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.
Terms such as coated, multi-coated and fully multi-coated refer to the location and type of coating processes used. Coated lenses are the most basic and denote that at least one lens surface has at least one layer of coating on it. Multi-coated means that multiple surfaces are coated and/or multiple layers of coatings have been applied to each surface. Fully multi-coated means that all surfaces—inner and outer—of the lenses have multiple layers applied to them. This treatment offers the highest level of light transmission, clarity, contrast, and color rendition. At the pinnacle is broadband fully multi-coated. These coatings are engineered to be effective across a wide spectrum of wavelengths and provide the best performance.
The second thing you'll want to do is to focus on a bright star. Ideal astronomy binoculars will show it as a well-defined pinpoint of light with two or three concentric rings of light. In a binocular of average quality, it will not be sharply defined. To say it differently, it will be a bit fuzzy. A binocular of poor quality will show it as a fuzzy-edged pyramid or other odd shape. There are not many binoculars which achieve the ideal!
We’ve already mentioned coatings several times, and they really do transform the performance levels of any binocular. Almost all binoculars on the market today will have some kind of anti-reflective coating applied to at least some of the air-to-glass surfaces to improve light transmission, compensate for the aberrations inherent in any optical design and enhance image resolution, colour fidelity and contrast.
Hi Mark, I found the 60 x 60 binoculars for about $50-80. They look pretty poorly built. I also found a pair of 60 x 90’s for just over $110 and they don’t look much better either. I think anything larger than 12 x 50 is hard to handhold and anything over 15 x 70 is impossible. Not sure why people wanting that much magnification don’t go for a spotting scope? 
Due to the construction required for the binoculars to be able to work at both 8x and 16x magnification,  you will get a severely crippled field of view when you’re using 8x. The easiest way to see the difference is to compare a pair of 8x binoculars, to a pair of 8-24x. The field of view at 8x will be very different. Seeing as zoom requires glass parts to move and have a complex construction, there is some pretty noticeable loss of quality in comparison to a fixed pair of rangefinder binoculars. Your best option is to see what kind of magnification works best for your specific environment, and then go for that with a fixed zoom setting.

For a trusty pair of binoculars that are super portable, the Pentax AD are best for casual use like short hikes or travel. While they're not made for birdwatching or stargazing, they're perfect for throwing into a bag and going on a spontaneous adventure. You'll still get full performance with their compact size, making them a great pair to keep in your purse or bag at all times.


Pros: The waterproof and fogproof chassis protects your binoculars from moisture damage. At 22.1 ounces, these are one of the lighter pairs of binoculars we reviewed, and testers found them comfortable to hold and easier to adjust than many other models. Testers also reported consistently bright and clear images, and its 17.7mm eye relief is one of the best we saw.
Recommendation: balance and handling is a very personal thing, but you should be able to get some idea of what the binoculars on your shortlist are like by reading reviews online from people who’ve spent time with the binoculars on your short-list. Try searching birding and wildlife forums (like Bird Forum) for recommendations by owners — and try and get to use as many different types of binocular as you can to see how different models and different styles feel to you (see point 10 on Try Before you Buy).

Also concerning zoom binoculars stay away from them. Zoom binoculars show up in greater numbers for repairs than any other design. They were originally developed as a “gimmick” to encourage sales simulating the success of sales of zoom camera lenses.U.S. military specification design is still the best design for binoculars, although not as popular as the center focus design. If someone is advertising their binoculars as “military design binoculars, just make sure they are U.S. military design and not someone else’s military. U.S. military specification design means that each eyepiece has to be focused for each eye, that the barrels of the binocular are sealed or water proofed, and filled with nitrogen, prisms are Bak-4, and the lens are fully multi-coated.Center focus binoculars are not usually water proofed and filled with nitrogen. You achieve focus with a center focus wheel and the right eye piece for the right eye. For a good center focus binocular make sure the prisms are Bak-4 and the lens are fully multicoated.


At just under $120, any serious birder, hunter, or outdoorsman will tell you that the Nikon Prostaff S3 8x42 bins are quite affordable for what you’re getting. And while you can buy cheaper binoculars with more magnification power (I own such a pair and keep them bouncing around in my glove compartment), their quality — of both the lenses and the body — won’t match that of the Nikons. The low cost of these binoculars makes them a great choice for a first-time bino buyer, as does their large focus ring and easy-to-adjust eyecups. They also have a long eye relief, which is the distance away from the eyes that the binoculars can be held while still rendering a full field of view — making them great for people who are wearing glasses or sunglasses.
Notably both the Nikon Monarch 5 8x42 and the Vortex Diamondback 8x42 also earned scores of 8 out of 10 in our clarity testing. This is impressive considering that both modles list for less than $300. While these model both have slightly more edge blurring than the top scoring products, they generally provide a super crisp, immersive image, allowing us to easily pick out all the minute, defining features of our bird models.
