The Best Binoculars for Birding Reviewed By Category

Contents

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Updated: January 30, 2020

Introduction To Our Review

One of the critical requirements for bird watching is a good set of binoculars. A choice set of binoculars allows you to see the detail of the birds from a greater distance. Identifying the characteristics and key features of each bird helps to identify the specific species. Even trying to find birds, let alone identify them with the naked eye, is quite tricky. A good pair of binoculars for birding changes all of that. It closes the visual distance and makes it seem like you are just a few feet away from the birds, as they enjoy their natural habit undisturbed. It feels good removing that limitation. With the distance closed, identifying birds becomes much more comfortable and more enjoyable.

Not all bird watchers are the same, and we understand that. When purchasing a set of binoculars for bird watching, defining your budget and price range is typically the starting point. We do our part to help measure the value between the different price categorizations to help guide your decision. We see it over and over again, where people determine how much they are willing to spend and then look for the best value that meets their needs. Everyone has a range they are looking at and the features that are most important to them.

Grouped Categories We Evaluate

Our categories are divided by price first and then evaluated for the features and specifications for each set of binoculars.  Measuring these things help us grade and weigh the quality and value to help you make the appropriate choice.  See our examination below for how each pair stacks up against each other. Our process groups each set of binoculars and investigates the category.

Categories for Best Birding Binoculars Defined

  • Budget Value Category: Price range between $0 and $159
  • Entry Level Category: Price range between $160 and $299
  • Mid Range Category: Price range between $300 and $999
  • High-Mid Range Category: Price range between $1000 and $1,999
  • Top Of The Line Value: Price Range $2,000 and greater

Criteria When Reviewing

To determine the best binoculars for birding, we analyze and measure different characteristics and features for each set. Manufacturers differentiate their binoculars in each class based on

  • Price
  • Magnification
  • Ergonomic design
  • Eyeglass comfort
  • Clarity of definition
  • Color
  • Weight
  • Warranty
  • Visual quality in low light

Understanding Binoculars Magnification and Stability

Before we get started, here is an informative video for understanding magnification and stability. Understanding how magnification and stability play a role in your bird watching adventures is important as you make your selection.

Best Binoculars For Birding

1. Nikon Prostaff 3S 8×42

Budget Category. This set of binoculars has bright, multicoated optics that help with clarity.

You’ll notice the lightweight and compact design making it easy to carry while on your bird watching adventure.

They have a striking high-eyepoint design for a clear field of view, which helps as you bring the birds into view on your outing. The Nikon Prostaff is a solid choice for beginners.

They measure 7×6.5×3.5 and weighs 4.8 ounces, making them feel light in your hands. This pair also features turn-and-slide rubber eyecups, which helps you adjust the eye relief to your level of comfort.

Nikon 8x42 ProStaff 3S Binoculars (Black)
137 Reviews
Nikon 8x42 ProStaff 3S Binoculars (Black)
  • HIGH QUALITY OPTICS: Prostaff 3S features an optical system created from lead-and-arsenic-free Eco-Glass. Multi-layer coatings, which provide higher light transmittance across the entire visible light spectrum, are applied to the lens and prism surfaces that transmit light
  • ERGONOMIC, RUBBER ARMORED BODY: A lightweight, ergonomic body design makes the Prostaff 3S enjoyable to hold for long periods of time
  • TURN-AND-SLIDE RUBBER EYECUPS: Turn-and-slide rubber eyecups allow users to adjust the eye-relief for a custom fit - providing a full field of view and maximum comfort during extended periods of use
  • WATERPROOF AND FOGPROOF: Prostaff 3S binoculars are Nitrogen filled and O-Ring sealed for complete waterproof and fogproof performance
  • NIKON AUTHORIZED DEALER: Includes USA Manufacturer Warranty

2. Celestron Nature DX 8×42

Winner: Our Pick Budget Binoculars for Birding

Budget Category. The Celestron Nature DX 8×42 is our top pick for the best budget binoculars. They are mid-sized, making them comfortable in the field and genuinely are one of the favorites among bird watchers for this category.

You get the right combination of field of view, magnification, and up-close focus all for under $160. Even if your budget is slightly higher than this category, you may still want to consider choosing this model; you won’t be disappointed.

They have a stable 8x magnification, with a 7.4-degree field of view. They feature a Bak4 Prism Glass with Phase coating. Note that as you get close to your subject, the close focus distance is 6.5 feet, so it is best to utilize the magnification from a bit of a distance. Your field of view is 388 feet at 1000 yards.

In evaluating the Celestron, we feel this is your top choice for the budget category.


Sale
Celestron – Nature DX 8x42 Binoculars – Outdoor and Birding Binocular – Fully Multi-coated with BaK-4 Prisms – Rubber Armored – Fog & Waterproof Binoculars – Top Pick Optics
985 Reviews
Celestron – Nature DX 8x42 Binoculars – Outdoor and Birding Binocular – Fully Multi-coated with BaK-4 Prisms – Rubber Armored – Fog & Waterproof Binoculars – Top Pick Optics
  • PERFECT BINOCULARS FOR EVERY ADVENTURE: A great match for everyone from beginners to mid-range outdoors and birding enthusiasts. The perfect combination of premium build, portability, and price
  • TOP-RATED GLASS OPTICS WITH IMPRESSIVE SPECS: Fully multi-coated lenses for brighter images, more contrast and highest resolution with phase-coated BaK-4 prisms, 8x magnification power, and 6.5-foot close focus
  • ROBUST, WATERPROOF MID-SIZED BODY: Incredibly precise build and design that offers protection from outdoor elements. Features a waterproof/fogproof, rubber-armored, polycarbonate housing. Comfortable twist-up eyecups with multi-stop function ensure proper positioning of the eyes for eyeglass wearers and non-eyeglass wearers alike
  • ALL YOU NEED IS INCLUDED: Take this Binocular with you anywhere! We’ve included a compact carrying case, objective lens caps, an eyepiece rainguard, a neck strap, a lens cloth, and an instruction manual for easy use on the go!
  • UNBEATABLE WARRANTY AND CUSTOMER SUPPORT: Buy with confidence from Celestron, a leading binocular and telescope brand, based in California since 1960. Your purchase is backed by a Limited Lifetime warranty and unlimited access to technical support from our team of US-based experts

3. Athlon Neos 8×42

Budget Category. The next pair of binoculars in our line up is the Athlon Neos 8×42. For the price, you receive quality color clarity and a bright crispness while viewing birds.

The Athlon is comfortable carrying in the field and weighs in at 1.59 pounds, which is slightly heavier than some of the others, but right around what you would expect. They offer good quality without breaking the bank.

The warranty is outstanding with an unconditional lifetime warranty, which puts your mind at ease. This is the most budget-friendly pair for the category.

