is high and cannot be changed.

Over To You

There you have it, the best binoculars for surveillance. They were all hand-picked for the intermediate user who wants a decent pair of binos without dealing with returns.

Our top pick has to be the Nikon 8252 Aculon A211 10-22X50 Binocular , as they offer a little bit of everything. You get bright, crisp images from 1000 yards out, and the field of view on the 50-millimeter objective lens is just awesome. They also sport an adjustable focus, the only one of its kind on this list.

The Gosky 10X42 Binoculars  follow at a close second. They feature UV protection, a solid polycarbonate case, and a smartphone mount. They also come with a 42-millimeter objective lens that offers a respectable field of view, making them perfect for surveillance. 

Overall, you can choose any of these surveillance binoculars and still get decent performance. The idea is to find a pair that suits your style and budget.

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