12 Best Binoculars for Birding (2020)

Tori Rhodes
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Looking for serious binoculars for bird watching? Want to be able to see that bird better? Read on to find out which binoculars are the best for birding -and landing the title!

Binoculars are a popular buy for outdoors-lovers. Many people prefer to use them for things like hunting and fishing, but they are also essential pieces of equipment for birders.

It’s a necessary tool for watching birds in detail, and it can make a huge difference in your overall experience.

More specifically, it will help you distinguish between a clutch of eggs and a male bird, see if a bird is carrying food, and determine the age, gender, species, and more of a bird.

In this article, we are going to focus on the best binoculars for bird watching. We will go through what features to look for, what pros and cons you should consider, and most importantly, which binoculars we feel are the best for bird watching.

NameCategoryProduct
Vortex Optics Diamondback HD BinocularsBest Overall
Vortex Optics Diamondback HD Binoculars
Celestron – Nature DX 8×42 BinocularsBudget Pick
Celestron – Nature DX 8x42 Binoculars
SWAROVSKI EL 10×42 BinocularUpgrade Pick
SWAROVSKI EL 10x42 Binocular

1. Vortex Optics Diamondback HD Binoculars

Our rating: 9 / 10


Vortex Optics Diamondback HD Binoculars

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Pros:

  • These binoculars offer excellent quality for the price
  • They’re lightweight and comfortable to hold
  • They feature superior quality glass and great coatings
  • The binoculars provide superior light gathering capabilities even in low-light conditions
  • The lens are multi-coated and are fully waterproof
  • They are sturdily built and can withstand heavy use
  • The focus wheel is easy to use
  • The casing is rubberized and feels good in the hands
  • The view is crisp and clear
  • They’re completely fog-proof, shockproof, and waterproof

Cons:

  • The eye cups can be difficult to adjust
  • The focus wheel is not as smooth as you’d hoped
  • The lens covers can be a little difficult to remove

(9×42)

The Vortex Diamondback Binoculars are a best-selling product with an extensive list of positive reviews on Amazon. These are a great selection whether you’re looking to upgrade your old set of binoculars or you’re looking for your first pair.

2. Celestron – Nature DX 8×42 Binoculars

Our rating: 9 / 10


Celestron – Nature DX 8x42 Binoculars

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Pros:

  • Lightweight
  • Fully-coated lenses
  • Safari-style carrying strap
  • Waterproof and shockproof body
  • Long eye relief for eyeglass wearers
  • Twist-up eyecups
  • Twist-down eyepiece for easy storage
  • Comes with carrying case
  • 24-month warranty

Cons:

  • No focus lock
  • Diopter adjustment ring is hard to use
  • Quite expensive

The Nature DX by Celestron is a well-designed pair of binoculars, not to mention one of the best kids binoculars for bird watching.

It has fully-coated optics with BaK-4 prisms for increased brightness, reduced glare and better color transmission. The 8mm to 42mm power zoom is perfect when you want to get a close-up view. The binoculars are also waterproof and fog proof.

I was able to use the Nature DX binoculars while watching a number of birds in the wild and I was quite impressed. The binoculars are much more lightin-g than other binoculars I own. I also like the way they fit in my hands.

3. Zeiss 8×25 Terra ED Compact Pocket Grey-Black Binocular

Our rating: 9 / 10


Zeiss 8x25 Terra ED Compact Pocket Grey-Black Binocular

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Pros:

  • Waterproof
  • Anti-glare coating on lens
  • 16.4ft field of view
  • Compact
  • Lightweight
  • Sharp, bright and clear images
  • Great value for money
  • Small enough to fit in any purse or pocket

Cons:

  • Nochex for delivery
  • Lens cap

The compact Zeiss Terra ED 8×25 binoculars are one of the best binoculars for bird watching. The binoculars have an efficient and durable porro-prism design that includes BAK4 prisms and multi-coated optics that are excellent for all-around use due to the enhanced contrast and more vivid colors.

