If binoculars are not 100% essential for bird watching, they are still an essential tool for amateur ornithologists. Indeed, there is no other way to see or spot birds from a long distance. The ability to better identify different types of birds makes spotting binoculars highly recommended.
Best Binoculars for birding 2022
However, with the various models currently on the market, it can be difficult to find the perfect pair. So how to choose? Discover our buying guide here with all the advice you need to find the right binoculars for ornithology.
1- The price to put in a pair
Binoculars are expensive, but higher-end models provide clear, crisp, and sharp images. For this purpose, we think it is better to plan a certain budget to buy a good pair. It’s a long-term investment that starts paying off the day you use them.
Especially since you probably won’t buy a new pair every year. It is therefore logical to choose them carefully, and if necessary to save to buy a pair that will allow you to admire the birds in the best conditions.
If you have a tight budget, however, there are affordable price ranges that allow you to have several functions.
2- The choice of magnification
You can choose between 8x or 10x binoculars, both have advantages as well as some disadvantages.
In general, 10x binoculars are better for observing birds at a greater distance. But it also usually means a narrower field of view, a slightly darker image in low light, and will require a good handshake.
While a pair of 8x’s gives you a smaller, wider, less bright, but easy to use image.
3- Eye relief
People who wear glasses tend to see only part of the image they should see through binoculars. If the eye relief is too short, they will only see the center of the image.
Your field of view will be reduced if your binoculars do not have long enough eye relief.
If you wear glasses or plan to wear sunglasses during your observations, favor a good eye relief of at least 16mm.
4- The size of the lens
The larger the objective lens, the easier the binoculars pick up light. The downside is that the large lenses are quite heavy. You will probably feel the weight of your binoculars (on your neck and shoulders) if you hike for several hours.
Binoculars with 40mm to 44mm lenses are a good middle ground between light gathering ability and portability. Lenses under 35mm allow for a more portable package but at the expense of light, and a 50mm or larger lens will give you a very bright image with, potentially, neck and shoulder pain throughout. ‘observation.
5- The configuration of the binoculars
The binoculars are available in two main configurations:
- Porro prism binoculars,
- Roof prism binoculars.
Porro prism binoculars are the versions that could be described as “traditional”. While the roof prism binoculars feature a new narrower, straighter and more compact design.
Each of these models has advantages and disadvantages, but, in general, porro prism binoculars cost less to manufacture and, therefore, have a decent price/performance ratio.
The relatively compact size of roof prism binoculars makes them more popular with birdwatchers even though they are more expensive.
6- The quality of the glass and lenses
Birdwatching can be a casual activity as well as a professional one. This is why it is essential to worry about the quality of the optics. High quality glasses and lenses will allow you to carefully discern color patterns and examine the plumage of your birds. If you are looking to properly identify your birds, finding binoculars with high quality glass will be your main mission.
Especially since a better quality of the lenses means a better observation and therefore a more advanced experience.
In our opinion, watching birds through high-quality binoculars is an indescribable pleasure.
7- Other features
Not all bird sightings happen on sunny summer days. You will definitely need a pair of waterproof binoculars, as you may get caught in a downpour.
Waterproofing is also a good feature to look for, as this will prevent your binoculars from fogging up when there is a sudden change in temperature.
Finally, also pay attention to the warranty. Many major optical companies now have excellent policies on this point.
8- What about the monocular?
Basically, the monocular is one of two optical tubes that are connected to form a pair of binoculars. In fact, the monocular allows you to observe birds more economically. The disadvantage is that observing with one eye is more tiring than with both eyes!
So we don’t recommend it especially but if you only see with one eye, the monocular will suit you better.
Best binoculars for bird watching
Choice #1: Bushnell Binoculars Legend L series 10×42
Before going into the details of this pair of binoculars, we will first come back to the Legend range offered by Bushnell. Indeed, it is composed of three series: E, L and M.
The E series represents the “basic” range, it is then followed by the L series, which is based on the E series but which benefits from a few more high-end components and functions. In terms of value for money, this series is the one that has met our expectations. Finally, the Legend M models represent the high-end binoculars of this series that put a little more emphasis on performance than value for money.
