Choosing The Right Binoculars For Birding

Choosing The Right Binoculars For Birding2019-08-27T12:33:02+00:00

If you want to see the birds in really good detail you need a pair of binoculars that have wide field of view and produce brighter images. However, keep in mind that when magnification increases field of view decreases. So, to pick up a binocular for bird watching you need a pair that has good balance between ‘the magnification‘ and ‘the field of view‘ and ‘the objective lens diameter‘. A good balance of these specs will ensure your binoculars produce best image without straining your eyes.

The best budget binoculars for birding will make up for a great addition for your next adventure backpack. If you don’t have a grip on how to choose the best binoculars for birding, don’t worry. We have compiled some best birding binoculars reviews in order to make the work easy for you. Read along and choose what actually suits your needs.

Bushnell Legend 10x42mm
  • Make/Model:Bushnell Legend 10x42mm
  • Magnification: 10x
  • Objective Diameter: 42mm
  • Prism: Roof Bak4
  • Phase correction: Yes
  • ED Glass: Yes (ED Prime)
  • Lens Coatings: Fully Multicoated (FMC)
  • FOV: 340 ft / 7.0°
  • IPD: 57mm-75mm
  • Close Focus: 6.5 ft
  • Eye Relief: 18.0mm
  • Nitrogen Filled (Waterproof): Yes
  • Weight: 666.0 g
  • Price: Under $200
Wingspan Optics Skyview-8×42 Binoculars
  • Make/Model:Wingspan Optics 8×42
  • Magnification: 08x
  • Objective Diameter: 42mm
  • Prism: Roof Bak4
  • Phase correction: Yes
  • ED Glass: Yes
  • Lens Coatings: Fully Multicoated (FMC)
  • FOV: 393 ft / 7.5°
  • IPD: 57mm-75mm
  • Close Focus: 6.6 ft
  • Eye Relief: 17.0mm
  • Nitrogen Filled (Waterproof): Yes
  • Weight: 624.0 g
  • Price: Under $200
Bushnell Birder 8 x 40 Binoculars
  • Make/Model:Bushnell Birder 8 x 40
  • Magnification: 08x
  • Objective Diameter: 40mm
  • Prism: Porro BK-7
  • Phase correction: Not required in Porro Prisms
  • ED Glass: No
  • Lens Coatings: Multi Coated (MC)
  • FOV: 402 ft / 7°
  • IPD: 56mm-74mm
  • Close Focus: 14 ft
  • Eye Relief: 14.0mm
  • Nitrogen Filled (Waterproof): No
  • Weight: 720.0 g
  • Price: Under $100
Celestron Granite 8×42 Binoculars
  • Make/Model:Celestron Granite 8×42
  • Magnification: 08x
  • Objective Diameter: 42mm
  • Prism: Roof Bak4
  • Phase correction: Yes
  • ED Glass: Yes
  • Lens Coatings: Fully Multi Coated (FMC)
  • FOV: 426 ft / 8.1°
  • IPD: 56mm-73mm
  • Close Focus: 6.5 ft
  • Eye Relief: 17.0mm
  • Nitrogen Filled (Waterproof): Yes
  • Weight: 655.0 g
  • Price: Under $400
Xgazer Optics 10×42 HD Certvision Binoculars
  • Make/Model:Xgazer Optics 10×42
  • Magnification: 10x
  • Objective Diameter: 42mm
  • Prism: Roof Bak4
  • Phase correction: No
  • ED Glass: Yes
  • Lens Coatings: Fully Broadband Multicoated (FBMC)
  • FOV: 342 ft / 6.5°
  • IPD: 57mm-76mm
  • Close Focus: 8 ft
  • Eye Relief: 15.2mm
  • Nitrogen Filled (Waterproof): Yes
  • Weight: 680.0 g
  • Price: Under $200
Bushnell Legend L Series 10x42mm

When choosing birding binoculars what factors do you look for most?