Efficiency is the word which can describe this product. Bushnell know for their high-quality products have come up with a rangefinder binocular which is going to be one of the rangefinders on which the coming generation will be modeled on. It is a model which blends the quality of binoculars which the capabilities of the laser rangefinder. Starting with the range, it can measure from 10 to 1760 yards. It operates on a push of a button. The ease of use with this product is unbelievable. It is used for multiple activities such as hunting, outdoor sports, bird and wildlife watching, traveling, and even by the army. It is a multi-purpose rangefinder binocular which is made using high-quality materials.
Hunting binoculars make it easy to spot prey at long distances so you can clearly detect and perfect your shot. We feature binoculars with 12x and higher magnifications for long-range viewing and hunting purposes, as well as options with scratch-resistant coatings, secure lenses and comfortable eyecups for long periods of use. Choose between our different durable and reliable roof prism binoculars and porro prism binoculars to find the best match for your specific hunting needs. Just remember that while you're on the hunt, be sure you're carrying the best binoculars that Academy can offer.
What is also interesting is they accept the standard, 1.25-inch astronomical filters to enhance your views of the Moon, planets nebulae and other celestial bodies. Other features include fully multi-coated lenses, quality BAK-4 prisms, individual focus for precise adjustment. They are fully waterproof and nitrogen-purged to prevent any fogging up. They're also backed by Zhumell's 25-year warranty.
The Vanguard Spirit XF produced some of the sharpest and clearest images of all binoculars we tested. Its rugged design and pristine optics make it an ideal pair for outdoor activities including hiking, camping and birdwatching, while its versatility also makes it a great choice for action like sporting events. Precise optics and durable design earned the Vanguard Spirit XF 1042 our Editor’s Pick for Best Binoculars.
So, what exactly makes good binoculars? Binoculars’ optics consist of three main components that affect their performance: the ocular lenses (in the eyepiece), the objective lenses (the lenses that are farthest away from your face), and the prism, which we’ll discuss further in a bit. The ocular lens is a magnifier. So when you see binoculars’ specifications, the first number signifies how much that lens enlarges what you’re looking at. In the case of all the models we tested, that number is an eight, so you’re getting an image size eight times larger than you see with the naked eye. The objective lens gathers light; its related number—in our case, 42—indicates the diameter of that lens in millimeters. The bigger the lens, the more light it can gather.
Equinox Z Digital Night Vision from Bushnell offers Equinox Z Digital Night Vision from Bushnell offers outstanding optical clarity ultimate illumination and an unmatched field of view. Features such as zoom image capture video recording and daytime color team with the super-charged digital NV technology. Other bar-setting features include a long battery life tripod-mounting capabilities and glass objectives. ...  More + Product Details Close
Binoculars Built for BirdingBinoculars are so common a companion of outdoor enthusiasts that many pack them with hardly a second thought. They’re tossed into a backpack alongside bug spray, sunblock, and waterproof matches with not half the care afforded the typical cell phone. But to some outdoors groups, binoculars serve a highly specific and eminently indispensable purpose. And there is perhaps no group for whom this rings more true than for bird watchers. If you count yourself among this exceptionally technical clan of hobbyists, here are 10 birding binoculars you’ll want to know more about – even if you know about them already.1.      Vortex Diamondback 8x28$175 – 225This compact roof prism model is a true bargain for birders (or birdists, as some prefer) searching for a lightweight binocular they can carry on any occasion, in any pocket or pack. Argon-filled, with multi-coated lenses and phase-correction dielectric coating, the Diamondback is valued for its close focus (2 meters) and macro clarity. It is as adept at scanning for far-off albatrosses as it is at taking in the details of the little auks flapping so close you can feel the wind on your face.2.      Celestron 71404 TrailSeeker 8x42 Binoculars$175 – 225Wide field of view, BAK-4 prisms with phase and dielectric coatings, two-meter close focus, magnesium alloy body, and fully multi-coated optics ensure that this binocular is lightweight, durable, and sharp of sight at both short and long ranges. Though the model does not allow the same degree of light-gathering as other more expensive bins, its wide view is excellent for birders because it necessitates less movement to keep an eye on the avian wildlife.3.      Eagle Optics Ranger ED 8x42$300 – 350Reviewers have praised this model for several reasons key to birding: Its rubberized waterproof design is durable for weather conditions birders frequently find themselves in, and its supple focus knob allows for easier tracking of birds moving among trees and other obstructions. The Ranger ED may be slightly too large for distance backpacking, but its image quality is top notch. Take these bins on trips that don’t require much hiking.4.      Zeiss Terra ED 8x32$425 – 475Since its foundation in Germany in 1846, Zeiss has established a reputation as one of the world’s leading optics companies. The Terra ED is among the best of its name. Noted for its impressive field of view, which is said to surpass most of the other Zeiss models, these binoculars make an ideal accompaniment to any nature adventure – and hence, a fine fit for birdwatchers. An under-armor harness, plastic storage case, and nice velvet bag are also included.5.      