Athlon Optics Neos 8x42 Binoculars great for Bird Watching and any Outdoor Activity. Excellent color clarity and crisp brightness both up close and far away. Waterproof.
15 Reviews
Athlon Optics Neos 8x42 Binoculars great for Bird Watching and any Outdoor Activity. Excellent color clarity and crisp brightness both up close and far away. Waterproof.
  • Quality for Less! Athlon Optics advanced technology makes it possible for you to enjoy high quality bird watching or any outdoor activitity binoculars with enhanced color and clarity at the best price available in the market with a Lifetime Warranty!
  • Durable, all weather waterproof and fog proof binoculars to handle anything mother nature has to offer
  • Perfect for the new bird watcher or outdoor adventurer that require high quality and features that are usually only found in more expensive binoculars in the market.
  • With our LIFETIME, UNCONDITIONAL WARRANTY, you can stand assured that no matter what conditions you put the binoculars through, if anything ever happens to them, we will repair or replace them for FREE!
  • Multi-Coated Lenses deliver brighter and more clear views for all of your outdoor activities

4. Opticron Oregon 8×32

Budget Category. The first thing we note is the Opticron Oregon 8×32 is the highest priced in our budget value category, near the top of the range. Like the others in the category, they are designed for the occasional or first-time bird watchers.

They are of high enough quality, so you are not wasting your money, but you won’t break the bank purchasing a pair.

The binoculars are well constructed, with good performance and functionality for the class. They have a wide wheel for focus and a twist type retractable eyecups that are comfortable for use. They have a close focus of 7.5 feet.

These binoculars are another solid choice that satisfies the needs of a budget-conscious consumer.

Opticron Oregon 4 PC 8x32 Binocular
2 Reviews
Opticron Oregon 4 PC 8x32 Binocular
  • Roof prism design with sophisticated Twin relief Rubber covering
  • Back 4 fully multi-coated optical system (all Air/glass surfaces), phase corrected prism coatings
  • Long eye relief eyepieces for spectacle wearers with twist-type retractable eyecups

5. Leupold BX-1 Yosemite 8×30

Budget Category. The first thing you will notice is this is the only pair of 8×30 binoculars that made our list. If you are considering the 8×30 instead of the more common 8×42, this is the pair to choose from. Some bird watchers prefer these eyepieces as they are more narrow than the rest. This makes them a perfect choice for kids in particular, especially given the price point on them. They are constructed well and hold their resolve when handled in the field.

Finding a good set of binoculars for children is paramount, and we believe the Leupold BX-1 Yosemite 8×30 fits the bill just right. The viewing image is clear and they are smooth focusing. The length is also slightly shorter than most of the other brands. Kids will love the weight as they are barely over a pound, weighing in at just 17 oz. Even will the smaller size, you will be impressed with how surprisingly bright they are.

Leupold BX-1 Yosemite Binocular, 10x30mm (172707)
33 Reviews
Leupold BX-1 Yosemite Binocular, 10x30mm (172707)
  • Leupold Model #172707 BX-1 Yosemite 10x30mm in Shadow Gray
  • 100% Waterproof, fogproof, & shockproof
  • Fully multi-coated lens system ensures maximum brightness for clarity, contrast, and color fidelity
  • BAK 4 Prisms deliver a perfectly round exit pupil with virtually no edge distortion and a crisp, clear image
  • Phase coated roof prisms significantly increase resolution for a sharp sight picture
  • Twist-up eyecups and generous eye relief for comfortable extended viewing
  • Twilight Light Management System adds up to 10 extra minutes of glassing light
  • Lightweight and rugged magnesium housing shrouded in a rubber armor coating provides a positive grasp

6. Celestron Trailseeker ED 8×42 Binoculars

Entry Level Category. The Celestron ED 8×42 was our first selection in the entry-level category. We were impressed with the high-level performance and many features, including optical, mechanical, and ergonomic, which made them seem like a more expensive pair.

The color was vibrant, and we did not detect any color fringing. The lack of chromatic aberration is mainly due to the extra-low dispersion glass used for the lenses. The bright, detailed images are a result of combining the fully multi-coating and Bak-4 prisms, which helps with light transmission.

While the Celestron ED 8×42 has many features and benefits, be aware they come with a price and near the top of the price range for this category.

The body and frame are lightweight and durable, made from magnesium alloy. These binoculars undoubtedly hold up to regular field use. The binoculars are comfortable for people who wear glasses as well.

Celestron Trailseeker ED 8x42 Binoculars
216 Reviews
Celestron Trailseeker ED 8x42 Binoculars
  • ED objective lenses to provide superior images that are virtually free of chromatic aberration with accurate color reproduction, increased resolution, and image contrast
  • Fully multi-coated optics and phase and dielectric coated BaK-4 prisms fo rmaximum light transmission and vivid, true-to-life colors
  • Durable, protective full-body armoring and a completely new, innovative Celestron industrial design. The binocular is tripod adaptabile for comfort and ease-of-use during extended viewing sessions
  • A fully waterproof chassis that is nitrogen filled to prevent internal fogging of the lenses
  • Twist-up eyecups that are fully padded for comfort as well as eyeglass compatibility
  • Field-worthy accessories including a comfortable carry harness, a deluxe padded neck strap, a single piece eyepiece cover, tetherable objective covers, a durable padded carrying case that offers both shoulder strap and belt/pack strap attachment options, a lens cleaning cloth, and an instruction manual

7. Nikon 7576 MONARCH 5 8×42 Binocular

Winner: Our Pick Entry Level Binoculars for Birding

Entry Level Category. The Nikon Monarch 5 8×42 is our top pick for the entry-level category. As we reviewed these binoculars, it was challenging to come up with criticism. Birdwatchers rave about Monarch 5, and it is easy to understand why. Two of the most challenging times for birdwatching is dawn and dusk, due to the lower levels of light. Utilizing Nikon’s ED Extra-low Dispersion glass lenses, these binoculars handle chromatic aberrations well. Their ED glass lenses maintain superior contrasts and resolution. Grabbing your Nikon Monarch 5 and heading to the field for some birdwatching is a joy.

These binoculars are incredibly portable, and the newer model is even lighter than before. They have a sleek design that is comfortable in your hand and easy to grip. The high-eyepoint design leads to a clear field of view, so it doesn’t crowd the distance between the user’s eyebrows and eyecups of the binoculars.

It is essential to minimize the loss of light due to reflection. Using multilayer coatings provides higher light transmittance across the entire visible light spectrum. Nikon utilizes this process, resulting in a more natural and clearer view.

Other features we liked were the adjustable turn-and-slide rubber eyecups for comfort while viewing. A rubber-armored body helps make them non slip even in wet conditions. As you would expect, they are waterproof and fog proof. It is easy to see why the Monarch 5 8×42 is our top pick for this category.

