The Best Binoculars For Bird Watching Reviews & Buying Guide
- 1 The Best Binoculars For Bird Watching Reviews & Buying Guide
- 1.1 Our Favourite Bird Watching Binoculars! –
- 1.2 The Nikon Monarch HG 10 x 42 Binoculars (Editor’s Choice)
- 1.3 Our Verdict – Which Are The Best Binoculars For Bird Watching?
- 1.4 What To Look For In The Best Binoculars For Bird Watching (Our Best Buying Guide)
- 1.5 Best Features To Consider In a Binocular For Bird Watching
- 1.6 Porro Prism VS Roof Prism – Which Is The Best?
- 1.7 Tips For Bird Watching With Your Binoculars
- 1.8 Spotting Scope VS Binoculars
- 1.9 How Can I Use Binoculars With Glasses?
- 1.10 How To Take Care Of Your Binoculars
- 1.11 FAQs
- 1.12 Our #1 Binoculars For Bird Watching
Bird watching is undoubtedly one of the best outdoor activities since way back, and till now, is continuing to gain popularity with all ages, allowing us to get an up-close insight into birds behaviour.
However, as we all know, to watch birds properly you need a good pair of binoculars, using the best pair of binoculars for viewing can help you distinguish different types of birds without scaring them away.
As binoculars are getting more popular, they are starting to come with different features such as coated lenses and roof prism styles. All these modern binoculars can become confusing, making it challenging to know what you need in the best pair of binoculars.
So, we’ve decided to round up the best binoculars out there on the market and compare them to find you the right pair of best binoculars for birdwatching.
Our Favourite Bird Watching Binoculars! –
The Nikon Monarch HG 10 x 42 Binoculars (Editor’s Choice)
The Nikon Monarch binoculars come with a magnification of 10×42 and have a 42mm diameter with ED glass that corrects aberrations in your binocular lens.
Feature-wise the best bird watching binocular boasts a phase-corrected roof prism and multi-coated lenses, along with a 17mm eye relief. It additionally has a field flatten system which stops distortion in a wide-angle range of view and all light conditions.
Design-wise the binoculars additionally have an all-weather proof design which is nitrogen filled along with included twist-up eyecups and a large central focusing knob.
Overall, these best binoculars by Nikon are great for bird watching because of their ED glass and multi-coated lenses which allows you to watch accurately with no distortions.
The binoculars additionally boast a very lightweight design which can be easily worn around a watchers neck for hours without fatigue.
Negatives of these binoculars have to be its eyecups which are reported to be too short for eye relief. The model also said to be complicated to set up and work with all the controls, so this means it may not be suitable for beginner watchers.
- ED glass to correct distortion.
- Multi-lens coating with objective covers.
- 17mm eye relief.
- Roof prism.
- Field flattening system.
- 10×42 magnification.
- Eyecups are too short.
- A little challenging to use and set up.
Our Runner Up – Canon 4624A014 All Weather Binoculars
The Canon all-weather binoculars feature image stabilisation technology for eye relief and sharper image quality. The binoculars have an 18×50 magnification level too.
Impressive specifications of this best binocular model are its eyepiece lens which reduces curves in the range of view, allowing much less distortion when viewing.
Notably, the prism binoculars additionally come with a 60.3-degree wide field of view and are water-resistant, its rubber armouring casing further allows for improved grip.
These Canon binoculars also come with; a case, neck strap, eyepiece and two AA batteries.
Overall, these Canon quality binoculars are one of the best binoculars on our list in terms of the range of view and high-quality magnification.
It’s 12x magnification allows you to watch from miles away and the image stabilisation stops shaking hands from ruining your view.
Downfalls of these high-quality binoculars have to be its high price and heavyweight, which is said to shake the binoculars still when holding them despite its image stabilisation.
The eyecup that comes with the model is also said to be too large and uncomfortable to wear.
- High magnification and wide range field of view.
- Different eyecups and lenses.
- Image stabilisation.
- All weatherproof.
- Sharp image quality.
- Eyecup is uncomfortable.
- High price.
- Very heavy to hold when birdwatching.
ZEISS Conquest HD Binocular
This ZEISS pair of binoculars come with a magnification zoom of 10×32 and has an HD lens system for better image quality and colour rendering.
