The best opera glasses in 2024: pocket sized binoculars for theater and stage

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Hand holding Eschenbach Glamour 3x25 opera glasses

(Image credit: Gavin Stoker /.Digital Camera World)

Our quick list
1. Best stylish: Eschenbach
2. Best discreet: Carson
3. Best portable: Vixen
4. With handle: Levenhuk
5. Best steampunk: Senmonus
6. Best magnification: Vanguard
7. Best for sports: Nikon Aculon
8. Best cheap: Kenko Pliant
FAQs
How to choose
How we test

The best opera glasses aren't just for going to the opera. They're also perfect for a range of events where you're a little bit far from the stage, including theater shows, concerts, music festivals, conference talks, and more. 

Like regular binoculars, opera glasses magnify the action and help you enjoy the performance a little bit more if you don't have front-row tickets. They're available in various styles, but typically boast a timeless or vintage aesthetic that makes you feel like you're in a costume drama, adding to the fun.

Below, we've brought together the finest opera glasses, aka opera binoculars or theater glasses, on sale today in a range of styles. Read on to discover the details of what each has to offer.

Our quick list

Best opera glasses in 2024

Why you can trust Digital Camera World Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing products and services so you can choose the best for you. Find out how we test.

The best opera glasses for style

(Image credit: Gavin Stoker /.Digital Camera World)
The most stylish opera glasses

Specifications

Magnification: 3x
Objective lens size: 25mm
Field of view: 140m at 1000m
Closest focusing: 3m / 9.8ft
Eye relief: 10mm
Weight: 154g / 5.4oz
Dimensions: 92 x 52 x 29mm

Reasons to buy

+
Glam looks
+
Bright and clear 
+
Well constructed

Reasons to avoid

-
More expensive than most

These German-made premium opera glasses boast a classic and stylish design that's ideal for a visit to the opera, theatre, concert, cabaret or musical. Our reviewer was impressed by the metal build and operation of these glasses and they felt both solid and premium in use, as well as looking very elegant. He was particularly impressed by the viewing quality, even in dim light.

A black imitation-leather case is provided for transportation and protection. Further peace of mind comes from the fact that Eschenbach has been making precision optics for over 100 years. Other color variations are available too: namely night blue, burgundy, pearl white, and black-gold red effect finish.

A smooth focusing knob helps you get clear and bright images from the high-quality, 25mm diameter lenses, while a 3x magnification helps drag the far-away that little bit closer. Others on this list offer greater magnification but if looks are more important, these glasses certainly deliver on that front.

See our full Eschenbach Glamour 3x25 review

The best opera glasses for discretion

(Image credit: Gavin Stoker)
The best opera glasses for discretion

Specifications

Magnification: 4x
Objective lens size: 10mm
Field of view: 525ft @ 1000 yd / 160m @ 1000 m
Closest focusing: 4.9ft' / 1.5m
Eye relief: 5ft
Other features: -
Weight: 2.2oz / 62 g
Dimensions: 8.9 x 1.3 x 5.1cm

Reasons to buy

+
Small and compact 
+
Discrete 
+
4x magnification

Reasons to avoid

-
Not as bright as some
-
Focus knob is stiff

Lots of opera glasses are designed to look the part at the premiere of a Broadway show. But what if you want something more discrete that will fit in a jacket pocket, and not look as flashy? This pair from Carson is just the ticket. 

They weigh just a couple of ounces so you don't even notice them in your pocket. Using them at a concert, we loved that they have a central hinge so that you can adjust them to fit the distance between your eyes. The 4x magnification brings you closer to the stage, while a five-foot minimum focus distance allows you to focus on nearby subjects of interest too. Overall, we found these a great pair of opera glasses for the money.

See our full Carson Operaview 4x10 review

The best opera glasses for portability

(Image credit: Vixen)

3. Vixen 3x28 Opera Glasses

The best opera glasses for portability

Specifications

Magnification: 3x
Objective lens size: 28mm
Closest focusing: Not given
Eye relief: Not given
Weight: 59g
Dimensions: 1x11.6x7cm

Reasons to buy

+
Light
+
Compact
+
Retro style

Reasons to avoid

-
Plastic-y feel

If the ultimate in portability, as opposed to optimum quality, is what you seek, these slender fold-up opera glasses are worth a look. Weighing 2.20z, they're among the lightest and most portable you can buy, while the pricing won’t break the bank.