Nikon 7576 MONARCH 5 8x42 Binocular (Black)
853 Reviews
Nikon 7576 MONARCH 5 8x42 Binocular (Black)
  • All MONARCH 5 binoculars are now built with Nikon's premium ED (Extra Low Dispersion) Glass for a sharper, clearer and more brilliant field of view
  • Almost an ounce lighter than its predecessor, the new MONARCH 5 is even easier to bring along on your next adventure
  • Fully Multicoated Eco Glass Lenses provide a high light transmittance across the entire visible light spectrum
  • It is equipped with user friendly features such as Turn and Slide Rubber Eyecups, a Smooth Central Focus Knob and Flip Down Lens Caps
  • Built for extreme use, the MONARCH 5 is waterproof, fog proof and has a rubber armored body for strengthened durability

8. Vortex Optics Diamondback HD 8×42

Entry Level Category. The Vortex Optics Diamondback HD 8×42 binoculars are an impressive set of binoculars that balance the price and performance incredibly well. They do fall at the top of the range from a price standpoint for our entry-level category, but these are just a solid choice. The Vortex has a unique GlassPakTM harness that users appreciate. They keep the binoculars close at hand while protecting them. The harness is much more comfortable than a traditional neck strap.

The linear field of view comes in at 393 feet per 1000 yards and an angular field of view measuring 7.5 degrees. These specs are right in line with where you want them to be, including a close focus of 5 feet. They weigh in at 21.8 ounces, which is beautifully light in the field and has a 5.7-inch total height.

The Vortex Optics Diamondback HD feathers the HD Optical System optimized to give an exceptional resolution. We found the color fidelity to be outstanding with sharpness across the diameter of the lenses. Like our top choice, these binoculars also have a fully multi-coated anti-reflective coating to them. They withstand rugged use that comes with outdoor activity, assisted by their non-slip rubberized covering. They are shockproof and water-proof, as you would expect from this level of binocular.

Vortex Optics Diamondback HD 8x42 Binoculars
297 Reviews
Vortex Optics Diamondback HD 8x42 Binoculars
  • 8x magnification & 42mm objective lenses, these Diamondback HD binos are optimized with select glass elements to deliver exceptional resolution, cut chromatic aberration and provide outstanding color fidelity, sharpness and light transmission.
  • Fully multi-coated lenses increase light transmission with anti-reflective coatings on all air-to-glass surfaces. Dielectric coating provides bright, clear, color-accurate images. Armortek coating protects exterior lenses from scratches, oil and dirt.
  • Adjustable eyecups twist up and down for comfortable viewing with or without eyeglasses. Center focus wheel adjusts the focus of both binocular barrels at the same time. Diopter (located on right eyepiece) adjusts for differences in a user's eyes.
  • Rubber armor provides a secure, non-slip grip, and durable external protection. Binoculars are tripod adaptable allowing use on a tripod or car window mount.
  • Argon purging and O-ring seals provide water and Fog proof performance in all environments. Rugged construction withstands recoil and impact. Includes glass Pak harness.

9. Nikon Prostaff 7S 8×42

Entry Level Category. The Nikon Prostaff 7S 8×42 binoculars are a great pair of compact binoculars that are light-weight and comfortable to hold in the field. As you inspect their optical system, the quality brightness and resolution stand out. We like the accurate color representation that comes with their phase-correction coated roof prisms. You get a natural and clear view using the Prostaff 7S.

We like the ergonomic body design that is rubber-coated, giving you a non-slip grip even when it’s raining out. The rubber eyecups turn-and-slide design makes a comfortable fit for more extended periods. Having a pair of binoculars that are fog-proof and waterproof is essential. Nikon achieves this with its nitrogen-filled binoculars and O-ring seal.

The real angular field of view measures 6.8 degrees, with an apparent field of view of 50.8 degrees. The binoculars have a lovely range with a 357 ft field of view at 1,000 yards. They are very comfortable to carry weighing in at 22.9 ounces with a size of 6.6″ x 5″. It’s easy to see why the Nikon Prostaff 7S 8×42 made the top 5 list.

Nikon Prostaff 7S 8x42 Binocular
575 Reviews
Nikon Prostaff 7S 8x42 Binocular
  • High reflection mirror-coated prisms for enhanced brightness
  • Long eye relief design ensures a clear field of view, even for eyeglass wearers
  • Turn-and-slide rubber eyecups with a multi-click adjustment make it easy to correctly position the eye
  • Extremely lightweight with rubber armouring for shock resistance and a firm, comfortable grip
  • Waterproof (up to 1m/3.3 ft. for 10 minutes) and fog-free with nitrogen gas
  • Item weight: 0.65 kg

10. Wingspan Optics Phoenix Ultra HD 8×42

Entry Level Category. The Wingspan Optics Phoenix Ultra HD 8×42 is our budget-friendly winner of the entry-level category. They offered a lot for the price and were not selected only because of the favorable price. These binoculars match up well when set side by side with the others in the category.

The Wingspan Optics Phoenix Ultra HD 8×42 gives a positive experience when bird watching. They feature their extras low dispersion, ED, glass. Overall the binoculars are durable and stand up well in the field. They are fog-proof and water-proof, filled with nitrogen and sealed, as you would expect. We found a solid sharpness to the image, and the color was consistent with what you would suppose. The focus wheel is smooth as you target in on the bird’s location.

The binocular’s prism is Bak-4, which is phase correction multi-coated. The field of view is 393ft at 1000 yards, which is a little wider than some of the other models.

Wingspan Optics Phoenix Ultra HD - 8X42 Bird Watching Binoculars with ED Glass. Exclusively for Enhanced Bird Watching with ED Glass, Phase Coating, Close Focus, and 393 Ft Extra-Wide Field of View.
636 Reviews
Wingspan Optics Phoenix Ultra HD - 8X42 Bird Watching Binoculars with ED Glass. Exclusively for Enhanced Bird Watching with ED Glass, Phase Coating, Close Focus, and 393 Ft Extra-Wide Field of View.
  • Everything You Desire In Bird Watching Binoculars - Durable, Fully Multi-Coated Lenses, ED glass, Waterproof, Fog Proof, Phase Correction Coated Prism, Close Focus and a Wide Field of View.
  • Spectacular Color and Clarity! - Extra-Low Dispersion (ED) Glass Awakens a New Rainbow of Color Clarity and prevents or reduces chromatic aberration, which can causes color fringing. It's optics technology that delivers cleaner, brighter breathtaking image.
  • World Class HD Sharpness and Color Fidelity - Step up to spectacular viewing! Phoenix Ultra HD 8X42 Bird Watching Binoculars With ED Glass delivers an extremely Sharp, Clear, Bright, True Color Image, close up or far away.
  • Durable and Lighter Than Standard Binoculars - The Phoenix Ultra HD With ED Glass is made to last. Waterproof, Fog Proof and features DuraTech Technology, allowing you to travel without fear of damage.
  • No Risk, No Worry! Your Binoculars come with a LIFETIME WARRANTY, Plus a 30 DAY MONEY BACK GUARANTEE, just in case you're not satisfied with your purchase.

11. Zeiss Terra ED 8×42

Mid-Range Category. We start this category off with the Zeiss Terra ED 8×42. The Zeiss Terra ED is our choice for the best value in the category. The binoculars are compact in design and light, which makes them comfortable and easy to use in the field. For the lenses, Zeiss uses SCHOTT ED glass with an MC Coating, which is exceptional, giving bright and vivid images while bird watching.

