Are Roof Prism binoculars are superior to Porro Prism Binos? You’ve probably seen most of the hunting shows and read the magazines, where most of the professional (and sponsored) hunters use top-quality roof prism binocular from such optical firms as Zeiss, Swarovski and Nikon. You’ve probably also seen your known cheapskate buddy Bob using an old, gigantic Porro prism bino (those that do not have two straight ocular barrels like roof prism binoculars) and quickly deduced that Bob’s is cheaper than Joe Professionals unit and therefore inferior. After all, we’ve been writing that “you get what you pay for in optics” for years, and certainly, on average, Porro prism binoculars are less expensive than roofs.
But I want to know if Porro prism optics really are inferior.
The Expert Deferral
I could go outside on a dark day and compare 50 sets of Porro prisms and 50 roof prisms, but you wouldn’t learn much. It’s best to consult the experts who know the engineering—and marketing—behind the rubber armor to best answer this question. There are few people more qualified on this topic than frequent American Hunter optics and gun writer, John Barsness. He’s been a hunter longer than most Indian tribes, and he’s literally written the books on optics for hunters. It’s called, “Optics for the Hunter.” For the answer to the Porro vs. roof prism question, I’ll draw heavily from Barsness’ book, rather than reinvent the wheel.