The Bushnell Legend 8×42 give you great color depth and clarity for the price, and is my choice as the best budget birding binoculars. If you are coming from cheaper pairs costing less than $150, you will be surprised at the upgrade you get for about 1.5x the price. At 8x, its magnification is smaller than other 10x budget pairs, but when you look through it, you won’t be disappointed by the view.
Review additional features and warranties. Pay attention to field of view and close focus, two measures that affect how much you’ll see. See our report on field of view and close focus to understand how these factor into your choice. Also pay attention to durability, waterproofing, and warranty—many major optics companies now offer excellent warranties. Check our full review spreadsheet for these details.
With an eye relief of 20 mm and 8.5×42 magnification, this rangefinder binocular is the perfect fit for those wearing glasses. This is because it offers a lot of places for you to adjust behind the lens while wearing glasses. The focus wheel is placed perfectly where your hands can comfortably handle it. The dioptre adjustment is incorporated with the focusing wheel. This lets you to simply pull back the wheel and turn it to change the dioptre scale.
The coating on a lens has almost as much to do with clarity and brightness as the lenses themselves. A good coating can reduce the amount of scattered light down to a quarter of a percent per a surface. Scattered light is lost or misaligned information. You can have the best lens and coatings, but if all the elements aren't lined up and centered your image will come out distorted. With a minimum of 6 elements and some models having up to 20 elements, plus the two barrels, getting everything aligned can be very difficult. Fortunately, our brains are good at compensating for small misalignments. However, misalignments can add to eye strain.
Field of View is expressed as feet at a thousand yards. This is fine if you are in the artillery, but astronomers use degrees to define the field of view. If you see on your binoculars a field of view 316 feet at a thousand yards, it means the field of view is 316 feet from edge to edge in your binoculars. To convert this to astronomical field of view or degrees divide by 53. In this case 316 divided by 53 equals 5.96 or 6.0 degrees field of view.
You can also look in on the gray blotches on the moon called maria, named when early astronomers thought these lunar features were seas. The maria are not seas, of course, and instead they’re now thought to have formed 3.5 billion years ago when asteroid-sized rocks hit the moon so hard that lava percolated up through cracks in the lunar crust and flooded the impact basins. These lava plains cooled and eventually formed the gray seas we see today.
Other flaws of the top binoculars focused mainly on what they didn’t do. For example, in several models (e.g., Nikon Prostaff 7S, Opticron Discovery WP PC), I found little details to complain about, like the fact that the twisting plastic eyecup was physically too easily pushed down as I carried it around, so each time I would raise the binoculars to my eyes, they’d be at wildly unbalanced levels. Even more annoying (and painful), several pairs I tested produced mild to fairly severe eyestrain, that ache behind the pupils when staring for more than a few seconds at a time through the lenses (memorably with the Eagle Optics Denali pair and a couple of Opticron models), or resulted in my eyes having a jittery little kick after I put the binoculars down and tried to focus on something else (say, my field notebook). This transition was smooth and virtually seamless in the top pairs of binoculars of the bunch I tested (e.g., Athlon, Carson, and Nikon), less so in other makes and models.
The sole obligation of Celestron under this limited warranty shall be to repair or replace the covered product, in accordance with the terms set forth herein. Celestron expressly disclaims any lost profits, general, special, indirect or consequential damages which may result from breach of warranty, or arising out of the use or inability to use any Celestron product. Any warranties which are implied and which cannot be disclaimed shall be limited in duration to a term of one year from the date of original retail purchase.
In autumn, don't miss the Great Andromeda Galaxy, which looks like a dimly glowing little oval cloud. Contrast its smoothness with the delicate sparkle of the Double Cluster in Perseus. Winter's crisp skies are great for scanning the Hyades and Pleiades star clusters, then sweeping down to gaze at the Great Orion Nebula in Orion's Sword. Spring brings the unique Beehive star cluster in the constellation Cancer.
