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Best Birding Binoculars: 8 Products to Look at Before You Look Through!

Dennis Owens
Written by Dennis Owens

If you enjoy bird watching, then you’ve come across the right article – you’re probably aware that finding the best binocular for your needs is harder than it seems. Keep reading on to find out how to pick the best birding binoculars out there and enjoy your hobby even more.

If you’re buying binoculars for the first time, all of the specifications might seem confusing at first – it might take you a while before you learn what you might want and what suits your needs the most. However, once you do, you’ll discover a whole new world waiting to be seen out there!

In the article, we’ll tell you what to look for when you’re shopping for a good pair of binoculars – knowing what matters before making the buy should save you the disappointed. On top of that, we’ve included some reviews of the top products on the market with the hope of making your buy easier.

There are several features you should take into consideration before making the final call. Follow up to see what really matters in a pair of binoculars.

Product NameMagnification and objective lensDimensionsWeightPrice
Carl Zeiss Optical Victory 8x42 HT8 x 42 mm5 x 5 x 6.3 inches3.5 poundsCheck price on Amazon
Swarovski Swarovision 10x42 EL10 x 42 mm6.3 x 4.8 x 6.3 inches1.8 poundsCheck price on Amazon
Leica Ultravid HD 8x428 x 42 mm2.5 x 6 x 7 inches2 poundsCheck price on Amazon
Nikon Monarch 7 8x428 x 42 mm5.7 x 5.1 x 1.6 inches1.3 poundsCheck price on Amazon
Celestron Granite ED 8x428 x 42 mm2.25 x 5.5 x 5 inches1.5 poundsCheck price on Amazon
Eagle Optics Golden Eagle HD 8x428 x 42 mmN/A2.6 poundsCheck price on Amazon
Vortex Viper HD 10x42 Roof Prism10 x 42 mm7 x 9 x 4 inches1.5 poundsCheck price on Amazon

Features to Consider Before Buying

Price Range

Deciding what budget you’ll work with might be a good starting point. It’s true that the best binoculars for birding aren’t cheap; however, if you’re really into this hobby, then it’s better to do the investment and get yourself a nice pair.

While it’s best to buy from a reputable brand, that doesn’t automatically mean you’ll have to pay an arm and a leg for that. Many brands now produce affordable binoculars that cost below $500.

Although that may seem like a lot, do a simple math: divide it by 10 years, and you’ll get a meager sum of less than $50 per year, which is more than affordable!

Thinking long-term is essential when it comes to buying binoculars – instead of purchasing a new pair with every new season, you would actually be buying a product that should last you for years and even decades.

bird watching binoculars in a shop

More expensive binoculars should provide a clearer image, prove to be more durable and possibly even more ergonomic. However, if you buy a more affordable model from a trustworthy brand, you might still enjoy some advantages like good quality and high technology.

Magnification

When it comes to magnification, you have to choose between a bigger one or a smaller one. Many people would argue that there’s no real science behind this choice, and it’s all a matter of personal preference. However, there are some decisive factors that should help you pick:

  • Bigger magnification works better for longer ranges but gives you a more narrow field of view. On top of that, the visibility wouldn’t be ideal in lower light settings and you may notice even the smallest movements on your hand, which some may find disturbing.
  • Smaller magnification works better for a shorter range and it gives you a wider field of view. Actually, smaller magnification may be more suited for bird following, as it allows for better visibility and brighter image.

Field of View

The field of view describes how wide the image you see through your binoculars is going to be. If the magnification is bigger, then the field of view is going to be smaller.

Choose-your-Birding-binoculars

That means you’re less likely to miss on the bird altogether. On the other hand, a wider field of view means that you can focus your image on the bird for longer, but you might make some mistakes regarding minute details.

Close Focus

This is a significant feature, especially because you want to see all the details – and when it comes to birds, they can be rather small sometimes!

Getting a pair of binoculars with a close focus should help you identify the bird better and also allow you to follow it with your eyes whilst you remain stealth. Plus, you can follow the bird even if it tries to hide from you.

Image Quality

The quality of the image is an essential factor for most buyers – you’d like to get as sharp of an image as possible, right? When it comes to the quality of your image, you should know that some binoculars that have smaller objectives and have a compact design don’t do so well in that regards.

