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The 10 Best Binoculars For Bird Watching [2024]

Birdwatching Binoculars

Which are the best binoculars for bird watching? Whether just starting with birding or having watched birds for decades, few questions are more important than this one!

Birding might be one of the easiest hobbies on the planet, but spotting birds with the naked eye isn’t always the best option. This is where binoculars join the game. But with so many available, which ones to pick? Binoculars with better lighting? Higher magnification? Maybe their weight?

See this article to learn about several types of binoculars and how to pick the best optics for your birding needs.

 


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Athlon Optics Midas Binoculars

Athlon Optics 8x42 Midas UHD Gray Binoculars with ED Glass for Adults and Kids, High-Powered Binoculars for Hunting, Birdwatching, and More

Magnification: 8 times
Lens Diameter: 42 millimeters
Weight: 1.45 pounds

The Athlon Optics Midas 8×42 binocular is a compact, roof prism binocular with a lightweight but durable magnesium body. Their textured rubber armor makes these binoculars easy to hold in rain and snowy weather.

They also have adjustable eye cups, a wide field of view, a close focus of 6 feet, and protective lens coatings that help protect them from scratches. These factors make these tough little binoculars a great choice for kids and birding in lots of challenging weather conditions.

They also work well in different lighting conditions, offering you clear views.

Related: Best Gifts For Bird Lovers

Thanks to bright images generated by lens coatings and high-quality glass, they’ll still work very well in the backyard and in all types of forests. Their size, weight, and fog-proof nature also make them well-suited for travel and birdwatching in wet, tropical places.

Although they might cost a bit more than some other starter optics, based on the quality of the lenses and ease of use, these are the best birding binoculars based on their quality.

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NIKON Monarch M5 8×42

Nikon Monarch M5 8x42 Binocular | Waterproof, fogproof, Rubber-Armored Binocular with ED Glass, Long Eye Relief, Limited Official Nikon USA Model

Magnification: 8 times
Lens Diameter: 42 millimeters
Weight: 1.39 pounds

The Nikon Monarch M5 8×42 is a waterproof, roof prism binocular with an easy focus knob. The 8 times magnification is ideal for birding in woodlands, backyards, fields, and other places. Although stronger magnification might be better for scanning the high canopy or open ocean, 8 is a good choice.

These bird-watching binoculars also have a pretty close focus of 8.2 feet. Although it might not be ideal for viewing butterflies, it’s fine for birding.

Related: How To Choose Binoculars For Bird Watching

As with other roof prism binoculars, these Nikons have a compact, travel-friendly design and also feature adjustable eye cups for comfortable viewing.

This pair of binoculars is small enough to fit in your hand, but more importantly, these still have big lens diameters that generate bright, clear images with no distortion.

Special lens coatings also improve image resolution and make sure you are seeing a bird’s true colors. They are easy on the eyes, helping with eye relief.

These are quality binoculars for birders of all levels, making them the best binoculars for bird watching. They might cost more than other “starter” binoculars but are much cheaper than some brands.

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GLLYSION 12X50 Professional HD Binoculars

12X50 Professional HD Binoculars for Adults with Phone Adapter, High Power Binoculars with BaK4 prisms, Super Bright Lightweight & Waterproof Binoculars Perfect for Bird Watching, Hunting, Stargazing

Magnification: 12 times
Lens Diameter: 50 millimeters
Weight: 1 pound

The Gllysion 12×50 Professional HD binoculars are roof prism binoculars with long barrels, an easy focus wheel, and adjustable eyecups. Unlike other high-magnification binoculars, these Gllysions are surprisingly small and compact.

Weighing around a pound, they weigh less than most other 12 times magnification binoculars. They also have rubberized armor and come with a phone adaptor.

Although some people have had trouble using the phone adaptor, if you practice using it, these binoculars could help you get close shots of all sorts of birds. Thanks to good BAK-4 prisms and multi-coated lenses, they also generate fairly good images.

Given their high magnification, they won’t work for birds that require close focus and would be a challenge to use inside a forest. However, these Gllysions work fairly well for watching distant birds in open situations. They might be good binoculars to have while scanning the open ocean for seabirds or for other outdoor activities such as hiking.

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Cronyoptics Binoculars for Bird Watching

Professional Binoculars for Bird Watching – Premium Bird Watching Binoculars for Adults - Lightweight Binocular kit for Birding - 10x42 Long Range and High Powered Binoculars

Magnification: 10 times
Lens Diameter: 42 millimeters
Weight: 1.2 pounds

Cronyoptics 10×42 binoculars are compact, lightweight roof prism optics with an easy-to-use focus wheel. They also have rubberized armor and removable eyecups.

