Best Binocular Reviews 2018 | Choosing Top Birding, Hunting and Stargazing Picks For The Money
There are many factors to consider when buying the best pair/model of binoculars. 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.
If you’re curious (or in a hurry):
This is an excellent binocular, with some of the highest quality optics on the market. Perfectly suitable for any activity, it won't let you down whether you like to take them with on your hunting trips, birdwatching excursions or on your weekend hike.
The manufacturer sells this pair for just under $600, so if you can find it at $500 or below, it is an absolute steal!
I am a big fan of the 10x42 as I find this to be the perfect all-rounder, but it comes in a range of different magnifications and objective sizes (see different options, check current price & read reviews here).
Which binocular is the best?
Your time is valuable. I am here to help you find the perfect set of binoculars. These are my top picks for 2018 (compare these 5 binoculars here).
What are the Top Choices?
1. Vortex Optics Viper HD 10x42 Roof Prism
2. Zeiss Conquest HD 10x42
3. Vortex Optics Razor HD 10x42 Roof Prism
4. Steiner 10x 42mm 2444 Predator
5. Vanguard 8.5x45 Endeavor ED
If you are looking for a bit more information before making your decision, scroll down to our comparison table, and check my list of the 5 top-rated binocs for 2018.
For those who want to learn more about binoculars before buying, read the Crucial factors to consider when searching for the right pair of binoculars very closely.
Before we learn more about binoculars and what you should look for in a decent pair, let's have a look at our handy comparison table and later we will be unfolding our best binocular reviews. 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.
- Good colour and clarity
- Light & comfortable
Field of View
- Powerful & Compact
- Solid construction
Field of View
- Excellent all-rounder
- Class leading optics
Field of View
- Best binoculars for hunting
- Built to take a beating
Field of View
Best Binoculars under 1000 dollars
If your budget is $1000 for a new good looking 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 European high powered 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 optics 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. However there are still a few options that can help you find a pair of good binocs.
There are two options I really like in this price range. The first is the Carson 3D ED (see review here). An optics with ED glass at less than 300 dollars is an absolute steal. The optics are comparable to more expensive binocs, and these offer good value for money.
Best Binoculars For Bird Watching
Whether you are watching birds from your backyard, or if you have traveled to remote areas to find some rare bird species, you need the right binoculars for birding.
What is the best magnification for binoculars for bird watching?
General bird watching requires binoculars with lower magnifications like 7× and 8×. If you love watching birds in reservoirs of large areas, binoculars with higher magnifications of 10× are the best fit for you.
It is important to note that some binoculars are not suitable for certain tasks. For instance, zoom in and out binoculars come with variable magnification.
If you are looking for the best lightweight binoculars for bird watching, look no further than the Bushnell Legend Ultra HD Roof Prism Binocular.
These binoculars come with rain guard HD water-repellant lens coating and a magnesium chassis. The binoculars are also 100 percent waterproof and fog proof.
Top Binoculars for Stargazing
Watching the stars at night sitting on your porch is one of the most relaxing feelings you can get. To optimize your experience, you need great binoculars for stargazing.
Before you choose the binoculars, you have to consider some of the features that will help you get a clear view of the sky. You may be able to see 50 more stars, which you would otherwise not see with your naked eye. Generally, binoculars serve as extensions to your eyes.
Binoculars vs Telescopes; Which one is better?
If you admire stargazing, you may be faced with a dilemma of choosing between a telescope and binoculars.
To clear your doubt, you need to know that telescopes are bigger and a lot heavier than the binoculars. They also need tripods for stability. On the other hand, binoculars lock in tightly to your eye sockets and you place them close to your face for stability.
The telescope has a long tube, which brings along the shake problem, and the front objective lens may wiggle. Binoculars provide you with a wider field of view as compared to telescopes, which show a small area. Telescopes, however, have a bigger and more powerful lens than binoculars, and you can use them to see objects from a very long distance.
Can you use a Telescope as binoculars?
A telescope can be used in place of your binoculars to stargaze. This is because telescopes have a powerful lens, and they can help you see far away objects such as stars.
What’s the best Telescope to buy?
If you are looking to buy a telescope instead of binoculars, the best telescope should be inexpensive, and it should fit your needs. Here is the one that works for me.
The astromaster 70 EQ comes with all-coated glass optics and Newtonian reflectors to produce clear and bright images of astronomy.
It also features a quick release dovetail attachment and a German equatorial mount with setting circle to optimize the accuracy of locating sky objects.
This affordable telescope is easy to set up, and it comes with a permanently mounted star pointer. Its pre-assembled tripod provides stability, and it features excellent optical performance.
This telescope is advantageous because it has a reliable refractor design, provides a good view of sky objects, and it comes with a complete accessory package.
Best Binoculars for Beginners
If you are a beginner, it should not surprise you when you face a lot of difficulty selecting the binoculars that best fits your needs.
One of the things i will always recommend any newbie is not to buy binoculars that are expensive at an early stage. Even a cheap pair of binocular will seal the deal here.
That's why the Wingspan Optics Raven 8×25 binocular is considered to be one of the top binoculars for beginners. There are 2 main reasons why i recommend this product.