The ergonomically designed binoculars have a neutral color scheme that blends well in any environment, making them quite discreet. The water-repellent and O-ring seal mean that you can use the binoculars in all kinds of weather conditions. The high-performance shockproof binoculars are also compact enough to fit into the palm of your hands, allowing you to conveniently carry them around.

4. Athlon Optics Midas Roof Prism UHD Binoculars

Our rating: 9 / 10


Athlon Optics Midas Roof Prism UHD Binoculars

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Pros:

  • Smooth focus
  • Crisp clear image
  • Lightweight
  • Shock absorbing rubber armoring absorbs vibrations well
  • Waterproof
  • Narrower gripping area helps you to steady your shot when in the field
  • Comes with their True-Focus system

Cons:

  • Not suitable for low light
  • Difficulty focusing using only one hand.
  • Rubber armor easily marks when touching it
  • Indicator bubbles are hard to see when in a low light situation
  • Hinge squeak can be annoying

(7x50mm)

This Athlon Optics Midas roof prism binoculars is water, shock and fog proof, and has an extreme temperature range. The Night Vision model is every bit as waterproof as you will ever need, and are built to work with a range of different lenses.

This pair of binoculars sports a color image intensifier that makes them battle ready at any time, and they can be used by hunters, bird watchers and anyone else who wants to get a high-quality pair of binoculars for their most important adventures.

5. Celestron Trailseeker ED 10×42 Binoculars

Our rating: 9 / 10


Celestron Trailseeker ED 10x42 Binoculars

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Pros:

  • Built specifically for the avid birder
  • Can be used in low-light conditions
  • Comes with excellent quality lens caps
  • Rubberized armor provides a nice grip
  • Fully coated glass
  • The perfect field of view
  • Large eye relief
  • Click focus
  • Come with a nice neck strap
  • Flexible tripod adapter

Cons:

  • Small exit pupil
  • Can be a bit heavy
  • Twist-up eyecups are not adjustable

The Celestron Trailseeker ED binoculars are designed specifically for avid birders who are always on the go. They weigh a little bit more than usual models, but the extra weight is worth it in our opinion.

When you hold them in your hands you notice that they’re quite sturdy. They are made of aluminum, rubber, and magnesium. The rubberized armor provides a nice grip, and the binoculars feel secure in your hands.

These binoculars come with excellent quality lens caps. We love the rubberized ones! They’re sturdy and stay on your binoculars.

6. ZEISS Conquest HD Binoculars

Our rating: 8 / 10


ZEISS Conquest HD Binoculars

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Pros:

  • High quality optics
  • Extremely durable
  • Can be used by anyone

Zeiss is a Germany-based company best known for its world-class lenses. The 33-millimeter Conquest HD Binocular is ZEISS’s best selling birding binocular and earns rave reviews from birders.

It has a wide field of view with crisp, beautifully detailed images. It’s made with a multi-coated lens through which you can view whatever you want.

The binoculars are equipped with a “Luminox” coating on the external lenses that provides 12% more light, thus increasing light transmission and delivering an incredible bright image.

7. Vortex Optics Razor HD Roof Prism Binoculars

Our rating: 8 / 10


Vortex Optics Razor HD Roof Prism Binoculars

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Pros:

  • Award winning binoculars
  • Great for birding
  • Amazing clarity

If you are looking for top of the line binoculars that are built for the serious birding enthusiast, the Vortex Razor HD should be at the top of your list. With a 50mm objective lens, you will be able to observe birds through a stable, high definition and wide angle lens.

A big selling point for these binoculars is that they generate the most light possible. This means the birds will stay put, rather than fleeing for the shadows. It also means that the colors are saturated and view is crisp. These binoculars come with a lifetime warranty.

