10 BEST Binoculars for Bird Watching (2023)

10 BEST Binoculars for Bird Watching (2023)

Shopping for bird-watching binoculars can be frustrating!

There are countless makes and models, all making some pretty big promises. After doing some research, more questions usually arise.

How much should I spend? Are these binoculars appropriate for watching birds? Which brand is the best?

After spending hours (seriously, way too much time!) digging into dozens of different optics…

I created a list of the 9 BEST binoculars for birding.

Can you guess what birders think is the most critical factor when deciding on new optics?

Price! Yes, it always seems to come down to price. ????

To accommodate, the bird-watching binoculars listed below are all organized by cost, From the best money can buy ($2,500+) to optics for those on a limited budget (under $125).

Quick Links:

*If you are a binocular novice and need to learn about the different specifications and technical data that’s important when choosing birding binoculars, including the features that affect the price the most, then I recommend my following post: *

The Platinum Class (Over $1,500)

View Price – Amazon    |    View Price – BH Photo

Why you should buy:

This binocular made by Swarovski has it all. If you can afford the high price, then you should just buy the EL 42 and enjoy the rest of your day. ????

First, the optical performance is second to none, thanks to the legendary Swarovski technologies and coatings. The fluoride glass produces clean and bright images with virtually no distortion across the entire field of view.

The EL 42 is made for the harsh conditions that birders will surely put it through. It includes a durable and lightweight magnesium alloy chassis. The nitrogen-filled tubes are fog and waterproof, which prevents internal fogging.

Lastly, the binoculars are wrapped in a green rubber that helps keep them secure in your hand while protecting the body from the occasional drop.

Why you shouldn’t buy:

The only reason you shouldn’t buy the Swarovski EL 42 for your bird-watching needs is that the price is too high.

Compare Prices!

View Cost on Amazon       |       View Cost on BH Photo

Why you should buy:

Do you want one of the best binoculars for watching birds that money can buy?

If so, then you want the Zeiss Victory SF. Outstanding image quality, wide Field of View, small Close Focus, sleek and comfortable design, and backed by a fantastic company and warranty. It’s hard to find better binoculars for birding.

Why you shouldn’t buy:

The biggest drawback to the Victory is the price! For most birders, it is not affordable.

It’s also not a great choice for a beginner or casual birder. I’d start with one of the less expensive birding binoculars on this list.

Read my complete review: 9 Reasons to Buy The Zeiss Victory Today! (And One Reason You Shouldn’t)

Compare Prices!

View Cost on Amazon         |         View Cost on BH Photo

Why you should buy:

Simply put, it’s one of the best bird-watching binoculars that money can buy. The Noctivid was even inspired by a bird, the Little Owl.

Leica incorporated its latest technologies and best materials to create the Noctivid. The image quality of the Noctivid is second to none. I am a huge fan!

There is a serious competition between the Noctivid, Zeiss Victory SF, and Swarovski for the title of best birding binoculars!

Why you shouldn’t buy:

At over $2,500, the Noctivid is too expensive for many birders. Personally, it’s hard to justify spending more money on bird-watching binoculars than my mortgage payment!

If you are a beginner or casual birder, a less expensive birding binocular is probably a better option before making such a significant investment.

Normally the most prominent difference observed in high-priced birding binoculars is the brightness and quality of an image in low-light situations like sunrise, sunset, or a dark forest. If you typically use your optics in bright and sunny conditions, then spending this much money is probably not worth it.

Read my Complete Review: Leica Noctivid: The 7 BEST Reasons To Purchase Today!

The Gold Class ($501 – $1,499)

Compare Prices!

View Cost on Amazon         |        View Cost on BH Photo

Why you should buy:

For less than half the cost of the Zeiss Victory SF, you get a birding binocular with very similar features! To the untrained eye, your friends may never know the difference when looking through your lens.

The Zeiss Conquest is known to have a very sharp and clear image,e among many other features that are perfect for watching birds. It has a wide Field of View and is excellent in challenging light conditions. It includes the same warranty and excellent design and engineering that we have come to expect from Zeiss.