Steiner Predator 8x42$425 – 475Another German optics company, Steiner field-tests every lens it produces. Its Predator Pro has good mobility, a bright picture, and is simple to use. The color adjusted transmission coating is designed to increase contrast and light transmission, making wildlife (particularly fast-moving bird life) easier to see – though some reviewers have been unable to notice the difference when compared to lenses without the coating. Its magnesium alloy chassis is also durable and lightweight.6.      Athlon Cronus 10×42$475 – 525Ideal for birders whose top priority is high-quality glass at a reasonable price, the Cronus is Athlon’s flagship model and commands a solid reputation among similar Nikon and Bushnell scopes. The ESP dielectric coating makes for excellent light transmission and clarity, two aforementioned priorities in birding. Reviewers have praised this model’s minimum focus distance (two meters) and detail when glassing at ranges around 300 meters (985 feet). Even at viewing distances of several miles, Cronus performed at least as well as more expensive birder-loving brands like Zeiss and Swarovski.7.      Nikon Monarch 7 ATB 10x42$475 – 525The Monarch line has always been Nikon’s best-selling binocular product, a beloved choice among birders the world over. And though the 8x42 Monarch 5 is said to be their most popular model in terms of sales, the 7 (as professed by Nikon itself) is its top-performing binocular. Nikon is certainly qualified to make this statement: Founded in Japan in 1917, it has its hand in many areas of image technology. Not only that, its Monarch 7 is a quarter the cost of similar bins like the Zeiss Victory and is among the lightest and smallest in the Monarch family. The 7 uses a lens coating that sets it above the 5 and 3 models, and its online reviews attest to its quality.8.      Vanguard Endeavor ED II 10x42$475 – 525Building on the success of the award-winning Endeavor ED, the ED II offers resolution-enhancing BAK4 roof prisms with phase coatings, extra-low dispersion glass, a close focus of two meters, fully multi-coated optics, 19.5mm of eye relief, and a magnesium body that is proofed against fog and water. (Rumor has it other binocular producers have had to lower their prices to better compete with Vanguard’s respectable position in the market.) Vanguard uses high-end Hoya optics from Japan to provide optimum clarity, though some reviews have mentioned that the adjustment on these bins can be a little stiff at first.9.      Leica 10x25 Ultravid BCR$725 – 775The Leica-proclaimed “reference standard,” these compact binoculars are compared to just about every other compact model available. In some reviews, they are the lightest and smallest models tested. It may seem that Leica needed to make huge compromises in order to produce such a small model, but this does not appear to be the case: Regardless of their size, these bins still have many of specs modern birders have come to expect, such as multi-coating on every air-to-glass surface, phase-coated roof prisms, nitrogen-purged waterproof housing, and internal focusing. This model is perfect for bird watchers who like to put some hike into their hobby.10. CL Companion Polaris 8x30 B$1,325 – 1,375Swarovski is known for making glass of such superior quality it can virtually be marketed as jewelry. While the CL Companion Polaris is not as extravagantly outfitted (or priced) as some other Swarovski bins, it is a winning choice for both bird watching hikes and trips that require little foot traffic whatsoever, like Arctic or Antarctic bird watching cruises. Use its 124-meter (372-foot) field of view to get oriented, then zoom in using the 8x magnification. The binocular weighs 17.6 ounces (500 grams), measures 4.7 inches (119 mm) long, and has a comfortable ergonomic design, making it an easy item to pack for any occasion or distance. Keep these bins at your side and you’re sure to amass all manner of bird-filled sights to share with your fellow members in the American Birding Association, or any birdwatching society to which you happen to belong.
With binoculars the old adage “you get what you pay for” still hold true to a significant degree. Precision optical instruments demand exacting standards in their production… and still comes at a price. Binoculars you pick up on offer at your local supermarket for €50 may be OK for occasionally watching ships sail by on a sunny day at the beach, but they will fall far short of ideal when trying to pick out subtle plumage detail on a small brown bird in a shady hedgerow, or spot the tell-tale signs of distant whales blowing offshore.
This is a supersized binocular suited to glassing distant targets for long periods of time. The double-hinge design creates a nice space for hands to hold it, but you will probably want to mount this 3-pound Leupold on a tripod. The mounting bracket is smartly located on the inside hinge of the Leupold (see Innovations, right). Hits: tight controls, the battleship-gray armor, the webby texture that wraps the aluminum-alloy chassis, and the first-rate carry case and neck strap. Misses: disappointing resolution and image quality.
Really, you'll be OK with even smaller binoculars, as long as they are of high-quality optical glass. You can carry an 8x35 pair all day for bird- (or people) watching, and they won't make your arms tremble — and your stars dance like drunkards — when you pick them up at night. The wider view-field of most lower-power binoculars is usually a plus for skywatching.
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