  • Ultra sharp image to identify unknown birds?
  • Wide field of view and better close focus distance so you don’t lose your focus in case the bird flies away?
  • Compact and lightweight design?

Well, these are all high end specs for high quality binoculars. And high quality binoculars always come with price. After all, you cannot have your cake and eat it too!

But, the Bushnell Legend L-Series 10×42 is one of very few  (my personal favorite) that comes with good and cheap together. It’s a great combination of quality and price.

Before I get into the details on Bushnell Legend L 10×42, I think it is important to shortly mention all other Legend series:

  • E Series
    These are the base series of the three. They offer decent optical performance what you can tell ‘best value for money’.
  • L Series
    L series binoculars have higher-end optical specs than the E series that offer the best bang for your buck. They offer improved sharpness of view and better eye relief.
  • M Series
    These are the best of all three series that focus a little less on value for money and more on outright performance in every details.

All three series have some features in common, and some differences – which are reflected in the price tag.

 

My Experience with Bushnell Legend L-Series 10×42

Optical Performance

Prism and prism coatings
As expected, the prism used in this series is the trendy BaK-4 which is good. But, what is very good is that the prism surface has also been treated with a proprietary chemical layer (PC-3 Phase Coating) to resolve the “phase shift” issue that occurs in all roof prism binoculars. The result is enhanced resolution and contrast than other roof prism binoculars that don’t use this coating.

ED Glass
The biggest improvement to these and what really sets them apart from the cheaper Legend E series is the addition of ED glass lenses. This ED glass makes it possible for them to reduce the color fringing around the edges of objects.

Fully Multi-Coated Lens
The modern trend of using fully multi-coated (FMC) lenses is of no surprise at this level. The result is increased light transmission and brighter images.

Extra – Water-Repellent Coatings

They also have a patented hydrophobic lens coating ‘RainGuard HD’ to the lens surfaces. This prevents water from settling on the lens surfaces and thus easier to use in the rain. This special coating also helps to clean the water stains effortlessly, minimizing the chance to scratch the lenses.

 

Exterior Features That I Liked

Chassis

The chassis is made of Magnesium Alloy which is a great as many of the rivals at this price range use a less robust and far cheaper polycarbonate shell.

Water & Fog-proof

The binocular is as you would expect nitrogen purged and o-ring sealed making it waterproof and fog-proof.

Focusing & Calibration

The binocular employs a central focus wheel for both barrels and a diopter on the right eye-piece which is good. But, what is very good is that the diopter is lockable so it does not get changed accidentally.

 

Other Recommendations

I have tested all these series very carefully.

  • The E and the L series bins are very similar in designs but the L series bins sometimes outperform in colour rendition. So if you are on the tightest budget go with E Series bins otherwise I would recommend L series bins.
  • The M series bins are noticeably longer with stylish open-bridge design. Optically the M series bins are the best because they used dielectric coating on the prism surface. If you can spend a bit more, it might be the best options to choose.

There are so many binocular manufacturers out there but Wingspan is probably the one who especially concentrate on birding binoculars. For birding binoculars, they mainly have two product lines:

Wingspan Optics SkyView Ultra HD 8X42 comes from the first line category. An interesting thing with all high-end birding binoculars from Wingspan is that they are all 8x powered! [Is it a good move? 🤔]

This is probably because most professional bird watchers agree that 8x magnification is the best choice for smoother bird watching experience. 

Wingspan Optics Research: Ideal magnification for birding binoculars

My Experience with Wingspan Optics SkyView Ultra HD 8X42

Optical Performance

Prism and prism coatings

As expected with the Roof prism design, SkyView Ultra HD 8X42 uses a high-density prism Bak-4. Mid-budget roof prism binoculars don’t always use phase corrected coatings. So when I decide to choose a mid-budget model I always check if it has used phase corrected coatings in the prism. This is because without phase corrected coatings you won’t get image quality as vibrant as Porro prism binoculars.

