Top 10 Best Binoculars for Birdwatching

Top 10 Best Binoculars for Birdwatching

We have tried and tested all the binoculars we review so know what separates the best from the worst.

Choosing the right pair of binoculars can be confusing, especially if you’ve never bought them before. With so many uses for binoculars ranging from astronomy to wildlife spotting, it’s important to get a pair that is ideally suited for the activity you’re intending to use it for. We have developed this guide specifically to detail what to consider when looking for binoculars to take bird watching, along with our Top 10 recommendations of the best binoculars for bird watching. You’ll notice that all binoculars have a set of two numbers, which can help you determine whether they are right for your needs. The first number denotes the magnification (sometimes referred to as the power or zoom). The second number refers to the size of the objective lens. For example, 8x42 binoculars means that they come with 42mm lens with 8x magnification.

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liGo Best Buys Explained

We conduct an extensive survey of our customers throughout the year to learn more about how their Binoculars perform in practice. This enables us to discover exactly what real customers think of their Binoculars and identify the top brands that you can rely on, and report on those whose standards are slipping so that you can make the right choice before parting with your hard-earned cash. Viking Optical are our top pick when it comes to Binoculars for Bird Watching, striking the perfect balance between quality and value for money with a range of models to suit varying budgets, which is why they feature so prominently on our Top 10 list.

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FAQ: How to choose binoculars for birdwatching?

It goes without saying that there is no definitive "best" pair of binoculars for bird watching. Ultimately there is only the best pair for your unique use case and circumstances. Whilst a pair of Swarovski NL Pure 10x42 might be technically superior to many of the instruments on our list they are certainly not the "best binoculars" for most bird watchers. So always consider how you intend to use your binoculars for bird watching. If it's over long distances at a reserve a Spotting Scope and Tripod might be the best set-up; or if you want something light then a decent pair of Compact Binoculars might suffice.

We are always happy to offer our insights and advice if you're still struggling to make up your mind but here are some of the most common question we're asked:

What’s the best magnification for bird watching?

The prospect of a very large magnification might be attractive, however, there are a number of reasons why opting for the most powerful binoculars might not be the best idea for bird watching. For starters, using binoculars that have extremely high magnification (e.g. 16x or more) will require a tripod to help you gain a steady image, which may not be convenient. Also, the field of view when using more powerful binoculars won’t be as wide so it can be hard to focus on a moving subject. Our preference is for 8x magnification as it affords a wider field of view, comfort, and image stability. They tend to offer greater eye relief as well so are better suited for glasses wearers. A higher 10x magnification can still be used handheld and might be a good compromise if you don’t mind the extra weight, have a steady pair of hands, and would like to get that little bit closer to your subject. We wouldn’t recommend purchasing inexpensive binoculars with a high magnification as the performance was significantly inferior in our tests for image quality, clarity and durability.

What does 8x42 or 10x42 actually mean?

The first number denotes the magnification (sometimes referred to as the power or zoom). The second number refers to the size of the objective lens. For example, 8x42 binoculars means that they come with 8x magnification and a 42mm lens.

Are all binoculars waterproof?

Most high-quality binoculars should be fully waterproof, but some budget models are only fogproof. Even these should be okay to use in light rain and humidity. However, you really should consider investing in waterproof binoculars, even if you are not the type who likes to look at your subjects while out in the rain. If the binoculars have been sealed with O-rings, then they will be moisture proof. Not only will this seal stop moisture from getting inside, but it will also deter dust and other debris from getting onto the lens and messing up your vision. Also, look for binoculars that are Nitrogen filled, as this means that the inside air has been substituted with dry gas and prevents your binoculars from fogging up from the inside. Binoculars that are fully waterproof are also less susceptible to
corrosion so are likely to last you a lot longer.

Are roof prism better than porro prism binoculars?

Porro prism binoculars have fallen out of fashion in recent years but optically can rival the more popular roof prism. The reason for the prevalence of roof prism binoculars is that technology has improved meaning that this style is now capable of similar optical performance as the more wieldy porro prisms but are much lighter, and more compact.

Can I use my binoculars for astronomy?

Whilst no substitute for an Astronomy Telescope that short answer is, yes! Looking at the night sky through binoculars allows you to see so much more than the naked eye making it possible to observe the rings of Saturn on a clear night.

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