Choosing the best binoculars for wildlife viewing can be a daunting task. From the type of objective lens, to field of view, to eye relief, there are many aspects to consider.
The best model for you is mainly determined by what activities you will use them for.
So, which binocular is best for your activities and lifestyle? Keep reading to find out!
Steiner Commander Marine Binocular (Editor’s Choice)
The Commander Marine Binoculars from Steiner offer the user a wide field of view and a great depth of field. Whether you are using them in the forest or out at sea, these binoculars will fit all of your needs .
This particular device features a 50 mm objective lens and 20 mm eye relief. With 7 times magnification, they are perfect for wildlife viewing.
The glass that the lens is made from is water proof because of patented sealing technology.
Image quality is exceptional with the Steiner Commander 7×50 binoculars. At 1000 metres, these binoculars offer a field of view of 108 metres.
This pair of binoculars have rubber eyecups that can accommodate glasses of all shapes and sizes.
One added bonus that comes with these wildlife binoculars is that they have an integrated compass. The compass is fluid damped, HD stabilised, and illuminated.
With the sports auto focus system, you can focus each eyepiece to your unique vision once and then lock it in. That way, you do not have to adjust the binoculars to your particular sight every time you want to use them.
Like the sports auto focus setting, a memory diopter is also integrated into this model. That way, you can store your own personal diopter settings in to the binoculars so you only need to do this once.
The binoculars are housed in durable polycarbonate and rubber armour to protect them against dropping and the elements. The chassis can withstand up to 11 Gs of impact.
Purchase of this model comes with a buoyant neck strap as well. It is bright yellow and features a reflective trim.
- This pair of binoculars offers the user spectacular clarity and a wide field of vision, even when they are set to the highest magnification setting.
- This model is waterproof and fog proof.
- This device is so easy to use that even inexperienced users can use them effectively.
- This binoculars are quite heavy.
- Some customers have complained that the image can become a bit blurred around the edges of the field of view.
- This model is quite expensive.
The Steiner Commander marine binoculars are well designed and made with the highest quality components. If you need binoculars for the land or sea, these are a great choice.
If you are in the market for a more compact pair of wildlife binoculars, then the Seiner BluHorizons model is a great choice.
This model is actually the first sunlight adaptive binocular on the market today. They use the same principal as some glasses do that are made from photosensitive glass.
Depending on the light conditions, they are designed to control the amount of sunlight that is transmitted through the lens. This feature means that you get less glare when using the binoculars in bright light and the image will appear more crisp and vibrant.
This particular model combines compact roof prisms with a double hinge body design. Roof prism binoculars are typically hard to find in a compact design.
This double hinge design allows these compact binoculars to be easily folded up and stored away. This is perfect if you do a lot of traveling or hiking with your roof prism binoculars.
The double hinge also allows these compact binoculars to have a much narrower inter pupillary distance than similar models do. It ranges from 4.5 cm to 7.5 cm in order to accommodate a wide range of users.
The hinges open and close quite smoothly, but there is also enough resistance to make sure that once you reach your desired settings, the binoculars stay that way.
The barrels of these prism binoculars are coated with a thick, hard rubber for protection. This coating makes the binoculars comfortable to grip and also protects them from shock damage.
The Steiner BluHorizons binoculars are rainproof and can handle splashing water from any direction for up to five minutes. Most compact binoculars are not water resistant, so this is definitely an added bonus.
This device is also protected against dust and debris as small objects of 1 mm or more cannot enter the binocular barrels.
The eyecups on this model are soft and comfortable. They also are designed to block out light and distractions from the periphery of your view which only enhances the image through the binoculars.
Eye relief can be adjusted by folding down the cups if need be. This does mean, however, that there are only two fixed settings as far as eye relief is concerned.
While the focus wheel on the Steiner BluHorizons model is small, it is very smooth and easy to adjust. It even has a rubberised grip, which is especially convenient in colder months when you will be wearing gloves.