ED Glass

The binoculars also used ED-glass lenses that make your bird watching experience even more vibrant with real color through the entire field of view. ED (Extra-Low Dispersion) glass does this by preventing or reducing the chromatic aberration that may cause color fringing. The better the aberrations get controlled the clearer and brighter your image appears.

Wide Field of view with close focus

393 feet field of view at 100 yards is great to watch birds even when they fly away. Unlike the narrow field of view binoculars, where you feel like you are watching through a tube, this pair will give you a wide panoramic view.

With only 6.6 feet near focus, this pair of binoculars is ideal to spot birds right in front of you.

Exterior Features That I Liked

Lighter weight with a stronger body

Wingspan optics have not revealed whether the chassis is made of Polycarbonate plastic or magnesium alloy. But the feel at hand and the weight (only 624g) clearly indicates the chassis must be made of magnesium (or aluminum) alloy. Magnesium or aluminum alloy frame is not only light in weight but also stronger in build quality, which usually only found on higher end models.

Water and Fog-proof

They are nitrogen purged for a maximum Waterproof and Fogproof touch and withstands tough weather conditions apart from performing well under the most rugged environments. Thanks to its DuraTech Technology you can travel light, without any fear of damage.

Bonus

Lifetime Warranty

Wingspan’s Skyview-8×42 Binoculars come with a lifetime warranty, wah! What does that mean?

Well, that means if the binoculars ever get damaged, you can get a full repair service or a replaced pair for free…for life!

Better Alternatives

They are newly introduced models in the Ultra HD lines with the better optical performance. This model uses Flat-Field Lens Technology which offers edge-to-edge sharpness. Usually, most lenses give a clear view in the center but slightly less clear at the edges. Flat field technology makes the entire view clear over the entire lens.

Bushnell NatureView 8x40

One of my all-time best favorite models for bird watching is the ‘Bushnell Birder 8×40’. Unfortunately, Bushnell has recently discontinued this model 😔 what a shame! Before discontinuing it used to be sold under $100 price range. But if you want it now from Amazon you have to spend slightly more than $100.

So why is this binocular so special among the birders? The reasons are:

  • Countless of professional birders have had valued this pair over the past decades.
  • American Birding Association (ABA) sold this binocular at the cheapest rate for a long time.
  • This is probably the best binoculars for bird watching at this price range if you are ready to sacrifice the weight and size

My Experience with Bushnell Birder 8×40

Optical Performance

Prism and Prism Coatings

From the zigzag design, you can easily tell that the prism used in this pair is Porro prism. This is the major reason why this pair is so affordable even with a high-performance score. Because of the Porro prism design, you’ll get the highest transmittance even without any prism coatings like phase corrected or any high reflectivity coatings.

So, you don’t have to worry about the low brightness or image sharpness – thanks to the Porro prism design.

Multi Coated Lens

Although the Bushnell website speculates the lenses used in this pair are fully multi-coated (FMC) but our review team found the reflected light at the objective end was brighter than that of usually seen in FMC lenses. Our review team believe that the lenses are either ‘single layer coated’ or at most ‘multi-coated’.  But this should not be a problem as the Porro prism system itself gives better light transmission.

Wide Field of view

The 8 x 40 stable configuration of this binocular allows you to get a relatively wide field of view reaching 402 feet @ 1000yards, which is great for bird watching. With a wider field of view, you can now scan the whole tree from branch to branch without changing the focus.

Exterior features that I liked

Tripod adaptability

Although low magnification binoculars don’t need tripod adaptability, yet some birders may feel the Porro prism design slightly heavier to use for a long course of time. This binocular can be mounted using standard ¼-inch threading to any standard tripod.

Protective armor

This binocular is constructed from strong material and has a total rubber armor coating that ensures resistance to shocks and durability. It is textured on the sides to allow a steady grip. It also comes with a carrying case and a deluxe strap for additional protection and comfort.

Focusing and calibration

The central focusing wheel has a genuinely made rubber armor texture that makes is it easy to recalibrate in critical situations and by this, you will be able to watch birds in action without any problem. There is also a focusing diopter ring on the right eye of the binocular that gets calibrated only once to fit the vision of the user and is lockable with a simple click.

