5 Great Choices For High-End Binoculars For Birding

As part of our best binoculars for birding review, we included a “high-end binoculars for birding” category. Only one pair from this category made the final list of the best, but we reviewed a total of 5 great choices. Here are the 5 pairs we reviewed.

High-End Range Binoculars for Birding Comparison Table

Top Pick
Vortex Optics Razor UHD Binoculars 8x42
Zeiss 8x32 Conquest HD Binocular with LotuTec Protective Coating (Black)
Swarovski SLC 8x42 Waterproof Binoculars with FieldPro Package, Green
Kowa Genesis 8.5x44 Prominar XD Binocular
Budget Value
Leupold BX-5 Santiam HD 8x42mm Binocular, Shadow Gray (174481)
Ratings
-
Reviews
29 Reviews
69 Reviews
12 Reviews
-
1 Reviews
Price
$1,449.00
$929.99
$1,549.30
$1,299.00
$999.00
Top Pick
Vortex Optics Razor UHD Binoculars 8x42
Ratings
Reviews
29 Reviews
Price
$1,449.00
Zeiss 8x32 Conquest HD Binocular with LotuTec Protective Coating (Black)
Ratings
Reviews
69 Reviews
Price
$929.99
Swarovski SLC 8x42 Waterproof Binoculars with FieldPro Package, Green
Ratings
Reviews
12 Reviews
Price
$1,549.30
Kowa Genesis 8.5x44 Prominar XD Binocular
Ratings
-
Reviews
-
Price
$1,299.00
Budget Value
Leupold BX-5 Santiam HD 8x42mm Binocular, Shadow Gray (174481)
Ratings
Reviews
1 Reviews
Price
$999.00

High-End Binoculars For Birding

1. Vortex Razor UHD 8×42

Winner: Our Pick High-Mid Binoculars for Birding

The Vortex Razor UDH 8×42 is the best in class, highest-end binoculars in the Vortex lineup. Their goal was to bring their optics to the next level for a superior product. We believe they achieved this goal and won our Top Pick award for the Mid-High Range binoculars category. From a price standpoint, you should be able to find a pair of the Vortex Razor UDH 8×42 for right around $1450.00.

The optics include an upgraded index-matched apochromatic objective lenses with phase-corrected Abbe-Koeing roof prisms. The end result provides extreme brightness and superb sharpness and contrast to the image. They have an impressive 3.3-foot close focus, with an eye relief of  16.7mm. The field of view is a remarkable 420 feet at 1,000 yards. Vortex uses an argon purge with O rings to make the product waterproof and fog-proof. They have a premium VIP lifetime, no-fault warranty that is fully transferable, meaning there will be no hassle at all if you have an issue with your Vortex Razor UDH 8X42. The barrels of the binoculars sport a slight curve that makes them very comfortable to hold and use. When you look through these binoculars, you will notice the finest details making everything seem so close. The ultra-high-definition optical quality cuts the chromatic aberration considerably, giving outstanding color fidelity, light transmission, and sharpness from one edge to the next. Vortex uses an ultra-hard, scratch-resistant coating to protect the exterior lenses from oil, dirt, and scratches. They also have a rubber armor non-slip grip, helping you feel safe when carrying outdoor. The price may be a put off to some, but if they fall in your price range, we believe when you balance all they have to offer they are a fantastic choice.

Vortex Optics Razor UHD Binoculars 8x42
29 Reviews
Vortex Optics Razor UHD Binoculars 8x42
  • 8x magnification and 42 mm objective lenses, the Razor UHD binoculars provide ultra high definition optical quality and prescription for unparalleled image resolution, providing exceptional color fidelity, edge-to-edge sharpness, and light transmission.
  • Index-matched lenses correct color across the entire visual spectrum. Ultimate anti-reflective coatings on all air-to-glass surfaces provide maximum light transmission for peak clarity and the pinnacle of low-light performance.
  • Magensim chasis brings increased strength and decreased weight.True open hinge design offers superior ergonomics while decreasing total weight and bulk. Rubber armor provides a secure, non-slip grip, and durable external protection.
  • A right-eye diopter tailors each barrels' focus to your eyes. The smooth, center focus wheel provides fine focus control and quick sharp views. Twist-up eyecups rest comfortably against the face and provide customized eye relief.
  • Argon purging and o-ring seals provide a lifetime of water and fogproof performance. Ultra-hard, scratch resistant armortek protects the lenses from scratches, oil, and dirt. Compatible with a tripod adapter, allowing use on a tripod or car window mount.

