You’re at a concert and, as always, the band is a series of impressionist blurs on stage. You need opera glasses. After all, sporting events, concerts, plays, and the opera are all more exciting when you can actually see what’s going on.
Opera glasses aren’t limited to those dainty lorgnettes you see in movies, exclusive to Victorian era ladies up in their boxes. There’s actually a diversity of types and features. So let’s talk about what opera glasses are and how to find one that’ll work for you, in the 21st century.
How to Choose Opera Glasses – Buying Guide
There’s so many numbers and terms that come with a good pair of opera glasses: objective lens diameter, real field of vision, magnification. What does it all mean? Let’s try to make everything a little clearer.
How Far Are You From the Stage? Magnification
A common misconception: higher magnification means clearer images. Actually, higher magnification will shrink your field of vision, and make the images more susceptible to shaky hands. As a rule of thumb, go for something that magnifies up to 10 times or less. Anything more zooms you up way too close and is frankly frustrating to use, unless you’re a statue and can hold perfectly still.
When you go to the museum, magnification between 2x or 4x is fine. For small concert halls, like local theaters, try 3x to 6x. For large concert halls with second or third level seating, get a pair of glasses that’ll magnify between 6x to 10x.
Bigger Objective Lens Means Brighter Images
To see, we need light. The diameter of the objective lens (also known as an aperture lens) directly affects brightness. The bigger the objective lens, the more lighting you’ll get, but the less magnification. Finding the perfect balance is key. When it comes to opera glasses, try going for an objective lens with a diameter size between 20 and 28 mm.
A word of warning: as the diameter of the objective lens gets bigger, so do the opera glasses. And if you get something too heavy, you’re going to hate yourself in the middle of that 3 hour concert.
A Wider Field of Vision is Better
“Field of vision” just means how much you’ll see when you use the opera glasses. A bigger field of vision means you see more of the stage. If you want exact dimensions, you’re going to have to do some math, but manufacturers’ll usually tell you where you should be using the glasses (at the football stadium versus in a tiny playhouse).
Something to keep in mind: the higher the magnification, the smaller the field of vision. Makes sense, since you’re zooming in closer.
Get Something That Feels Good in Your Hands
Most opera glasses you have to hold up to your eyes, like binoculars. However, there are some that have a long handle, which means you’ve only got to slightly raise your arm. Not only do these look classy, but they’re great for long nights at the opera. (Yes, lorgnettes are still a thing.)
If You Wear Glasses, Pay Attention to Eye Relief
If you have a visual impairment and need to wear corrective lens, then check out the eye relief. Eye relief refers to the distance you can put between your eyes and the opera glasses before things start getting blocked out. If you wear glasses, get something with longer eye relief–because you can’t smush the opera glasses up against the face.
If you want the opera glasses resting on the bridge of your nose, then look for short eye relief.
Top 10 Best Opera Glasses to Buy Online
And now to move on to our list of the 10 best opera glasses available online. Each one takes into account the features listed above.
10. GoEco Quick Focus Binoculars
The Great Outdoors Has Met Its Match
Okay, so these binoculars were originally made for bird-watching. That just means they’ll stand up to whatever life throws at you. These are waterproof, fogproof, and stand up to freezing rain and stifling humidity. The grip is non-slip, and the lens are multi-coated so they let in more light and color.
It magnifies up to 10x. The binoculars have a 50 mm objective lens diameter, which means there’s quite a bit of heft to these. But you’ve got a wide field of vision, vivid pictures, and resistance to the elements. The next time you head outdoors for a concert or game, bring these binoculars along with you.
9. Barksa Blueline Opera Glasses
Gold Trim with a Limited Lifetime Warranty
Get these if you’re feeling a bit aristocratic. They’re compact and sturdy, redolent of Chinese redwood, and trimmed in gold. You also get a limited lifetime Barska warranty, and a black leatherette pouch with a drawstring.
The objective lens diameter is 25 mm, and the magnification is 3x, which is decent. The images are clear, could be better. The lenses are also far apart, so unless you have a nose bridge as wide as a canal, you’ll be seeing double. But they are cute, aren’t they?
8. Life Story Compact Binoculars
Crystal-Clear Compact Binoculars with 99% Light Transmission
So, these look kind of kiddy, but they work well. These binoculars (we mean, opera glasses) magnify up to 8x and are covered in multi-optical green coating that sucks in light and churns out sharp, defined images. They come in this lovely pink, or black. They’re tiny and light, perfect to slip into a purse or hand to your kids–just in case you’re planning to take them to a Metallica concert.