Feature-wise the binocular has Zeiss fully multi-coated lens with dielectric prism coatings, these give the binocular 90% light allowance.
The model has eye relief and eyecups that can be used with or without glasses. It additionally has a broad range of view and its design is compact and lightweight enough for travelling with.
Overall, the ZEISS Conquest HD binoculars genuinely are one of the best pairs of binoculars on our list thanks to its mid-range price and HD lens which allows you to have a better image quality when looking through your binoculars.
Some downfalls of these binoculars have to be eyecups which are said to be very hard to adjust and not suitable to bird watch with.
- Mid-range price.
- Great light and image quality.
- Easy to use.
- Compact for portability.
- 8x magnification.
- Eyecups are not suitable for use and can break easily.
Zeiss Conquest HD 10X42 Binoculars
These 10×42 binoculars by Zeiss come with an HD lens that has 90% light transmission and a 10X42 magnification system.
Feature-wise the binoculars have 2m focus with a 1000m field of view. The model additionally has 18mm eye relief and a rubber grip for better holding when watching. Its focus wheel is also large, allowing it to be turned even with a glove.
Lens-wise the binocular has a LotuTech lens coating which allows for better light and viewing in all kinds of weather conditions when watching, the eyecups of these binoculars are also slanted for better eye relief.
The Zeiss Conquest HD binoculars are a great pair of binoculars due to their easy to use design and 90% light transmission. The binoculars additionally have a wide field of view, meaning you are less restricted when watching.
Downfalls of these binoculars have to be their eyepiece mechanism and focusing system which is very delicate and can easily be turned by accident when bird watching.
- 90% light transmission.
- Lens coating.
- All-weather rubber design.
- Wide field of view.
- 2m focus.
- Delicate focus wheel which can be turned accidentally.
- Eyepieces have been reported to be faulty on some models.
Steiner 2310 Night Hunter Binocular
If you are looking for some more affordable binoculars to use birdwatching, it could be worth considering this model by Steiner. The binoculars come with 8x magnification and have a 56mm objective lens diameter.
Feature-wise this binocular has a light transmission of 96% and has Porro night glass which produces better image quality even at night. The binoculars additionally have a 135-metre extra-large field of view for birdwatching in all areas.
This design of the prism binoculars has polycarbonate housing and can withstand 5m of water pressure and shocks to the body of the binoculars.
The Steiner night hunter binoculars are an excellent buy for bird watching if you’re on a budget and are looking for a lower-price pair. The model may have less zoom than other models but boasts a tremendous wide-angle for improved watching and even gives you the ability to bird watch at night!
Downfalls of these bird watching binoculars have to be its zoom quality which is a little low, the eyecups have also been reported to be faulty on the model.
- Reasonable price.
- Extra-large field of view.
- 8x magnification.
- Porro night glass.
- Weatherproof and durable design.
- Less zoom quality compared with other high-end binoculars.
- Faulty eyecups.
- Maybe more ideal for hunting than birdwatching.
Our Verdict – Which Are The Best Binoculars For Bird Watching?
To conclude, the best binoculars for bird watching has to be the Nikon Monarch HG 10 x 42 Binoculars.
These binoculars truly boast great magnification for birdwatching and allow you to have the best view possible from its binoculars thanks to its ED lens which removes any distorting when watching birds, making it great value for money.
If you have a higher budget and want a more professional bird watching binocular, we would also suggest checking the Canon 4624A014 All-Weather Binoculars. The binoculars have great in image stabilisation to reduce shaky hands when watching and has fully multi-coated lenses for durability.
The only reason we didn’t place the Canon binoculars first is due to their high price, which may be out of beginners bird watchers price range.
What To Look For In The Best Binoculars For Bird Watching (Our Best Buying Guide)
Now we have compared and reviewed the best binoculars for bird watching. It’s a good idea to get to know more about these binoculars and what we need in these best models.
I’m sure if you are a beginner you might be new to some of this binocular terminology, or you might be wondering what features you need in the best binocular model.
So with that being said, don’t worry, we’ve put together our best extensive buying guide below for helping you understand and buy your best binoculars.