- They are super cheap
- They are light weight
Apart from these top 2 outstanding features these binoculars also have an extra wide field of view to allow you to catch every bird as it flies across the sky.
Whats more intriguing about these binocs is that they are waterproof and fog proof.
Any set that has such qualities allows you to operate in a wide range of conditions. The binoculars’ manufacturer also gives you a 30-day money back guarantee when you purchase it.
7 Crucial factors to consider when searching for the right binocular glasses
Often i have seen the same question being asked by the outdoor enthusiast on how to choose the binoculars? When writing these best binocular reviews and making several other binoculars comparison, I could have come up with 20 different things to consider before deciding on a set of binocs. 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 binoc model. 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 binocs 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 optics, you won't enjoy lugging around a big, heavy set of binos. The smaller the objective size, the more compact the binos (see my reviews of the best compact binoculars here).
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 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 binocs 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. For example if you are looking for best backpacking binocular with 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 optics 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.?
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.
What Do Numbers Mean In Binoculars?
Binoculars usually have two numbers such as 7×50 and 16×50. The number before the × is the magnification power, while the number after the × is the diameter of the objective lens in mm.
What does this mean? The first number indicates how the objects will be magnified. For instance, binoculars with a 16×50 lens will make objects appear 16 times closer.
Therefore, if you were viewing objects from longer distances, The binoculars powered with great magnification would be ideal.
Binocular Magnification for Outdoor Activities
What is the best magnification for a binocular to use when going on a safari?
When you are going on a safari, you need a mobile, lightweight, and powerful optics. Since you sometimes use a binocular when you are sitting in a moving vehicle, it is important that magnification is not higher than 10. This is because stability is compromised as magnification is increased.
Another reason is that you may want a bigger field of view, especially when you are looking at a herd or if you want a bigger view of the surrounding environment.
You may also want to make sure that you get the biggest possible lens diameter to maximize clarity and detail. A 10x 42 binocular is a versatile option for safaris. You will easily be able to view moving animals with enough stability and clarity. Make sure that you find the best binoculars for safari that is comfortable in your hand and easy to use.
What numbers are best for hiking?
When you are going on a hike, you have to make sure that you meet your magnification needs as well as requirements in terms of size, weight, waterproofing, and durability. The best binoculars for hiking have a magnification power of 8x and a typical lens size of 32.
This is ample magnification for hiking and can also be used for game drives or informal bird watching. Field of view is often specified, for example, 1000 yards. This depends on your needs, and how big a specific object should be in relation to its background.
When you are hiking, you may want to use the binoculars to look at animals or to locate trails or overnight huts. It is, therefore, important that you choose a versatile magnification power and a comfortable size. 8x25 Binoculars are compact whereas 8x42 binoculars are bulky and can take a lot of space in your backpack.
Watching football and Using Binoculars : The Right Magnification
When you are watching football, you need to look at the best binoculars for football that can give you a detailed view of the game, but that has a bigger field of view and enough stability. This means that you should be considering binoculars with low magnification like 7x or lower.
This will make it easier for you to follow the ball and the players as you will not be viewing individual players through binocular with a magnification of 8x or 10x. In most concert arenas, this magnification will give you a field of vision that is big enough to shaky lenses.
It is important, however, that your lens size is big enough. This will allow enough light through the lenses and compensate for the low magnification by giving you a clear and crisp view of the game. When it comes to lens size, feel free to go all out with a 7x50. You are not limited in terms of size or weight and this will, ultimately, provide you with the best possible spectating experience.
Correct magnification for a binocular when watching a concert?
Watching concerts with binoculars has been a thing since 1854. Nowadays, however, you don’t have to be filthy rich to watch a singing lady through a binocular. If you are looking for a binocular that you can use to watch concerts, consider watching individual performers as well as a large part of their surroundings.
The ideal concert binoculars are compact and have a lens size of 21 or 25. This ensures that you don’t obstruct the view of the concert goers behind you with a big and bulky binocular. They are discreet and you can carry them with you in your handbag or even in your jacket’s pocket.
Right magnification for a binocular when watching horseracing?
If you are an avid horseracing spectator, you need sufficient binoculars to see how your horse is performing against the others. Since there is a lot of movement involved, stability is important. To get the best stability, you need a bigger field of vision and, therefore, a lower magnification. A big field of vision is also important as you need to see all the competitors in one view.
A 7x42 or 7x50 binocular can work perfectly. The bigger lens size will allow for enough light to give you a defined and crisp image that is stable and easy to follow.
At an affordable cost, these binocs feature a 10x42 magnification objective lens. The binoculars come with ED prime glass and ultra-wide band coatings. It has a wide field of view with a long eye-relief and locking diopter.
This pair comes accessorized with a soft carrying case, a microfiber carry bag and neck strap. The rain guard HD on this set of binoculars allows you to enjoy a clear and bright view that other optics would not deliver.
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 Good binoculars at the best price?
You could step into your nearest Bass Pro Shops, best buy, 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 favorite things about Amazon, is all those user reviews by people like you and me.
Interested in reading more ? checkout some of our top reads below.