Birding-binoculars-image-quality

The image of the quality is directly related to the brightness – the brighter the environment is, the better the image will be. However, pay attention to how the device conveys colors and details but don’t forget about the clarity of the image.

Even though you’ll probably be trying on a pair or two before you buy something, take into account that stores usually have good lighting – the overall performance might falter in a thick forest at dusk.

Eye Relief

Eye relief might be useful if you spend longer periods of time looking through the binoculars. At this point, we’re referencing eyecups, which are important because they protect your eyes in two main ways.

rubber eyecups on binoculars

One, they can withdraw to accommodate people who wear glasses and two, they can protract in order to shade your eyes. Basically, you should be looking for versatile eye relief, that doesn’t let your picture get dark rings around it.

Sustainability

If you’re interested in bird watching, then you’re probably concerned about the environment as well. Don’t forget to take it into account that some brands actually do care about birds too, and they want to give back to the community by lending a hand to their conservation.

Research your brand and see what organizations and research they support, to make sure that some of the money for your binoculars are re-invested in nature. Bearing all of that in mind, let’s move on to the part with the actual reviews!

Top Products on Today’s Market

After taking into account all these features, let’s see what the market has to offer in terms of good birding binoculars. Don’t forget that you’ll be the one making the final decision, based on your needs the most!

Carl Zeiss Optical Victory 8×42 HT BinocularsCarl Zeiss Optical Victory 8x42 HT Binoculars

Price: Approximately $2400

Weight: 3.5 pounds

Dimensions: 5 x 5 x 6.3 inches

Specific features: 8x magnification; 42 mm objective; German made; high-transmission glass; enhanced transmission coatings; FL lens; comfort focus; quick-grip barrels

Best use: Bird watching

The Carl Zeiss Optical Victory 8×42 HT Binoculars come with a rather high price that might as well be worth it. The higher price reflects the fact that they’re a premium quality product, which can easily be noted from the way they’re manufactured – they’re a German made product!

As such, they’re manufactured with a high-transmission glass and they have enhanced transmission coatings which increase the overall percentage of light transmitted to more than 95%. That means you’ll get a pristine image, with true colors. The FL lens is another factor which accounts for great colors and a very high image quality.

When it comes to the user experience and the ergonomics of the Victory HT, we notice that they’re based on the comfort focus system.

That means your index finger can now be put closer to the focusing wheel, to reach it easier. The quick-grip barrels are another great ergonomic feature, and since these binoculars are so compact, you can safely hold them without fear they might fall.

The nice extra perks you get when purchasing this item is the No-Fault Policy that’s good for 5 years, as well as the lifetime warranty.

PROS:

  • Premium German quality
  • Great grip and overall ergonomics
  • Excellent quality image

CONS:

  • They come with a high price, well above the average
  • Beginners may find them a bit heavier  

Related: The W5 Wipes are ideal for taking care of your binoculars! They come in a larger packing of 200 pieces and are extremely easy to be used. On top of that, they can be used to clean glasses, digital screens and so on – they should be able to wipe away any dirt without scratching the surface, thus prolonging the durability of the product.

Check the price on Amazon

Swarovski Swarovision 10×42 EL BinocularSwarovski Swarovision 10x42 EL Binocular

Price: Approximately $2000

Weight: 1.8 pounds

Dimensions: 6.3 x 4.8 x 6.3 inches

Specific features: 10x magnification; 42 mm objective; field flattener; long eye relief; HD lenses; viewing comfort

Best use: Bird watching

The Swarovski Swarovision 10×42 EL Binocular really take the cake when it comes to technological advancements since they’re backed by Swarovision Technology – you’re very likely going to be impressed with their performance!

That translates into an increased comfort when you’re looking through these binoculars, even more so if you’re wearing glasses. In fact, the long eye relief is perfect for glass wearers. The lenses are state of an art too, which kind of explains the high retail price.

They’re field flattening, which means the image they offer is very close to reality. Moreover, it also increases its brightness and resolution throughout the entire field of view.

In other words, you’ll be able to see crisp detail throughout every corner of your image. That’s also courtesy of the HD lenses, that contain fluoride and that don’t allow any color distortions. The image resolution is top shelf also because these binoculars don’t mess with the color contrast.

