5 Best Binoculars of 2016 Revealed|Reviews and Top Picks
There are many factors to consider when buying a top rated binocular. I am The Binoculars Guy (my wife calls me Owen). My aim is to help you buy the absolute best binoculars to suit your needs.
The web is full of binocular reviews from people who are knowledgeable. Unfortunately there are also some who are not so knowledgeable. Rest assured, I have done hours upon hours of research so you don’t have to.
Your time is valuable. I am here to help you find the perfect set of binoculars. Scroll down to our comparison table, and check the top-rated binoculars.
For those who want to learn more about binoculars, you have come to the right place. You should read the Crucial factors to consider when searching for the right pair of binoculars very closely.
Firstly, let's have a look at our handy comparison table. Super handy if you need to make a quick decision on which is the right binoculars for you.
Binoculars Buying Guide Comparison Table
Use this table if you quickly need to find the top rated binoculars for the money. I can't accurately indicate the price of each binocular, as it varies from day to day. If you are lucky, you might find a nice discount on a certain model.
- Best hunting binocular
- Built to take a beating
Field of View
Best Binoculars under 1000 dollars
If your budget is $1000 for a new binocular, and you want premium quality, the Vortex Razor HD is the binocular to have.
From the moment you first pick these up, you will be in love. These are lightweight, and just feels right in your hands.
It is found in top 10 binoculars lists everywhere, and for good reason. A sturdy, lightweight and compact binoculars, the Razor HD comes with premium extra low dispersion glass and hand selected prisms.
Image sharpness is unparalleled, while the ArmorTek coatings will keep your binos in great shape. Top it off with waterproofing and fogproofing, and there are very few binoculars than can hold a candle with the Razors.
This pair of binos not only keeps up with, it beats most of the top European brands.
For around the $1000 mark, these are a truly exceptional pair of binoculars. I tried mighty hard to find a problem with these, and the only thing I "struggled" with was the diopter settings. Once I had those dialed in, the image was clear and crisp.
On top of this bino being half the price of some European brand, without sacrificing quality, it also comes with an unbeatable warranty. If you are paying this type of money for a binocular, you want to know the manufacturers stand behind their product.
The Vortex VIP warranty is a lifetime no-fault, unlimited warranty that covers your binos for any damage. You don't even need to register your binocular to qualify for the warranty. If your Razors are damaged, just send them in and they will be repaired or replaced at no additional cost to you.
If you prefer to go for a European brand in this price, the Zeiss Conquest HD is an excellent offering from the well-known German optics manufacturer.
For less than half the price of the Victory range also by Zeiss, the Conquest offers unbelievable value for money in a pair of top rated European binoculars.
Best Binoculars under 700 dollars
I am a big fan of Vortex Optics, and while I love the Razor, I also have a soft spot for the Vortex Viper HD. Coming in well under 700 bucks, it offers exceptional value for money when compared to other brands.
I would say that it definitely holds its own against European brands selling for twice the price.
Best Binoculars under 500 dollars
I like the Nikon Monarch 7 8x42 alot at this price range, and if you go for this deal you get some nice accessories included.
If you are looking for the best 10x42 binoculars under 500 dollars, the Zeiss Terra 10x42 is a great lightweight option with crystal clear images. These actually won the best 10x42 binoculars award from Field and Stream in 2014, and with Zeiss being associated with excellent optics, you can't go wrong.
Best Binoculars under 300 dollars
At the sub 300 dollar price range, the quality of optics start to go down just a little. Manufacturers can't afford to use the very best materials, and have to make up for it somehow.
Having said that, there are two options I really like in this price range. The first is the Carson 3D ED (see review here). A binocular with ED glass at less than 300 dollars is an absolute steal. The optics are comparable to more expensive binoculars, and these offer good value for money.
7 Crucial factors to consider when searching for the right binoculars
I could come up with 20 different things to consider before deciding on a set of binoculars. That might bore you to death though, so I narrowed it down to the following 7 crucial factors. I have sorted these in order of importance for your convenience. Magnification and Objective Lens Size are the number 1 and 2 factors. Make sure to consider these when you choose a binocular.
The first factor you should think about, is the magnification of your binoculars. How do you choose the right magnification? Many people make the mistake of thinking that the bigger the magnification, the better the binoculars. That is most definitely not an accurate assumption.