These are great for medium to huge theaters or concert halls. They’ve also got an eye relief of 16mm, which means you can use them with glasses.
7. Merytes Portable HD and Blue Film Binoculars
Clear and Vivid Images, Slim Binoculars
So, you’re going to an outdoor stadium with thousands of other people. These binocular-opera glasses magnify up to 10x. And yet they’re made from this light metal aluminum alloy and weigh only .2 kg. You’ve got a little handwheel on top too, which you turn to bring the image in and out of focus. You can adjust the lenses on the left and right separately too.
There’s FMC blue film over the lenses to keep the pictures crisp. You get colors, the gleam of sweat, the subtlety of facial expressions with these. And you also get a pouch and cleaning cloth so they don’t get scratched in your bag.
6. HQRP Opera Glasses
Beautiful Lorgnette with a LED Light
Here it is, a dainty, gold-trimmed lorgnette–and you’ve actually got a Victorian lady on the box. Bring these to small theaters, small opera houses, small playhouses, or use them as a Steampunk accessory. The glasses magnify up to 3x and have an objective diameter of 25 mm. And, as a sudden blast from the 21st century, there’s an LED light in the handle, so you can root around in your purse when the lights are down.
The field of view isn’t amazing–105 m–so you can’t keep track of everyone on the stage at once. Rather, you kind of bounce around from player to player, to see who’s talking, who’s crying, who’s triumphant.
5. Carson OperaView
Mid-range Magnification That Fits in Any Handbag
These magnify up to 4x, so bring them to medium sized venues. They fold and fit into small handbags and coat pockets. The objective lens diameter is about 10 mm, which means you aren’t going to see if the theater is dark as pitch. But because the diameter’s so small, they’re light. Just don’t drop these, and don’t bring them into the rain.
The lenses are coated, and you get an eye relief of 13 mm. The center focus knob is smack-dab in the middle of your eyes.
4. Aomekie Opera Glasses
A Practical Lorgnette That Just Works
When you’re of the fashionable sort, you can never get enough of gold-trimmed lorgnettes. These come in five colors, or with a necklace and no handle. (But why wouldn’t you want a handle?) They magnify up to 3x, and boast a 25 mm objective lens diameter for brightness and clarity.
The central focus dial works, but you’ll miss out on finer details–a lace hem, a subtle expression. It’s small, will slide into your purse, and also comes with a pouch, so it’s not banging against other things. Our final verdict? It’s practical enough.
3. Uarter Opera Glasses
Opera Glasses for High Fashion Events
The finish on these glasses is beautiful. You’ve got a necklace, so you don’t need to worry about them slipping from your fingers, and an objective lens diameter of 25 mm. They magnify up to 3x–another small playhouse type deal. They do work as advertised.
Don’t however, bring these to the races. They give you tunnel vision–which’ll let you see the agony on Hamlet’s face as he stands still during a monologue–but will not follow 20 horses thundering around a racetrack.
2. SkyGenius Small Compact Binoculars
If You Can Watch Birds, You Can Watch Your Favorite Guitarist
Here are another pair of bird-watchers. But, to be fair, birds are far more elusive and hard to spot than humans, so if these can bring a blue jay into focus, they can bring a guitarist into focus. These magnify up to 8x, so you can bring them to grand opera houses, stadiums, and outdoor arenas. And though they’re light and small, you get a decent field of view. You can also adjust each eye piece individually.
The lens are covered in a multi-coated material that lets in light and reduces strain on your eyes. And for the bespectacled, they have an eye relief of 16 mm.
1. Levenhuk Broadway 325N
Most Popular Option Based on Customer Reviews
The lorgnettes have made a final comeback. Like the others, these can magnify up to 3x and sport an objective lens diameter of 25 mm. They perform beautifully for an evening at the theater; sit in the Mezzanine section, and watch the expressions flitting across the actors’ faces.
You can also get these with a gold chain (no handle), if you’ve got slippery fingers. They’re light enough, so your arm won’t be sore holding them up to your eyes. And there’s an LED light for when you’re bumbling around in the dark finding your seat, or reading your program.
A recap: when getting glasses, think about what events you normally go to. For outdoor stadiums and grand opera houses, get something that magnifies up to 8x or 10x and lets in good light (which means an objective lens diameter of around 22 mm). For local playhouses, you shouldn’t compromise on light, but you only need the glasses to magnify up to 3x to 5x.
Enjoy your night at the theater.
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