That means you won’t get a darker image in lower light conditions, so you can confidently go bird watching before the crack of dawn because you’ll see all their details. The extra layer of coating applied on the lenses enhance the color and brightness too.

PROS:

  • Excellent for people who wear glasses
  • Extremely sharp & high-quality image
  • Great for bird watching at dusk or dawn

CONS:

  • High price might be off-putting to buyers
  • Beginners might not need a product this advanced

Related: The Think Ergo Binocular Strap is universal and is ideal for bird watching and hunting. The strap lets you have your hands free and distributes the weight evenly, so even a heavier binocular won’t be troubling. On top of that, the binoculars should be stabilized and won’t swing around while you walk, minimizing the chances of any damage happening to them.

Check the price on Amazon

Leica Ultravid HD 8×42 BinocularLeica Ultravid HD 8x42 Binocular

Price: Approximately $2150

Weight: 2 pounds

Dimensions: 2.5 x 6 x 7 inches

Specific features: 8x magnification; 42 mm objective; SCHOTT high-transmission glass; high contrast; flare reduction

Best use: Bird watching

The Leica Ultravid HD 8×42 Binocular is another great item to convey a pristine image when you’re bird watching. The fact that their prisms are manufactured from high-transmission SCHOTT glass means that they allow a greater light transmission.

That entails you’ll get a bright image, and very crisp details because the light isn’t going to be reflected. Since flare is minimized almost completely thanks to the top-notch lenses, you’ll have no pesky flickers to deal with either.

Apart from this, you can easily use the Ultravid HD in any lighting conditions, because they don’t produce a darker image at dusk or dawn. That’s courtesy of the binoculars’  high contrast rendering, therefore you’ll always see things as they are.

The 8x magnification is an additional feat, meaning that you’ll be able to get a pretty wide field of view, without sacrificing attention to detail. The HD resolution is very important too when it comes to the details you’ll be able to spot, as well as the general clarity of your image.

The overall construction is that of a sturdy product, thanks to a shock-resistant exterior that not only protects your binoculars but also increases the comfort of your grip, ensuring you won’t drop them accidentally.

PROS:

  • Suitable for use even in darker environments
  • Great image quality
  • Excellent grip and minimal chances of dropping

CONS:

  • Some might find the binoculars to be slightly on the heavy side
  • Higher-than-average price

Related: The CHILIPET Wild Bird Feeder is a sure way to attract more birds in your backyard – just hang it on a tree and enjoy watching the birds right from your deck! The bird feeder is extremely easy to clean and maintain and should be a definite must-have for all bird lovers.

Check the price on Amazon

Nikon Monarch 7 8×42 BinocularNikon Monarch 7 8x42 Binocular

Price: Approximately $450

Weight: 1.3 pounds

Dimensions: 5.7 x 5.1 x 1.6 inches

Specific features: 8x magnification; 42 mm objective; wide FOV; dielectric reflective coatings; rubber armored coating; low dispersion glass; phase correction; nitrogen housing

Best use: Bird watching

To begin with, the Nikon Monarch 7 8×42 Binocular have an 8x magnification, which is good enough to let you see at a greater distance. That means you’ll get a big enough field of view, in order to spot your quarry with ease.

The quality of the materials is of great importance when it comes to rendering a loyal image. That’s why both the lenses and the prism have a special coating in multiple layers, that’s very reflective and dielectric.

The purpose of this coating is to increase the contrast and render true colors. That’ll help you see pristine images, even in low-light conditions.

The glass used for the lenses is a very low dispersion type, which also increases brightness and colors. The roof prisms have phase-correction, which is a nice perk if you’re interested in optimal clarity.

The exterior is coated too, with a sturdy type of rubber which makes it resistant to various shocks or scratches, meanwhile increasing the comfort of your grip, so you can spend hours at a time with your birding hobby.

You can also do that in any conditions thanks to the nitrogen used for the housing that makes these binoculars resistant to both fog and water. They’re another pair of great binoculars for birding that will assist you in your hobby free of the hassle of squinting or getting a darker picture.

PROS:

  • Budget-friendly price
  • Resistant to fog and water
  • Provide decent grip

CONS:

  • No eye relief
  • Image quality could not be as great as with other more expensive models

Related: The Eyeskey Binocular Strap should help you have your hands free during walks in nature. This product is ideal if you have a heavier set of binoculars, as the weight will be evenly distributed across your shoulders – you’ll be able to carry them on for hours on end! Moreover, your binoculars would be stabilized and not sway around as you walk, helping you prevent any damages.