It takes just two full turns to adjust the focus from one extreme to the other in terms of magnification. This allows the user to make small, accurate focal adjustments.
This particular model feature a diopter adjustment so that you can calibrate it to make up for any differences in sight between your eyes.
The diopter adjustment is located on the left eye piece and is easy to use thanks to the rubber grip.
The objective lenses in these binoculars is 26 mm, which is on the larger side for a compact model. The large surface area allows the lens to capture more light in order to deliver a bright and high quality image.
The lenses are fully multi coated, meaning that multiple layers of anti reflection material is added to the surface of the entire optical system. This provides a bright view through the binoculars and also prevents eye strain.
The field of view, as well as image quality are both very impressive through the Steiner BluHorizons. Close focus for this particular pair of binoculars is about three metres.
Image brightness is always automatically adjusted thanks to the autobright optics that are featured in these wildlife binoculars.
The photochromic objective lenses work the same way that transition lenses do in eyeglasses; the more sunlight the it captures, the darker the tint will turn. As ambient sunlight decreases, the optics will become more washed out to produce a brighter image.
The autobright optics make the BluHorizons binoculars work exceptionally well, especially in low light conditions.
Purchase of this pair of binoculars comes with some additional accessories. In addition to the binoculars themselves, you will receive a carrier bag, a neck strap, strap connectors, a cleaning cloth, and an instruction booklet.
- This model is perfect for long range bird watching, as they have a very wide field of view.
- The wildlife binoculars are incredibly affordable, especially when compared to similar models.
- The binoculars are not nitrogen proofed, so they are not fog resistant on the inside.
- There are only two fixed settings for eye relief since the eyecups are folding, not twisting.
When used in bright conditions, the BluHorizons binoculars work extremely well. This compact device can travel with you almost anywhere.
Steiner Safari UltraSharp
Stein Safari UltraSharp binoculars are the perfect pair of binoculars if you are a beginner.
These binoculars are compact and portable; they are incredible for taking on the road. Fold them up and they can fit comfortably into a jacket pocket.
The 10x magnification allows you to see small details even from far away.
These binoculars are built with high contrast optics that provide the user with a crystal clear image.
The central focusing wheel is smooth and easy to operate. There are no specific steps or notches within the focus wheel, so you can adjust the focus as precisely as you need to.
The construction of the body of these binoculars is well made. They are waterproof and fog proof, which makes them easy to use in any weather conditions.
This model can operate between -20C and 70C, so you can use them in any environment throughout the entire year.
The rubber armouring used on these binoculars is non slip and protects each binocular from oil, acid, or adverse weather.
The eyecups on these wildlife binoculars are extremely comfortable. They are made of silicone and block out incident light from your periphery vision. They can be folded down to accommodate users that wear glasses.
- This pair of binoculars is extremely lightweight and easy to hold.
- The field of view is impressively wide for such a small device.
- The image quality is superb.
- Sometimes, the image produced in the binocular can appear washed out.
- The near focus is about 3.5 metres, which is a bit longer than similar models.
All in all, the Steiner Safari UltraSharp binoculars are a great buy if you like to travel. They are extremely affordable and durable and they are sure to last you for years and years to come.
BNISE is a leader in the field of optics. Their binoculars are well designed and built with durability and ergonomics in mind.
These binoculars are constructed with BAK 4 prisms for spectacular light transmission and colour reproduction through the view finder.
The eyecups are adjustable two two different settings. Simply twist them down when you are wearing glasses and twist them up when you are not wearing glasses.
At 10x magnification, these binoculars provide the user with a 100 metre field of view at 1000 metres. This is especially suited to outdoor activities including hiking, hunting, and mountaineering.
Focusing this pair of binoculars could not be any easier. Adjust the central focus wheel until the sight is adjusted in the left eye, then fix the right eye lens until it is focused. Finally, you have to just adjust the barrel until a single circular field is achieved.
