Birding Binoculars Buying Guide | Recommendations for 2016

Taking a stroll out in the nature is always an appeasing activity to both our body and soul. Along with the beauty of nature, the chirping of birds and the very sight of their beauty indeed keeps us mesmerized.

Recently, Birding, or bird watching, has become a popular hobby. It has overtaken many other hobbies and has attained the stature of the fastest growing hobby in North America. Approximately there are around 50 to 75 million birders in the United States alone. This is definitely a welcome trend in today’s automated world.

Binoculars are the most important device that one requires for bird watching. The world of binoculars is so vast that it involves a certain level of mastery to choose the best binoculars that suits you.

Top 5 Best Binoculars for bird Watching:

If you are a birder who enjoys birding to the fullest, you would love to own the best pair of binoculars to have the best of the best viewing experience. So here are the best 5 binoculars to give you an awesome experience of bird watching.

Binocular Model

Key features

Review Grade

Offer

Carl Zeiss Optical 8x42 Victory HT

Carl Zeiss Optical 8×42 Victory HT

  • World’s brightest premium binoculars
  • tremendous color resolution
  • short dimensions
5 Stars amazon-button-png-200

Zeiss 8x32 T* FL Victory

Zeiss 8×32 T* FL Victory

  • all-purpose binocular
  • 32mm lens optimum light transmission
  • filled with nitrogen
  • water proof
4.5 Stars amazon-button-png-200

Nikon MONARCH 7 10x42

Nikon MONARCH 7 10×42

  • very economically priced
  • exceptional quality
  • advanced optical system
4.5 Stars amazon-button-png-200

Leica 8x42 Trinovid

Leica 8×42 Trinovid

  • lightweight materials
  • better clarity and contrast
  • durability
 5 Stars  amazon-button-png-200

Bushnell Legend Ultra HD Roof Prism

Bushnell Legend Ultra HD Roof Prism

  • water-repellent lens coating
  • magnesium framework
  • add-on accessories
 4.5 Stars  amazon-button-png-200

There are a number of sub categories under bird watching. Observing birds in wide-open areas, over long distances like at the coast or near a lake is very different from watching birds in a thick forest. So it is actually very tough to come to a conclusion about which bird watching binoculars to go for. Depending upon the purpose and the place of birding, there might be a different requirement.

To make your task of choosing a best binocular easy and to derive answers for your query as to what bird watching binoculars has to offer to birders, here we have a list of features that you will need to focus on while selecting your own pair of binoculars. These are sure to guide you as to how to choose bird watching binoculars.

  1. Magnification:

Binoculars are used for various purposes, based on which the magnification requirement might vary. As far as bird watching is considered, a binocular with a magnification of 8x would work well. However if you are going to use your binoculars for varying purposes, then a 10x would be the best suited all-rounder.

Most preferred magnification for Bird watching by birders is 8x.

  1. Size of Lens:

The size of the lens is nothing but the objective size. When you go on to the technical specifications of a binocular, you might see specifications such as 10×42, etc. This means that the binocular has a magnification of 10 and the objective size of 42 (measured in mm).

This objective size is the feature that decides the size of your binocular. If you require a bigger objective size, then you would need to carry a pair of huge binoculars. So depending on the purpose of your binoculars, it is up to you to choose the one that best suits you. Again if you are looking out for an all-rounder, then a binocular with a 10×42 specification would be the better pick.

  1. Field of View:

The field of view is used to specify the width of an area that is visible through the lens at a certain distance. That distance is generally measured at the 1000 feet mark.  The magnification and the FOV of a binocular are inversely proportional to each other. So the bigger the magnification, the smaller is the FOV. Hence for activities, which require a wider view, such as wildlife viewing, binoculars have to be chosen keeping the FOV in mind.

  1. Portability:

This is again an important factor where the user has to take a decision about his choice of binoculars. Binoculars are available in different shapes and sizes and are normally chosen according to the activity it is destined for. There are many compact models in the market, which weighs 21 ounces and upwards. The size of the objective lens usually has the biggest influence when it comes to the weight and size of binoculars.