You’ll enjoy the wide fields of view. The binoculars have a close focus of 5.25 feet. This close focus allows you to see details and characteristics you could not see otherwise. We liked the grip and design of the body for steady viewing. Changing the focus is smooth, and they are incredibly light at just 10.9 ounces. You won’t have to worry about fatigue using these binoculars. The eyecups are slightly slanted, giving them a lovely feel when using.

ZEISS Terra ED Binocular 8x42 Black
24 Reviews
ZEISS Terra ED Binocular 8x42 Black
  • 8x magnification for delivering breathtaking enlarged images; field of view at 1000m - 125 m; apparent field of view - 56°; the TERRA ED 8x42 binocular offers you both large fields of view and steady images
  • Effective lens diameter - 42 mm; Exit pupil diameter - 5.3 mm
  • Weatherproof: the operating temperature range of -4 to 145°F and the waterproof body, these outdoor binoculars are a reliable companion even under extreme conditions; water resistance - 100 mbar
  • The binocular is suitable for birdwatching, nature observation, travelling and outdoor activities; the compact design and the large lens diameter are optimal for hunting in fields and forests
  • The highest optical precision and the hydrophobic multicoating guarantee brilliant images down to the very last detail

12. Nikon Monarch 7 ATB 8×42

Mid-Range Category. The Nikon Monarch 7 8×42 ATB is the most popular set of binoculars in this category. The price point is good, and not that far from the most budget-friendly pair. While this pair was not chosen as the top pair of binoculars for the category, or the most budget-friendly pair in the category, I would still highly consider this pair of binoculars.

Nikon has an excellent optical system for the ED glass to give you a clear and bright image. You experience a wide field of view that is just right for bird watching. Nikon uses a dielectric multilayer prism coating, which gives a nice, even light transmittance. The result is a bright clear high contrast image where the colors are a true match to the naked eye.

The body of the binoculars is a durable rubber-armored coating. It is just rough enough to prevent slipping, but still comfortable to the touch. The central focus knob is medium in size, so it fits well with the rest of the body, and the focusing wheel is smooth when you turn it.

One of the features we liked about the eyecups is the adjustable click-stop design. Something to note, the close focus capability is 8.2 feet, which is a bit further than some of the other models we compared the Nikon to. It is easy to see why these binoculars are so popular with bird watchers.

Nikon 7548 MONARCH 7 8x42 Binocular (Black)
231 Reviews
Nikon 7548 MONARCH 7 8x42 Binocular (Black)
  • The MONARCH 7 8x42 provides an exceptionally wide field of view that makes it easy to find your subject.
  • Dielectric High-Reflective Multilayer Prism Coatings are applied to all lenses and prism coatings to provide high-contrast images and accurate color reproduction.
  • Thanks to a durable rubber armored coating, the MONARCH 7 is comfortable to hold and rugged enough to stand up to any conditions.
  • Extra-low dispersion glass enhances brightness and color fidelity
  • Roof prisms with phase-correction preserve clarity and detail
  • Highly reflective dielectric prism coating renders
  • Anti-reflective multicoated lens system
  • Nitrogen-filled housing for fog proof and waterproof performance

13. Vortex Viper HD 8×42

Mid-Range Category. The Vortex Viper HD 8×42 is our second most expensive pair of binoculars in our Mid-Range Category. Although the Vortex Viper is only about $40 more than our best value pair, so well within budget. I am a fan of the green color on the rubberized body, which gives it an attractive outdoor look and feel. They offer a lifetime warranty, promising that if you ever have a problem, regardless of what caused it, they WILL take care of you. I appreciate warranties like that and the companies that stand behind them. They feel compact, even though they are a full-sized binocular.

The Vortex Viper HD 8×42 comes with a premium extra-low dispersion glass, giving excellent resolution, beautiful color fidelity, and high-definition images. Increased light transmission happens as a result of their multiple anti-reflective coatings on all air to glass surfaces. Vortex also applies a dielectric coating in multiple layers on the prism. This coating provides bright, clear images that are true to color. The Viper HD has a phase correction coating on the roof prism design, enhancing the resolution and contrast.

We like the size of the Vortex Viper HD. They are pretty light at 24.5 ounces, and only 4.9 inches in width. The total height comes in at 5.6 inches, which is an appropriate length for an 8×42. Water and fog are not an issue as they come filled with Argon Gas and sealed with o rings. The diopter adjustment stands out as an impressive feature on the Vortex binoculars. This control knob design lets you compensate for the difference between your right eye and left eye, giving the most precise personalized focus. We were impressed by this. When you look at the reviews and comments on the Vortex Optics website, the users are impressed and pleased with them.

Vortex Optics Viper HD Roof Prism Binoculars 8x42
20 Reviews
Vortex Optics Viper HD Roof Prism Binoculars 8x42
  • 8x magnification and 42mm objective lenses, the 2018 Viper HD is a high-end, full-size yet compact binocular that is suited for any hunt. An easy-to-grip, rubber armored chasis with perfectly placed thumb indents provides superior ergonomics.
  • A high density optical system delivers exeptional resolution and edge to edge clarity. XR anti-relfective lens coatings give bright, full views even in low light situations.
  • A locking, 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 waterproof and fogproof performance. Ultra-hard, scratch resistant armortek protects the exterior lenses from scratches, oil, and dirt.
  • In the field, you should have no trouble reaching them at a moment’s notice with the included GlassPak Chest Harness providing comfortable, protected, strain-free, all-day carry.Field of View:409 feet @ 1000 yd / 135.8 m @ 1000 m

14. Leica Camera Co. 8×42 Trinovid HD

Winner: Our Pick Mid-Range Binoculars for Birding

Mid-Range Category. The Leica 8X42 Trinovid HD is our top pick for the mid-range category. One thing to take into consideration is the price of the Trinovid when comparing to the others in the group. They are at the high-end of the price range and cost several hundred dollars more. The quality of these binoculars certainly earns it the top pick.

The Leica brand has arguably been one of the finest for many years, and they do not disappoint with these binoculars. With the roof prism design, they are compact and light, fitting just right. When you hold the Tinovid HD, you feel the ruggedness and quality design, and yet they only weigh 26 oz. And when you raise them to your eyes and look through them, you understand the high regard with the compelling clarity and sharp views.

The Leica 8×42 Trinovid HD has a 372-foot field of view, falling right in line with this class. When it comes to eye relief, they sport a 15 mm design, making them comfortable for the bird watcher. The prisms are construction with phase-coated Bak4 glass, and the lenses are fully multicoated, reducing the glare and increasing the quality of the view. At this level, you expect a thoroughly waterproof and fog proof system, which is what the Leica delivers. You end up with a beautiful, detail-rich, and high-contrast image that is a joy to use in your outdoor adventures.

