When you are on safari, a good pair of binoculars will allow you to see, with remarkable clarity, the animals that are at a distance; while the wrong pair will make them blurry and invisible.
Wouldn’t it be a shame to miss out on beautiful moments, because the binoculars you have are not suitable? After all, you have decided to go on a safari to admire these animals in their natural environment!
In short, this guide will tell you everything you need to know about how to choose a good pair of binoculars for observing animals.
1- The type of binoculars
There are two distinct variants of binoculars: the Porro prism and the roof prism.
Porro prism binoculars have objective lenses whose tubes are offset from the eyepieces; the prisms form an angle between the eyepieces and the objective lenses. Roof prism binoculars have two straight tubes, making them smaller and more compact.
While many believe Porro prism binoculars are worth more because they are larger and bulkier, roof prism binoculars cost more due to the more modern manufacturing process.
If you want to have a pair of quality binoculars, the ideal is to turn to a pair with a roof prism. But if you’re on a tight budget, Porro prism binoculars are still worth a look because they also provide good image quality!
In general, it is nice to have a high magnification. However, on a safari where you will not have a tripod, the risk of the view being unstable increases considerably. In addition, it will be difficult for you to hold large binoculars. Depending on your preference, consider balancing these two factors.
The ideal is to have a magnification of 8x. Anything below 8x or above 10x is not recommended. For nighttime viewing, use moderate magnification with larger objectives.
Be ready to pay the price! Take this as an investment. Some inexpensive binoculars produce dark, blurry, or distorted images at magnification. That’s why you can’t judge binoculars on price alone. The best binoculars are rarely the cheapest.
3- Field of vision
Field of view is the width of an image that can be seen through binoculars. This means that the larger the width of the lenses, the larger your field of vision.
On a safari, a wider field of view will allow you to see more without having to move the binoculars and readjust them. In general, the field of vision is expressed in degrees or meters. A good field of view is 125 yards/1000 yards.
When you have the choice between several different brands, always choose the pair of binoculars that offers a greater field of vision.
4- The size of the lens
Binoculars with a lens of 42 mm or more are preferred for a safari. They produce high-quality images. However, they are often large and heavy.
If you are on a walking safari, this option could cause problems. Opt for smaller binoculars instead, which usually have lenses between 21mm and 28mm.
Medium-sized binoculars that have lenses between 32mm and 36mm are also still a choice you can consider.
5- The exit pupil
Often animals on safari are most active at dawn and dusk. So chances are you’ll find yourself using your binoculars in dimmer light.
If so, choose a pair with a large outer diameter and exit pupil size. These features allow your binoculars to receive more light. The exit pupil itself is the size of the image you will see through your lenses.
But first, what do we mean by exit pupil? It is the size of the lens divided by the magnification.
The size you want to get depends on your pupil and the time of day. For safari, a good exit pupil size is 5.25mm or larger.
However, remember that your pupil size in daylight is 2mm to 3mm. So you can choose an output size of the same value.
The lighter and smaller the binoculars, the more comfortable they will be to carry around all day. They will also be easier to hold, and better suited to situations that will require speed of use. Also, some safaris have weight limits, so this is an additional factor to consider.
However, remember, that weight should be balanced with objective lens size and magnification. We, therefore, recommend medium sized binoculars of 8×32, 8×42, or 10×42. These options are a good compromise for most safaris and allow you to stay below 600 grams.
Whether it’s your first or 20th time using binoculars, they can be tricky to handle. Add to that the safari conditions… you can easily get lost! Your binoculars must be easy to use and maintain.
Namely, the smallest is not necessarily the best, because their size generally results from a choice of comfort. Most of the smallest and most comfortable to hold binoculars don’t have enough magnification. The bulkiest binoculars are usually the best.
Many safari vehicles have a sunroof, and some treks go directly into the jungle. So there is a good chance that you will be caught in bad weather.
The waterproof function will protect your binoculars from rain and other unwanted bodies. During a walking safari, you will be in the open air where dust and humidity are kings. You might even cross a river! In all these situations, well-sealed binoculars will come in handy.
9- Fog light
When exposing a pair of binoculars to extreme temperatures, especially in high humidity, the lenses can fog up or fog up, which can, at best, be a temporary discomfort or, at worst, permanently ruin the view.