Resembling something out of Space 1999, this retro-looking, slightly plastic-y opera glasses have the distinct advantage of folding flat when not in use, and popping up when they are required. And the casing has a depth of just 6cm, which means that it will slip readily into a shirt or jacket pocket to be retrieved as required. 

Otherwise, the specification here is pretty standard for a pair of opera glasses: 3x magnification married to a 28mm objective lens size, with a distance of 2.5 inches between viewing lenses. 

The best opera glasses with a handle

(Image credit: Levenhuk)

4. Levenhuk Broadway 325N Opera Glasses

The best opera glasses with a handle

Specifications

Magnification: 3x
Objective lens size: 25mm
Field of view:
Closest focusing: 3.5 metres
Eye relief: 5mm
Other features: LED light plus telescopic handle
Weight: 136g
Dimensions: 13x9x6cm

Reasons to buy

+
Telescopic handle 
+
Built-in LED light 

Reasons to avoid

-
Handle won't suit everyone

This classic-looking pair of opera glasses from the European manufacturer boasts a couple of neat tricks. Firstly, there's a built-in LED light powered by two LR41 lithium batteries for help finding your seat in the dark, or just where you’ve dropped that boiled sweet). Secondly, the lorgnette design means there is an extendable handle for maximum viewing comfort and a dash of retro elegance. 

Whilst those features differ from the norm, the nitty gritty of the spec involves a fairly standard 3x magnification factor and a 25mm lens diameter. Also provided are a carry pouch and a cleaning cloth. With a gold and black lacquered finish to its metal body and multi-coated BaK-4 optics, these classic opera glasses are of decent value even with the extra features.

The best opera glasses for steampunk fans

(Image credit: Amazon)

5. Senmonus hands-free binocular glasses

The best opera glasses for steampunk fans

Specifications

Magnification: 3x
Objective diameter: 34mm
Field of view at 1000m: Not given
Closest focusing distance : Not given
Eye relief: Not given
Weight: 68g
Dimensions: 9.3x10.2x3.2cm

Reasons to buy

+
Distinctive look
+
Affordable and compact
+
Hands free

Reasons to avoid

-
Won't suit everyone

Want to keep your hands free, so you can focus on that ice cream you bought in the interval? Then you'll love this non-branded pair of binocular-slash-opera glasses available via the likes of Amazon

Along with 3x magnification, they boast what's called ‘low-level night vision’: thanks to a greenish tint, you can keep viewing in what may be otherwise weak lighting conditions. Eye spacing is adjustable, as are the nose pads for added comfort and a more secure fit. Some may feel a bit socially awkward wearing this Heath Robinson-styled contraption, but fans of Steampunk will love it.

The best opera glasses for high magnification

(Image credit: Vanguard)

6. Vanguard Vesta 8x21

The best opera glasses for magnification

Specifications

Magnification: 8x
Objective diameter: 21mm
Field of view at 1000 yards: 371 yards
Closest focusing distance : 13.1 feet
Eye relief: 10mm
Weight: 190g
Dimensions: 93x102x32mm

Reasons to buy

+
8x magnification
+
Affordable and compact
+
Unobtrusive in use 

Reasons to avoid

-
Not hugely stylish

This compact and practical solution from Vanguard boasts pocket-sized proportions, a manageable weight of just 190g, a low price tag, and a pearlescent finish. 

These roof prism-type opera glasses are both weatherproof and fogproof should you be at an open-air performance. Eyepiece covers and a lens cloth are provided to aid comfort and viewing, while an 8x magnification married to a 21mm objective lens is practically useful given their size and portability.

The best opera glasses for sports

(Image credit: Gavin Stoker / Digital Camera World)
Portable binoculars ideal for sporting events

Specifications

Magnification: 10x
Waterproofing: No
Objective diameter: 21mm
Field of view at 1000m: 87 metres
Closest focusing distance: 3 metres
Eye relief: 8.3mm
Weight: 195g
Dimensions: 10.4x4.1x11.4cm
Other options in this range: 8x21

Reasons to buy

+
Budget priced option for concert and sports fans
+
Multi coated lenses maximize light transmission
+
Extremely lightweight

Reasons to avoid

-
No waterproofing or fog proofing

These are sold as binoculars rather than opera glasses, but these are a useful option for concerts or sporting events where you are a good way away from the things you want to look at. Offering a 10x magnification, it is a good option for use at a stadium when you haven't got front-row seats.

