Choosing Binoculars for Birdwatching - Get the Best View

Discover the lens to a secret world of feathered wonders! Elevate your birdwatching game with the perfect pair of binoculars.

Discover the lens to a secret world of feathered wonders! Elevate your birdwatching game with the perfect pair of binoculars.

You're ready to take your birdwatching hobby to the next level with a great pair of binoculars. But one look at the options and your head starts spinning faster than a hummingbird's wings. How do you choose? Don't worry, we've got you covered. In this guide, we'll walk you through everything you need to know to find the perfect binoculars for your birding adventures. We'll explore the key features like magnification, objective lens size, and field of view so you understand how they impact what you see. We'll suggest some highly-rated yet budget-friendly options to get you started. And we'll provide some tips for testing binoculars in person to make sure they're a perfect fit for your eyes and needs. By the time you're done reading, you'll be an expert and ready to get out into nature for some world-class birding. The birds won't know what hit them! Let's get started.

Consider Magnification Power When Selecting Binoculars for Birding

When choosing binoculars for birdwatching, magnification power is one of the most important factors to consider. ### Higher Magnification Isn’t Always Better

For birding, 8x to 10x magnification is typically ideal. Anything higher than 10x and the image can become shaky, making it difficult to keep the bird in your field of view. Some top recommendations in this range are the Nikon Monarch 7 8x42 and the Vortex Diamondback 8x42.

While 12x binoculars will make birds appear closer, they require a very steady hand. If your budget allows, image-stabilized binoculars can help reduce shake for higher magnifications. The Canon 10x30 IS II and the Nikon Monarch 7 12x45 VR are great options.

For maximum magnification, a spotting scope is a better choice. They provide up to 60x zoom on a tripod, giving you a close-up view of birds from far away. Look for a scope with an eyepiece for binocular viewing and a zoom of at least 20-60x.

In the end, choose a magnification you can comfortably handle for extended viewing periods. You’ll get the best views of birds by balancing power and stability. Keep in mind your purpose - if you’re observing birds at a distance a higher power could be useful, but for general birdwatching in the field, 8x to 10x is typically perfectly suitable and will give you a bright, clear view of your feathered subjects.

Determine the Right Size Binoculars Based on Your Needs

When it comes to choosing binoculars for birdwatching, size matters. The magnification and objective lens size will determine how much detail you can see and how much light gets in. For birding, 8x to 10x magnification is ideal for most people.

•8x binoculars are compact but still provide a wide field of view, making it easy to track birds in flight or catch sight of that rare species darting between branches.

•10x binoculars offer a bit more magnification to clearly see details like feather coloration or beak shape, while still having a reasonably wide view.

For the objective lens, 42mm to 50mm is a good range for birding.

•Larger lenses let in more light so you get a brighter image, especially in low-light or shaded conditions. More light also means better depth of field, keeping more of your subject sharply in focus.

•However, larger lenses mean heavier binoculars, and more magnification further narrows the field of view. For most recreational birders, staying between 8-10x magnification with a 42-50mm lens offers the ideal balance of power and portability.

Consider how and where you plan to use your new binoculars. If you’ll be trekking long distances over rough terrain, save weight with a compact 8x32 or 8x42 pair. For stationary observation from a blind or deck, 10x50 binoculars will give you the best view without too much bulk. And for low-light conditions like dawn or dusk, go for the largest lenses your budget allows.

With the right size binoculars for your needs, you'll be enjoying bright, vivid views of birds near and far. Happy birding!

Choose Binoculars With Fully Multi-Coated Lenses for Crisp, Clear Images

Choosing binoculars with fully multi-coated lenses is key to getting crisp, clear views of birds. Fully multi-coated lenses have multiple layers of lens coatings that allow more light to pass through and reduce reflections, resulting in brighter images with sharper contrast.

Let More Light In

The more light your binoculars can gather, the better you’ll be able to see details like individual feathers and subtle coloring on birds. Fully multi-coated lenses absorb more of the available light, enabling you to see birds even in low light conditions like at dawn and dusk. The coating also helps reduce glare so you get less eyestrain when viewing birds on water or in other reflective environments.

Increase Sharpness and Contrast

Multi-coated lenses increase resolution and color fidelity. You’ll notice fine details like the streaks in a woodpecker’s plumage or the speckles on an eggshell with crisp, high-definition views. The coatings enhance contrast between elements like a bird’s body and the branches around it, making the bird easier to spot.