The objective lens use a roof prism.
- These binoculars are solidly built and are very affordable.
- These binoculars are water and fog resistant.
- Due to the high magnification on this binocular, it is a bit heavier than similar models.
The BNISE binoculars are very affordable and are a great starter pair of binoculars. Beginners and experts alike will be able to effectively use this device.
These Olympus binoculars feature one of the longest magnification fields in the market for 10x binoculars. This feature allows the user to see objects at a far distance, even almost as far as a kilometre away.
The objective lenses are multi coated prism lenses with UV protection features. All of this guarantees proper light transmission to produce a high quality image.
The spherical coated optics integrated into these binoculars cuts down on image distortion and guarantees eye plasticity. This makes these binoculars great for sporting events.
The folding rubber eyecups are unique to these binoculars. These eyecups allow users that wear glasses to utilise them with ease.
The most unique feature that attracts buyers to these Olympus binoculars is the UV protection. This protects the user’s eyes from harmful UV rays, which is especially important when using them in bight light.
These affordable binoculars are incredibly affordable and come with a lifetime product warranty. The warranty allows for you to replace or repair the binoculars if they happen to malfunction.
These binoculars are covered with a rubber coating to make gripping the binoculars super comfortable. The rubber coating also protects the device from minor shock damage.
The fully multi coated lenses regulates environmental light. Whether you are using the binoculars during the day or night, you will be able to see bright, crystal clear images.
Purchase of these wildlife binoculars comes with a sleek carrying case for protection. A neck strap also comes with the binoculars.
- The eye relief with these binoculars makes using them with glasses very easy.
- These binoculars are perfectly suited to bird watching.
- The objective lenses are fully multi coated to produce the best image possible.
- These binoculars are not water, shock, or fog proof like similar devices are.
- These binoculars are not tripod compatible.
Over all, these Olympus binoculars offer a wide field of view and preform well even in low light conditions. From the fully multi coated optics to the soft silicone eyecups, these binoculars are a great purchase for wildlife viewing.
Choosing a Pair of Binoculars
Buying the right binoculars for you can be a dauting task since there are so many components to consider.
Choosing the binoculars with the right magnification for you is probably the most important aspect to consider. Choose binoculars with 7x to 10x magnification for general use.
The number that comes before the ‘x’ refers to the magnification factor. The second number refers to the diameter of the objective lens. For example, an 8 x 42 pair of binoculars will have a magnification maximum of 8 times and an objective lens of 42 mm.
Binoculars that have small magnification factors produce smaller images. A smaller magnification factor will mean that the field of view will be wider.
If you need binoculars with a wide field of view, then choose a pair that have a lower magnification. Binoculars with a wide field of view are great for activities like viewing sport matches.
If you need binoculars for long range viewing, pick a pair that has a higher magnification. If you plan on using binoculars for long range viewing, stick with roof prism binoculars that have a higher magnification of 10x or 12x.
Keep in mind higher magnification images will be dimmer. Though the image will be larger, the field of view will become smaller and it will be much harder to keep the image focused.
If this is a concern for you, make sure your higher magnification binoculars are compatible with a tripod.
Make sure that you priotirise larger optics for bird watching or low light activities. Models with a bigger objective lens have a much wider field of view.
These devices are better for finding birds and then subsequently following them. Larger lenses are also able to capture more light, which is important when using binoculars at dawn or dusk.
Binoculars can vary in price greatly across different types and brands. Typically, more expensive models will produce a higher image quality and are also more durable and stable.
Think about where you will use your binoculars. If you plan to just use them to look out the window at home, then you do not need to invest as much money in durability. If you are going to take them hiking, invest in a durable model.
Determine how heavy a pair of binoculars you can handle. Binoculars with high magnification and a large lens will end up being heavier than similar models.
If you plan to take your binoculars hiking, you may want to invest in a lighter pair.