Some other things we observed were the adjustable eyecups that twist to extend or retract. They turn and sit into a stable position, which will hold, so you do not have to worry about them coming out of place. There is a diopter adjusting wheel that turns freely and efficiently as a simple ring on the right barrel to help adjust for any difference between your left and right eyes.

We think you will love the Trinovid HD 8×42. While the price seems high compared to the other binoculars in this mid-range category, you will enjoy a lifetime of birding with this high quality, and for much less than the top of the line binoculars that easily exceed $2000 per pair.

Leica Camera Co. 8x42 Trinovid HD Binoculars
22 Reviews
Leica Camera Co. 8x42 Trinovid HD Binoculars
  • Premium leica optics for high-contrast, pin sharp images
  • Close focus under six feet
  • Innovative carrying System for quick and comfortable Use
  • Compact construction
  • Balanced and lightweight magnesium alloy chassis

15. Vanguard Endeavor ED IV 8×42

Mid-Range Category. The Vanguard Endeavor ED IV 8×42 is the lowest-priced model for the mid-range binoculars we reviewed, making them very attractive for someone who is cost-conscious. If you enjoy being outdoors on an adventure, grab a pair of the Vanguard Endeavor ED IV to go with you, especially considering they won’t break the bank. They feature a HOYA brand Extra-Low Dispersion (ED) glass with an SK-15 Prism. The roof prism design allows for a comfortable fit when viewing birds. The housing is durable and lightweight magnesium with a textured grip to help prevent slipping when in use. The field of view at 1000 yards is 377 feet, which is a good point for bird watching. The near focus comes in at just under 6 feet (5.9).

The grip wheel is a soft rubber knob, making it easy to turn and bring into focus. The Vanguard Endeavor EDI IV 8×42 comes in a black matte finish with a carrying strap. They are Nitrogengen flushed and sealed with O-rings, making them fog-proof and water-proof. They weigh in at 27.73 ounces, which makes them slightly heavier, by a few ounces, to some of the other models in the category. The brightness and clarity are more than satisfactory. The twist eyecups have three positions to adjust, making for comfortable viewing. Some of the other models we evaluated had five positions, for more granular control, but three will get the job done. If you are cost-conscious but want to be a step up from the budget or entry-level categories, this pair of binoculars make a good choice.

VANGUARD Endeavor ED IV 8x42 Binocular, Premium Hoya ED Glass, SK-15 Prisms, Waterproof/Fogproof
9 Reviews
VANGUARD Endeavor ED IV 8x42 Binocular, Premium Hoya ED Glass, SK-15 Prisms, Waterproof/Fogproof
  • Sk-15 prisms allow for vivid detail and stunning image quality and premium HOYA ED glass provides a true color viewing experience
  • New ergonomic open-bridge design ensures easy grip in all weather and advanced multi guard coatings provide superb light transmission
  • Relocated center locking diopter for easy adjustment with soft grip center focusing wheel & 3 stage twist eye cups for comfortable viewing
  • Strong & lightweight magnesium housing is engineered for ultimate protection & performance and nitrogen purged & O-ring sealed to provide 100% fog proof & waterproof protection
  • Magnification: 8x, Objective Lens Diameter: 42mm, Field of View: 377 ft. /1000 yards, View angle: 6.5 degrees, Near focus: 5.9 feet, Eye relief: 19 mm, Weight: 27.7 ounces

16. Vortex Razor UHD 8×42

Winner: Our Pick High-Mid Binoculars for Birding

High-Mid Range Category. 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
8 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.

17. ZEISS Conquest HD Binoculars 8×32

High-Mid Range Category. 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)
60 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

18. Swarovski SLC 8×42

High-Mid Range Category. 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
7 Reviews
Swarovski SLC 8x42 Waterproof Binoculars with FieldPro Package, Green
  • The purchase Includes Swarovski Optic SLC 8x42 Binoculars Field Bag Eyepiece Cover Objective Lens Cover Lift Carrying Strap Swarovski Optic Limited
  • 8x magnification 61-degree apparent field of view
  • Hd Optical system fluorite-containing glass offers 91% light transmission enhancing color fidelity and brightness
  • Lifetime for optics and 10-year for other parts
  • Features SWAROBRIGHT and SWAROCLEAN trademark technologies

19. Kowa Genesis XD 8.5×44

High-Mid Range Category. 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

20. Leupold BX-5 Santiam HD 8×42

High-Mid Range Category. 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)
  • 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

21. Swarovski EL 8.5×42

Winner: Our Pick Top of the Line Binoculars For Birding

Top of The Line Category. The Swarovski EL 8.5×42 is probably the most popular set of binoculars in our top of the line category. It is not surprising given how long the brand has been around. As you would expect from any superior product, over time, the features and quality have just gotten better. These are first-rate.

We appreciate the open hinge body design, which makes it easy to hold. The set feels secure in your hands when carrying them. The body of the binoculars is a high-quality Magnesium alloy. Magnesium alloy is considerably more expensive than the typical aluminum or plastic frames. They are incredibly durable and highly resistant to corrosion. This choice of metal keeps the weight a meager 29.5 ounces, which is impressive given that they are 6.3in x 5.2in and made from metal instead of plastic. You can feel the quality of the binocular frame with its textured grip.

The eyecups are twist up and smooth to set. The design and slight angle make them comfortable on your face. The quality material extends to the eyecups as well, being they are made from metal instead of plastic. There is a rubberized section for contact with your face, but other than that, high-quality metal. One of the benefits from a top of the line pair like this is they eyecups are replaceable in the event they are damaged or worn. They work exceptionally well and are outstanding compared to the lower-priced categories. Because of the 20mm eye relief, they fit nicely for people wearing glasses, giving the correct distance from the ocular lens.

The focus wheel sits prominently just below the eyecups, and between the cylinders. The action is smooth and precise. Unlike most binoculars, the diopter adjustment is built directly into the focus wheel. I like this design because you pull the focusing wheel back and turn it the proper number of clicks until adjusted for your eyes. When finished, push the focus-wheel back in place, and you are ready to go. Very simple.

The optics are where the Swarovski EL 8.5×42 shine by using some of the highest-rated optical components, superior technology, and coatings process. The ocular has an impressively wide 23mm diameter.

The field flattener lenses are another benefit you get with cream of the crop binoculars. Often, with lower quality lenses, you will have the proper focus in the center of your view. But as you move toward the edge, things become slightly out of focus. This lack of focus on the sides gives you an adverse feeling of distortion. Field flattening lenses alleviate this issue. Distributing the focal-point across the entire field of view leaves you with the sharpest image. Very few binoculars do this.

The objective lenses of the Swarovski EL 8.5×42 are high definition. The extra-low dispersion or ED glass in the lens contains fluoride that reduces light dispersion. Light dispersion causes chromatic aberrations or color fringing, where the colors do not combine as they should due to improper refraction. These elite lenses give clarity and sharpness worthy of the price. The binoculars are fully coated with their patented coatings. The coating is a multilayered mixture designed to reduce wide-band reflection significantly. They have an outstanding prism, coated with phase coating which is highly reflective. They are completely waterproof and fog proof as they should be. When using the binoculars, the wide field of view is 399 feet at 1,000 yards. This is a nice sweet spot, along with a 4.9 ft minimum focal distance for up-close viewing.

