While the jury might be split as to the favorite bird species among you and other bird-watching hobbyists, there’s a general consensus about some of the best birding binoculars out there that can make engaging in your hobby more enjoyable. To evaluate which binoculars are right for you so you can get even more delight out of communing with nature among your feathered friends, some fundamental questions must be answered. These questions lay down the basic properties that birding binoculars need to possess to serve you best:
- In what conditions will you use the binoculars?
- Do you wear glasses?
- How much weight can you comfortably carry?
- What image quality are you looking for?
- How much are you willing to spend?
Some of these properties work against one another; the sharper the image, the heavier the binoculars become. Good birding lenses should be equipped to function well in light rain and humid conditions and prevent the entry of moisture, dust, or debris while you’re outside. They should also be fog-proof. Replacing the inside air with nitrogen prevents fogging of the inner lenses, which can occur when you get rapid temperature changes.
|First Choice||Carson 3D Series High Definition Binoculars with ED Glass, 10x42mm, Black||$$$||4.8/5|
|Second Choice||Zeiss Conquest HD Binoculars 10x42||$$$||4.6/5|
|Third Choice||Nikon 7549 MONARCH 7 10x42 Binocular (Black)||$$$||4.3/5|
|Fourth Choice||Nikon 7567 10x42 EDG Binocular (Black)||$$$||3.2/5|
Users who wear glasses often complain about problems seeing through their binoculars because they can’t get their eyes close enough to the eyecups. Most binoculars maintain a certain distance between the lenses and your eyes, which is known as eye relief. People with glasses can’t move their eyes as close to the lenses, and this can distort your vision through the binoculars. For bird watching, the ideal binoculars should have eye relief higher than 15mm so you can adjust the lenses whether you’re wearing glasses or contacts. Good binoculars shouldn’t weigh much, either.
For binoculars to work well during bird watching, they should have a relatively high-definition view. You’re trying to get close to the bird to distinguish as much detail as possible, so you need good magnification. In addition, to spot birds effectively, a wide field of view is necessary. Say that you see a bird high up in a tree and quickly bring your binoculars up to your eyes. If you have a bigger field of view, you have a better chance that your aim will be correct and that you’ll be able to find the bird right away without having to search around for it. For bird watching, binoculars should also be easy to focus. Maneuvering the focus wheel should be as simple and fast as possible so you don’t lose sight of a speedy bird.
The Nikon EDG is one of the best binoculars that modern technology and engineering can offer; however, they cost $2500. Features include:
- Extra-low dispersion glass lenses with dielectric high-reflective multi-layer prism coatings for durability and clear, crisp imaging
- Dry-nitrogen filled for waterproofing and fog-proofing
- Magnesium-alloy body to increase durability and reduce weight
- Long eye relief at 18mm
- 25-year no-fault warranty
- Provide super-clear images even in very low light conditions
- Eye relief is easy to adjust
- Great for wearers with glasses
- Eye relief can sometimes stop working properly and adjusting evenly
Overall, these are some of the best birding binoculars that money can buy. Of course, coming up with that money might be the problem. These are certainly not budget-friendly, but if you plan on taking your bird watching to a much more serious level, these will definitely serve you well.
The Zeiss Conquest HD is available for about $800. Features include
- Compact, lightweight, and ergonomic design
- Rotating, lockable eyecups
- 75-pound weight
- LotuTec water-shedding outer coatings for all-weather use
- Fully armored and waterproof
- Amazing image clarity up to a mile away
- Build feels very solid
- Outstanding depth of field
- Work well for people who wear glasses (and those who don’t)
- The lenses can easily be scratched, even with small movements
- Still relatively expensive
Most customers were extremely satisfied with this purchase and were most impressed by the overall image clarity. You need to be a little careful with them, despite their great durability, because the lens caps can have issues that cause scratches and other problems. For the most part, these function every bit as well as the more expensive Nikon EDGs, making them much better value for the money.
The Nikon Monarch 7 is in a more feasible price range at about $500. Features include:
- Exceptionally wide field of view that makes it easy to find your subject
- Dielectric High-Reflective prism coating is applied to the lenses to provide high-contrast images and accurate color reproduction
- Durable rubber-armored coating
- 3-pound weight
- Compact at 5.7 x 5.1 inches
- Perfectly portable size for birding
- Very ergonomic and light
- Great clarity for spotting birds in motion
- The eyecups are aren’t very soft and they don’t work well for people who wear glasses
These Monarch 7s are a great, lower-cost pair of birding binoculars that can rival much more expensive pairs in higher-end price brackets. The optics are definitely excellent. Where the problems arise is with the level of protection these have. You need to be a bit more careful in handling them because the lens caps have a tendency to dislodge, and scratches can accumulate even when you don’t think you’re being rough with these at all.
Carson’s 3D series 10×42 version binoculars cost about $265. Features include:
- ED glass for sharp, bright images
- Rubberized armor coating
- Waterproof and fog-proof
- 314-foot field of view and 16mm eye relief
- Comes with BinoArmor deluxe carrying case, neck strap, shoulder harness and lens-cleaning cloth
- Available in black or camouflage coloring
- Excellent low-light capabilities
- Comfortable eyecups
- Very sensitive focus wheel is easy to adjust
- Great for beginners
- Doesn’t come with lens caps for protection
- Eyecups don’t adjust
For the price, it might be hard to find a more satisfactory pair of birding binoculars. These work well in just about any conditions, whether you’re looking for birds in misty dusk or full sunlight on a hot day, thanks to the great light dispersion from the glass coating and nitrogen purging. These are also great in terms of convenience with the extra accessories that come along with them; while you might not need the shoulder harness because these are so light at 1.4 pounds, it’s nice to know you have the option available.
We have provided a short video below that features the Carson 3D Binoculars. It will further add some information about the whole concept and features of the product.
There are various sizes available of this amazing birding binoculars. You can choose the range and size that fits your desired preference.
At the end of the day, what makes the best binoculars your ideal pair depends on your needs. With that said, however, if you have the budget, the Nikon Monarch 7s provide close to the top functioning that today’s technology can offer. These are pretty expensive, however, so they probably won’t suit the budgets of many beginners. Save up for these until you become a serious birder and turn your focus to the Carson model. They represent great value for the money, and while they’re not the be-all, end-all model for pro-level bird watchers, they’re nicely suited for beginners and intermediate-level users. In last place are the Zeiss Conquest binoculars simply because of the price. If you want to invest in a great set that will last years, these won’t disappoint you. They’re just not affordable for the majority of the population, however.