2. ZEISS Conquest HD Binoculars 8×32

The Zeiss Conquest HD 8×32 is arguably the most famous pair of binoculars in this category. Zeiss is a well-known brand that has been around for a very long time. The Zeiss Conquest HD 8×32 has unparalleled optical performance, with the highest light transmission (greater than 90%) in its category. They also use a special glass containing fluoride, producing extremely low color dispersion to reduce color aberrations. The lenses are very thin and fully multi-coated, with Zeiss patented anti-reflective multi-coatings. They are 100% waterproof and filled with Nitrogen to prevent fogging from occurring. Their quality German manufacturing comes through with this product. The High-Definition HD Lens system features a Schmidt-Pechan Roof Prism Design.

The Zeiss Conquest HD 8×32 has a compact design that is handy for travel. They are very light at a mere 22.2 ounces, making it easy to slip into a jacket pocket, cargo pocket, or in a small backpack without taking up a lot of space. This results in a high-quality pair of binoculars that are easy to have at your fingertips when you need them. They are reasonably priced and on sale can fall under the $1,000 mark. The Conquest HD has a near setting of 1.5 meters for bright, crisp images in great color at a close distance.

Zeiss has a comfortably sizeable focusing wheel for ease of use, but it is not oversized for the frame. One thing that stands out with the Zeiss design is the slight slant to the eyecups, making them very ergonomic and downright comfortable when in use. Let’s face it; the weather is not always great when you are out birding. It is inevitable you will experience moisture on your lenses. Zeiss helps combat this through their LotuTec coating that enables a clear and unhindered view even in the worst conditions. If you are looking for a slightly more compact design for your bird watching activities, seriously consider the Zeiss Conquest HD 8×32 binoculars.

Zeiss 8x32 Conquest HD Binocular with LotuTec Protective Coating (Black)
69 Reviews
Zeiss 8x32 Conquest HD Binocular with LotuTec Protective Coating (Black)
  • Best used for birdwatching, nature observation, travelling, outdoor activities
  • HD lens system for superb color rendition
  • T premium lens coatings for supreme brightness
  • LotuTec external lens coatings shed moisture and resist scratching
  • New 5-Year No Fault Policy + Limited Lifetime Warranty

3. Swarovski SLC 8×42

The Swarovski SLC 8×42 binoculars are stunning. It was a razor-thin choice between the number one pick in this category and the Swarovski model. Many bird watchers work their way up over the years to finally purchase a high-quality pair of binoculars that will last the rest of their lives. This model could be the pinnacle for most.

Let’s start with the grip. It is ergonomically designed and has finger grooves that make the binoculars feel like they melt into your hands. They feel very secure and yet relaxed at the same time. You can spend hours in the field using these without feeling fatigued. They have a rugged feel to them, and although they weighed slightly more than some of the lightest models we reviewed, it was only by a couple of ounces, which is not noticeable. They are durable and designed to be outside.

The Swarovski SLC 8×42 optics are superb as well. Their high definition HD optical system provides you with a fantastic high-contrast image and stunning natural colors. You can get lost in the level of detail with the razor-sharp outlines. Low level light early in the morning and at twilight is no problem at all. The binoculars handle the lighting great. The coating system for the optics is optimized explicitly for contrast and focus. The field of view is 408 feet at 1,000 yards, making it steady and fast when acquiring the site of your birds. We were a bit surprised by the shortest focusing distance, only being 10.5 feet. The short focusing distance is the one area where the specs were lower than some of the others, although you will almost always be more than 10 feet away when birding.