8. SWAROVSKI 8.5×42 EL Binocular

Our rating: 8 / 10


SWAROVSKI 8.5x42 EL Binocular

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Pros:

  • Extremely clear optics
  • Waterproof and fogproof
  • Waterproof, scratchproof, and shockproof
  • Swarovski-quality
  • Comfortable suitability
  • Covered by a 5-year warranty

Cons:

  • Binoculars are expensive
  • Handles may get very cold in the winter
  • Field Package requires you to get them fixed locally

SWAROVSKI 8.5×42 EL Binocular with FieldPro Package, Green is a very good binocular that features outstanding light transmittance. The binoculars are specifically designed to reduce weight and provide excellent performance in rain and fog. The binocular comes with dual focus mechanism which makes it easy for the user to enjoy observations and close-ups for hours. They can also be adjusted to any position according to the preference of the user.

The lenses are made with lead-free, multi-layer anti-reflective glass which provides a sharp and clear field of view. They are even coated with phase correction which eliminated chromatic aberration. All in all, the binoculars provide a superior performance and enjoy a world-class image quality.

9. SWAROVSKI EL 10×42 Binocular

Our rating: 8 / 10


SWAROVSKI EL 10x42 Binocular

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Pros:

  • Extra low Dispersion (ED) glass comes at a price, but it's well worth it. This glass allows for sharper, brighter, and better quality images at low light and poor weather conditions.
  • Image stabilization systems allow for steady images. The 10×42 has the largest image stabilization system in a binocular of its size.
  • The binocular's focusing wheel is prominent and easy to rotate.
  • A place for storing your eyeglass or sunglass canopy.
  • Dust, water, and fog proof.
  • Comes with a carrying case.
  • People mention that these binoculars are incredibly lightweight.
  • Reasonably priced.

Cons:

  • Some users have mentioned that the binoculars are a little too big for their hands.
  • It takes a few times to get used to viewing through these binoculars.
  • Motion sickness. If you tend to get motion sickness from binoculars, these might cause you to feel nauseous.

I had to add this one to the list because it's the mirror image of another great pair of binoculars on this list. With its 10×42 magnification and powerful image stabilization system, you won't miss a thing while birding.

10. Vanguard Endeavor ED II Binocular

Our rating: 7 / 10


Vanguard Endeavor ED II Binocular

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Pros:

  • High-grade ED glass and ultra multi-coated lenses for exceptional imagery in a wonderfully lightweight body.
  • Smaller amounts of zoom range when compared to larger binoculars from other high-end brands.
  • 8mm central focus wheel to make it easy to give it a quick tweak and get your subject in perfect focus.
  • A wider objective lens to provide you with more light to help you see your subject in low-light situations.
  • The diopter adjustment system to make sure that both of your eyes are seeing things at the same relative intensity.
  • The twist-up eyecups to help you focus on the finer details in your object.
  • The nylon body to help you carry these nifty little men around no matter where you go.
  • The completely fog and waterproof body so that it will always be ready to go no matter how much fun you have out in the field.
  • The RainGuard HD lens coating so that you will always be able to see through those droplets of moisture that get in the way of your favorite pastimes.

11. LEICA 8×32/10×32/8×42/10×42 Trinovid Lightweight HD Compact Binocular

Our rating: 7 / 10


LEICA 8x32/10x32/8x42/10x42 Trinovid Lightweight HD Compact Binocular

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Pros:

  • Waterproof
  • Compact and lightweight
  • Versatile
  • High-quality design
  • Tons of eye relief
  • Solid construction
  • The multilayer lens coating binds light like a prism, amplifies detail, helps eliminates glare, and delivers high contrast images with rich colors.

Cons:

  • Not as good for low light situations
  • Adapting mirror inside of the binocular is not as smooth as it should be

This top-rated binocular is hands down one of the best in the business; even though it’s a little pricier than most. It’s a compact aluminum-alloy design which is water and fog-proof. It features ED glass; which means it is extra-low dispersion for sharper, brighter images and excellent color fidelity.

The field of vision is 7.6 degrees. It provides a super wide field of clear image and weighs less than a pound. The eye relief is incredible due to the design of the center hinge system which protrudes outward on the binocular.