Keep in mind that you can compensate for added weight by mounting binoculars to a tripod.
If you want to carry your binoculars around your neck, heavier models may not be the best choice.
Waterproof vs. Water Resistant
Waterproof models will definitely be more expensive than water resistant ones are. If you plan to use your binoculars while in wet weather or on a boat, spend more money and buy a waterproof pair.
If you do not plan to use your wildlife binoculars in very wet conditions, you can probably get away with just buying water resistant ones.
A good objective lens will provide you the best quality images. Always choose a glass objective lens over a plastic one.
Optics are even better quality if they are made from ED glass.
Eyepieces should rest a comfortable distance from your eyes and they should rest even further if you wear glasses. The distance that the eyecups rest from your eyes is known as eye relief.
Eye relief typically ranges anywhere from 5 to 20 mm. If you wear glasses, you will need an eye relief of 14 mm or more because most glasses sit 9 to 13 mm from the eyes.
If you wear glasses, look for eyepieces that flip or twist out of the way. This feature will further increase eye relief.
When you try out wildlife binoculars, see how closely you can focus them to yourself. If you are into bird watching or wildlife viewing, you will need to invest in a multi coated model that have good focusing ability.
A binocular focuses in one of two ways.
Most models have a center post wheel or mechanism and a diopter corrector. The diopter corrector only needs to be used if the vision in one of your eyes is stronger than in the other one.
Some binoculars are ‘focus free.’ This means that there is no ability for them to have their focus adjusted; these models can cause eye strain, so they are not recommended for extended use.
Prism optics are an important aspect of all binoculars.
With Porro prism binoculars, the main lenses are spread wider than the eyepieces. While this makes the binoculars larger in size, a Porro prism makes close by objects appear more three dimensional.
Binoculars that use a roof prism instead of a Porro prism allow the lenses to remain in line with the eyepieces. This makes the binoculars more lightweight and compact, but it makes the image lower quality.
Less expensive models use BS-7 prisms which square off one side of the view. More expensive models use BAK 4 prisms, which deliver more round images and work better in low light situations.
Binoculars by Activity Type
Different outdoor activities will have different requirements for the binoculars you will use to do them. The best binoculars are always suited to the task at hand.
There are basic guidelines to follow when picking out binoculars for specific types of activities. From field of view to multi coated lenses, there are a lot of aspects to consider when choosing the best binocular for you.
Backpacking and Hiking
If you plan to take your binocular on the trail for backpacking or hiking, the main drawback you will want to avoid it weight. It is better to go with a more compact binocular if you plan to walk, run, or travel with it.
Choose a model with a magnification of 8 times or 10 times and an objective lens that is less than 28 mm. There is no need to spring for a huge 42mm objective if you will take your binoculars on the trail.
8 x 25, 10 x 25, 8 x 28, and 10 x 28 specs are all good choices for this activity type.
Binoculars that have a thick rubber coating are also recommended to protect the device from minor shock damage. Also, look for a model that is at least water resistant, and even better if it is waterproof.
if you are less concerned about the size and weight of binoculars because you will use them for an activity like birding, then you can spring for a mid size or full mode. A 42mm objective would be more than appropriate here.
8 x 32 and 8 x 42 models are ideal for this kind of viewing. Go with a model that has 8x magnification instead of 10x because they will feature a wider field of view. 8x magnification is the perfect spec for birders.
Look for models that are waterproof and fog proof as well.
Whale Watching and Wildlife Viewing
If you are looking for wildlife binoculars, there are several aspects to consider.
If you are going to be very far away from the animals, then consider 10x magnification. Close focus is not necessarily important in this case. Pick binoculars with 10x magnification for whale watching.
If you will be a bit closer to the action, 8x magnification should suit your needs just fine. Close focus is still not much of an issue here, but the image will appear nicer with this spec if you are going to take your binoculars on safari.