Swarovski SLC 8x42 Waterproof Binoculars with FieldPro Package, Green
12 Reviews
Swarovski SLC 8x42 Waterproof Binoculars with FieldPro Package, Green
  • The purchase Includes: Swarovski Optik SLC 8x42 Binoculars, Field Bag, Eyepiece Cover, Objective Lens Cover, Lift Carrying Strap, Swarovski Optik Limited Warranty
  • 8x Magnification, 61-degree apparent field of view
  • HD Optical System: fluorite-containing glass offers 91% light transmission, enhancing color fidelity and brightness
  • Lifetime warranty for optics and 10-year warranty for other parts
  • Features SWAROBRIGHT and SWAROCLEAN trademark technologies

4. Kowa Genesis XD 8.5×44

The Kowa Genesi 44 8.5 x44 Prominar XD binoculars are unique in that they incorporate 4 XD lenses in their design (2 sets). Their goal with this design is to create a very clear and very sharp viewing experience and image. It’s all about reducing chromatic aberration, and they use a specially designed dispersion concave lens to do this.

The Kowa uses a Schmidt-Pechan Roof Prism combined with its highly reflective C3 coating process. One of the things you like to see in a high-end binocular is accurate color reproduction, and their prism design delivers on that. Let’s face it; being outside can get dirty and sweaty at times. Kowa’s KR coating protects the lenses from dirt, oily fingerprints, and other foreign objects that are attracted to the glasses during regular use.

The Kowa Genesis XD 8.5×42 has a magnesium alloy body, which gives the body strength but without adding a lot of additional weight. They weigh in at just over 33 ounces. The body is a little longer and a little wider, measuring 6.5 x 5.4 x 2.5, but still very comfortable overall. The field of view is 400 feet at 1,000 yards, falling right in the middle of the other binoculars we reviewed. The waterproof housing is filled with dry nitrogen gas and sealed to prevent fogging. While not our top pick, or the most popular set in this category, the Kowa’s Genesis XD 8.5×42 makes the top 5.

Kowa Genesis 8.5x44 Prominar XD Binocular
  • PROMINAR XD Lenses
  • Lightweight Premium Binocular
  • Magnesium Alloy Body
  • Waterproof and Fogproof
  • Limited Lifetime Warranty

5. Leupold BX-5 Santiam HD 8×42

The Leupold BX-5 Santiam HD 8×42 binoculars won the budget value award for this category. If you are looking for a great pair of quality binoculars, but want to be cost-conscious at the same time, this may be your best bet. I like their approach and philosophy of wanting to go toe-to-toe with sets that are much more expensive. They have a sense of what the consumer is looking for in their birding adventures. They focus on things like their Twilight MAX HD Light Management system, which helps you see well, even in low light conditions. It also helps to reduce eye fatigue, headaches, and dizziness, which keeps you in the field longer. When you are dropping a significant amount of money on a pair of binoculars, it’s comforting to have a life-time warranty to back them up.

The Leupold BX-5 has an ergonomic, no-slip design made for the field that will give you hours of comfort. They are slim and light, weighing in at a mere 23.6 ounces. They feature a smooth focusing system, with subtle adjustments and a textured turning knob making it easy even with gloves on. The twist-up eyecups give comfortable eye relief and have a nice texture to them, making it easy to grab and turn, especially with gloved hands or in wet weather conditions.

The BX-5 uses a Guard-Ion lens coating that helps shed dirt and water when in use, to keep the images clear and crisp. The open bridge roof prism (BAK4) contributes to the lightweight design. They achieve high light transmission and an excellent level of abrasion resistance by treating the exterior lenses with their trademarked DiamondCoat 2 technology. This treatment leads to higher brightness, clarity, and contrast in the image. Outstanding resolution and a sharp sight picture from edge to edge in your visual field come from Phase coated roof prisms. The BX-5 is a great value.

Leupold BX-5 Santiam HD 8x42mm Binocular, Shadow Gray (174481)
1 Reviews
Leupold BX-5 Santiam HD 8x42mm Binocular, Shadow Gray (174481)
  • Leupold Model #174481 bx-5 Santiam HD 8x42mm in shadow Gray
  • 100% waterproof, Fog proof, & shockproof
  • Guard-ion lens coating sheds water, dirt, and fingerprints for a clear, crisp image
  • Features an extremely smooth focusing system for fine adjustments
  • Open-bridge, dual-hinge design - extremely lightweight and ergonomic
  • Field-replaceable adjustable eyecups provide generous Eye relief for comfortable extended viewing
  • Twilight Max HD Light Management System adds up to 30 extra minutes of glassing light
  • Built-in 1/4-20 tripod adapter port