Best Features To Consider In a Binocular For Bird Watching
There is a range of features you should be looking for in the best binoculars; from fully multi-coated lenses to diameters and magnification.
We’ve listed out our top features to look out for below to help you out –
- Magnification – The magnification of your binoculars determines how close you are going to be able to see birds; this is the first number in the specification. A magnification of around 8x-10x usually is more than enough to get a close-up view.
- Objective lenses diameter – This is the second number and relates to the amount of light that gets through your binoculars; a bigger diameter, means more light, which in turn means a brighter image.
- Close focus – Any focus of around 2m is excellent, as this will allow you to view birds in your binoculars up close and in focus, however, how close you get will depend on your magnification.
- Field of view – A larger field of view is significant for bird watching as it allows you to keep track of birds when they take off and fly,
- Weatherproofing – Making sure your binoculars are weatherproof is very important, especially waterproof; in case you manage to drop your binoculars into water somehow. You should additionally ensure that your model is filled with dry nitrogen so as it can be fog proof in humid conditions.
- Prism style – Porro style prism binoculars for bird watching have been around the longest and tend to be the cheapest; however, they tend to be bulkier. Roof designs are better for bird watching as they are lighter and more compact.
- Eye relief – This is important if you wear glasses, it’s the distance you can hold the binoculars away from your eyes and still be able to see.
- Weight – You don’t want binoculars that get tiring quickly, especially in an activity like bird watching, so make sure your model is lightweight.
- Ease of focus – You want to be able to focus fast and efficiently with you binoculars, birds land for one moment then move the next, you want a model that can keep up with this. Larger focus rings are the best for bird watching.
- Lens coating – This refers to the number of coats your binoculars have on their lens, the more coats like multi-layer coats means the less light you lose out on. The best models have fully multi-coated lens.
- Warranty – If you are going to be buying some professional binoculars then you need to consider having at least a one-year warranty, there nothing worse than investing a piece of equipment like this only have to it to come faulty.
Porro Prism VS Roof Prism – Which Is The Best?
As we touched on above in our best features guide, there are two main types of binoculars out there on the market, Porro prism or Roof.
What Is a Prism?
A binocular prism is a transparent object which refracts light and separates the white into numerous colours.
So in binoculars, they amplify the light through the objective lens and invert the image for you to view at the other side of the lens.
These kinds of prisms have been around since binoculars began, they have a zig-zag shape and can give an exact 3D image. They are additionally simpler to use and are often sold cheaper.
However, these binoculars might not be as great for long-distance due to their heavyweight.
- Wider angle of view.
- Clear image quality.
- Don’t tend to be waterproof.
- Low durability.
These binoculars have a more modern style and tend to be smaller or lighter. They tend to have better mechanism due to their system and can produce brighter image quality.
- Better magnification.
- Less field of view.
Tips For Bird Watching With Your Binoculars
If you are new to bird watching and this is your first time birding with your new binoculars, it probably a good idea to consider a few tips and tricks to help you out when bird watching.
Study their habitat
Now, if you are looking to bird watch one specific type of birds, it’s a good idea to do a little background research before you venture out with your binoculars.
For example, you’ll find woodpeckers in trees, so you would inevitably pick a tree spot to bird watch if woodpeckers were on your list.
Bird watching is not an instant satisfaction activity; sometimes, you can be waiting hours for one bird to show themselves.
The wait always tends to be well worth it, though, so don’t give up!
Wear neutral clothing
You don’t need to go all out on a camouflage kit here, but wearing browns and darker colours can help you blend in with the shrubbery and not startle any birds, white clothes are mostly a big no-no when it comes to bird watching.
It can be hard not to get excited when you see a fantastic bird, but stay quiet will help it stick around, and you can bird watch for much longer as you don’t attract too much attention to yourself.
No sudden movements
When bird watching with your quality binoculars its essential to stay still and move slowly, if you move too quickly, you risk losing the bird altogether.
Spotting Scope VS Binoculars
Spotting scopes are also optic equipment that can help your bird watch; many people use spotting scopes as they have great magnifications and can be set on a tripod.