12. Nikon Monarch 7 Binocular Roof Prism

Our rating: 7 / 10


Nikon Monarch 7 Binocular Roof Prism

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Pros:

  • Very lightweight and compact
  • Nikon’s superb optics and ergonomics

Packed with sharpness and comfort, you do not have to worry about eye fatigue when using these binoculars.

Although it has a relatively modest 7x magnification, this model has been designed with a large objective lens to ensure that you always have a bright, sharp, detailed image.

It has an excellent eye relief that doesn’t compromise the clarity of the image at close distances.

13. Vortex Optics Viper HD Roof Prism Binoculars

Our rating: 6 / 10


Vortex Optics Viper HD Roof Prism Binoculars

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Pros:

  • The most light-sensitive binoculars on the market
  • Optimized for wildlife watching

(8×42)

HD Optical system offers the highest level of light gathering efficiency compared to all other binoculars of this size. This means brighter images with more contrast and greater depth of field.

The crossover roof prism design allows a closer center to edge spacing of the lenses which results in less distortion and a clearer view.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What is the best magnification for bird watching binoculars?

When it comes to magnification, the best bird watching binoculars will usually have between 5x and 10x magnification. These can be a little too powerful for a beginner’s binoculars, but they are necessary for most experienced birders.

You may also see models with as many as 17x magnification. These are usually for the more experienced, as they are bulky and hard to hold steadily. If you don’t mind the extra weight and bulk, you can get quite a bit more bang for your buck with the higher end binoculars.

What are the best binoculars for birdwatching?

It’s a common question, and it’s a very important one for those looking to get a pair of binoculars for birdwatching. When you’re out looking for elusive birds you need a product that’s easy to use, and reliable. This is especially true for a binoculars that you can rely on to identify that one or two birds you’ve been chasing all year.

Most of the pairs listed here have been hand-picked for you based on overall performance, usability, and value. The Nikon 8 X 25 and the Bushnell Legend Ultra HD are 2 of the leading pairs on the market today and for different reasons. Which one you choose will largely be determined by your preferences and budget.

Are 10×50 binoculars good for birding?

The right binoculars can be used in a variety of situations. For birding, however, the best binoculars for that purpose are those with a wide field of view. This means less movement when looking through the binoculars and less motion sickness. The downside is that binoculars with a wide field of view don’t have a high magnification.

For birding, it’s important to be able to follow the movement of small birds in trees or on the ground. A 10×50 set is a good compromise. They have a wider field of view and a bit more magnification than the 10×30, but not as much of a difference as the 8x or 10×40. I’ve found myself wrong before, though, so if you have the budget, you might want to try a slightly higher power.

What are the best compact binoculars for bird watching?

As a beginner, it’s best to choose a compact binocular that’s lightweight and easy to hold. This way you can enjoy your birding experience without getting exhausted. The best compact binocular is lightweight and constructed from durable materiel as it will be subjected to a lot of wear and tear.

It’s also important to choose a pair of binoculars with a wide field of view as it will mean less eye movement effort. Wide field of views also enable you to have a better look at the surrounding scenery when bird watching.

Conclusion

The most important thing to consider when buying binoculars is the magnification. A high quality standard is to buy a pair that can be used from 2x to 10x magnification. For general birders, a pair of 7×50 binoculars is recommended.

If you plan on doing some special activities with your binoculars, like long range observation or birding on a boat, some additional factors need to be taken into consideration. Take a look at our picks for the best binoculars for birding in 2020.

Our Recommendation

NameCategoryProduct
Vortex Optics Diamondback HD BinocularsBest Overall
Vortex Optics Diamondback HD Binoculars
Celestron – Nature DX 8×42 BinocularsBudget Pick
Celestron – Nature DX 8x42 Binoculars
SWAROVSKI EL 10×42 BinocularUpgrade Pick
SWAROVSKI EL 10x42 Binocular