Check the price on Amazon

Celestron Granite ED 8×42 BinocularCelestron Granite ED 8x42 Binocular

Price: $350 – $650

Weight: 1.5 pounds

Dimensions: 2.25 x 5.5 x 5 inches

Specific features: 8x magnification; 42 mm objective; ED glass objective; multicoated lenses; coated prisms; nitrogen imbued; rubber armor; ergonomic

Best use: Bird watching

Even though the Celestron Granite ED 8×42 Binocular is one of the most affordable items on the market, they still do a great job. That’s because they’re manufactured with quality materials which render the image almost perfect. For instance, the lenses are a high index type of ED glass, meaning they can depict the colors as they are.

On top of that, they have a multiple coating, and they’re also fully broadband. That means they transmit light but don’t reflect it, so you get a pristine picture. The contrast levels are likewise pretty high, preventing your image from darkening when there’s not much light outside.

The fidelity of the colors, details, and overall image can be explained by the prism design too. These are phase coated with dielectric layers of coating that have a high degree of reflectivity, therefore the image is quite clear even at close focus.

Since these pair of binoculars use nitrogen for their housing, they will allow you to continue birding even when it’s raining or during fog. The rubber armor offers increased protection against various damages, and it’s quite user-friendly, just like the finger ridges and the twist-up eyecups.

PROS:

  • Extremely affordable – ideal for occasional bird watchers
  • Great grip and a user-friendly interface
  • Pretty light and convenient to be carried around

CONS:

  • Advanced bird watchers may prefer something with better image quality
  • No eye-relief

Related: The CHILIPET Barn Shaped Bird Feeder is an excellent product if you’d like to see more birds in your backyard – coming in a few different designs, both kids and adults will love it! The hanger is also included – you’ll just need to pick a tree and hang the feeder with a cute barn design to it. The feeder is weather resistant and should be pretty long lasting.

Check the price on Amazon

Eagle Optics Golden Eagle HD 8×42 BinocularEagle Optics Golden Eagle HD 8x42 Binocular

Price: Approximately $600

Weight: 2.6 pounds

Dimensions: Not specified

Specific features: 8x magnification; 42 mm objective; ED glass; phase corrected; multicoated optics; rubber armored; rubber eye cups; waterproof; fog proof

Best use: Bird watching

The Eagle Optics Golden Eagle HD 8×42 Binocular is another product that’s in the affordable range without sacrificing quality. That’s because they’re manufactured with glass elements that enable a high resolution and don’t allow fast dispersion.

That means light will be transmitted through the lens in a bigger proportion, and colors will be rendered with life-like accuracy, even towards the edges of your field of view.

Since all the optics are covered with multiple layers of coating, you can rest assured there’ll be no reflections to make your image less than clear. Moreover, the high contrast will let you see perfectly even in darker conditions thus providing you with a very clear image.

The material with which the optics are coated is a very advanced sort of polymer, called SeeClear. That’s also good for repelling water and stains, so your image should stay optimal in any circumstances.

More to the point, your binoculars won’t be too affected by adverse happenstances or environmental conditions, including bad weather. You can confidently go bird watching even if it’s rainy or foggy because the housing is filled with argon and sealed with an O-ring.

The rubber eyecups will prevent tired eyes and blurry vision, but if your arms get tired, simply use a tripod to mount your binoculars on.

PROS:

  • Comes with a great price
  • You’d be able to use it in different weather
  • Decent-quality images

CONS:

  • A bit heavier than average binoculars
  • Beginners might have trouble holding it for longer periods of time

Related: The 3M Microfiber Lens Cleaning Cloth comes in a pack of five and should prolong the durability of whatever lens, screen or delicate surface you’ll be cleaning. A great thing about it is that it uses unique microfibers to lift off dust and oil from the surface instead of using chemicals, which makes it environmentally friendly as well!