Why you shouldn’t buy:

The Zeiss Conquest is slightly heavier than many of the other optics on this list, and many people complain about the quality of the lens covers (these can easily be replaced with a better set).

To save a few bucks and get a similar binocular, you can look below at the Silver Class options. Also, as great as the Conquest is, by spending more money, you can get one of the best optics on the market today with the Zeiss Victory SF or Leica Noctivid.

Read my Complete Review For More Information: The 8 Reasons to Purchase the Zeiss Conquest Today! (And 2 Reasons You Shouldn’t)

Compare Prices!

View Cost on Amazon       |       View Cost on BH Photo

Why you should buy:

The Trinovid is an excellent binocular for watching birds. In many ways, it is very similar to its more expensive cousin, the Leica Noctivid, but for a fraction of the cost.

Thanks to the excellent engineering that is expected of Leica products, the image is outstanding. It is bright, sharp, and displays rich colors.

I have always loved the ergonomic designs of Leica binoculars. They fit well in my hands and have a very compact design, and the Trinovid is no exception.

Why you shouldn’t buy:

If you are a fan of Leica and can afford it, why not just jump up and buy the Leica Noctivid? It has slightly better materials, such as the quality of the Extra-Low dispersion glass, which provides a better image.

The Trinovid HD is also a great binocular for kids!

Read my Complete Review of the Trinovid For More Info: Leica Trinovid HD Review: A Premium Binocular at Half the Cost!

Compare Prices!

View Cost on Amazon       |      View Cost on BH Photo

Why you should buy:

I think the Nikon Monarch M7 is one of the best combinations of price and performance you will find in bird-watching binoculars.

And it’s very affordable at under $500.

Backed by the trusted name of Nikon, it features Extra-Low Dispersion glass and an extremely wide Field of View. And luckily, it is light and comfortable to carry around.

In my opinion, if you can’t afford (or don’t want to pay for!) one of the higher-end binoculars, the Nikon Monarch M7 provides many of the same features.

Why you shouldn’t buy:

To get the price down, the Monarch M7 does have to sacrifice in a few areas compared to the more expensive optics. The most significant difference you will notice is the quality of the image, especially in low-light situations such as a darker forest canopy, sunrise, or sunset.

The Monarch M7 performs reasonably well in these situations, but it doesn’t come close to a binocular such as a Zeiss Victory SF or Leica Noctivid.

On the other hand, even though it’s quite a bit cheaper than the higher-end (Platinum or Gold Class) birding binoculars above, $500 is still a nice chunk of money. If that amount scares you or you are not sure if watching birds is for you, then keep reading for some less expensive options.

Nikon M7 Technical Data & Specifications:

Field of View (ft at 1000 yards): 435 ft / 133 m

Close Focus: 8.2 ft / 2.5 m

Eye Relief: 17.1 mm

Weight: 23.6 oz / 669 g

View Cost on Amazon

Why you should buy:

Normally you can find the Vortex Viper HD for under $500.

This is great news because it seems like the price range that people feel most comfortable with. You are spending enough money to get an excellent optic that should satisfy your needs for years to come, but you are also not breaking the bank.

The Viper HD has images that are bright and clear thanks to its Extra-Low Dispersion glass. It also has fully multi-coated lenses and dielectric prism coatings to optimize and increase light transmission.

In my opinion, these birding binoculars provide excellent value and outperform many optics that are 2x the price.

Why you shouldn’t buy:

The only reason you shouldn’t buy this binocular is if you can afford to upgrade to one of the Gold or Platinum Class choices above. As with most binoculars, the more money you spend, the better image quality can be expected, especially in challenging light situations.

The Silver Class (under $500)

Compare Prices!

View Cost on Amazon       |       View Cost on BH Photo

Why you should buy:

Extra-Low Dispersion (ED) glass! The Monarch M5 is the least expensive binocular that you can purchase that includes this feature. ED Glass has a great reputation for providing an outstanding image and view.

Normally priced under $300, ED glass is not the only reason to consider the Monarch M5. Nikon is known for making high-quality products and providing as many features as possible for this low price.

Not only is the image quality excellent for this price range, but the binocular is exceptionally light and comfortable to hold, waterproofed, and has a dielectric high-reflective coating on the prisms, which helps let more light through to improve the image.