Swarovski 8.5x42 EL Binocular with FieldPro Package, Green
31 Reviews
Swarovski 8.5x42 EL Binocular with FieldPro Package, Green
  • This item includes Swarovski optic EL 8 5x42 binocular - field bag - Eyepiece cover - Objective Lens cover - lift carrying strap - Swarovski optic Lifetime limited for optics - Swarovski optic 10 year for other parts
  • Magnification 8 5x
  • Effective objective lens diameter 42mm
  • Exit pupil Diameter 4 9mm
  • Exit pupil Distance (eye relief) 20mm

22. Zeiss Victory SF 8×42

Top of The Line Category. The second pair of binoculars we chose for our top of the line category is the Zeiss Victory SF 8×42. Let me start with the balance and weight distribution of these binos. They have a unique feel when you bring them up to your eyes for viewing. They created what they call an ErgoBalance concept. This concept is where the most substantial weight of the body is back towards your eyes, and the section of the body that is furthest from your eyes is lighter. It is one of the things that stands apart with the Zeiss brand, and people who are loyal fans love how they feel. The idea is that it keeps them perfectly balanced in your hands, which minimizes fatigue and enables a more extended, steady observation. Owners of the Zeiss Victory SF 8×42 are passionate, and with good reason.

The optics are outstanding and are what moves the binoculars into a premium category, valued well over $2,000. If you wanted the most fabulous birding experience possible, using a set of these high-quality binos will get you there. They have a wide field of view of 148m (486 ft) at 1,000m. The optics are brilliant coming from a company that has been producing them for over 125 years. They are true craftsmen in the field. The seven lens eyepiece leads to an incredibly sharp focus across the entire diameter.

Their Ultra-FL Concept is the secret sauce behind their SCHOTT fluoride glasses. They have an astonishing 92% light transmission, leading to fantastic color fidelity, brightness, and clarity. Even the most delicate details pop alive with these lenses. They finish the recipe for success, with a Zeiss T* coating to give high contrast images even in less than ideal light conditions, including twilight.

The Zeiss SmartFocus design is an intuitive, ergonomically aligned focus wheel, that is precise, yet easy to use. It just feels right in your hand, and your finger slides effortlessly from the grip to the focus wheel.

Let’s face it unless you live in San Diego; the weather is not always going to be perfect. Nature doesn’t stop because the sun goes into hiding. With a clear view from the LotuTec coating on the lenses, nothing is going to stop you from having a clear, unhindered view. No need to sing the Milli Vanilli song, “Blame it on the rain.”

Here are some final specs on the Zeiss Victory SF 8×42 binoculars. The close focusing distance comes in at 4.9 feet. The diopter adjustment, to compensate for any difference between your eyes, has a range from -4.0 to +4.0. The prism system is the distinguished Schmidt-Pechan. Nitrogen creates a fog proof and waterproof system. They are a little longer than the Swarovski EL binoculars, measuring in at 6.8″. They are pretty light, weighing in at 27.8 ounces. The Zeiss Victory SF is another excellent, top of the line pair of binoculars.

Zeiss 8x42 Victory SF Binocular with LotuTec Protective Coating (Black)
7 Reviews
Zeiss 8x42 Victory SF Binocular with LotuTec Protective Coating (Black)
  • Extra low-dispersion fluoride glass
  • Compact Schmidt-penchant prisms
  • T* and LotuTec fully multi-coated Optics
  • Wide-angle 64 field of view
  • Smart focus fast-focus system

23. Leica Noctivid 8×42

Top of The Line Category. Next up in our review for the top of the line binoculars is the spectacular Leica Noctivid 8×42. There are a few things that all the elite binoculars have in common. One characteristic in common is the makers of these fine instruments have been around for a significant amount of time. What we know as the Leica company today, was previously named the Leitz Company before 1986. The name change was a result of the famous Leica band within the Leitz company. Everything started in 1849 with Carl Kellner starting the “Optisches Institut” (Optical Institute). There is an excellent timeline, and interesting history at https://leica.pt/leica-a-history-of-success/?lang=en, which I highly recommend reading. According to the company timeline, 1907 is the year binocular production began. They have improved tremendously since then and now find themselves listed as some of the best in the world.

Let’s start with the name. As it implies, the Noctivid has an amazing low light optical system. They are bright and brilliant well into dusk with their 92% light transmission. They have the sharpest and most vibrant contrast as a result of the Schott HT glass used for the prisms. Leica uses a unique high-temperature plasma process when applying the coatings, preventing reflection. These improvements lead to the whole visible spectrum of light transmitting through the binoculars, which is incredible. The color is extraordinary and close to color neutrality (meaning no loss of color).

The field of view on these binoculars is 443 feet at 1,000 yards. The close focus is 6.2 feet. Both of these values are a little higher than most of the other binoculars in this category. The eye relief is 19mm.

Another characteristic of ultra high-quality binoculars is the edge to edge sharpness across the lenses. On lower-quality binos, you have focused sharpness in the center of the view, but as you move toward the sides, you have distorted quality. The Leica Noctivid 8×42 does not suffer from degradation of excellence and is on the same playing field as Zeiss and Swarovski.

The Leica Noctivid is slightly heavier than some of the other models in this category. It is only by an ounce or so, and I doubt you would notice the difference. The total length comes in at less than 6″ (5.9). The length makes them a little more compact than the others. The Leica Noctivid has an open hinge design.

Leica Noctivid 8x42 Green Binocular 40386
1 Reviews
Leica Noctivid 8x42 Green Binocular 40386
  • Leica Noctuid 8x42 Green Binocular 40386

24. Leica Ultravid HD 8×42

Top of The Line Category. The Leica Ultravid HD 8×42 is the second pair of Leica binoculars in our top of line category. Let’s face it, they make some fantastic binos, and both sets (Noctivid and Ultravid) deserve their places in the top 5. They are not a set that most people would choose on a whim, but more so after much consideration. This category is like deciding between a Bugatti and a McLaren, after all.

What we see in the Ultravid HD 8×42 is an evolution of the original Leica Ultravid. Leica has continued to refine the quality and enhancements to make them even better. They added technology and changed some of the materials so that the optic would give increased brightness and clear images. The clarity extends across the entire field of view from edge to edge. You know when a pair of binoculars gives you enhanced contrast and near true color fidelity, with almost no distortion, you have something special. While not quite as impressive as the Noctivid in twilight conditions, they are still superior to most.