If you aren’t well versed in binoculars and what the terminology means, you might be fooled into buying something that’s absolutely not worth the money. Not all premium binoculars are worth buying, and there are some budget offerings that can absolutely hold their own against competition that’s often a couple times more expensive. You will find a lot of choices, but going for the right one is a challenge in itself. Therefore, below you will find a guide that touches on the basics, what to look out for, and where it’s actually worth investing a few extra dollars.
"These binoculars provide a clear view of wildlife in my backyard or while on a nature walk. I agree they are built like a tank, but not the weight. I was looking at other brands and decided on the Carson's VP series. I made my decision from reading the reviews and watching the Carson provided product videos. I can't wait to view more wildlife with them."
The way you carry your binoculars is going to have a big impact on your birding experience. You can carry them in your hand all day, or wear them around your neck with the included strap. However, there are more than a few ways to carry your binos. Chest straps, holsters, and quick releases all change the way you handle your glass in the field. Also, many binoculars have threaded sockets that permit attachments for mounting on a tripod or other fixed support.
Follow these steps and you'll go a long way toward selecting quality binoculars for astronomy right there in the store. If you're ordering from an online or mail-order distributor, this kind of test drive won't be possible before you make the purchase. So make sure the sales policies allow you to return defective or unsatisfactory units, then check the pair thoroughly once they arrive.
Optically, the TrailSeeker offered exceptional light-gathering abilities. I remember watching a northern harrier soaring against the sky and the colors of the streaks below were as sharp as can be. Another bonus is this pair’s ability to focus close—as near as 6.5 feet, with a field of view of 426 feet at 1,000 yards. However, the outer edges of that expansive field of view had some mild distortion. The streaks on a Lincoln’s sparrow got a little mushy through the edges of the Celestron lenses, yet remained razor-sharp through the lenses of the Athlon Optics Midas ED. Most users probably won’t notice this, but the Athlons were clearly superior, to my trained eye.
Contrast: the higher the contrast in the image you see through your binoculars, the better. A high contrast image will have more “snap”, and makes it much easier to pick out fainter objects at distance. It also helps you to differentiate between subtle variations in tone and hue, particularly at lower light levels. Contrast is largely impacted by the quality of the lenses and prisms in the optical design, their accurate alignment to reduce or eliminate internal reflection, and of course the quality of the lens and prism coatings (again). Outstanding contrast is one of the hallmarks that gives premium binoculars that elusive “Wow!” factor.
The accuracy is mostly due to the advanced ranging modes available on the Fusion 1 Mile. They allow the user to provide hints on how to interpret readings based on his or her surrounding circumstances. This decreases the chances of inaccurate readings based on tricky scenarios. The abilities of the Bushnell 1 Mile are impressive for any model, but they are even more exceptional considering the cost of these binoculars. This model can by purchased for less than $1,000.
As mentioned before, this is the second number when describing binoculars. Along with magnification, this is the most important feature for astronomical binoculars. The larger the lens is, the more light that gets in, the brighter your image will be. Binoculars for stargazing should be at least 50mm and preferably even 70mm and above. Larger lenses of 50mm to 100mm are very common in astronomy binoculars simply because they can gather more light.
Each month, as the moon goes through its regular phases, you can see the line of sunrise and sunset on the moon progress across the moon’s face. That’s just the line between light and dark on the moon. This line between the day and night sides of the moon is called the terminator line. The best place to look at the moon from Earth – using your binoculars – is along the terminator line. The sun angle is very low in this twilight zone, just as the sun is low in our sky around earthly twilight. So, along the terminator on the moon, lunar features cast long shadows in sharp relief.
Zeiss is in no way a new player in the field of optics. They’re synonymous with extremely high quality, if you can afford them, and with the Victory 10×56, they live up to their name. Let’s kick things off with the build quality. Even if you’re a person who doesn’t really take a lot of care about their things, you’ll be good to go with these. They’re built to be sturdy and maintain their performance even if you do drop them once or twice. This build quality also extends to waterproofing, which is always appreciated. They’re also nitrogen filled, which, as mentioned a few times above, won’t let your lenses fog up on the inside. Cleaning the lenses is a breeze, which is in most part thanks to a coating that Zeiss put on their lenses.
