How to take photos through binoculars

how to take photos through binoculars

What can be a better experience than to take photos through your binoculars and share the beautiful earth seen through one pair of other eyes? There may be quite a few ways to do it, which I am going to share them in this post.

How to take photos through binoculars? You have two options: First option is to align the phone camera handheld to the binoculars and take the picture, but the second option which is a better version is to have a phone adaptor and mount your mobile phone to the binoculars.

Easy to say but hard to do it, at least this is the first concept to think when is about taking good photographs with your binoculars. If you have binoculars you may have already tried it and you have seen how awful it does look.

But in the next steps, we will try to cover the basics with some tips on how to improve your binoculars photography and what can you do to ensure you take the best quality images.

How to take photos through binoculars handheld

As mentioned above, the first option is to try to take photos through binoculars handheld. It may not be such a good idea, in special that due to the shakes, the photos may look extremely unclear for some reasons as pointed below:

  • At high magnification, the binoculars induce a lot of shakes and it is difficult even to observe through them without the need of a tripod
  • Trying to capture a photo with your mobile phone induce additional shake and it may be even more difficult to stabilize
  • The arms and your phone positions related to the binoculars would be not a forte point for stability, therefore, alternatives may be taken into consideration.
  • It can be exhausting if your binoculars are heavy and you have to continuously keep them up to align with your mobile phone.

One first option is to mount your binoculars on a tripod and then to try to perfectly align the phone camera to one of the oculars. In this situation, you reduced most of the shake to the basic phone shake in front of the binoculars

Moreover, try not to touch the binoculars (if mounted on a tripod) with the mobile phone camera, as more shake is unnecessarily induced. But what you can do is to keep your phone stable at a very short distance whilst you try to focus through.

This is going to be another issue, to focus through binocular eyepiece (or even use the correct exposures) whilst you have the phone on your hand, and because you move it, there are some differences of light going through the exit pupils, and less the exit pupils size they are, harder is going to be when trying to align the phone camera to the light beam.

how to take photos to the moon through binoculars
Photo taken with iPhone X (digital zoom 7x) handheld and the Skymaster 25×100 mounted on a tripod. Windy conditions and slightly post-processed the image.

All of the above options are covering the usage of a binocular on a tripod. What about without any tripod and stability at all?

I am going to be honest with you that this is going to be a difficult and thuf situation, and I do recommend for you to keep reading as there may be a few other options to consider.

The above photograph is my best capture whilst I was holding the phone camera pointing towards the ocular lens for my Skymaster 25×100 (which was mounted on a tripod)

How to take photos through binoculars with an adaptor?

This is the point I was looking forward to getting, and to be honest with you, you may be able to take brilliant pictures with your phone through mostly any binoculars, even handheld.

There are quite a few universal adaptors on the internet where you can attach it to one of the ocular lenses and then the mobile phone to it. Then you can align the camera from your phone directly to the exit pupil light beam.

What are the advantages in this case?

  • Whilst the phone is aligned with the exit pupil, your camera can properly expose the image and focus for the best quality as is taken without binoculars
  • You may not need to struggle to hold both devices on both of your hands, therefore, it would be a bit easier to take photographs handheld
  • You can see a live view through phone screen to what you are photographing.
  • Combined with a tripod, you can reach the maximum potential of taking photographs through binoculars (keep in mind that a compact or DSLR camera may not be an option in this situation).

How to take photos through binoculars with an adaptor, step by step.

  1. Mount the binoculars on a tripod and perfectly focus on the point of interest (which you want to photograph, e.g. the moon)
  2. First, mount the universal adaptor to the ocular lens then attach your mobile phone to it.
  3. Now try to align perfectly the mobile phone camera to the exit pupil light beam of your binoculars. Your universal adaptor SHOULD have X and Y-axis
  4. Set the right exposure and focus on the point of interest (e.g. moon) and then set a timer to 5sec
  5. Then shoot! A timer is necessary to minimise the induced shake resulted by setting up or taking the photo
  6. On your final image, you may notice something like the image is taken through a pinhole. Now you need to edit the image and CROP it to where the good image zone is.
  7. Extra tip: You can use a slightly digital zoom, and I would recommend doing it through a mobile phone with a higher resolution camera, therefore, when you crop out still have a decent amount of megapixels left. Do not use more than 2x digital zoom (as myself lol)

Things to be aware of:

  • Do not try to do it in windy condition as it would be very difficult to focus
  • Ensure that your phone camera lens and ocular/objective lenses are clean
  • It may take you a while to learn how to do it properly
  • I do recommend shooting in RAW and a bit of post-processing.

Now you will be able to take photos through binoculars.

A bit of mention here, I would recommend this universal adaptor. It is cheap, reliable and I used and tested it, therefore, I can say that (at least for iPhone X) this work flawlessly (both on my Nikon 10×42 binoculars and the Skymaster 25×100). A disclosure to mention, the link is an affiliate to Amazon and if you make a purchase through this link, we will receive a small commission to pay our bills (nothing will cost you though), also the first image is not hosted by us and is shared directly through Amazon Affiliate SiteStrip programme to comply with their policies, while the second image is copyrighted by us.

Some adaptors as the one linked above (the vast majority) would have mixed reviews due to the fact that NOT all the phones may be compatible with those, therefore, I would strongly recommend reading some reviews or product info before you buy them (any of them)

The downside of every adaptor is the usage of mobile phones with a dual camera, as the camera is swapped constantly for a wide field of view to zoom. As an instance, with the iPhone X dual-camera system it is a nightmare because of constantly swapping cameras on photo app. I started to use the Adobe Lightroom camera and it’s working flawlessly.