The good news is that today several binoculars are reasonably priced and that are both waterproof and fog proof. But again, remember, this is an investment!
10- Impact resistance
As many safari tours take place in a Jeep or similar vehicle, you and your binoculars need to be prepared! When riding on bumpy roads, you will spend the majority of your time bouncing. This means that your equipment will also be put to the test.
Choosing an impact-resistant pair will increase the chances that your new binoculars won’t sustain any damage. However, “shockproof” generally means bulkier and therefore harder to hold. This feature can even make them uncomfortable. So, if you think this option is right for you, make your choice carefully.
11- Good eye relief
This last feature will allow you to have good vision even when you hold your binoculars away from your eyes.
If you wear glasses or plan to wear sunglasses, look for a pair of binoculars with good eye relief. Although this may incur additional costs, it will be worth it in the hot sun of a safari.
The Best Binoculars for Animal Watching
Choix n° 1 : Celestron Nature DX 8×32
In terms of value for money, these Celestron binoculars should be your first choice! She is one of the most powerful twins we are going to feature on this list!
The magnification is 8x, while the diameter of the objective is 32 mm to provide you with clearer and sharper images. Technically, this pair of Celestron binoculars fall into the mid-size binoculars category, however, you won’t feel its weight too much. It is 510g. In addition, the dimensions are only 12.7 x 4.6 x 12.4 cm. Ideal for observing animals during a safari!
The field of view of these Celestron Nature DX 8×32 binoculars is 7.4° per 1,000 meters. The high quality of the images can be attributed to the BAK-4 prisms. The lenses are fully coated with multiple layers to provide a crisp, sharp and clear viewing experience.
Ergonomically designed, this pair of Celestron binoculars are easy to handle, even during long days on bumpy roads. This is partly due to the non-slip rubber grip. Not only does this shell provide a firm grip when traveling through the savannah, but it also acts as a shock absorber.
For the even greater comfort of use, these binoculars have a full eye relief of 17.5 mm.
On the other hand, be careful, if you drop your binoculars or if they suffer a shock, they will have a hard time resisting! If this is a function you are looking for, you will have to turn to another model.
|Lens diameter||32 mm|
|Eye Width (IPD)||56 mm—74 mm|
|Field of view||7,4°|
|Close focusing distance||2 m|
|Eye Relief||17,5 mm|
|Our opinion||The Celestron Nature DX 8×32 binoculars are roof prism binoculars designed for entry-level safari enthusiasts. Sold at an affordable price, they offer surprisingly excellent optical performance|
Choice #2: Bushnell Natureview 8×42 Binoculars
8×42 binoculars are the most popular size for observing animals, especially birds. They offer a good compromise between size, brightness, the field of view, and good magnification; important for quickly spotting moving birds.
If you plan to use your binoculars for wildlife viewing at greater distances or on safari, you may also consider purchasing the NatureView 10×42 binoculars from Bushnell, which, although they have a narrower field of view, enjoys better magnification.
This NatureView 8×42 binocular uses a roof prism design, for better durability and to keep them as compact as possible. Bushnell also manufactures the NatureView series 8×42 Porro prism binoculars, known as “Bushnell Natureview Plus”, which provide slightly richer image depth and a wider field of view but are heavier and much bulkier. It all depends on your preferences as to the type of binoculars you want to have.
What we particularly like about these Bushnell 8×42 binoculars is that they are very durable. Indeed, they are equipped with a robust non-slip rubber shell that absorbs small shocks. They also offer an impressive seal, as the lens is sealed with O-rings to prevent moisture, dust, and debris from entering the binoculars. Finally, the eyecups are filled with nitrogen gas to prevent fogging.