Check the price on Amazon

Vortex Viper HD 10×42 Roof Prism BinocularVortex Viper HD 10x42 Roof Prism Binocular

Price: Approximately $500

Weight: 1.54 pounds

Dimensions: 7 x 9 x 4 inches

Specific features: 10x magnification; 42 mm objective; O-ring; argon filled housing; multicoated optics; HD extra-low dispersion glass; unconditional lifetime warranty

Best use: Bird watching

The Vortex Viper HD 10×42 Roof Prism Binocular will make your birding experience a real pleasure, mainly because you can use it in any weather conditions. It has O-ring seals that won’t allow any water or particulates get inside the binoculars and ruining them. That’s why they will keep functioning at optimal levels for many years.

Besides, the argon gas filling for the housing is a good way to ensure your binoculars are both fog proof and waterproof.

All the optics have multiple layers of coating so that light transmission is improved to very high levels. For instance, the prism coatings are dielectric, which means you’ll get pristine images, bright and with true colors.

The glass used for the optics has a high density and a very low dispersion rate, that also makes the images have a true color, providing an overall HD resolution that lets you notice all the important details.

Plus, you’ll benefit from some nice extra perks like the unconditional lifetime warranty for any sort of repairs or replacements needed or all the additional accessories included: a rain guard, lens covers, a padded carry case and an ergonomic neck strap.

PROS:

  • Lifetime warranty
  • Price should suit most buyers
  • Excellent for use in different weather conditions

CONS:

  • Might not work well for showing you smaller details
  • Advanced bird watchers will probably want something with higher quality images

Related: The MOSSLIAN Pre-Moistened Wipes should allow you to clean different lenses in a faster and easier manner. The wipes lift up all the dirt on the surface and are extremely suitable for use on the go since they’re individually packed. On top of that, the wipes feature a light fresh scent but don’t leave any streaks on the surface you’re cleaning.

Check the price on Amazon

Wrapping It Up

With all of that being said, we hope that we’ve made your decision-making process a bit easier. Once you’ve had a chance to review some of these items, you can better understand what sort of characteristics the best binoculars for birding should have.

Maybe you’ve even set your eyes on a pair – do let us know about your favorite ones! What sort of characteristics are you looking for in a pair of binoculars? Do you plan to use them for other things too? Tell us all that and more in the comments below!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dennis Owens
Dennis Owens

Dennis Owens is a graduate of National Camping School and REI Outdoor School. He knows everything about what gear to take with you, how to plan your trip to stay safe and what to do if you get lost in the mountains. We are lucky to have Dennis with us as he is a ‘walking encyclopedia’ when it comes to the wilderness.

  • Harry Wyatt

    My wife is a serious watcher, though I too enjoy a day of bird watching from time to time, I’m not as devoted as she is. Over the years, between us we’ve owned many pairs of binoculars with prices ranging from a few hundred dollars to over a thousand.

    When her most recent pair eventually cracked, we began the arduous task of finding a replacement and after weeks of, shall we say, heated debate, we eventually settled on the Celestron 71370.

    Right out of the box we were both impressed by the quality and design of these binoculars. The open bridge allows for a comfortable and secure, and the magnesium body though light in weight is definitely solid.

    One of the main reasons we settled on the Celestron 71370 was the use of ED glass, not something you’ll often see in binoculars this affordable and they offer incredible sharpness and good color saturation.

    Overall, they have proven their worth time and time again and are a joy to use at such an affordable price, I’d certainly recommend them.

    • Dennis Owens

      Getting your bird watching binoculars is not just about the lens itself, but also how durable the frame should be. There are a lot of binoculars in the market right now that features exceptional lens, but the frame is very brittle for outdoor work. So my best suggestion is to find the best lens you can get, but don’t compromise the build quality.

  • Charlie Wass

    I’ve been using Zeiss exclusively for around 10 years now, however, when it came to investing in a new pair, I discovered the Swarovski Optik EL and boy am I glad I did.

    The close focus quality and capability of these binoculars rivals no other pair I’ve ever used, they are simply outstanding.

    The field of view is wide and unlike pairs I’ve used in the past, they do not become distorted at the edge, and the light gathering ability is second to none so there are never any concerns about use in low light conditions.

    Though admittedly, they are expensive, however, if you are looking for a tremendously high-quality pair of binoculars, you won’t be disappointed by the Optiks.

    • Dennis Owens

      The Optik EL is really one of the more expensive ones but I can tell you right now this is a great investment. Durable and provides exceptional visual, this is a highly recommended product for bird watching.

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