Before I put my dual camera mobile phone into the universal adaptor on the binoculars, I always open the Lightroom camera app and switch to telephoto (this will allow some extra optical zoom to be added to the binoculars).

Just beware that at the beginning would be a bummer for you to set up the mobile phone with (mostly any) universal adapters. Once you got the process of using it, you may find it easier to mount and use the binoculars to take photographs.

A relatively short story is the anxiety of still taking those photos handheld even with the mount adaptor and cell phone mounted. You will notice through your camera that is hard to stabilize the image due to massive shakes in special with extra optical zoom.

One modality I found (except using the binoculars on the tripod) is to lean the binoculars on a surface while holding it for better stabilisation.

Below are some pictures I managed to take with the above adaptor, my iPhone X (2x optical zoom) + Nikon 10×42 binoculars.

How to take photos through a telescope with your phone?

If we jump a bit forward to taking photos with your mobile phone through a telescope, the things should be simpler than trying to take pictures through binoculars, because of some obvious reasons:

  • The telescope is (at least it should be) mounted on a tripod – because of this now you have a great stability.
  • All the optics behind the telescope is focused on providing as good image quality to a single ocular, making it easier to focus on attaching a mobile phone to the telescope
  • Normally, the same adapter used for taking photographs through your binoculars should work just fine with your telescope (but not always). Check your ocular diameter before buying it.
  • Offering an extra amount of magnification (e.g. 75x) you can take photographs as never before with your mobile phone.

As observing through a telescope, the disadvantage would be the shake induced when adjusting it or in the case of a windy condition.

Setting up a timer when taking photographs through a telescope would be ideal because it reduces the above-specified shake which is induced every time you touch the telescope. Keep in mind that a telescope is much more sensible to shake due to the high magnification compared to the binoculars.

But referring to the types of photographs you are going to take through a telescope, I would not recommend aiming for deep-sky photography as a mobile phone camera is not that performant to be able to capture a large amount of low light. Daylight and moon observations and photographs should be just fine to use the mobile phone.

Alternatively with a telescope, and this is the greatest advantage of it, is that you may be able to attach a DSLR to it with some 3rd party accessories. But that would be a subject for another post.

Should you buy binoculars with camera?

Most of the binoculars with camera found on the market, from cheap to an average price, are low-quality products and in many cases, your photographs would look worse than you would take them directly through binoculars with your mobile phone. Not to mention the quality of the binoculars itself.

There are still a very few binoculars with cameras on the market which does worth to buy them, but they are very expensive and not many people can afford. Alternatively, there are monoculars with camera on the market at more affordable prices.

Anyway, I would strongly recommend you to have a look over one of my other posts “should I buy binoculars with camera” to have a better understanding.

The harrash truth.

Learning from experiences is the best way of progressing yourself as taking photographs with your mobile phone through binoculars. It can be difficult at the beginning and the whole process from simply watching through binoculars became one complex as carrying accessories and tripods, attaching and adjusting and so many other headaches.

In reality, this worth the stress but you need to be very decided if you want to do it properly.

I do not recommend you taking photographs with your mobile phone straight through binoculars as you may never reach the expectations, nevertheless, this won’t cost you anything to try it. Maybe you can be better than me and just get some incredible results.

But the easiest way I was talking above is the usage of an adaptor. You definitely need to be patience about that, the reason the product and other similars have a mixed review with some negative. There are clear specifications that you need to be patience and practice and adjust and have another headache in order to succeed. Well, not exactly as that, but you got the point.

And also, one another point to mention is about post-processing. I do recommend some basics edits to the photos (straight from your mobile phone would work well), as you may have to crop a bit, increase the contrast (if require) play with the shadows or highlights and increase the sharpness. Keep in mind that if your image format is JPEG, you may be very limited to post-processing compared to the photographs taken in RAW format.

I would recommend for you to have a quick read about JPEG VS RAW (if you are unsure about the differences) from my other blog (external link).

Related questions:

Q1: Are there alternative ways to take photos through binoculars with your mobile phone?

A1: No, at least not as far as I am aware. There can’t be many ways to do it, therefore, you either take photographs through your binoculars with your mobile phone handheld or attached with a 3rd party accessory. The best way is to have it attached and the binoculars mounted on a tripod.

Q2: Can you use a compact camera or DSLR to take photographs through binoculars?

A2: You may be able to somehow use them but there are a few key points to keep in mind:

  • There may not be adaptors on the market (at least I did not found any) to attach a compact camera or DSLR to your binoculars. Or by the size of a DSLR, better said to attach the binoculars to the DSLR.
  • The image sensor of the compact camera or DSLR it is much bigger than the exit pupil of your binoculars, which, in reality, will complicate things a lot (lots of light lost, image distortions etc.)
  • The lenses attached to the DSLR are massive, therefore, I don’t see any practical way to actually attach the lens to the binocular eyepiece.
  • Alternatively, you can attach a DSLR to a telescope as mentioned above, with some 3rd party accessories.

Q3: Which is better, to take photos with your phone through binoculars or monoculars?

A3: In reality, there is no much difference but me, personally, I rather take photographs with my mobile phone through monoculars. They are simpler to handle them and to attach the phone to them in the same way as you can do to binoculars.

The whole structure and overall stability and balance would be better. Think about the monocular as a small telescope. There are actually different monoculars created for perfect compatibility to some mobile phones, in order to take “zoom photographs”

As I did mention in another post, I am so bad at saying goodbye but thank you for sticking up to the end and I hope that you found your answer in this article. Take care and do not forget to share it to spread the love of binoculars.

I hope to see you around. You can have a quick check on recommended gear section if you are interested. Thank you!

Gabriel Mihalcea

Passionate about binoculars, photography and blogging with years experience behind, I love to split my time and observe the beauty of this world with different eyes.

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