If you are hunting in dense forest, perhaps a 14x or even a 19x would be better for your use. If you will be using the binoculars for watching birds, a magnification of 8x is a better option.
You are the one that knows exactly what you will be using the binocs for. If you are looking for a good all-round binoculars, a 10x magnification should work well for you.
The size of the lens is the objective size. This second part in the typical 10x42 denotation tells us what the objective size is for a binocular. The value 10 refers to the magnification. The 42 refers to the objective size as measured in millimeters(mm).
The bigger the objective size, the bigger your set of binoculars will be. This means that the first thing we consider, is again, how will you be using these?
If you will be travelling with your binoculars, you won't enjoy lugging around a big, heavy set of binos. The smaller the objective size, the more compact the binos.
For travelling purposes, sporting events, or going to the opera, you might lean towards a smaller objective size. If you need a wider field of view, perhaps when hunting, or viewing panoramas, a larger objective size would suit you better.
You must be thinking: "Great, another non-answer!"
If this has left you more confused than when you first got here, you might want to stick with the allrounder of 10x42.
Field of View
The field of view refers to how wide an area is visible through the lens at a certain distance. It is a measurement taken at the 1000 feet mark.
For example, the Vanguard Endeavour 10x42 has an incredible field of view of 374ft. This means that with the Vanguard Endeavour you can see an area 374ft wide at a distance of 1000 yards.
A larger magnification means a smaller field of view. A smaller FOW might not be the right option if you will be viewing fast moving objects at a distance. For example, wildlife viewing and watching sports might be better suited to a wider FOW.
Portability - Size and Weight
Now more than ever, there are an incredible amount of binoculars on the market. They come in every shape and size. It is crucial that you buy a pair that will suit your needs. You don't want to go travelling with a big and bulky pair. You don't want to be stuck with a compact bino with too little magnification when you are out hunting.
As with many of the other factors, you will have to find the perfect balance for your use. Some of the more compact designs, like the Canon 10x30 IS Ultra-Compact weigh in at just 21ounces. The Canon only offers 10x30, while the heavier Vortex Diamondback offers 10x42 magnification.
Is that 3oz important enough to you to sacrifice some magnification? If you are carrying the bino's around in a backpack on a long trip, it might be.
The next crucial factor to consider is the lens coating. I would never go for any binocular that is not multi coated. The general rule is that more coatings on lens is better. These multiple coatings offer a whole bunch of benefits, some of these are:
- Promote superior contrast
- Increase in brightness and clarity
- Enhance light
- Keep images true to colour
- Protects the lenses from scratching
- Makes lenses easier to clean
There you go, 6 reasons to go for multi-coated lenses.
Extra-low dispersion (ED) Glass
For the serious binocular enthusiast, ED or extra-low dispersion glass is a must. Is it a must for the everyday user? Probably not. Think of ED being the HD(high definition) version of binocular glass.
ED glass does vary in quality as there is no industry standard. A bino with good quality ED glass will reduce chromatic abberation.
Chromatic abberation is BIG word. It reduces the difference in wavelength in the image you are viewing. Ever look through a binocular, and see a fuzzy outline to an object? We call this effect CA (chromatic abberation).
Bino's with ED glass will reduce this effect, for a clearer image with better contrast and high resolution colour.
Is ED necessary for all bino users? No, it definitely is not. A good all-round affordable ED glass option is the Vanguard Endeavour 10x42.
The twilight factor refers to image sharpness and image detail in low light conditions. A larger twilight factor will result in a sharper, brighter image in low light conditions.
The picture below shows the difference between a low and high twilight factor bino.
My opinion is that twilight factor does not come into the final decision for most bino users. If you will be using your binocs early in the morning, or late in the afternoon, this could make a big difference.
If you have made it all the way to here, I have to thank you from the bottom of my heart. It took me many hours to write this buyers guide, and it took days of research.
I have recommended a few different options in the comparison table. and I believe that these are some of the best options on the market today. None of the recommendations are over $500. I believe the difference in quality is not justified by the inflated price.
Where to buy at the best price?
You could step into your nearest Bass Pro Shops, Cabelas or even Walmart and grab a pair of binos. My recommendation is to stick with Amazon. They have all the information you need available. One of my favourite things about Amazon, is all those user reviews by people like you and me.