Bird watching is a fun and entertaining hobby. However, you need to have the best binoculars for bird watching to enjoy it to the fullest. Otherwise, you will miss most of the wild birds. Unfortunately, spotting the best bird watching binoculars can be confusing and challenging, especially that there are tons of bird watching binoculars on the market claiming to be the best. If you want to acquire the best bird watching binoculars, you have to consider the reviews, ratings and recommendations of those who already have one.
How To Choose Binoculars For Bird Watching
Every person has a preference of what is comfortable and convenient for him. The same applies when choosing good binoculars for bird watching. You should consider what fits you best. Do not simply follow a friend or a family member’s choice because he might have different standards than you. There are several brands of bird watching binoculars that come in different sizes and shapes with different features, so your options in finding a good bird watching binoculars are endless.
Compact and Lightweight Binoculars for Bird Watching
For instance, there are compact and lightweight binoculars for bird watching, which is compatible for those who always travel and wish to bring the device with them all the time. Compact binoculars for bird watching are easier to carry with you all day long, compared to the bigger ones. However, binoculars for bird watching that comes in bigger sizes also come with its own advantages. For instance, since it comes with bigger lenses, it can gather more light than smaller binoculars, which is an advantage in poor lighting conditions.
Binocular Recommendations for Bird Watching
Aside from the size and weight of the binoculars, bird watching binoculars recommendations suggest that you also consider your budget. How much are you willing to spend to acquire the best binoculars for bird watching? Do you need advanced binoculars or are you looking for bird watching binoculars for the beginners? The more advanced and powerful the bird watching binoculars are, the more costly it can be.
If you have already decided your budget and what type of bird watching binoculars you want, it is time to consider the specs and features of the camera. Read the buying guidelines in the next section.
Buying Guidelines In Choosing The Best Binoculars For Bird Watching
Now that you are decided how much to spend and what type of binoculars (beginners or not) to get, you should go into details of the product. Here is a list of the specs and features that you should consider when buying bird watching binoculars.
Every pair of bird watching binoculars comes with two numbers printed on the device. You will find 10×42 or 8X32. The first figure refers to the instrument’s magnifications while the second one is for the diameter of the objective lens. The magnifications will tell you how much closer the binoculars can get you to your subject.
How to Maintain a Sharp View of the Subject
While the higher the magnification the better it may sound, it also comes with a number of trade-offs. Higher magnifications can reduce brightness because all things are being equal. It will also decrease the depth field as you keep yourself busy with the focus dial to maintain a sharp view of the subject. It also has the tendency of reducing your field of view, which will make it more difficult for you to find and follow your subject.
Also, another point that you should always remember is, with increasing magnification, a handshake is more evident. Bird watching binoculars with very high magnifications is difficult to hold steady and this negates any increase in detail delivered by the higher magnification. Buying binoculars with higher than 10x magnification for handheld use is not practical. When going over 10x magnification, the use of a tripod is highly recommended.
Guidelines for general birding and wildlife observation relative to magnification:
- 12x and higher – offers large magnification, but has lower depth of field. This is suitable for long-distance viewing of the subject at a fixed distance. The use of a tripod or support is recommended to overcome handshake.
- 8x – 10x – this range is considered to be the ideal range for general purpose birding and wildlife use. It offers the best reach, stability and image brightness for handheld applications.
- 5x and lower – this works great for individuals who can’t hold or maintain higher magnification binoculars or for individuals who prefer a wide field of view to find and follow fast moving birds or wildlife like dragonflies at relatively short distances.
- Zoom binoculars – these types of binoculars deliver inferior image quality and are less satisfying than fixed focal length optics. Thus, it is best that you avoid zoom binoculars.
Recommendation: If you will only be using your binoculars for general bird watching and wildlife observation, 8x to 10x magnification will do. If you do a lot of long distance observation, the higher magnification of a 10x is better, but if you often do wildlife watching at close quarters or enclosed places like woodlands to track small and fast-moving subjects, the wider field view of an 8x will suit your needs.
Binoculars come in two basic designs based on the type of prism used in its optical construction – (1) the traditional porro-prism and (2)the modern roof-prism. The former is cheaper and offers better image quality compared to its counterpart. However, it is bigger and bulkier. In addition, it is more sensitive to damage, so it needs optimal care. Meanwhile, roof-prism binoculars offer inferior image quality because it reflects the light off more internal surfaces, so it produces darker images. However, they are typically more compact and lighter, easier to manage and handle. They are also more robust and rugged. When you get in a harsh environment and things get tough, roof prism will perform better and may even outlast porro-prism.
