Binocular Buying Guide Birding
Most birding binoculars come in 8x and 10x versions. Personal preferences vary, but many find 8x binoculars are in a sweet spot: good magnification and a steady, wide field of view (for finding and following birds).
binocular buying guide birding
In this first segment of a four-part series, we will discuss what to look for if you are looking for binoculars for birding, or some things to consider if you are already a birder and looking to upgrade your optics.
The first decision a birder needs to make when buying binoculars is what magnification binoculars to get. When looking at binoculars on the Web (and on the box and the binoculars themselves) you will usually see two prominent numbers. These refer to the magnification and objective diameter. An example is: 8x42. This indicates the magnification of the binoculars is 8x power and the objective (front) lens is 42mm in diameter.
Not all birding is done on sunny days. You will definitely want a pair of binoculars that is waterproof, as even fair-weather birders might get stuck in a passing rain shower from time to time. Fogproof is also a good feature to look for, as this will keep your binoculars from fogging up when transitioning to the outdoors on a cold day from a warm living room, where you were just perusing the latest Audubon magazine or Sibley guide.
The way you carry your binoculars is going to have a big impact on your birding experience. You can carry them in your hand all day, or wear them around your neck with the included strap. However, there are more than a few ways to carry your binos. Chest straps, holsters, and quick releases all change the way you handle your glass in the field. Also, many binoculars have threaded sockets that permit attachments for mounting on a tripod or other fixed support.
In conclusion, the best binoculars are the ones you fall in love with and the ones that keep you excited about birding. To find that pair, do your homework, evaluate the options, try before you buy, and get the best pair your budget allows. Once you get your pair, we look forward to seeing you smiling beneath your binoculars out in the marsh, woods, or local nature walk!
Choosing binoculars is challenging. There are thousands of optics ranging across many price points. Regardless if your hobby is birding, hunting, or something else, this article will help explain the different specifications, technical data, and features of binoculars you need to know before making a purchase.
In my opinion, a warranty is a reflection of how confident a binocular manufacturer is of their product. Do they have faith in their engineering? Will it hold up to the rigors and stresses of birding, hunting, or other outdoor uses?
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Whilst working as a safari guide, I would always have on me a pair of optics that were great for general outdoor and wildlife uses. However they also needed to be easy to carry and compact as I would also often be lugging about other gear and on top of that they needed to more than hold their own as birdwatching binoculars!
So actually it is impossible to say that this is the best birding binocular and leave it at that, you have to decide if you need a pair for a specific niche or if you are looking for a good all round birding binocular that will perform well in a variety of different situations.
Once you have answered this, then we can now take a look at and understand how the different features and specifications on a binocular affect it and it's performance and rate them in terms of their importance for your type of birding.
However because you are trying to get as close to the bird to distinguish as much detail as possible, most people new to birding assume that the binoculars with the most powerful magnifications are the best...
For more on using 10x binoculars, read my in-depth article on 10x42 Binoculars for Bird Watching where I discover that for some people and in some circumstances, 10x42 binoculars may be the ideal choice for your birding binoculars.
A nice wide field of view is important for most types of birding and is usually a feature that most experienced users place particular attention to when looking at potential bird watching binoculars and here is why:
The size and weight of your instrument can be very important in some situations, and almost completely irrelevant in others, it all depends on how, when and where you do most of your birding. The size of the objective lens usually has the biggest influence as to the weight and size of a pair of binoculars:
Compact Binoculars Most compacts have objective lenses of between 25mm to 28mm. A light and compact binocular is much easier to carry around with you all day. Smaller binoculars may also actually let you see more because you're more likely to have them with you when you need them as you never know when a birding opportunity will arise. Compact binoculars are also great for when you're traveling, where you may not always want large high-value optics dangling from your neck and so it's nice to have binoculars that will tuck into a purse or jacket pocket.
Picking out that perfect pair of birding binoculars can be both fun and overwhelming. With so many brands and models on the market, setting you back from a modest $100 to $2,500 and up, we can help you understand how to choose binoculars that are perfect for you.
What additional features are important to consider when buying binoculars? Protective touches like rubber coating, as well as waterproof and fog-proof construction, factor into price, and depending on your intended usage may be well worth the upgrade.
How do I choose binoculars for specific uses? If you want binoculars for a specific primary purpose such as bird watching, whale watching or astronomy, the basic guidelines below can help narrow down your choices. Magnification and size are the starting point, but optics and features should also factor into your decision.
We havesummarized the best birding binocularsinto pricecategories:Economy
Best of Best
If you can afford a little extra, the mid-price rangebird watching binoculars, the Nikon Monarch's are your best bet consideringperformance, quality and price.
As a close second choice in the mid-price category to the Monarch's, we thinkthe Bushnell Legend Ultra HD Binoculars are one of the best in this category forbirding binoculars, especially if you prefer the 10x magnification model.
That depends. You can choose either 7x, 8x or 10x magnification. Choose 10x if most of your bird watching is long distance, such as viewing shorebirds or raptors in open areas, or on an open-plain safari where there is more light. Choose 8x if doing more shorter distance birding such as in forests, or you will be taking binoculars on longer hikes - 8x will weigh less. For all around birding, I prefer 8x binoculars. The only 7x binocular I would recommend is the Nikon Action 7x35 Binoculars which have a porro prism design. 8x are easier for beginners to use when trying to locate birds since they typically have a wider field of view than a 10x binocular. Often people ask, are 10x42 binoculars better than 8x42? No, not necessarily.
Simply stated, to buy the perfect pair of birding binoculars: test out a popular configuration (842 or 1042), investing as much as you can, on a proven brand, from a reputable authorized dealer you can rely on. The result? Years of enhanced bird watching pleasure.
The simple answer is to get the best equipment you can afford that fit your birding style and feel right when you use them. Of course, finding all that out takes some research as well. Fortunately, we've already done a lot of that for you. On every binocular product page on this site, you will find a button for the O4B Scorecard. Clicking on this button will take you to a page with all the relevant specifications for that specific binocular. At that page, you can select importance factors for each of the specs and the page will compute a relative score for that binocular based on your preferences. Comparing those scores will help you find the binocular that is best for you.
If you're new to birding and already have a starter pair, you might want to take some time to do the above testing. You should realize that unlike prolonged usage, quick tests in a store or with friends' binoculars in the field would not really tell you what you need to know. You won't be able to tell whether a binocular would cause you too much fatigue at the end of a long birding day, if you can hold 10x binoculars steady enough, or even if you prefer 7x, 8x, or 10x. It also won't tell you whether you'll prefer a straight or angled scope.
If you're brand new to birding, you have a few options. You can get an inexpensive binocular, borrow a pair from a friend, and look through other scopes, or you can read our reviews, decide what you might like, and go for top glass right away.
When buying binoculars, it's important to set a realistic budget. It's possible to find a good pair of binoculars from around 50, but prices can go into the thousands, so think carefully about how much you're willing to spend.
The first number refers to Magnification, and the second is the size of the Objective lens diameter (in millimetres). In other words, 10x50 means when you look through the binoculars, your view will be 'zoomed in' 10 times more than your naked eye, and brightened by the wide 50mm objective lens. The larger the objective lens, the brighter the image. This size isn't popular for birdwatching though as a bigger objective lens can mean heavier binoculars, and other factors can be more important for brightness. Check out our binocular jargon-buster guide for more details. 041b061a72