We’ve listed out the pros and cons of each model below to help you compare which optical aid you need for bird watching –
These scopes tend to be set on a tripod and are great for viewing still birds at a very long distance. They are not visible to birds, can magnify and don’t tire your arm muscles out the way regular binoculars do.
Having a scope is excellent for standstill birdwatching across a lake or field.
Spotting scopes, however, can be a little difficult to travel with due to their size.
- Better magnification.
- Great for unintrusive bird watching.
- No tired arm muscles.
- Less portable.
- A smaller field of view.
Binoculars for bird watching are fast and easy to use, they are very portable too and can be taken on bird watching trips quickly.
These bird-watching binoculars additionally have much more adjustability and are great to view moving birds on.
Binoculars, however, have much less detail and colour, they can also lead to a tired back and arm muscles easily.
- Great for moving birds.
- More adjustability.
- Less magnification.
- Less detail and colours.
- Can be heavy to hold.
Overall, if your planning to have an active adventure and will be moving around more when bird watching, then binoculars are more appropriate.
However, if you would prefer instead to set station and have an even more magnified look at birds, then it could be worth considering a spotting scope.
How Can I Use Binoculars With Glasses?
Wearing glasses while using binoculars nowadays has become easy, this is mainly due to eyecups and eye relief that come with the models.
You might even find that you don’t need to wear glasses if your vision is far or nearsighted, as the binoculars can be adjusted to correct your vision when using one.
If you have Astigmatism, you will need to wear glasses when using your pair of binoculars.
Eye relief is an important feature to have if you get binoculars and have glasses; it relates to how far you can see a clear image through your binoculars without dark rings forming around the picture.
In other words, it’s the distance between the lenses of the binoculars and your eye, for people without glasses this doesn’t matter too much, but as glasses will contribute to a further distance, you need to make sure you get the right amount of eye relief.
For an uninterrupted look through your binocular, you should aim for an eye relif of at least 14mm-16mm and above to get the best picture possible with your glasses.
If you wear glasses, you will likely require twisting eye-cups or folding ones so as you can use your binocular comfortably and get a right field of view, having eye-cups like this will help not to cut off more of the image.
How To Use Binoculars Without Glasses
As we mentioned above, if you are near-sighted or far-sighted and want to avoid glasses when bird watching, you will have to adjust your binoculars so as they can correct your vision.
To correct your vision, you will have to change the focusing knob and the diopter adjustment.
- Firstly, set the diopter which should be found on one of your lenses to zero.
- Close the eye behind the diopter lens and look through the other eye.
- Turn the focusing knob while looking into the distance until you can see through this eye clearly.
- Close this eye, open the one with the diopter and change this dial until you can see clearly through the other eye.
- Lock the diopter once your correct vision is achieved so as you don’t have to re-set it again.
How To Take Care Of Your Binoculars
Binoculars can be a high price range piece of equipment, so as you know, you must do everything possible to take care of your bird watching binoculars so as they can last for a long time.
We also suggest that you not only buy the right binoculars for you, but also for the kind of activities you will be doing. For example, binoculars for bird watching may require to be waterproof and be able to withstand against being dropped now and then when you are on your adventures.
- Use a strap – Binoculars are expensive pieces of equipment, so keeping there strap around your neck at all times is a great way to prevent any dropping accidents from happening. While bird watching, even if your pair is comfortable to hold, use a neck strap.
- Carry in a case – When you are not using your pair of bird watching binoculars, you should keep them stored in a case to prevent scratches.
- Maintain your eyecups – The eyecups of your bird watching binoculars can be wiped with rubber preservative now and then to increase their life-span. You should always fold your eyecups back after using them.
- Clean your lenses routinely – You should keep your lenses clean often to prevent dust and debris building up which could potentially cause scratches. Use a blowing technique and lens cloth to clean them.
- Don’t leave then in sunlight – Direct heat to your bird watching binoculars can cause damages to your binocular and prevent them from functioning correctly.
- Find out what your model can’t do – If your compact binoculars are no waterproof then don’t use them around water, same for if they are very delicate, then you shouldn’t be using them on adventure hikes, it’s best not to take risks with these expensive types of equipment, or buy a pair in your price range that can do what you want to be on the safe side.
Can I use my binoculars at night?