The Ultravid 8×42 feature SCHOTT HT glass with phase-corrected roof prisms. The phase-correction process utilized by Leica on the Roof Prism help the brightness of the image. When you invest this much in a superior product, you want it to last for a very long time. Leica uses a scratch and abrasion resistant HDC (high durable coating) on the lenses. They also use hydrophobic AquaDura coating on the outer lens for additional protection of the glass surface. It also causes water and natural oils to bead off the lenses, giving more exact images even in bad weather. For the roof prism coating, they use a proprietary P40 High Lux System. Using a high-temperature plasma lens coating gives them an exact optical coating placement. In turn, you end up with a much reduced chromatic aberration, so the color is not fringed.

The eyecups are twist-out click-and-stop to give you comfortable use and adjustment. The optics include a -4 to +4 right-eye dioptric correction to compensate for any difference in your eyes. When you dig into some of the other specs of these binoculars, the actual angle of view is 7.4 degrees. The field of view is 389 feet at 1,000 compared to well over 400 for the Noctivid model. The minimum distance focus of 9.84 feet is further on these than most of the other models. The eye relief of 15.5 is a bit shorter as well, but that is proportionally correct. Especially considering they are slightly shorter than some of the other models, making them a bit compact. The total dimensions of the body are 5.6 x 4.8 x 2.6.

The binoculars are fog proof and waterproof, using nitrogen to fill and seal them. They weigh in at 27.9 ounces, which is pretty light. The body is made from a die-cast magnesium alloy for incredible durability and strength. Unlike some of the other top of the line binoculars, this set does not have an open hinged design, which some people may prefer as they feel more solid as a unit in your hands. Overall the Leica Altravid HD Plus 8×42 is an excellent pair of binoculars. You should seriously consider them if you are looking for the cream of the crop.

Leica Ultravid HD-PLUS Binocular 8x 42mm Roof Prism Black
  • Ultimate low-light performance
  • 15.5mm eye relief
  • Waterproof and fogproof
  • 9.8ft close focus
  • 5.2mm exit pupil

25. Swarovski Swarovision 8×32

Top of The Line Category. We finish up our review of the best top of the line binoculars with the Swarovski EL 8×32. This set of binos is the only 8×32 pair of binos to make this category.

Lightweight and Compact

The Swarovski EL 8×32 is much smaller than the others in this category. If you are looking for the best compact binoculars on the market, this is the pair you want. They are incredibly light, weighing in at just 21 ounces. The body dimensions are 5.3in length x 5.0in width x 2.2in height. It makes them very easy to wrap your hands around and light to carry. If you have smaller hands, this is the pair for you. They have a wrap-around grip with an open hinge design, similar to their big brother, the Swarovski EL 8×42, which are the top pick in this category. The texture of the magnesium alloy body makes them feel secure in your hand.

The technology used in the Swarovski 8×32 along with their precision manufacturing process leads to a state of the art viewing. The result of these quality standards is a razor-sharp, high-contrast image. The color fidelity is one of the best on the market. Swarovski prides themselves on their quality control and quality management systems, including ISO 9001 and ISO 14001. These binos perform with complete reliability from -4 degrees f to +131 degrees f. As a side note, please don’t invite me along for your birding adventures if the temperatures will be that extreme.

They are proud of their Swarovision technology, and it’s unprecedented peripheral clarity. The effect of this is a flattened image with sustained definition across the entire lens, and not just the center. The fluoride infused high definition lenses minimizes any color fringing and maximized near true color fidelity. Fluoride-containing lenses reduce scatter, which is an advantage in eliminating color aberrations.

No need to worry if you wear glasses as they have considerable eye relief at 20mm, providing a full field of view.

To round out our review, here are a few specs. The field of view is 423 feet at 1000 yards with an 8x magnification, which makes for a nice steady viewing picture without a lot of jumping around. The shortest focusing distance is a respectable 6.2 feet for those up-close shots. They have diopter compensation that will adjust +/-4. The light transmission for the Swarovski EL 8×32 is 90%. While this is lower than the 92% of the EL 8×42 model, it is still top-performing. As we noted previously, if you are looking for the highest quality binoculars with a more compact design, this pair is a great choice.

Swarovski EL 8x32 Binoculars (Green)
31 Reviews
Swarovski EL 8x32 Binoculars (Green)
  • Swarovski Optik EL 8x32 Binocular - Field Bag - Eyepiece Cover - Objective Lens Cover - Lift Carrying Strap - Swarovski Optik Lifetime Limited for Optics - Swarovski Optik 10 Year for Other Parts
  • Magnification: 8x
  • Effective objective lens diameter: 32mm
  • Exit pupil Diameter: 4mm
  • Exit pupil Distance (eye relief): 20mm

Budget Binoculars for Birding Category

Don’t let the title budget category fool you. While more expensive binoculars give greater clarity, vibrancy in color, and better sight in low light, it is all relative. You can still find a good pair of binoculars at a reasonable price to start.

Budget Birding Binoculars Comparison Table

Nikon 8x42 ProStaff 3S Binoculars (Black)
Top Pick
Celestron – Nature DX 8x42 Binoculars – Outdoor and Birding Binocular – Fully Multi-coated with BaK-4 Prisms – Rubber Armored – Fog & Waterproof Binoculars – Top Pick Optics
Budget Friendly
Athlon Optics Neos 8x42 Binoculars great for Bird Watching and any Outdoor Activity. Excellent color clarity and crisp brightness both up close and far away. Waterproof.
Opticron Oregon 4 PC 8x32 Binocular
Leupold BX-1 Yosemite Binocular, 10x30mm (172707)
Rating
Reviews
137 Reviews
985 Reviews
15 Reviews
2 Reviews
33 Reviews
Price
$116.95
$99.99
$82.71
$158.53
$119.99
Nikon 8x42 ProStaff 3S Binoculars (Black)
Rating
Reviews
137 Reviews
Price
$116.95
Top Pick
Celestron – Nature DX 8x42 Binoculars – Outdoor and Birding Binocular – Fully Multi-coated with BaK-4 Prisms – Rubber Armored – Fog & Waterproof Binoculars – Top Pick Optics
Rating
Reviews
985 Reviews
Price
$99.99
Budget Friendly
Athlon Optics Neos 8x42 Binoculars great for Bird Watching and any Outdoor Activity. Excellent color clarity and crisp brightness both up close and far away. Waterproof.
Binoculars
Rating
Reviews
15 Reviews
Price
$82.71
Opticron Oregon 4 PC 8x32 Binocular
Rating
Reviews
2 Reviews
Price
$158.53
Leupold BX-1 Yosemite Binocular, 10x30mm (172707)
Rating
Reviews
33 Reviews
Price
$119.99

Entry Level Binoculars For Birding Category

Our entry-level category of binoculars is a solid place to start your birding adventure. The binoculars we listed in our budget category will get your foot in the door, but our entry-level category of binoculars work for those a little more serious than the occasional bird-watching outing. You will not be disappointed with the binoculars we assessed. They all made the grade and are worth checking out.