Recommendation: If you are on a budget, porro-prism is a wise choice. However, if you are willing to spend more for your bird watching binoculars, get a phase-corrected roof-prism design that delivers impressive image quality with a compact and ergonomic design.
This feature depends on the magnification, the diameter of the lens, the quality of the lens, prism and coatings in the optical system. In general, the larger the lens the brighter the image, but the heavier your binocular will be. There will always be a trade-off, check out the details below to help you decide.
- 50mm+ – large binoculars that are perfect for low light conditions or viewing subjects from long distances at very high magnification
- 40mm-50mm – full-size binoculars that combine impressive low-light performance and portability
- 30mm – 40mm – mid-size binoculars that offer reasonable brightness. This has smaller and more compact frame.
- 20mm – 30mm – compact binoculars, but has poor performance in low-light conditions. However, it is very portable, you can take it anywhere you go.
Recommendation: The best option for wildlife and birding are 42mm full-size or 32mm mid-size binoculars because they offer the best image quality and versatility. In addition, they top the qualifications for comfort and convenience.
The quality of optical components and the design of the optical system influence the overall quality of your binoculars. When you examine the optical features of bird watching binoculars, you should consider the following:
- ED or HD lenses – Extra-low Dispersion (ED) and High Density (HD) are used to correct colour fringing. They reduce or eliminate colour fringing to improve the image’s sharpness, contrast and colour fidelity.
- Edge Sharpness – Binoculars have a “sweet spot” in the center where the image is in sharpest focus. The wider this spot the better. There are premium binoculars that offer “field flattener” lenses in the eyepieces to give a clear view right to the edge of the field.
- Colour Fidelity – binoculars usually produce subtle colour cast, they produce slightly bluish or yellowish views compared to the naked eye. So, choose a binocular that produces a neutral colour close to your vision.
- Resolution – this is the ability of the binoculars to reveal fine details when viewing your subject. This particular feature is affected by the size of the objective lens, the magnification, quality of the optical components, and lens and prism coatings.
- Contrast – is one the hallmarks that give premium binoculars a “wow” factor. The higher the contrast the better. Contrast is influenced by the quality of the lenses and prism.
- Depth of the field: this is the amount of a scene from near to far that appears sharp at a given point of focus. A better depth of field means lesser fiddling with the focus wheel.
- Close focus – a short close-focus distance allows you to view subjects very close to you. Most binoculars focus within 3 to 4 meters. If you are interested in insects, you should get binoculars that can focus within 2 meters.
Recommendation: You should always go for the best quality that your budget can offer you. Search for binoculars that deliver sharp, high-contrast and detailed images with large focal “swee-spot” and good depth of field.
Lens and Prism Coatings
This feature affects light transmission. In general, binoculars are classified according to their coatings quality as follows:
- Coated – some, but not all air-to-glass surfaces in the optical system have a special coating applied to them
- Fully-coated – all air-to-glass surfaces in the binocular have a special coating applied to them
- Multi-coated – some air-to-glass surfaces in the binocular have multiple layers of coating applied to them
- Fully-multi-coated – all air-to-glass surfaces in the binocular have multiple layers of coating applied to them
Aside from the above, binoculars also come with different coatings which include:
- Anti-reflective coatings – this coating reduces the amount of light lost as the image passes through the surfaces in the optical system. It improves transmission, image brightness and contrast. The better the anti-reflective coating, the better the performance of your binoculars in a wide range of lighting conditions.
- Phrase corrected prism coatings – this helps combat the “phase-shift” inherent in the roof prism design.
- Mirror coatings – this is only for roof prism, which aims to improve the transmission of light through the prism.
- Protective or water repellent lens coatings – this coating is typically added to high-end premium binoculars to protect its delicate anti-reflective coatings from damages and abrasion when cleaning. This coating repels water, dirt and grease. In addition, this will make cleaning easier and allows you to use your device in the rain.
Recommendation: Always go for fully-multi-coated optics to maximize your wildlife observation and birding experience. If you are getting a roof prism always check for phase corrected prism coating and silver mirror coatings if your budget allows. If you are buying premium bird watching binoculars you may also consider additional protective lens coatings that offer protection to the external lens surfaces.
Field of View
This refers to the scene before you that is visible when you look through your binoculars. This feature is usually expressed as a measurement of meters. A wide field of view is recommended for bird watching or wildlife watching because it allows you to scan large areas quickly. You have to take note that higher magnifications reduce the field of view while larger objective lenses increase the field of view.