While compact binoculars are easy to use and more portable, the full sized binoculars offer brighter view, easy to position, more resolution and a more steady view.

If in case you are a traveller type of person, it is definitely not a good idea to carry a heavy binocular. Likewise if you are a hunter type of person, then you would definitely require a binocular with a bigger magnification.

  1. Lens:

Binoculars that have their lens coated multiple times offer better results and have a whole lot of benefits than binoculars that are not coated. The more the number of coatings, the better is the lens. Some of the benefits attached to Lens coating are:

  • Augment Light
  • Intensified brightness and clarity
  • Maintains the real color of the images
  • Upholds superior contrast
  • Easy maintenance of the lens
  • Protects the surface of the lens from scratches.
  1. Focus:

For a hobby as bird watching, quick focusing and viewing of the object plays an important role. As we all know, birds are not objects that stand still for a long time. So in order to get a quick view, the binocular should support quick and easy viewing. There are binoculars that have fixed focus or adjustable focus, available in the markets.

  1. Eye Relief:

Are you a person with your glasses on? Then this eye relief factor is very vital to you. Most binoculars will have an eyecup that ensures the user’s eyes are placed at the correct position. But for users wearing glasses, this eyecup has to be adjusted so that they can place their eyes at the correct distance from the ocular lenses.

People who wear glasses should ideally opt for binoculars with a longer eye relief as they help in projecting the image further beyond the ocular lens. So for a person who wears glasses, the best eye relief should be at least 15mm, to ensure that you see the entire image. One drawback having a long eye relief is that it generally reduces the FOV.

 

With a lot of physics in the features of the binoculars, it would be a better option to view all the features in a comparative chart for an easier understanding:

Features

Preferred

Most preferred

Ideal

Inference

Objective Size/ Size of the Lens 35 mm 42 mm Varies based on purpose A bigger objective size offers more clarity but will be heavier.
Magnification 7x 8-10x Varies based on purpose Higher the magnification, lower the chances for viewing moving objects
Coatings Coated Multicoated Fully coated More coating offers better lens quality.
Focus Zoom Fixed Varies based on purpose Depends on the usage, however fixed focus is a better pick for birders.
Weight Light Lighter Varies based on purpose Compact offers portability but heavy ones are easy to use provided you have monopod or tripod
Price $100 – $200 $200 – $400 $500+ The higher the cost the better will be the features.

Other characteristics:

Specifications

Zeiss Victory THT 8×42

Zeiss Victory TFL 8×32

Nikon Monarch 7

10×42 ATB

Leica Trinovid HD 8×42

Bushnell Legend Ultra HD Roof Prism Binocular
10×42

Dimension (HxW) 7 x 5.6 4.6 x 5.1 5.6 x 5.1 5.5 x 4.6 7.2 x 6.1

 

Magnification 8x 8x 10x 8x 10x
Objective Diameter 42mm 32mm 42mm 42mm 42 mm
FOV 408 feet 420 feet 351 feet 414 feet 340 feet
Close Focus 6.2 feet 6.5 feet 8.2 feet 5.9 feet 6.5 feet
Eye Relief 16mm 15.5mm 16.4 mm 18mm 15.2mm
Weight 27.7 oz. 19.75 oz. 23.6 oz. 25.75 oz. 24.7 oz.
Lens Coating Fully multi coated Fully multi coated Fully multi coated Fully multi coated Fully multi

Coated

Price Range $2349 $2099 $449.95 $949 $209

As we have seen all the specifications of the binoculars, now it is time to see the salient features of each of these:

  1. Zeiss Victory THT 8×42:
Carl Zeiss Optical 8x42 Victory HT

Carl Zeiss Optical 8×42 Victory HT

  • This is considered to be the world’s brightest premium binoculars containing HT glass by Schott and superior T* coatings for 95%+ light transmission.
  • The HT concept comprises FL- lenses that offer tremendous color resolution.
  • It includes perfect ergonomics by offering its users an exclusive Comfort Focus Concept, in which the focusing wheel is placed closer to the index finger. The low drive ratio offers a confident andsteady focusing.
  • The strong Double Link Bridge that is made from lightweight magnesium materials guaranteeshigh-classaccuracy.
  • The short dimensions provides a safe grip, even you’re your gloves on.
  • The product comes with a lifetime warranty and 5 year no fault policy.