8 x 32, 8 x 42, 10 x 32, and 10 x 42 models are all recommended for wildlife viewing.
If you want binoculars that are on the smaller side, stick with a 32mm objective as opposed to a 42mm objective.
If you are whale watching, you must purchase a waterproof pair. Other land activities can suit a water resistant model just fine.
The best binoculars for canoeing or kayaking will be fully waterproof.
8x or less is suggested for this activity because you may have trouble focusing binoculars that have a stronger magnification because of the rocking of the boat. Steady viewing and locking onto one image can be challenging in this way; the most popular binoculars for this activity are 8 x 32.
Binoculars that are suited to stargazing will have a high magnification. It is also important that the lenses gather as much light as possible.
Stick with optics made of ED glass for the nicest image possible. 10 x 42 and 10 x 50 are the proper specs to consider.
Since these binoculars tend to be quite heavy, make sure they are compatible with being mounted on a tripod.
What is the Exit Pupil on Binoculars?
The exit pupil on binoculars can be seen through the lens. It is the bright circle at the centre of each eyepiece and you can see it when you hold the binoculars about 30 cm from your eyes with the objective lenses pointed toward a light.
The exit pupil is important because only the rays of light that pass through the exit pupil can enter your eyes. This means that the larger the exit pupil diameter is, the more light can enter your eye.
This affects the brightness and quality of the image delivered to your eye.
What is ED Glass
ED glass stands for extra low dispersion glass. Dispersion occurs when light hits a lens and instead of being narrowed to one point, some of it is dispersed to other parts of the lens.
This special glass glass helps cut down on chromatic abberation and colour fringing on images produced by binoculars.
Only the highest quality binoculars will have lenses made of ED glass.
How Do I Properly Clean My Binoculars?
Before you start cleaning your model, take a look at the users manual. Sometimes, the manufacturer includes special guidelines for cleaning your particular device.
Many lenses have special coatings that can be scratched or damage, so it is incredibly important to take special care with the lenses.
If you have a lens kit, follow the instructions that comes with it. If you do not have a lens kit, you can still aptly clean your binoculars.
First, remove any small particles from the lens by blowing off large debris and dust from the body of the device. Use a lens blower if you have one, because it is much cleaner than using your mouth.
Do not used canned or compressed air, because they contain petroleum distillates that could further damage your optics.
Next, lightly brush the lenses with a fine brush or carefully rinse them with tepid water in order to remove the last of any particles. Do not use glass cleaning solutions as they could damage any special coatings on the lenses.
Now, use a lint free microfibre cloth to carefully rub the lenses. Do not use a cheap lens cloth, is it can further damage the lenses.
It is best to stick with a bespoke binocular lens cloth that either came in the box with your device or is from a trusted retailer.
When the cloth is not in use, be sure to store it away somewhere that it will not collect more dust and debris. It is a good idea to keep your microfibre cloth in a sealed plastic bag between uses.
Cleaning the body of your device is a bit easier and less daunting than cleaning the lenses.
First, blow over the entire body to remove grit and debris. Next, use a microfibre cloth to wipe off all the different components including the barrels, eyepieces, and focusing mechanism. Be careful not to touch the lenses.
If there is still dirt present, use a soft cloth dampened with some warm water to take care of this.
If there is moisture or dirt inside the barrels of your binocular, you may be tempted to take them apart. Do not do this.
Expensive models are filled with nitrogen to keep the optics from fogging over. Taking the components apart will completely negate this fact.
The Final Verdict
Our pick for the best binoculars for wildlife viewing are the Commander Marine Binoculars from Steiner. From their exceptional close focus to their high quality multi coated lenses, these binoculars are suited to all types of activities.
This model has components made of the highest quality materials while still remaining affordable. While they offer a very strong magnification as well as large lenses, they are still lightweight and portable.
The Steiner Commander are the best binoculars for bird watching, wildlife viewing, and hiking.