In the Legend range, the L series contains the largest number of models (5 in all). The most popular being the 8×42 and 10×42 models. Namely that they are all roof prisms and use my BAK-4 material.
What really sets them apart from the cheaper Legend E series is the addition of extra-low dispersion glass elements in their lenses. Indeed, equipped with ED glasses, the binoculars of the L series manage to reduce the level of chromatic aberrations that occur when light passes through the lenses. The result: a sharper view of the edges of observed subjects.
Finally, the Legend L series 10×42 binoculars are, as you would expect, very waterproof and come with the waterproof feature.
|Bushnell Binoculars Legend L series 10×42|
|eye width||57mm – 75mm|
|Field of view||7°|
|Close focusing distance||2m|
Pick #2: Celestron Trail Seeker 8×42
The Celestron Trail Seeker 8×42 binoculars have the ability to give you a very exciting viewing experience and high performance. Indeed, this pair has a beautiful design and allows you to have clear, sharp and precise images. While other binoculars that are found in the same price range are made from polycarbonate, as this plastic is super-lightweight and known to be easy to manufacture. The frame of these Celestron Trail Seeker binoculars is made of a magnesium alloy. Which not only reduces the weight of this pair but considerably increases its sturdiness.
Equipped with a fully multi-coated lens, allowing optimal light transmission, the Celestron Trail Seeker binoculars also have BaK-4 prisms. Its field of vision is very wide and its eye relief is reasonably long. The 42mm objectives provide 8x magnification, ideal for viewing large birds in flight.
|Celestron Trail Seeker 8×42|
|eye width||55mm – 73mm|
|Field of view||8.1°|
|Close focusing distance||2m|
Choice #3: NIKON ACTION EX 7×50 Binoculars
The Nikon Action Extremes, especially the 7×50, are some of the best-looking and clearest binoculars currently available on the market in the same price range. Indeed, they allow having sharp and precise images even in low light.
You will have the opportunity to clearly observe birds at a more or less distant distance field. With a relatively small magnification, the Nikon action ex 7×50 are also easy to handle.
We also appreciated the sturdiness of this pair. The positioning of the lenses has been well studied so that it is difficult for any foreign body to enter, scratch and/or dirty the inside of the binoculars.
Using Porro prisms, however, the pair is quite heavy. If you plan to take them for a long day of observing, you may feel its weight a bit heavier than roof prism binoculars.
If you are looking for a more portable and comfortable pair of binoculars, there are other roof prism models on the market in the same price range. Afterwards the images will not be as clear and bright as those obtained by the Nikon action Ex 7×50.
To have binoculars that offer the same image quality, you will have to pay more (a lot more!)
|NIKON ACTION EX 7×50 binoculars|
|eye width||56mm – 72mm|
|Field of view||6.4°|
|Close focusing distance||7m|
Choice n°4: 8×42 Terra ED binoculars from Zeiss
Compact and elegant, the 8×42 Terra ED binoculars from Zeiss are perfect for long walks. Indeed, they weigh only 725 g and can thus be taken everywhere and at any time.
As far as its visual properties are concerned, these binoculars perform well above average. Its field of view is 124.5/1000 m with a focus distance of 6m
ED lenses allow users to see their subjects clearly and without chromatic aberration. In other words, these binoculars allow you to see birds as realistically as possible at a greater distance and in a larger area.
Moreover, even though this pair is light, it is rather solid. It is covered with a sturdy rubber shell and has a glass-reinforced polyamide frame.
Namely, the interpupillary distance (IPD eye width) of these binoculars is 57.5-76mm. Therefore, for some users, they may not be comfortable to use.
|Zeiss 8×42 Terra ED binoculars|
|eye width||57.5m – 76mm|
|Field of view||124.5/1000m|
|Close focusing distance||6m|
|Eye Relief||Not specified|
Here are the specifications you should focus on when buying your special “best binoculars for birdwatching”
- Magnification: at least 10×42
- Field of vision: around 120 m/1000
- Weight: Between 500g to 1000g (maximum)
- Glass: ED
- Eye relief: long and adjustable
- Weather resistance: Waterproof and anti-fog
- 1 Best Binoculars for birding 2022
- 2 Best binoculars for bird watching
- 3 In conclusion