The multi-coated objective and the BaK-4 roof prism facilitate light transmission and achieve a clear, sharp, and precise view. While the central control button allows for quick focusing. With 17mm eye relief, you’ll have no trouble using them even while wearing your glasses. The Bushnell Natureview 8×42 binoculars weigh just 654g, which is pretty good for full-sized binoculars.
|Lens diameter||42 mm|
|Eye Width (IPD)||56 mm — 75 mm|
|Field of view||6,75°|
|Close focusing distance||4 m|
|Eye Relief||15,2 mm|
|Our opinion||Observing animals in their natural environment does not necessarily come with a price. The NatureView binoculars are a good example. Available in different models, they are affordable and equipped with many features. BaK-4 Porro prisms in some models produce brighter images and better edge sharpness. Extended eye relief reduces eyestrain for eyeglass wearers during long viewing periods. They are perfect for observing animals during a safari.|
Choice #3: Nikon Sportstar EX 10×25 Binoculars
These binoculars have been manufactured to be highly shock and water-resistant. Indeed, they are waterproof and waterproof, so you will not have to worry about wrapping them carefully if you have to cross a river.
Nikon Sportstar EX binoculars have the “fog light” function. Thanks to the nitrogen present in the device, fog cannot form inside the lens. They are also provided with O-rings which prevent dirt and dust from accumulating in your pair.
Nikon Sportstar binoculars have 10x magnification, so they can make your subjects appear 10 times closer than with the naked eye. However, you will need a good handshake! It’s a small sacrifice considering that 10x magnification is a great choice if you do a lot of long-distance viewing.
Featuring 25mm diameter objectives, excellent quality roof prisms, and multi-coated lenses, Nikon Sportstar EX binoculars have been designed to capture and utilize as much light as possible.
The large lens collects extra light, while the multi-layer coating ensures minimal reflection, allowing you to see clear, vivid images even in poor lighting.
The Nikon Sportstar EX has a wide field of view that allows you to see more of the area surrounding the animal you want to observe.
If you want to observe animals up close with intricate detail, such as a bird, you will need a good focusing distance from your binoculars. The Nikon Sportstar EX binoculars are equipped with a good focusing distance. 3.5m close-up point, allowing you to get a closer look at your subjects.
The Nikon Group understands that not all eyes are the same, which is why these binoculars have been designed to work with different eye needs.
Featuring a rotating type diopter ring, these binoculars allow you to manually adjust the focus for each eye to give you a better overall picture.
If you wear glasses, the rotating and sliding rubber eyecups can be adjusted without affecting your vision.
These ergonomically designed binoculars are covered with a rubber layer to give you the best possible grip, even in bad weather.
The Nikon Sportstar EX binoculars are foldable, you will be able to store them easily and quickly after each use. They can go discreetly in your pocket
Finally, they are made of eco-friendly glass and are completely free of lead and arsenic. You can therefore feel safe knowing that your binoculars have been designed in an eco-responsible way.
|Lens diameter||25 mm|
|Eye Width (IPD)||56 mm — 72 mm|
|Field of view||6,5°|
|Close focusing distance||3,5 m|
|Eye Relief||10 mm|
|Our opinion||Offering optimal quality of view, the Nikon Sportstar EX 10×25 binoculars perform exceptionally well when observing animals in their natural environment. They are easy to wear and are resistant. They are ideal for people looking for medium-sized binoculars and who want to discover new specimens during a safari.|
Choice #4: Occur compact 12×25 (ideal for kids)
If you’re planning to take your kids on a safari, they’ll probably want a pair of their own. However, it is not worth spending a lot of money on something they will have a hard time taking care of, children are children after all.
If you’re looking for a decent pair, the Occer Compact binoculars are among the best.
Small in size, these Occer binoculars are nevertheless quite powerful. The magnification level is 12x, and the objective is 25mm. These two features will let your kids have a clear vision.
Speaking of sight, these binoculars have an 83m/1000m field of view.
In terms of image quality, these binoculars are amazing. They are coated with BAK4 prisms. With a 15mm lens, they provide a more vivid image in all lights.
For added comfort, the Occer is equipped with eye relief and adapts to your children’s vision if they wear glasses. It also helps block out any peripheral distractions so they can focus on animal watching!
Even better, these binoculars can be controlled with one hand. They will thus have a free hand in case they do not want to lose sight of their favorite animals but need to hydrate themselves.
Finally, they are waterproof and will have no trouble resisting any shocks.
Binoculars for observing animals: 6 tips for choosing the right one
If binoculars are not 100% essential for observing animals, they make it possible to magnify the experience. For most animals observed, especially birds, they will allow you to see details, bring out colors despite low light or shadows. It will also be easier to identify the species of your subject. For most birders, binoculars are almost an extension of their body.