Obviously, early technology was nowhere near as accurate as modern day technology is (is likely that technology will continue to advance in the future), but you should still be able to get a fantastically accurate reading every single time you bring a pair of rangefinders up to your eyes. There are definitely some limitations to this technology, however.
Many find that they really like astronomy binoculars with 70 or 80mm or more diameter objectives. Choosing a magnification of 20X or more will allow you to see significantly more than you did with your initial, smaller astronomy binoculars. You'll find that using the two binoculars together will produce benefits in finding objects quickly with the smaller handheld binoculars and then using the tripod-mounted larger model for your studied review of the object. You will have already gotten locations of favorite views in mind and seeing them through the larger, more powerful instrument is a natural progression.
A BAK-4 prism ensures crisp, clear images, and works very well in low-light conditions. Additionally, the multi-coated optics provide excellent light sensitivity and filtering throughout the lens system, making for great viewing even in low-light conditions. An excellent waterproof binocular rangefinder, the Barska Battalion is the perfect product for any outdoor situation.
The Leupold Shadow Gray 6x30 BX-1 Yosemite Binocular features a compact form-factor outfitted with traditional BAK4 Porro prisms and a fully multi-coated optical path to display more depth of field than similar roof prism designs. The resulting images transmitted by the Yosemite binocular have lifelike depth and are crisp and clear with high-contrast and accurate colors across the field of view.
Which are all crucial considerations, as binoculars tend to be highly subjective. It’s helpful to think of a pair as you might a new car: you want a rare symbiotic union of stylistic penchants, pragmatic details and clarity of vision that all mesh with whatever price point you’re willing to live with. Because the moment you drive it off the lot, the resale value craps out. There’s no monolithic pair that everyone should own, no starter set that’s worth the $200 you could just apply towards pricier lifetime binoculars. While cost is often a barometer of quality, it’s not always. Instead, a thornier set of metrics obtains: are you after high magnification for long-range birding — owls and shorebirds and the like — or will 7x or 8x suffice? Do you want a lightweight pair to stow in your glove compartment, carry-on or briefcase? How important is balance, overall feel, focus, and what birders call “eye relief” (basically visual ergonomics) to you? Because they’re different for everyone. In short, will you be driving an Audi 6 or a Ford Fusion?
Now, the BinoX-HD are not typical night vision equipment. They aren’t your typical pair of rangefinder binoculars either. Typical night vision devices have image intensifier tubes, micro channel plates, or high sensitivity and improved frequency response. However, these have a charge-coupled device which provides the night vision capability. In terms of binoculars, typical ones tend to magnify the object by using a series of lenses. These, however, have a sensor – much like the one you’d find on a digital camera. When you’re looking at the object, it’s the sensor that magnifies the object between 4 and 16 times, and it does so digitally instead of optically. You can’t do wonders with it, such as zooming it at something that’s 1000 yards away at night, but the products that can do this are at least six or seven times the price.
Essentially, binoculars are just two telescopes mounted side by side, one for each eye. To understand binoculars, you need to understand how a telescope works. Here's an easy demonstration that you can try yourself. All you need are two ordinary magnifying glasses and a piece of tracing paper. Do this once, and you will understand forever how binoculars work.
While the Geovid indeed uses a laser to calculate distance, it also factors in ballistic trajectory. For example, the actual distance to an object might differ with a bullet as opposed to a laser. If you were holding a gun instead of the Geovid, the binos will factor in a bullet’s drop to give you perhaps the most accurate information on our list up to 1200 yards.
I believe the best binoculars are the ones you have with you. Meaning: Buy the pair you'll be most likely to take on your travels more often, whether you're going out into the backyard or across the planet. That implies a smaller and lighter form factor, which tends to be lower power. If this is your only pair, I'd suggest an objective no larger than 50 mm (the number after the "x," as in 7x40), and a magnification no bigger than 10x.