Recommendation: While a super-wide field of view appears attractive it is not necessary and may trade off other important elements that are more critical. So, look for a relatively wide field that still delivers the best image quality.
Additional Bird Watching Binoculars Recommendations:
To acquire the best binoculars for bird watching and enjoy your purchase, always go for the one that feels natural in your hands. The type that you will enjoy to use and will make you forget that it is there. Also, consider its built and durability. When looking for a more robust design its housing typically includes polycarbonate, aluminum alloy and magnesium alloy. In addition, to fully enjoy birding and wildlife watching, get a completely waterproof binoculars so you will have peace of mind when using it no matter what the weather is. Also, aside from keeping your bird watching binoculars dry, it drives out water vapor, eliminate chances of internal fogging, and protects the binoculars from dust and dirt.
If you wear glasses it is also important that you get binoculars with eye relief. This feature tells you how far or near your eye can be from the eyepiece and still see the entire field of view. Eye relief allows you to distance your eyes from 15 millimeters to 20 millimeters, it also comes with eyecups that extend and retract so you can adjust the distance between your eyes and the eyepiece. You can use the eyecups in fully retracted position with your eyeglasses on and in a fully extended position without your glasses.
Investing on a Bird Watching Binoculars
Purchasing bird watching binoculars is a big investment, so make sure that the product you get includes a warranty. Warranty adds value to your money because through it the manufacturer guarantees that their product works. Typical warranties for quality binoculars range from 10 years to 30 years. Some manufacturers even offer lifetime warranties. Although the warranty is a big factor, when choosing for the best binoculars for bird watching always prioritize the features and overall quality of the device first. It is also highly recommended that you try the products first before you purchase it. The perfect bird watching binoculars is a personal thing, you will only find it when you see, feel and try it yourself.
How To Buy Binoculars For Bird Watching
Now, that you already have a checklist of what to consider when buying your binoculars you can visit the store to find the model that you want or look for bird watching binoculars for sale online because they are cheaper. Purchasing a bird watching binoculars online should not scare you. Although you can’t test the device before your purchase, you can read the reviews if the manufacturer is reliable and responsive and if their product is efficient and durable.
In fact, based on the bird watching binoculars reviews, those who purchased their device online were very happy because they receive high-quality items at a much cheaper price. It was a good value for money. Your budget might afford you a premium bird watching binocular if you make your purchase online. However, if you want a safe and guaranteed purchase, nothing beats than visiting the store and trying the product yourself.
Bird Watching Binoculars Equipment And Tools
If you often do bird watching at home, in your car or in the field, it is important that you also equip yourself with bird watching binoculars tools to make the experience more enjoyable. Here are some of the most common equipment that can go along with your bird watching binoculars.
1. Bird watching scopes
Although binoculars can get you close to your subject, if you want to look the bird in the eye to confirm its identification, you should use bird watching scopes. Spotting scopes for bird watching come with incredible magnification that is generally simple and lightweight. It is also very durable and convenient for field work while offering you a fantastic optical quality for birding. This handy tool will help you identify a waterfowl or other types of birds from a distance.
If you want to find the best spotting scopes for bird watching, you should know what basic scopes include. Check the list below to learn the scope that’s right for you.
- Eyepiece – this is the lens where you look through. It magnifies the image created by the objective lens. Several scopes allow you to change eyepieces.
- Erecting Prisms – These flip the image right side up and left to right until you find the normal look. This fits between the objective lens and the eyepiece.
- Aperture – This refers to the diameter of the front lens and is expressed in millimeters. When describing bird watching scopes, the aperture is the first specification mentioned. The larger the aperture the more light the scope takes and the better the quality of the image is. However, it would also mean a bigger and heavier scope.
- Magnification – You can change the magnifying power of a scope by putting different eyepiece. For instance, zoom eyepieces in high-end scopes offer excellent optical quality, which makes it a good choice for bird watching.
- Eye Relief – This feature allows you to see the whole picture even if you are wearing your glasses on. This is one of the most important considerations when choosing a scope/eyepiece combination.
- Chromatic Aberration – is the material effect produced by the refraction of different wavelengths of electromagnetic radiation through different angles that result in a failure to focus. This results in color fringes in the images produced by uncorrected lenses.
- Scope Styles – Scopes are available in two styles – (1) straight-through and (2) 45-degree angle eyepiece. However, angled scopes are better for bird watching for several reasons. First, angled scopes can be rotated in their mounts to allow you a variety of viewing angles. Second, it can be mounted lower to produce a more steady and better image. Third, they allow people of different heights to see a bird without moving the scope. Fourth, they have a larger use of arc. You can mount it on a car window, so you can see further what’s ahead and behind your car.