But binoculars are expensive. Truth be told, if you really want to buy binoculars for animal watching, you should consider paying the price. It’s a long-term investment, but you get a return from the first outing.
You don’t buy binoculars like you buy a pair of shoes. Unless you break them or resell them, it’s an expense for life. So you might as well save a little to buy a model that is worth the expense.
That being said, the binoculars market is highly competitive. It has become more popular and manufacturers are applying their new technologies to mid-range models, which opens up the field of possible choices. On the other hand, choosing a good pair of binoculars can sometimes become a headache.
So how to choose binoculars for observing animals? Set a budget that ranges from mid-range binoculars to high-end binoculars. Then choose the correct magnification. Look for vivid, detailed color rendition. Do not forget the comfort of use with good eye relief.
Let’s examine all these points together further.
Decide on your price range.
Top of the range binoculars give you a clean picture in a comfortable and sturdy case. But quality and comfort come at a price. If we compare the pure performance and the price, the best binoculars go up to 1000 euros. At this price you will find the best manufacturer of binoculars, I named Zeiss. For 500 euros, Nikon and its Monarch are an excellent choice. Finally between 150 and 200 euros, Bushnell is what you need.
Here is a graph on the price-performance ratio of a number of binoculars. You see that the best performing models are mostly between 500 and 1000€. But you can find quality binoculars under $500.
I do not advise you to go below 150€, unless you find a good promotion.
To sum up, count a budget between 200 and 500 euros, up to 1000 euros to have perfect binoculars for observing animals.
Prefer 10x magnification
To admire the animals, you have the choice between 8x magnification or 10x magnification. If you observe from a good distance, choose binoculars with 10x magnification.
However, that usually also means a narrower field of view, a slightly darker image in low light, and greater shake sensitivity. 8x magnification gives you a smaller, wider, brighter image. It is easier to target your subject and follow it.
Test many models
No two amateur observers look through binoculars in exactly the same way. The size of the hands, the shape of the face, the way you focus, the way you carry the binoculars when you’re not using them…it all counts.
I therefore advise you to go to a specialized store and try all the binoculars you can.
You can of course buy online without really taking any risk: you are satisfied or your money back and you have the advantage of having the opinions of users. Make a first selection on the brands: Bushnell, Nikon, Olympus, Steiner and Zeiss.
During a previous comparison , I had chosen the Nikon Prostaff 7s 10×42 , excellent value for money
Look for vivid, crisp and accurate color rendition
Image quality is of paramount importance, especially when observing small to medium sized subjects, such as most birds in France.
The bigger the case, the more brightness you have. However, the weight is also more important. Brightness and sharpness are essential. Most stores are better lit than a forest, for example. Find a dark place to compare low light performance. Find the best brightness/sharpness compromise. Specifically for birdwatching, I don’t recommend compact binoculars with lenses smaller than 30mm.
Check eye relief
Most binoculars have eyecups that either retract for users with glasses or extend to provide shade for those without.
It is preferable to have strong eyecups with an adaptable position. If you wear glasses, set the eyecups to their minimum position and make sure there’s enough eye relief: you shouldn’t see any black rings around the image.
Review additional features and warranties
Pay attention to field of view and close focus, two metrics that affect what you’ll see. Also pay attention to strength, waterproofness and warranty. Many major optical companies now offer excellent warranties.
- 0.1 1- The type of binoculars
- 0.2 2- Magnification
- 0.3 3- Field of vision
- 0.4 4- The size of the lens
- 0.5 5- The exit pupil
- 0.6 6- Weight
- 0.7 7- Handling
- 0.8 8- Waterproof
- 0.9 9- Fog light
- 0.10 10- Impact resistance
- 0.11 11- Good eye relief
- 1 The Best Binoculars for Animal Watching
- 2 Binoculars for observing animals: 6 tips for choosing the right one
- 3 Decide on your price range.
- 4 Prefer 10x magnification
- 5 Test many models
- 6 Look for vivid, crisp and accurate color rendition
- 7 Check eye relief
- 8 Review additional features and warranties