In common with other 10 magnification roof prism binoculars, they don’t have an extremely close focus, but at 9 feet, it’s not too bad. These Cronyoptics also use BAK4 lenses to improve light transmission and have some objective lens coatings.

Related: Bird watching for beginners (incl. what to bring)

However, in most conditions, they won’t be nearly as bright as binoculars with better lens coatings, especially 8×42 and 7×42 binoculars. Nor are they waterproof. This means that in rainy and humid conditions, moisture will probably penetrate the binoculars and reduce image quality.

In all honesty, you can’t expect too much for such a low price. However, they should still work well for basic birding in dry conditions. With this in mind, these Cronyoptics are best suited for casual backyard birders and folks just getting started who don’t want to make a big investment in their optics.

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Vortex Optics Triumph HD 10×42 Binoculars

Vortex Optics Triumph HD 10x42 Binoculars - HD Optical System, Fully Multi-Coated Lenses, Rubber Armor, Tripod Adaptable, Waterproof, Fogproof, Shockproof - Unlimited, Unconditional Warranty

Magnification: 10 times
Lens Diameter: 42 Millimeters
Weight: 1.43 pounds

The Vortex Optics Triumph HD 10×42 binocular is a roof prism, 6-inch tall binocular with adjustable eyecups. It has a tough, rubber-coated, polycarbonate body and coated lenses to help with light transmission.

Although these binoculars are bright enough for most birding, in dim conditions, they don’t generate images as bright as most 7×42 and 8×42 binoculars. They’ll still work inside forest, but the 10×42 ratio of magnification to lens diameter just doesn’t let in as much light as the 7×42 and 8×42 ratios.

These Vortex also have a short distance focus of 15 feet. Since that might not be enough for close feeder watching or some forest birding, these binoculars are better for scanning distant birds in fields and other open situations.

However, they are still good, waterproof binoculars with good lenses. Their low price is also hard to beat, especially for a starter pair of birding binoculars.

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Nikon Aculon A211 10×42 Binoculars

Nikon Aculon A211 10x42 Binoculars (8246) Black Bundle with Nikon Lens Pen, Carry Case, Neck Strap, and Lens Cloth - High Powered Binoculars for Adults - Bird Watching, Hunting and Travel Zoom Optics

Magnification: 10 times
Lens Diameter: 42 millimeters
Weight: 2.46 pounds

Nikon Aculon A211 10×42 binoculars are porro prism optics with rubber armor and quick, adjustable eyecups. They also have a smooth focus wheel and use BAK 4 prisms and some lens coatings for a good, fairly bright image.

These binoculars are pretty basic but well-priced and definitely good enough for casual birding. One consideration is the close focus length of 16 feet. See birds closer than that and you won’t be able to focus on them! However, as long as your feeder is more than 16 feet away, these Nikons will work fine.

However, before traveling with them to Ecuador, there are a few important considerations. They are not as durable or lightweight as some other binoculars and are not waterproof. This means that they are not suited for serious birding in rainforests or other humid conditions. However, they are great for outdoor enthusiasts!

Their weight also means that they’ll be a lot more comfortable if worn on a harness.

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Koopool 7×50 HD PORRO Prism Binoculars

7x50 HD PORRO Prism Professional Binoculars for Adults with BAK4 Prism FMC Lens, Waterproof Compact Binoculars for Bird Watching Hunting Travel Stargazing Outdoor with Carrying Case

Magnification: 7 times
Lens Diameter: 50 millimeters
Weight: 3.32 pounds

The Koolpool 7×50 Porro Prism Professional binoculars are classic, fair-sized binoculars with tough, dustproof rubber armor. They also have an easy focus wheel and use BAK 4 prisms for better light transmission.

Their 7 by 50 magnification ratio helps these binoculars generate a good, bright image. Although it won’t be as good as the more expensive optics, some users have been very impressed with the image quality.

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These binoculars for bird watchers can be bulky, but given their nice big field of view, they work well as a good starter pair. The Koolpools might not focus in on the closest birds but are well suited for birding in all sorts of situations.

One drawback could be their hefty weight. However, if you just use them at home or attach them to a harness, that shouldn’t be too much of an issue.

Surprisingly, these binoculars are waterproof and fogproof, a real bonus for such low-cost optics! To make things better, they also come with a comfortable neck strap.