Entry Level Binoculars For Birding Comparison Table

Celestron Trailseeker ED 8x42 Binoculars
Top Pick
Nikon 7576 MONARCH 5 8x42 Binocular (Black)
Vortex Optics Diamondback HD 8x42 Binoculars
Nikon 16002 PROSTAFF 7S 8x42 Inches All-Terrain Binocular (Black)
Budget Friendly
Wingspan Optics Phoenix Ultra HD - 8X42 Bird Watching Binoculars with ED Glass. Exclusively for Enhanced Bird Watching with ED Glass, Phase Coating, Close Focus, and 393 Ft Extra-Wide Field of View.
Rating
Reviews
216 Reviews
853 Reviews
297 Reviews
158 Reviews
636 Reviews
Price
Price not available
$276.95
$218.00
$166.95
Price not available
Celestron Trailseeker ED 8x42 Binoculars
Rating
Reviews
216 Reviews
Price
Price not available
Top Pick
Nikon 7576 MONARCH 5 8x42 Binocular (Black)
Rating
Reviews
853 Reviews
Price
$276.95
Vortex Optics Diamondback HD 8x42 Binoculars
Rating
Reviews
297 Reviews
Price
$218.00
Nikon 16002 PROSTAFF 7S 8x42 Inches All-Terrain Binocular (Black)
Rating
Reviews
158 Reviews
Price
$166.95
Budget Friendly
Wingspan Optics Phoenix Ultra HD - 8X42 Bird Watching Binoculars with ED Glass. Exclusively for Enhanced Bird Watching with ED Glass, Phase Coating, Close Focus, and 393 Ft Extra-Wide Field of View.
Rating
Reviews
636 Reviews
Price
Price not available

Mid-Range Binoculars For Birding Category

Our mid-level category of binoculars is the sweet spot in the middle of all our binoculars. It is the midpoint from a pricing standpoint, so if you have a slightly larger budget than what you would need for an entry levels pair of binoculars, but are not looking to go all out for some of the higher-priced luxury models, this is the category for you.

Mid-Range Binoculars For Birding Comparison Table

Best Value
ZEISS Terra ED Binocular 8x42 Black
Feature Rich
Nikon 7548 MONARCH 7 8x42 Binocular (Black)
Vortex Optics Viper HD Roof Prism Binoculars 8x42
Top Pick
Leica Camera Co. 8x42 Trinovid HD Binoculars
VANGUARD Endeavor ED IV 8x42 Binocular, Premium Hoya ED Glass, SK-15 Prisms, Waterproof/Fogproof
Rating
Reviews
24 Reviews
231 Reviews
20 Reviews
22 Reviews
9 Reviews
Price
$413.95
$476.95
$489.00
$949.00
$333.48
Best Value
ZEISS Terra ED Binocular 8x42 Black
Rating
Reviews
24 Reviews
Price
$413.95
Feature Rich
Nikon 7548 MONARCH 7 8x42 Binocular (Black)
Rating
Reviews
231 Reviews
Price
$476.95
Vortex Optics Viper HD Roof Prism Binoculars 8x42
Rating
Reviews
20 Reviews
Price
$489.00
Top Pick
Leica Camera Co. 8x42 Trinovid HD Binoculars
Rating
Reviews
22 Reviews
Price
$949.00
VANGUARD Endeavor ED IV 8x42 Binocular, Premium Hoya ED Glass, SK-15 Prisms, Waterproof/Fogproof
Rating
Reviews
9 Reviews
Price
$333.48

High-Mid Range Binoculars For Birding Category

As we move into our high-mid range binocular category, understand that we are starting to get into the higher end of binoculars from a price standpoint. The items in this category fall in the $1,000 to $1,999 price range. We include this category for those that are serious bird watching enthusiasts, professionals, or those that have disposable income allowing them to get a premium pair of binoculars. It is great if you can afford the items in this category, but understand it is not necessary to spend at this level to get into and start enjoying birding.

If you were to think of bird watching binoculars in terms of cars, the most popular and best selling car in the United States for 2019 was the Toyota Camry. The average selling price for the Camry is in the mid to high $20,000 range. A Toyota Supra starts at $50,000 and a Toyota Land Cruiser starts at more than $86,000. Most bird watchers spend at what would be the equivalent of the Toyota Camry. The items in this category would be like the Toyota Supra, incredibly nice but they come at a cost. At the same time, they are still less expensive than the next category which is the top of the line.

High-Mid 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
8 Reviews
60 Reviews
7 Reviews
-
-
Price
$1,449.00
$884.95
$1,549.00
$1,299.00
$999.99
Top Pick
Vortex Optics Razor UHD Binoculars 8x42
Ratings
Reviews
8 Reviews
Price
$1,449.00
Zeiss 8x32 Conquest HD Binocular with LotuTec Protective Coating (Black)
Ratings
Reviews
60 Reviews
Price
$884.95
Swarovski SLC 8x42 Waterproof Binoculars with FieldPro Package, Green
Ratings
Reviews
7 Reviews
Price
$1,549.00
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
-
Price
$999.99

Top of The Line Binoculars for Birding Category

Wow, we have finally made it to our last category, the Top of The Line. We know all this information can be overwhelming, but to provide a complete picture of the best binoculars, we felt it was important to break the binoculars down by price category and then give you a survey of the 5 we selected for each category.

The top of the line binocular category represents exactly that, “the top of the line”. These are the best of the best, and they come at a dear price. While this category is not for the vast majority of bird watchers, for those looking for superior quality, these reviews are for you.

Let’s take a look at the best binoculars money can buy for bird watching.

Top Of The Line Binoculars for Birding Comparison Table

Top Choice
Swarovski 8.5x42 EL Binocular with FieldPro Package, Green
Zeiss 8x42 Victory SF Binocular with LotuTec Protective Coating (Black)
Leica Noctivid 8x42 Green Binocular 40386
Best Value
Leica Ultravid HD-PLUS Binocular 8x 42mm Roof Prism Black
Swarovski EL 8x32 Binoculars (Green)
Rating
-
Reviews
31 Reviews
7 Reviews
1 Reviews
-
31 Reviews
Price
$2,659.00
$2,699.99
$2,399.00
$2,249.00
$2,199.00
Top Choice
Swarovski 8.5x42 EL Binocular with FieldPro Package, Green
Rating
Reviews
31 Reviews
Price
$2,659.00
Zeiss 8x42 Victory SF Binocular with LotuTec Protective Coating (Black)
Rating
Reviews
7 Reviews
Price
$2,699.99
Leica Noctivid 8x42 Green Binocular 40386
Rating
Reviews
1 Reviews
Price
$2,399.00
Best Value
Leica Ultravid HD-PLUS Binocular 8x 42mm Roof Prism Black
Rating
-
Reviews
-
Price
$2,249.00
Swarovski EL 8x32 Binoculars (Green)
Rating
Reviews
31 Reviews
Price
$2,199.00

Back to Bird Watching

Thank you for checking out our review of the best binoculars for bird watching. We hope this has been helpful in guiding you to the perfect pair of binoculars to meet your personal needs.

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