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What Is the Field of View?

Last Updated: 24.06.24


The field of view is one of the notions you will get used to in case your job or hobby involves using binoculars. If you want to find out more about binoculars and how the field of view works for them, you came to the right place. We are going to walk you through the basic principles you should know about the field of view and how to choose the right binoculars based on it.

What Is the Field of View?

You might not have thought about it so far, but you actually deal with the field of view every day. More precisely, every time you open your eyes, your field of view is right there, in front of you. We define this notion as the observable area someone can see with their eyes.

The field of view is more commonly known as FOV, its abbreviated version. In humans, FOV has two monocular components that are brought together in order to form the binocular FOV that allows us to have a good visual perception of what lies in front of us.

Our brain is responsible for putting together the two monocular FOVs in order to provide us the binocular one. When the two monocular FOVs are joined, we get a horizontal view of approximately 114 degrees that is responsible for our ability to perceive depth. Additionally, we also get a peripheral view of approximately 60-70 degrees.

Overall, we have a horizontal field of view of 180° and a vertical one of approximately 135°. These standard figures are the result of an analysis that was carried out when the eye is in a steady position.

Moreover, our sight also provides different fields of view based on the colors we see. When we look at objects of various colors, the correlated perception and saturation are the focal point of our FOV.

However, since we also use different devices in order to see, FOV also applies in their case. We can talk about field of view in relationship with different optical devices such as binoculars that represent our focus in this article.


How Does the Field of View Work in Binoculars?

Binoculars allow us to see objects that are located at a distance and that would be hard or impossible to perceive with the naked eye. Nonetheless, even if the main goal is to spot a particular object or creature, with the aid of binoculars, we need to be able to see what lies in the entire area in front of us, in order to find the subject that interests us.

For example, those who practice hunting often use binoculars to help them spot the catch. With these optical devices, they can analyze the area from a distance and see the animal. The FOV is what ensures the binocular’s capacity to provide coverage for a given area and not only a single focal point.

When choosing binoculars, there are different aspects that should be taken into account. Whether you will be using these devices to hunt, observe animals or to explore the surrounding in case you are a passionate hiker or camper, you need a reliable product that can ensure a good view and help you spot obstacles or animals.

To fulfill this purpose, the binoculars require a good point of view, and some have a wider FOV, while others have a smaller one. The larger the point of view is, the better the binoculars’ ability to help you spot the animal you try to catch.

Binoculars that are provided with a wider field of view are easier to use in spotting the game as they require less effort. They can enable you to find your target while moving them less, which means that you will be more efficient.

Binoculars’ FOV is measured based on a distance of 1000 yards and it is expressed in feet. Basically, the measurement represents a value of the FOV’s you would have if you stood at a distance of 1000 yards. Therefore, when you want to purchase binoculars for your outdoor activity, you can start your research by looking into each item’s field of view value.

If you are not quite sure where you can find this information, ask for advice if you purchase your binoculars from a shop or take time to read the correlated product description and reviews.

To help you out, here is an example: if the binoculars have a FOV of 426 yards, it means that when you are standing at a distance of 1000 yards from an area or objective that you want to inspect, and you look through your binoculars, the provided image covers an area of 426 yards from side to side. 

If you opt for a product that has a field of view that’s half of the one provided in the previous example, the view you can explore through your binocular’s frame will be halved. One essential aspect to take into account when looking for binoculars and analyzing their FOV is magnification.

The value of the field of view and the magnification are tightly correlated. As a general rule, the larger the FOV is, the smaller the magnification will be and the other way around. The principle that governs this relationship is quite simple and you might have seen it already while using different optical devices.

If you increase the device’s magnification capacity, the area that you can explore through those binoculars is automatically reduced. In other words, you get more magnification power by decreasing your field of view. It is similar to what happens when zooming in on a picture. This might be useful in certain circumstances and applications.

However, in the context of hunting, birds watching or nature traveling, the aspect that might interest you more is being able to observe a wider area in a shorter amount of time. For this purpose, binoculars that provide a larger FOV can prove to be a more suitable option than those with a narrow FOV.

Of course, there are other attributes that can also play an important role in how efficient your binoculars will be. One of the main features most people are looking for is getting a clear image and this is not something you get by default. Some binoculars offer good clarity in the central area of the circular binoculars’ frame, but the image becomes blurred toward the edge of the frame.

Additionally, in order to leverage the potential of your binoculars and the point of view they provide, you also have to know how to use them properly. This means moving them as less as possible and rather focusing on moving your eye in several directions in order to explore the area. 

This will be less tiring than moving the binoculars continuously and forcing your eye to stay focused on the field of view’s center.

What Other Devices Use FOV?

Nowadays, the FOV is also used in virtual reality games and other applications. This technology is famous precisely for the fact that it allows users to immerse in a different reality which focuses on visual perception. To be able to provide this virtual environment, they use different optical devices such as VR headsets that allow users to perceive colorful and often very life-like images. 

These types of technologies that were previously popular only in SciFi movies are now available to the larger public and may have different applications. Games are the most common VR technology application. Here, a large FOV is one of the essential requirements that must be met in order to provide users a truly immersive and engaging experience.

Another modern application for FOV regards drones. These smart devices are very popular nowadays and they may be used by individuals or institutions in a wide variety of fields including photography, film-making, defense and surveillance, etc. In order to capture images and provide an accurate representation, drones also rely on FOV.

Just like in the case of VR headsets, the larger the field of view is, the better the quality of the image. Moreover, drones that have a generous FOV are also more efficient and resistant as they can easily detect obstacles and avoid them accordingly.

Today, the field of view has a series of applications as we rely on multiple optical devices both for outdoor exploration and for different other activities. Understanding how the FOV works will help you make a good purchase when buying a product that relies on this feature to provide a good image.   



Ioana Moldovan

Ioana’s professional experience in the optics field has helped her understand the value of passing her knowledge forward. Her curious personality helps her gather useful information for her readers and her goal is to make technical information fun and accessible to everyone.

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