If your binoculars have night visions capabilities, then yes, you can use them at night for stargazing too.
What kind of binoculars do I want for bird watching?
For bird watching, you should look for compact binoculars which have an 8x/10x magnification and are lightweight, as doing this kind of activity takes alot of patience.
You should also consider a wide field view and close focus. However, the best of these features tend to mean that the binoculars will inevitably go up in price; a higher budget means a better image.
What is the best magnification for birdwatching?
Any magnification between 8x and 10x will be more than enough. If your magnification goes higher, then it will be likely the binoculars will have a lot of shaky movements, this can be sorted within image stabilisation; like the Canon model on our list.
Do I need to buy waterproof binoculars?
If you are planning to use your binoculars in the rain then having a waterproof feature is ideal, you don’t want to buy a high priced model only for it to be ruined by water.
However, if the water isn’t your worry, then you should be fine without waterproof features, instead consider buying fog-proof binoculars.
What are the numbers on a binocular?
The numbers on a binoculars specification refer to the magnification and objective lens diameter.
For example, 10×42 means these binoculars have 10x magnification and 42 diameters for its objective lens.
To find the exit pupil, you can divide the objective lens by the magnification, which will bring you an exit pupil of 4.2.
Can I look at the moon with these binoculars?
Yes, it completely fine to look at the moon with binoculars, a matter of fact is you can get a greatly magnified view of the moon. You may struggle, however, if your model has lower focus and magnification.
Which binocular is best for people with glasses?
There is no particular model that is best for people with glasses. It would help if you looked for a pair of binoculars that have a long eye relief as this will give you a better image view without black rings.
How do you focus the binoculars?
Use the diopter with your other eye shut and adjust it till you can see a clear image through your open eye after you can repeat this step with the other eye closed and change the focus rings until you can see clearly.
Then lock these settings, and you’re binocular will be focused for your eyes.
What’s the best wide field of view to look for?
It would be best if you looked for a view around 340ft when looking for birds. This will give you enough field of view to catch them flying off, however, the higher your magnification goes then, the smaller your picture will become and the shakier the image will appear.
Is it better to buy a spotting scope?
This depends on the style of birding you want to be doing. Spotting scopes are the best for getting an up-close view of birds, however, do lack portability and can be heavy to carry around when birding.
Bird watching binoculars, on the other hand, are great for adventures but will give less of zoom when compared to spotting scopes.
What does ED mean?
ED on binoculars means extra low-dispersion glass; these types of glass are used on binocular lenses as it reduces chromatic aberration and distortion in your image.
Is there a difference between birding and bird watching?
There’s not a difference between the two terms as they both refer to the same activity; however, birding is thought to mean your actively searching for bids. Bird watching, on the other hand, is more of a peaceful action with no active travel to look for birds and their habitats.
What are the main features to consider in a binocular for sale?
Always consider; the magnification, objective lenses diameter, the field of view, lens coatings and the weight of your model. If you wear glasses, you should contemplate if the binoculars have a long eye relif and comfortable eyecups.
What’s the best way to find birds?
You can try looking for birds either early morning at dusk as this is when they tend to be most active, you should also look for birds with the sun behind your back as otherwise, it can block your view when watching.
What kind of price range should I budget?
You should budget anything from £700 and above for a high-quality pair of binoculars, the higher your price range then, the better quality model you are likely to get.
Do lens coatings matter?
Yes, lens coatings matter as they stop light loss through your binocular lenses, you should look for a high-quality coated lens so as you can get the best amount of light possible through your lens.
How do I know if my binoculars will be useful in low light conditions?
You should look for large diameter of your objective lens as this will help to produce a brighter image in low-light conditions.
Our #1 Binoculars For Bird Watching
Our number one pair of binoculars we recommend for birdwatching has to be the Nikon Monarch HG 10 x 42 Binoculars.
This due to its high magnification which allows you to get an up-close glimpse of birds in their habitat, the model additionally boasts a high-quality ED lens which gives you a crisper image of birds and is all sold for a reasonable price.
We also suggested checking out the Canon 4624A014 All-Weather Binoculars if you have a higher budget, this model has 12x magnification with in-image stabilisation, allowing you to see birds close-up with no shaky handheld view.