Water and fog proof

This product is water and fog proof thanks to nitrogen purging and O-ring sealing techniques.

Extra

Thanks to Bushnell, this binocular comes with a CD-ROM and birding field log that you will find included once you buy.

 

Nice Alternative

If the price is the major deciding factor then I suggest this Bushnell Birder 8×40’ to everyone. However, if you want something less bulky with trendy design, you may opt for Nikon Prostaff 7s 8×42. My review team found it exceptionally good and sturdy at this price range. It’ll give you an exceptionally sharper image with an easy and smooth focus system. Additionally, it comes with a limited lifetime warranty.

Celestron Granite 8x42 Binoculars

You can either compete for quality or price but not for both. If you want both it’s really hard to find something reasonable. In that case, the product may come at a cost where you have to sacrifice at least some of the good features.

Here, Celestron Granite 8×42 blended the price and quality so well that you cannot complain much! Yes, another budget conscious yet high-performance model in the show is the Celestron Granite 8×42. Celestron has so many series targeted from beginners to experts. Before going into the detail let me introduce with some other cool binoculars series that you may look for:

The cheaper alternative to the Granite series but performs almost similar fashion.

Targeted for beginners (and so cheaper) but still packed with good features

They are good for astronomy uses and Celestron is in the driving seat for this series by capturing the market with their exceptional performance.

 

My Experience with Celestron Granite 8×42

Optical Performance

Prism and prism coatings

To make it one of the best birding binoculars, engineers used BaK-4 prism glass on the Celestron Granite 8×42. This prism type allows a huge quantity of light to pass through and increase the brightness of your view.

In addition, with the phase-correcting coatings, you will miss no color thanks to the more accurate color reproduction using this technique. You will receive the brightest image with the perfect color contrast and co chromatic aberrations.

Fully Multi-coated Lenses

For the lenses of this binocular, it is fully multi-coated, which means all the glass surfaces have multi-coatings. The FMC gives the user a 95% light transmission that results in crisp clear images.

ED Glass

Due to the limited performance of the prism used on this pair, ED glass is necessary to improve the results. This glass helps you get a high resolution and better color definition even in poor light situations. It mainly reduces or eliminates chromatic aberrations that may harm the definition of colors.

Wide Field of view with convenient close focus distance

The 8×42 configuration is perfect when it comes to the field of view. It has only 8x magnification power which is good enough for birding and 42mm wide lens that gives you a larger horizontal view. The field of view on Celestron Granite 8×42 reaches 8.1° (426feet at 1000yards).

Another plus is the close focus distance which is only 6.5feet and allows you to see objects at a very close distance with a sharp focus.

Exterior Features That I Liked

Lighter weight with a stronger body

The features included in the Granite 8×42 allow it to have a compact size measuring 5.6” x 4.9” x 2” and weighing 678g.

This binocular has also a sturdy rubber armor that guarantees its shock resistance. You will experience a very versatile birding session thanks to this lightweight, durable and powerful binocular.

Smaller Interpupillary Distance (IPD)

The interpupillary Distance (IPD) of this model ranges from 56mm to 73mm, which is comparatively smaller than its competitors’ designs. This will ideally suite for women’s uses (as some women suffer from big IPD designs).

Water and Fog-proof

This product is nitrogen filled and perfectly sealed so it is totally water and fog proof. As well as the protective armor that helps it withstand tough weather. Even its basic design protects the front lenses from sunlight glare to reduce fringing.

Cheaper Alternative

Celestron Trailseeker 8×42

It is the best cheaper alternative that has almost similar performance to the Granite 8×42 model. What I liked with this model is that unlike the Granite model it doesn’t have an embossed logo and model name which looks much nicer to me.

Yet if you want to catch a glimpse of your best nature view, birding experience, or wildlife migration along your beautiful nature walk, in full HD quality, the Xgazer optics 10×42 ultra HD Certvision binoculars will be your perfect pathfinder.