The Monarch M5 is an excellent choice for a limited budget or a beginning bird watcher. I don’t think you will be disappointed.

Why you shouldn’t buy:

One of my complaints is the Field of View, which is only 330 feet. One of my preferences in bird-watching binoculars is a wide field of view. I don’t want to miss any action!

Nikon M5 Technical Data & Specifications:

Field of View (ft at 1000 yards): 335 ft / 102 m

Close Focus: 8.2 ft / 2.5 m

Eye Relief: 19.5 mm

Weight: 22.2 oz / 629 g

View Price – Amazon

Why you should buy:

The Bushnell Engage Binoculars are an excellent choice for watching birds. The optics inside are top-notch, especially considering the price point.

Due to the fully multi-coated lenses, these binoculars deliver impressive light transmission. You can expect crisp and clear images that capture the colors and intricate details of the birds you are observing, even in low-light conditions.

One of the best features of the Engage binoculars is their rugged construction. Built with a durable and waterproof chassis, these binoculars are designed to withstand the rigors of outdoor use. You should have no problems whether you’re bird-watching in humid rainforests or under the harsh sun.

Ease of use is another notable advantage of the Bushnell Engage Binoculars. The focus wheel is smooth and precise, allowing for quick adjustments to capture fast-moving birds. The binoculars are also tripod-adaptable, providing stability for extended periods of observation.

Why you should NOT buy:

One potential drawback is the weight of these binoculars. They are somewhat heavier than other optics in the same category.

Bushnell Engage Technical Data & Specifications:

Field of View (ft at 1000 yards): 426 ft / 130 m

Close Focus: 6 ft / 1.8 m

Weight: 25.6 oz / 726 g

Compare Prices!

View Cost on Amazon    |    View Cost on BH Photo

Why you should buy:

These are perfect for someone on a low budget, absolute beginners, or even teachers who need to provide binoculars to an entire class.

The Celestron Nature DX binoculars are very affordable but still good enough to provide an excellent birding experience. If you try to get cheaper than this, you risk having a very frustrating day due to ineffective binoculars.

Don’t have a bad day! Make the Celestron Nature DX the baseline for all other birding binoculars. Please don’t look at anything cheaper.

Why you shouldn’t buy:

If your budget permits, I recommend buying the best pair of bird-watching binoculars you can afford.

Especially if you can pay a bit more then you can bump up to the Nikon Monarch M5. Then, you can have Extra-Low Dispersion glass, which will greatly increase the overall quality of your image!

The Nature DX is also a great lightweight binocular for kids!

Read my full review: Celestron Nature DX: The Best Budget Birding Binoculars on Planet Earth!

Notes And Questions

There were a few things I wanted to share about my process of selecting the birding binoculars featured above.

#1. I am not an expert!

I think this is a good thing. My reviews are written from the perspective of a beginner and novice. I keep them simple and try to focus on the best features of each binocular with the birder in mind.

#2. Why is every birding binocular an 8×42?

If you didn’t notice, every binocular that I recommended was an 8×42. This means it has an 8x magnification and 42mm objective diameter.

This is the option I prefer for birding. For me, it’s the best combination of weight, size, brightness, magnification, and field of view. If that is not your preference, most models have different sizes (10×42, 8×30) available.

#3. How did I select this list of birding binoculars?

My process for reviewing and selecting these birding binoculars included:

  • Visiting local dealers and testing each optic personally.
  • Talking to each manufacturer about important features such as lens quality, coatings, warranties, etc. I also spent countless hours on their website researching all of the technical information, reviewing brochures and guides and sending numerous emails for the information I couldn’t locate.
  • Reading many other online reviews and expert opinions.
  • Bird-watching binoculars come in price ranges from $20 to almost $3,000. I did my best to find the best binoculars across all price ranges. I tried to keep in mind that everyone has a different budget and is at varying levels of birding.

#4. I am human!

Lastly, I am known to make a mistake from time to time. If you read anything that doesn’t sound right or has changed, please let me know, and I can get it fixed!

Go Back to the Top

What are your favorite binoculars for watching birds?

Please share your thoughts!

Source link

Leave a Reply