While these binoculars are lightweight, they aren't foldable. However, you do get adjustable turn-and-slide eyecups and a central focus knob, as well as multi-coated lenses that maximize light transmission to provide a sharper view. 

See our full Nikon Aculon T02 10x21 review

The best cheap opera glasses

(Image credit: Gavin Stoker / Digital Camera World)
The best cheap opera glasses

Specifications

Magnification: 3x
Waterproofing: No
Objective diameter: 25mm
Field of view at 1000m: Not given
Closest focusing distance: 2 metres
Eye relief: Not given
Weight: 65g
Dimensions: 115x64x20mm

Reasons to buy

+
Very cheap
+
Slimmer than a pack of playing cards

Reasons to avoid

-
3x magnification
-
Plastick-y construction

Short on cash? These are the cheapest opera glasses we can recommend. On the downside, the operation was a little stiff for our reviewer's liking and he found the build distinctly plastic and almost toy-like. But on the price side, they're nice and light, they do what they're meant to do, and the price is fantastically low. For more details, check out our full Kenko Pliant 3x25 Slim opera glasses review.

FAQs

What are opera glasses?

Opera glasses, aka theater binoculars or binocular glasses, are small, compact binoculars used by audience members to get a closer view of the stage or performers. They typically have a more elegant and decorative design compared to standard binoculars, often featuring ornate detailing or materials such as mother-of-pearl, brass, or gold plating. They also usually have a lower magnification compared to regular binoculars (typically around 3x to 5x magnification) and are compact in size, making them easy to carry and use discreetly during performances.

What level of magnification do opera glasses provide?

Because you’ll generally be sitting down with a comfortable viewing distance of your subject via the naked eye anyway, the magnification factor needn’t be so huge as a typical pair of binoculars, while a more modest magnification factor helps keep any possible image shake to a minimum. So, typically, opera glasses (which may also be known as opera binoculars or theater glasses) regularly provide a magnification factor of around 3x, very occasionally creeping up to 4x, to help improve your view, without adding unnecessary weight with bigger magnifications. 

What field of view should opera glasses have?

 Just as significant as the magnification of the opera glasses you’re considering buying is the field of view they provide. You’ll want a large or wide field of view so you can catch all the action happening on the stage, not just a narrow section of it. So, beware of very compact designs that may result in image blurring at the edges of your view. After all, you’ve come to see a production, not just a solo performance.

How to choose the best opera glasses

Before choosing a pair of opera glasses, acquaint yourself with their magnification capacity, field of vision, and the size of the objective lens in use. It's worth noting that while compact opera glasses have an admirably sleek and stylish profile, that means they'll admit less light, potentially placing you at a disadvantage in dimly lit theaters.

How we test the best opera glasses

We test opera glasses in the theatres where people are actually going to use them and evaluate their optical clarity, scrutinizing the lenses for distortion, and assessing their ability to provide sharp, detailed images even in low-light conditions. We also pay attention to comfort and ease of use, as well as gauging their aesthetic appeal, recognising that elegance and sophistication is as important for functionality with this type of device. 

Read more:

Best budget binoculars under $100
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Sebastian Oakley
Ecommerce Editor

For nearly two decades Sebastian's work has been published internationally. Originally specializing in Equestrianism, his visuals have been used by the leading names in the equestrian industry such as The Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI), The Jockey Club, Horse & Hound, and many more for various advertising campaigns, books, and pre/post-event highlights.


He is a Fellow of The Royal Society of Arts, holds a Foundation Degree in Equitation Science, and is a Master of Arts in Publishing.  He is a member of Nikon NPS and has been a Nikon user since the film days using a Nikon F5 and saw the digital transition with Nikon's D series cameras and is still to this day the youngest member to be elected into BEWA, The British Equestrian Writers' Association. 


He is familiar with and shows great interest in street, medium, and large format photography with products by Leica, Phase One, Hasselblad, Alpa, and Sinar. Sebastian has also used many cinema cameras from the likes of Sony, RED, ARRI, and everything in between. He now spends his spare time using his trusted Leica M-E shooting Street photography or general life as he sees it, usually in Black and White.

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