The Best Binoculars to buy for Bird Watching

In all the many years I have been bird watching (aka a Birder), I have realized that without a doubt the most important piece of equipment you will need is a GREAT pair of binoculars – also called Binocs / Bino’s.

In this article I will give you some ideas on the best binoculars to buy for bird watching, as well as tips on getting the best out of them.


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For bird watching, not an OK pair or even a good pair is sufficient, but the best possible binoculars you can afford to buy will go a long way in ensuring you never need to buy another one and will make your bird watching that much more enjoyable.

I will be doing a short series on “Bird Watching for Beginners” in the near future, but I wanted to start off with helping you choose a great pair of Binocs, so that you get to start your birding on the right footing.

For those of you who have been birding for a while and are just looking for a great pair of bird watching binoculars, then this post will have something for you too.

Firstly, for the beginners, maybe I should explain some of the components you should be looking at when buying binoculars.

Main Features

These are the main components to consider: –

Comfort
    • The first and foremost factor that you need to consider before buying binoculars is the kind of comfort level that it offers.
      They have to be comfortable in your grip and against your eyes
    • ensure that the binoculars are not too heavy to handle and don’t put a strain on your eyes.
    • A neck strap is also important.
Different Sized Binoculars
Bino’s come in different sizes for different uses
Magnification
    • You will need at least an 8x magnification. With an objective lens size
      of no less than 40, for ex. 8×42.
    • You can also look at a 10×42 or 10×50 option, which has a much larger perspective, but are heavier to carry around.
image Quality
    • This is arguably the most important feature of any binocular
    • It often (but not always) depends on price.
    • Brightness – the more light allowed in through the lenses the better
    • Clarity – the ability to see detailsthrough crisp clear lenses

Secondary features

Some other points to take into consideration are: –

Durability
    • I find the rubberized bodies seem to last longer than the hard plastic types
Eye-Piece
    • This actually ties in with comfort and durability
    • The rubber (funnel shaped) eye-pieces tend to weather over time
    • The screw-in eye-pieces need to have a solid thread so they don’t pop out
Central Focus Wheel
    • This needs to be well located within easy reach of your fingers and be easily adjustable for quick focusing
Diopter Focus Adjustment
    • The diopter is often part of the right-hand eyepiece on a binocular. The purpose of the diopter is to compensate for the differences between
      your two eyes, because no two eyes are the same or have the same ability to focus.
    • Having a locking mechanism is a nice feature but not essential.

Now before I get to my suggestions for the  best binoculars, maybe I should just give you some input on how to FOCUS them if you’re still a beginner. If you know what you’re doing, then skip this part and check out the best buy recommendations below.

Kids Birding
It’s never too you to start birding

How to Focus your Binoculars

Do you wear glasses or do you have 20/20 vision?

    • Adjust the eye cups accordingly
    • Collapsed/down if you wear glasses and
    • Out/extended if you do not wear glasses

Always hold the binoculars in both hands for stability

Adjust the distance between the two barrels of the binocs

    • Must fit snugly into your eye sockets
    • Too far apart or too close together and you will see black edges in your field of view.

Now find something to focus on

    • Such as branch with a bright green leaf, a sign with writing on it or any other small object that is easily visible
    • Focus with both eyes open by turning the central focus wheel.

Time for the fine focusing

    • Close your right eye and, using only your left eye, adjust the focus wheel.

Really fine tune your focusing

    • Close your left eye and, using the diopter adjustment on the (usually) right eyepiece, bring your view into sharp focus, by turning it slowly to a point where you find the most clarity

How clear is your field of vision?

    • Open both eyes and see if your focus is crystal clear.
    • If the image is not clearly focused: –
      • Just wait a short while until your closed right eye has time to adjust to the light again and/or
      • Repeat the above steps, making small adjustments using one focus wheel or the other.

The Best Binoculars to buy for Bird Watching

Now that we have taken care of all small details, lets get onto the fun part of looking at and buying binoculars

Below is a selection of binoculars that I have had the privilege to use in my life (not always the exact same model, but the same brands). The recommendations I am making here are based on the following factors: –

    1. Quality
    2. Precision
    3. Durability
    4. Comfort
    5. Budget – wide ranging

Every binocular listed below is of excellence in all the above categories. You cannot go wrong with any of them. It all depends on your budget. I suggest reading the reviews of each product if you have any doubts.

My Top 5 Binoculars for Birding are : –

Swarovski Optik EL Swarovision Binocular, 10×42 mm

Swarovski SLC 8×42 Waterproof Binoculars with FieldPro Package, Green

Leica Noctivid 8×42 Green Binocular 40386

Carl Zeiss Conquest HD 10X42 Jumelles Portée 115 m

Vortex Optics Viper HD Roof Prism Binoculars 10×42  (my current pair and best value for money if you’re on a budget)

Here’s wishing you all the best and good luck in sourcing the best binoculars for bird watching…..for you.

If you have any questions then please leave the in the comments section below.

Good luck!!

Warm regards,

Matt

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