Buying a decent pair of binoculars is actually a lot trickier than it sounds. There are so many different makes and models on the market, which all work better for different viewing requirements, so it’s important to make sure you factor in some considerations before you buy.
Binoculars have come a long way in recent years, and are actually a lot more high-tech than you might think. If you’re an avid bird watcher, astronomer or hunter, then investing in a decent pair of binoculars will make the world of difference to your viewing experience compared to any old cheap pair.
The two main things you want to look out for when choosing binoculars are the magnification and the lens diameter. Obviously the higher the magnification the closer you’ll be able to view the image, however the larger the magnification, the smaller the diameter of the lens tends to be. This is why it is important to consider what you’ll be using them for in order to help your decision on the best size lenses for you.
For activities such as bird watching, a lens of around 10x25 will allow you to get a good close look at what you’re watching. However, despite the large zoom you’ll have to work with a smaller field of vision, so if you need a wider view, for example when attending the races, you may wish to opt for binoculars with a field range of up to 50mm. Although you might not be able to zoom as far, you’ll be able to see more through these lenses.
Then you might also want to consider lens shape. Porro prism is the more traditional shape which have an angled body, but these tend to be heavier and more cumbersome, nowadays roof prism binoculars have become more widely used as they are compact and lightweight, making them much easier to carry around on your travels.
Take a look at our top picks for the best binoculars for all eventualities. Whether you’re off on an adventure or simply like to stargaze in your back garden, we’ve got a model to suit all styles and budgets.
- Looking for something pocket-sized? Check out our round up of the best compact binoculars.
1. Nikon Aculon A30 Binoculars
Take these compact and lightweight binoculars anywhere
Best for: Bird watching | Magnification: 10x | Objective lens diameter: 25mm | Colour: Silver/black
Bird lovers will love these sleek and compact binoculars that boast a large magnification which allows you view even the smallest details. They feature multi-coated lenses which make the images clear and bright and the outer rubber coating makes them comfortable and easy to hold. The Nikon Aculon A30 Binoculars make our top spot for their super smart appearance and ease of use whether at home or away. We definitely recommend these as a worthwhile investment for keen bird watchers.
2. Bresser Binoculars Hunter
An affordable pair of lenses for everyday use
Best for: Budget | Magnification: 8x | Objective lens diameter: 21mm | Colour: Black
If you’ve never used binoculars before but have taken an interest in bird watching or another activity, then the Bresser Binoculars are a great first time buy that won’t break the bank. They are not the highest quality lenses on the market, but they are compact and lightweight meaning they are perfect for fitting in your pocket or taking on your travels. The lenses are true to colour and although some have said it’s difficult to focus on some images, many say these are the best binoculars for beginners as they are easy to use and work well for the price.
3. Olympus 8X21 DPC I Binoculars
A sleek pair of travel binoculars for backpackers and hikers alike
Best for: Travel | Magnification: 8x | Objective lens diameter: 21mm | Colour: Silver
If you’re off on your travels, then investing in a decent pair of binoculars for your trip can really make a big difference to your sightseeing. These lightweight and compact binoculars will fit neatly in any backpack and provide an incredibly sharp view of your image. They don’t have the largest zoom or lens diameter, but for bird watching or general day-to-day use, these are the perfect size. These lenses also have colour changing options so you can adjust the lenses to your personal preference or to suit the environment you are in.
4. Nikon Monarch 5 Waterproof Binoculars
Get a great view come rain or shine with these hard wearing binoculars
Best for: Ultimate adventure | Magnification: 10x | Objective lens diameter: 42mm | Colour: Black
For those who are serious about binoculars, these Nikon Monarch 5 Waterproof Binoculars will be your new best friend for all eventualities. Not only are they waterproof, but they are fog proof and specifically designed for use even in the most difficult lighting conditions. So if you’re going hiking in the mountains, trekking through the jungle or simply hunting on a misty day, these lenses will ensure sharp, bright images that are true to nature. What people like most about these binoculars is that they have a super comfy grip and the turn-and-slide eyecups make the lenses easy to position and capture your image. Although pricey, they would make the perfect gift for a keen huntsman or explorer.
5. Steiner Safari Ultrasharp Binoculars
High-performance lenses for outdoor expeditions
Best for: Safari | Magnification: 10x | Objective lens diameter: 26mm | Colour: Black
These binoculars boast excellent high-contrast optics with an impressive zoom and larger than average lens diameter. These binoculars were built for the outdoors and many users are very impressed with the quick focus control and the quality of the image despite their size. These are the best binoculars for experienced bird watchers, astronomers and hikers, as well as beginners who want to invest in a decent quality pair. The only downside is the carry case is a little tight and can be fiddly to put them away, but customers think these are excellent value for money when it comes to functionality.
6. Olympus Binocular 10x50 DPS-1
Look up at the stars with a wide field of view for excellent images
Best for: Astronomers | Magnification: 10x | Objective lens diameter: 50mm | Colour: Black
You’ll get a fantastic view of the moon with these lenses that have an exceptionally large field of view that allow you to view a wider range of images with superb clarity. They are also perfect for observing ships at sea or other landscape areas. Users say they are a bit heavy so they can sometimes be a bit shaky unless you have a steady hand or something to rest against when viewing something particularly far away. They’re also not the best in poor weather conditions, but on a clear night you’re bound to get a stunning view of the constellations and moon with these 3D lenses.
7. National Geographic 10 x 50 Porro Binoculars
Long distance lenses for a wide field of view
Best for: The Races | Magnification: 10x | Objective lens diameter: 50mm | Colour: Black
For wider viewing, these binoculars offer a field of view that is perfect for something such as watching the races from afar. They are easy to focus and provide a sharp, clear image of a much larger area than that of standard objective lens diameters. In some cases, users find these are a bit too wide, which means they’re not for closer viewing such as birdwatching or astronomy where you may want to view an object close up. The view is clear and bright but the included accessories let them down as many users have claimed the strap broke, but if you’re only using them occasionally, you should find these binoculars hold up very well.
8. 2” FHD Digital Camera Binoculars
A great gadget for bird watchers to record their sightings
Best for: Gifting | Magnification: 12x | Objective lens diameter: 32mm | Colour: Silver
Birdwatchers can now record their sightings with this pair of high-tech binoculars that allow you to capture images and video on the built-in high resolution camera. Users have been very impressed with the durability and quality of these binoculars. They may not be the most compact, but since they act as both binoculars and a camera in one, you may find that this is a space-saver in itself. With the rechargeable batteries they are easy to take anywhere and simply require a USB cable to give them a boost wherever you are. Once you have taken pictures of your sightings they can all be saved to an SD (not included) for you to upload to your computer. They may not be the first choice for technophobes, but they certainly would make a thoughtful gift to any birdwatcher.
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