With such superior clarity, this set of binoculars is indeed the best binoculars for any outdoor use. It will easily furnish your expanded field of view to give you some of the best images to marvel at.

The best part is, the binocular is designed with a high anti-reflective lens coating that helps to boost light transmissions and in turn leave you with some of the most crystal clear images under your view.

And to maximize the binocular’s resiliency these birding binoculars are also gas purged and come readily designed with O-ring seals that will help to keep water, fog, and dust away from your lenses especially if you love the beauty of early morning adventures.

To add on to your personalized experience, these binoculars also come with an included set of accessories. The accessories include a neck strap, rain-guard eyepiece, and also lens cover for each side.

In addition to that, you will have a hard binocular storage case and a fiber cleaning cloth that helps you to give your binoculars the perfect cleaning and makes your outdoor adventures some of the most memorable ones.

However, it is the adjustable focus knob in the middle of the two binoculars that gives any user the best-personalized experience. It allows you to quickly track your object under your view and once again keep it locked for as long as you intend to.

The external build is also designed in such a way that it will guarantee maximum durability so that you can enjoy the best value for your binoculars. And to boost its lifespan is a limited lifetime warranty to go with.

For anyone who needs an affordable yet good pair of binoculars, this set of binoculars is designed with exactly that view in mind. Choose the Xgazer Optics 10×42 Ultra HD Certvision Binoculars and start off the easy way.

Pros

  • Increase contrast and also image resolution
  • Wide lens diameter
  • Focus knob to track your object
  • 5′ close focus for a highly detailed and up close observation

Cons

  • Plastic eye-cups

What to Look Out for the Best Birding Binoculars

A great birding experience starts off with the right choice of the birding binoculars. That’s why we are committed to giving some of the best considerations to make when choosing your next birding binoculars.

Field of View

Birds compared to other animals such as a zebra, lion, or cheetahs are extra small in size and finding them with your set of binoculars might be as hard as it is with naked eyes.

That’s why you need to have a wider field of view so that you can pick them out with some sense of ease and less hassle really. Typically, binoculars with 32mm, 40mm, or 42 mm objective lens will be okay.

Quick Focus

Quick focus will mean that you can easily eliminate the subtle features much more specifically in areas with dim light and pick out your bird easily in a crisp and crystal clear image any time you choose to.

Such binoculars will actually have a magnification power of between 8X and 10X so that you don’t have to drag your images for longer periods. If you do, you might find the bird flown away.

Eye Relief

The best eye relief will play a key role in the type of birding experience irrespective of whether you wear glasses or not. Typically you need to have the adjustable eyepieces so that you can have a great eye relief and also keep your device at a safe distance that gives you a great viewing experience.

Construction

You also need your binoculars to be super durable. Because you have already spent so much money on them, it will make no sense if they fell and broke on the same day.

That’s why it is very ideal that you get binoculars with rubberized armor so that you can have the best casing for your binoculars in case of any kind of eventuality such as a fall.

Don’t of a Birding Binocular

  • Don’t by compact sized or pocket-sized binoculars – they have a narrow field of view.
  • Don’t buy any type of zoom binoculars – they easily distort your images
  • Don’t ask from hikers, boaters, hunters, or o non-birders for a device.
  • Don’t buy your birding binoculars until you have tried them out.
  • Don’t open or try to fix your binoculars alone – buy one with warranty.

Allow us to point out something here; pocket binoculars look good because of their compact designs. However, they aren’t the finest choices if you want to watch birds because of their narrow field of view.

For a great bird watching experience it always pretty cool if you went with a binocular that will provide a sharp and bright image but also have the beauty of a sizable and easy to carry design too.

Another thing is using binoculars is all about hand to eye coordination. So, don’t expect to pick up binoculars for the first time and to find birds immediately. The secret is to find and place the birds with your naked eye before trying to find it with your binoculars.