View More Comfortably

The anti-reflective qualities of fully multi-coated lenses also make binoculars more comfortable to use, especially for long viewing sessions. Less glare and higher light transmission mean less eyestrain since your pupils don’t have to work as hard. Your eyes can relax and enjoy the views.

While fully multi-coated lenses do typically cost a bit more, the optical performance and comfort benefits can’t be beat for avid birders and nature observers. For the best views of your feathered friends, choose binoculars with fully multi-coated lenses. Your eyes will thank you, and you’ll be happily tracking birds for hours.

Find Binoculars With Smooth Focus and Adjustable Eyecups for Comfort

For comfortable, enjoyable birdwatching, you'll want binoculars that are designed with the user in mind. Look for the following features:

Adjustable Eyecups

Eyecups that can be twisted up and down allow you to customize the binoculars to your eyes. Pull the eyecups down for eyeglass wearers so you can get the full field of view. Extend the eyecups up for those without glasses to block out peripheral light. Adjustable eyecups ensure the best viewing experience for all.

Smooth Focus

A smooth focus wheel or knob allows you to quickly and easily bring your subject into crisp focus. Look for a focus mechanism that turns smoothly without sticking. A stiff or sticky focus adjustment will make it difficult to get a sharp view of birds, especially those on the move.

  • Focus on close focal points: For birdwatching, look for binoculars with a close minimum focus of 15 feet or less. This allows you to view birds both up close and far away.

  • Consider locking focus: For some binoculars, the focus ring can be locked into place once focus is achieved. This prevents accidentally bumping the ring out of focus. A locking mechanism is useful but not required.

  • Check for fast focus: Higher quality binoculars will focus faster, making it easier to get a sharp view of active birds. Test the focus speed to find binoculars that suit your needs.

  • Consider focus-free options: Some binoculars are designed to provide focus-free viewing within a certain distance range. This eliminates the need to constantly refocus as birds move. For beginners, focus-free binoculars can be a simple, frustration-free option.

With the right focus and eyecup features, your binoculars will work with you, not against you, allowing for a comfortable viewing experience and crisp views of your feathered subjects, whether perched or on the wing. Finding binoculars with customizable and user-friendly design will open up a world of birdwatching delight.

Compare Prices to Find Quality Binoculars Within Your Budget

Comparing prices from different retailers is key to finding high-quality binoculars that won’t break the bank. You’ll find a wide range of options at different price points, so shop around at sporting goods stores, camera shops, and online retailers to find the best deal.

Check the specs and features to make sure you’re comparing apples to apples. Binoculars in a similar price range should have comparable magnification, objective lens size, field of view, eye relief, and other attributes. If one pair seems like an amazing bargain, double check that the specs aren’t inferior to the others before you buy.

Buy from reputable brands and check reviews. Lesser-known brands may seem like a good value, but often cut corners on components and quality. Stick with brands that birdwatchers frequently recommend and review, and read reviews from experts as well as customers to determine the pros and cons of different models.

Look for sales and discounts. Many retailers run regular sales on binoculars, especially during peak birdwatching season in the spring and summer. Sign up for store newsletters to get notified of the best deals. Check sites like Slickdeals, Retailmenot or Honey for the latest coupon codes and promo offers as well.

Consider buying used or refurbished. Used binoculars from a reputable brand can work great and save you a lot of money. Check sites like eBay, Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace or refurbished outlets like Optics Planet, Adorama or B&H Photo Video. Make sure the seller has a return policy in case the product isn’t as described.

With some comparison shopping, you can find high-quality binoculars to suit your needs and budget. Focus on the features and specs that really matter for birdwatching, buy from trusted brands and retailers, and be patient to find the best deal. The right binoculars can make a world of difference in your birdwatching experience, so take your time to get the perfect pair for you.


So now you've got the lowdown on choosing the perfect binoculars to get up close and personal with your avian neighbors. With the right magnification, objective lens size, and build quality for your needs and budget, you'll be spotting rare species and enjoying crystal clear views in no time. Whether you're a novice birder just getting started or a seasoned pro looking to upgrade your gear, finding the ideal binoculars for you is key. Now get outside, tune in to the sounds around you, and start scoping out those feathered friends - the birdwatching world awaits! With the right tools for the job, you'll gain a whole new appreciation for the colorful characters in your own backyard.


Published on Jan 2, 2024