 

With all these exciting features, these binoculars are usually considered as one of the best binoculars that a birder can possess.

  1. Zeiss Victory TFL 8×32: 
Zeiss 8x32 T* FL Victory

Zeiss 8×32 T* FL Victory

  • This product from Carl Zeiss is an all-purpose binocular that offer a large FOV.
  • The 32mm lens offers optimum light transmission.
  • The 8x magnification is perfect for Birding, scouting and glassing.
  • These binoculars come with advanced ergonomics and perfect balance to deliver a comfortable experience even during elongated observations.
  • The binocular is filled with nitrogen and is also water proof.
  • The dielectric mirror coatings ensure a superior brightness and contrast to the image.
  • The eyecups can be twisted up for operational ease.
  • It is designed exclusively for outstanding compactness and portability.
  1. Nikon Monarch 7 10×42 ATB: 
Nikon MONARCH 7 10x42

Nikon MONARCH 7 10×42

  • This product is very economically priced.
  • It delivers exceptional quality and image.
  • The Monarch line is exclusively designed for birders and has been popular for many years.
  • It has the most advanced optical system.
  • It has been considered the most durable binoculars in the field of bird watching.
  1. Leica Trinovid HD 8×42:
Leica 8x42 Trinovid

Leica 8×42 Trinovid

  • High quality glass types are used to provide the users a sharper and brighter viewing experience.
  • New lightweight materials make the product lighter and portable.
  • New improved lens coating for better clarity and contrast.
  • The Trinovid has been consistent in providing superior optical performance and durability that has been a niche of Leica.

Leica is a veteran in the field of bird watching and has a good line of satisfied customers with its authentic and quality product lines. 

  1. Bushnell Legend Ultra HD Roof Prism Binocular:
Bushnell Legend Ultra HD Roof Prism

Bushnell Legend Ultra HD Roof Prism

High-performance optics and a light yet tough body, provides the perfect viewing experience for any birdwatcher. Bushnell’s Legend Ultra-HD binocular has been exclusively designed for this purpose.

  • It has rain guard HD water-repellent lens coating, which gives ultimate experience irrespective of the weather conditions.
  • Lightweight magnesium framework to ensure ease of use and portability.
  • It comes as a Waterproof & fog proof product.
  • It comes with add-on accessories like a soft carrying case, Microfiber carry bag & a soft neck strap.
  • Exceptional optics with ED Prime Glass and Ultra Wide Band Coatings

 

With all these features and exceptional technical features, this product proves to be one of the best sought products by birders worldwide.

Where to buy bird watching binoculars at best prices? 

Once you have decided to go in for a pair of binoculars, there are various options that you can go in for. You could either go in for direct shopping in stores near you like Bass Pro Shops, Cabelas, BH Photo Video, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Walmart or other local sports store.

You could also go in for online shopping via sites like Amazon.com, Binoculars.com, ebay.com, etc. Online shopping gives you the opportunity to choose from an array of choice at your ease and also have a number of user reviews. Reviews are instrumental in arriving at a decision as to how to buy bird watching binoculars.

Conclusion:

Bird watching is a hobby that many are resorting to in the recent times. To make this hobby more exciting and awesome, one has to be equipped with a good pair of birding binoculars.

For all this you have to first decide what is the location where you are going to bird-watch and what are the technical aspects that will help you in that location? Also you have to analyze what are good bird watching binoculars that will suit your desires.

Though, deciding which is the best pair of bird watching binoculars is not simple, with proper understanding and research about the product, one can choose efficiently. Choose the right pair to enhance your viewing experience.

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