Recommendation: When choosing for the best scopes for bird watching, you need to consider optical excellence. Of course, you want a bright, high-contrast and high-quality image with true-to-life colors so seek for it. Also, consider the convenience and comfort it offers. It should not be too heavy to carry. It should also be usable in your car window.
this gear may not seem important at first glance, but a tripod is a fairly stable device. It offers a good support, which makes it a valuable tool. Even if you have powerful binoculars if you can’t hold it in a steady position, it will reduce the quality of the image you see. Your body sends tiny vibration that you don’t often feel, but it affects the image of the subject. Using a tripod can eliminate this problem, especially if you are birding for long periods.
It is not convenient to use a tripod when following a bird through trees or across a field. However, when bird watching requires long stretches of time and you need to stay as still as you watch it, a tripod will be a good investment. A tripod allows you to set up your binoculars in the best position and enjoy the view without tiring your arms.
Recommendation: When looking for the best bird watching tripod, it should be light, durable, stable, and easy to set up. You should also consider its height relative to yours. The head should move easily to allow you to follow the bird and it should be equipped with a responsive lock and unlock feature.
Recommended Binoculars For Bird Watching
If you want to purchase bird watching binoculars and enjoy the wildlife and birds in your area, you do not have to spend hours researching, reading reviews and checking recommendations to find the best binoculars in the market because we are bringing you the list of the best binoculars for bird watching. Check out our list below.
1. Vortex Optics Diamondback 10×42 Roof Prism Binocular
Is a great bird watching binoculars that you will surely enjoy. This is designed for hunting and works perfectly for bird watching as well. It is equipped with roof prism full-size 10×42 binoculars that provide 10x magnification through a 42mm objective lens. Vortex Optics Diamondback 10×42 has multi-coated optics and phase corrected prisms. It also comes with waterproof and fogproof protection. One of the best features of Vortex Optics Diamondback is its VIP unconditional lifetime warranty, which makes it one if not the best bird watching binoculars on the market.
2. Carson 3D Series High Definition Waterproof Binoculars with ED Glass
This device offers sharper and brighter images with rubberized armor coating. It is also waterproof and fogproof. It comes with 8x magnification with 42mm objective lens diameter. Carson 3d Series HD Waterproof binoculars are It is perfect for bird watching, hunting, camping, hiking, backpacking, traveling, concerts and any outdoor activities.
3. Olympus Trooper 8×40 DPS 1 Binoculars
Is one of the most affordable yet best performing bird watching binoculars that you can find on the market. Olympus Trooper 8×40 DPS is designed specifically for bird watching. It features a wide-angle viewing for fast moving objects, UV ray protection for your eyes and anti-reflective lens coating to improve the brightness and clarity of images. It comes with a rugged and high-quality finish with sure-grip rubber coating for durability and safety.
4. Nikon 8245 ACULON A211 8×42 Binocular
Is another compact binoculars for bird watching. It is designed to be as light as possible with excellent ergonomics. It comes with turn-and-slide rubber eyecups for comfortable viewing and has multi-coated eco-glass lenses to give you bright and clear images in most lighting conditions. The Nikon 8245 Aculon A211 has a smooth central focus knob for easier and more convenient operation and comes with a rubber-armored coating to ensure that it will not slip on your grip even if the condition is wet. This device is great for its price.
5. Bushnell Falcon 7×35 Binoculars with Case
If you want a quality and durable bird watching binoculars, this item is for you. Bushnell Falcon offers quality optics with impressive HD quality. It has an elegant design that is built to last. The Bushnell Falcon 7×35 have 7x magnification, auto focusing porro prism, 35-millimeter lens diameters, 12-millimeter eye relief and five-millimeter exit pupil. It also comes with 420-feet field of view and 20-feet close focusing distance. This only weighs 21-ounce, which makes it very convenient to carry.
6. Bushnell Powerview Compact Folding Roof Prism Binocular
If you want great binoculars that come at a very affordable price, this bird watching binoculars will be a wise choice. It has a compact folding roof prism that makes it very portable and comes with a little soft case for easy carry. This device is made of good solid quality. Bushnell Powerview Compact is very small and light that you can carry it around with you anywhere you go without tiring yourself. In addition, it is very easy to adjust and you can use it even with your glasses on. This is definitely a smart choice if you want the best compact binoculars for bird watching.
Have you already experienced or bought any of these bird watching binoculars? Which do you think is best? What brand interests you the most?