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Best Mini / Budget: POLDR 12X25 Small Pocket Binoculars

POLDR 12X25 Small Pocket Binoculars Compact Adults,Mini Kids Binoculars Boys for Bird Watching,Concert Theater Opera

Magnification: 12 times
Lens Diameter: 25 millimeters
Weight: 5.8 ounces

The POLDR 12×25 Small Pocket binoculars are indeed small. These little roof prism binoculars fit right into the palm of your hand and weigh less than half a pound! Their size makes them well-suited for travel and other situations where optics could be handy or for someone with a smaller grip.

But how are these binoculars for birding? They won’t focus on most close birds and won’t generate images as good as many other, much more costly binoculars. However, they still work much better than many other similar small binoculars.

The 12 times magnification is good for getting views of distant birds, especially in bright and sunny conditions, offering a lot of clarity. Since the POLDR uses BAK4 prisms, they can also work fairly well during dusk and dawn. They also give a wider field of view than most would expect.

Given their size, these are the best binoculars for bird watching, are nice to carry in a purse, and are pretty good for casual birding for adults and kids.

See on Amazon

 

Thunderb Binoculars

Athlon Optics 8x42 Midas UHD Gray Binoculars with ED Glass for Adults and Kids, High-Powered Binoculars for Hunting, Birdwatching, and More

Magnification: 10 times
Lens Diameter: 25 millimeters
Weight: 10.3 ounces

Thunderb binoculars are small, compact, and ergonomic. Their 10 times magnification is good enough to see birds far away, and their lightweight design makes them very suitable for travel.

They are also waterproof and claim to be fogproof; additional factors that make them good for travel and humid habitats. However, these Thunderb binoculars are better suited for casual birding and other situations than serious birdwatching.

Their 25-millimeter lens diameter reduces the amount of light that enters the binoculars, which in turn lowers image quality. With that in mind, it would be tough to use these optics inside the forest or any other low-light condition.

They probably don’t focus well on close birds either and won’t generate as high quality of an image as other binoculars with fully coated lenses and better light-gathering abilities.

This means that the Thrunderb probably isn’t the best binocular for flycatcher identification, but it can still work for easy-going, casual birding, especially for this price. Plus, they can easily be used by kids and are good for areas outside of birding – for example, for sports fans.

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Hontry Binoculars for Adults and Kids

Hontry Binoculars for Adults and Kids, 10x25 Compact Binoculars for Bird Watching, Theater and Concerts, Hunting and Sport Games

Magnification: 10 times
Lens Diameter: 25 millimeters
Weight: .6 pounds

The Hontry 10×25 binoculars are very small and compact binoculars with a nice ergonomic design and an easy-to-use focus wheel. They have coated lenses and are surprisingly bright for their size.

These binoculars aren’t waterproof, nor are they up to par with higher quality (and much more expensive) optics. However, for their low price, they deliver a pretty good image. They probably won’t focus on close birds and won’t provide the best looks in low-light conditions, but they still work alright in other situations.

As far as advantages go, these Hontry optics are very easy to use, super easy for travel, and only weigh a bit more than a phone!

These attributes make them versatile, but they aren’t really suited for serious birding.

That said, these 10×25 binoculars will work fine for all sorts of casual birding, views of feeder birds, and general, non-birding use, such as sporting events and looking at wildlife. They are the best bird-watching binoculars for kids, at least in this price range.

See on Amazon

 

What To Keep In Mind

Choosing binoculars is an essential part of birding. Try these tips to pick the right optics for your birding needs!

  • Get binoculars with good light-gathering capabilities In general, the higher the second number related to the first, the brighter the image. For example, a 7×42 binocular can be much brighter than a 10×42.
  • What are your birding needs? If you are a serious birder, you should invest in high-quality or high-end binoculars built to last. If your birding is much more casual, good, lower-priced ones will work.
  • Weight, waterproof, and other considerations. Once again, think about how you watch birds to see which binocular fits your needs.

Learn more – 6 things to keep in mind when choosing binoculars

 

Best Binoculars For Bird Watching: Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between cheap and expensive binoculars?

The difference between cheap and expensive binoculars is warranty, durability, and quality of the optics.

What magnification is best for bird watching?

The best magnification for bird watching is 8 times. Although 7 and 10 magnification also work, 8 is more versatile. Lower magnification helps you see objects closer to you more clearly, while higher magnifications help you see objects further away.

Is 8×42 or 10×42 better for birding?

8×42 is better for overall birding, while 10×42 is better for watching distant birds in open areas and tall canopies. The first number stands for how many times objects get magnified.

About the Author

Patrick O'Donnell

Patrick O'Donnell has been focused on all things avian since the age of 7. Since then, he has helped with ornithological field work in the USA and Peru, and has guided many birding tours, especially in Costa Rica. He develops birding apps for BirdingFieldGuides and loves to write about birds, especially in his adopted country of Costa Rica.

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