Birding requires time, patience and a good set of binoculars. Quality binoculars put you in the heart of the action, letting you see each bird’s tiny details up close and personal. There are many good binocular sets on the market. This makes it tough to choose a pair. To help, we’ve put together this handy guide of the best binoculars for bird watching, one that considers:
• View clarity
• Ability to focus
• Overall quality
• General feel
Best Budget Binoculars
If you’re new to the birdwatching game, then we recommend starting out with a pair of budget binoculars. The Nikon Action Extreme Binoculars are a quality set that won’t break the bank. They offer an outstanding wide field of view. This set is waterproof and fog proof. These elements add durability to the binoculars as does the rubber armoring and shockproof feature. The Nikon binoculars are ideal for you if the excitement of spotting new bird results in your dropping things. The Nikon set is affordable since they’re priced below $150.
The Vortex Optics Diamondback Binoculars are another budget set that we recommend. These binoculars are good for those who are serious about their bird watching since they come with advanced features. With Vortex binoculars, you’ll have high-density, or HD, dispersion glass that provides sharp, bright images. The set also features ArmorTek lens coating to prevent scratches, and for added durability, they come with sturdy twist-up eyecups that are reinforced with metal.
The Wingspan Optics NaturePro is a good budget option as well. This set is under $150. With a lifetime warranty and one of the best-rated budget binoculars specifically designed for birdwatching, this can be a great way to start!
Best Mid-Range Binoculars
If you’ve been bird watching for a while and are ready for binoculars that are a bit more advanced, then consider the Nikon Monarch 5 ATB 8×42 Binoculars. To ensure that the images you see are bright and crisp, this set features a new extra-low dispersion, or ED, high-reflective multilayer prism coating, which is a feature that you’ll see on the pricier brands. The Nikon set is 100% waterproof, and they feature phase-correcting multi-coating. Weighing just 20.8 ounces, you’ll appreciate this lighter set during long days of patiently waiting for a particular bird species to show up.
The Bushnell Legend Ultra HD 10×42 Binoculars are another set that we recommend in our mid-price category. This set comes with a 10x magnification feature. They also come with prime glass, so you’ll be able to enjoy high-resolution images that are color tuned. The Bushnell binoculars have fully multi-coated lenses, and they feature ultra-wide banding to give you exceptional brightness. The water-repellent coating protects them from the elements while making sure that you can continue bird watching even when sudden downpours occur. This set weighs a little more at 24.7 ounces, which could be noticeable if you’re holding them up for long periods. The Bushnell Legend binoculars are priced below $250.
Best High-End Binoculars
If only the best will do, then you’ll want a pair of Canon 18×50 Image Stabilization All-Weather Binoculars. This set provides exceptional images that are crisp and clear. In fact, the images provided are about as perfect as it gets. The set has high-transmission glass as well as an FL lens that delivers excellent color fidelity. These binoculars are lightweight, and they extend your freedom of movement by featuring large exit pupils. They have a wide view field and are extremely bright. Even if you’re attempting to bird watch during the twilight hours, you’ll still enjoy good steady images with this set.
The Swarovski Optik SLC Binoculars are another option in the high-end category. With this set, you’ll have a top-notch focusing mechanism and better overall optics. The benefits of the Swarovski binoculars include HD lenses. This feature provides enhanced color fidelity by blocking chromatic zonal aberrations. Basically, the lenses decrease bleary color fringing. The Swarovski binoculars also have a larger field of view than other sets. If you wear eyeglasses, you’ll want to consider these binoculars. They even have detachable twist-in eyecups that you can adjust separately in three phases. The manufacturer of these binoculars built them lighter, shorter and slimmer, making them more comfortable to use. You can expect to pay more than $1,000 for these binoculars.
The Leica Ultravid BR 10×25 Compact Binoculars are another high-end option. This set is lightweight, and they come with advanced glass to provide you with a sharp, bright image. The Leica binoculars feature updated lens coating to give you the best contrast and clarity. The manufacturer improved the design and performance of this set of binoculars to ensure that you enjoy an amazing view of the birds, making them the best binoculars for birding.
Best Compact/Travel Binoculars
If you’re the type of bird watcher who prefers to hike through some rough terrain on your search for rare birds, then you’ll want a quality pair of compact or travel binoculars. In this category, we recommend getting the Bushnell H20 Prism Binoculars. This compact binocular set comes with 8x magnification in addition to a 42mm objective diameter feature. The set also has a 12-foot focus distance and large center-focus knob so you can make any adjustments that you need. The Bushnell binoculars are fogproof and waterproof. They weigh just 1.5 pounds and fit easily in your pocket. This set of binoculars costs around $100, making them highly affordable.
The Nikon 7577 Monarch 5 Binoculars are a great set for travel. This set is filled with nitrogen and is O-ring sealed. They are waterproof and fogproof, so you’ll be good to go even when the weather turns wet. If you choose the Nikon 7577 set, you’ll have lightweight binoculars that are durable and especially good at magnifying. This binocular set comes with eco-glass multicoated lenses that give you access to a clear, sharp and detailed image. You’ll have a quality image even if you’re birdwatching in low light areas. Nikon binoculars fit easily into your hand. This feature makes them comfortable to use all day. The Nikon binocular set is under $300.
As mentioned above in our budget picks, we also like the Vortex Optics Diamondback Binoculars for travel. This set made our list of travel binoculars because they will give you a clear, bright image. The Vortex binoculars have thumb imprints, a feature that lets you hold steady and hone in on amazing birds when they come into view. With 10x magnification, you’ll have the binoculars that you need to see every feather. The Vortex Optics binoculars are available in a variety of sizes, making them perfect for birding. They range in price from around $140 to $260 depending on size.
Getting the Right Pair of Binoculars
The right pair of binoculars is essential to bird watching. When you get a pair with technological advancements, you’ll be able to see every detail of rare birds, details like colorful plumage, beak shape, and tail formation. Before choosing the best binoculars for bird watching, consider the type of watching that you’ll be doing and how often you’ll be doing it.