Choosing the best birdwatching binoculars …

Do you enjoy feeding the birds? If so bird watching binoculars are a must when a wide variety of birds start gathering on the bird feeders, in your garden or back yard. Bird watching is fascinating, and you don’t need much equipment. All that’s necessary is a good book to help you identify the birds, and the best bird binoculars that you can afford. If you are planning to travel further a field, to watch birds, then a field guide is a must.

Its always a good idea to do some research to make sure you find the best birding binocular you can. Once you are familiar with the birds feeding and flying habits, in your back garden, you may want to set up nesting boxes and observe these. I have spent some wonderful moments in the back garden with my birdwatching binoculars, watching the robins nesting.

Here are a few tips for beginners:

Buy birding binoculars, one with adequate magnification, 7×35 or 10×50
A good field guide will help with identification, both at home and when venturing out.
Keep a notebook handy, to take notes, such as location, date, bird behavior, its size, curve of the wings, bill shape and any unique markings.
Listen to the sounds each bird makes, listen to their songs, as this can help you to identify a species, if you can’t see it at first glance.
Be on the look out for a rare bird with your binoculars.

In order to find the best binoculars for bird watching, it is a good idea to read the bird watching binocular reviews. To make this easy for you I have done a little research myself:

Zeiss binoculars were founded in Germany in 1846, and are still going strong today. These are not the cheapest of binoculars, but have some excellent manufacturing features, such as, containing fluoride for low color dispersion, phase corrected roof prisms, wide angle eye pieces, extreme close focus distance, false light reduction and T multi coating.

Leica binoculars were previously known as Leitz binoculars. This is another excellent German company, which have been manufacturing binoculars since 1907.The Leica LC 20-60x Zoom Eyepiece offers another option to bird watching binoculars. A review says this product offers the best resolution possible and eliminates color fringing. It is ideal if you wear glasses, as it includes sliding pop up eyecups, allowing you a full field of view.

The range of Nikon monarch binocularsfor bird watching is vast. They are lightweight, offer a wide field of view, bright and sharp. Suitable if you wear glasses. They offer great light transmission due to phase-coated optics. Nitrogen purged waterproof models are available.

Praktica is one of the most popular brands worldwide. The Praktica 10 x 50 birdwatching binoculars are also available as a powerful zoom binocular (Z30 10 to 30 x 50). It has high quality Bak-4 optics. These are mounted in a lightweight, but solid aluminium body, featuring reliable, smooth zoom, and focusing mechanics.

Steiner binoculars are known for high quality performance and reliability. In 2007 they introduced Discovery. This is a professional range of bird watching binoculars.

Bird watching is a great past-time, and your pair of binoculars is going to be your main tool. Not all binoculars are suitable for birdwatching, however.

So, on this page, we’ll look at a few points you should consider when buying bird binoculars … followed by examples of birding binoculars in every price range, that have received excellent reviews.

Basically, you should be looking for:

  • a wide field of view to locate and follow the bird
  • a bright, sharp image
  • quick focus
  • a pair that’s not too heavy

Best Birdwatching Binoculars – Magnification

The first of the two numbers used to describe binoculars(eg 8×42,10×50) is the one which relates to magnification.

For example, if the first number is 8, your objective will appear eight times closer.

Most birders consider a magnification of 7 or 8 ideal for birding binoculars… possibly 10.

Why no higher?…

Because a higher magnification gives a smaller field of view and a dimmer image.

Also, a higher power would magnify your hand movement, and this would cause a shaky image.

So, on average, you’ll find a magnification of 8 the most popular choice for bird watching binoculars.

Best Birdwatching Binoculars -Objective Lens

The second of the two numbers describing binoculars relates to the size of the objective lens – in other words, the front lens.

This is important for birding because the wider the lens, the more light will enter, making your image brighter.

However, too high an objective lens results in heavy binoculars – definitely not a plus for bird binoculars

Depending on the optics quality of your binoculars, you should plump for a lens size of around 30-50 mm.

Top choices for lens size in birding binoculars are 40 and 42, with 8×40 and 8×42 being the most popular.

But you’ll also find several smaller binoculars on the market, such as an 8×32, with excellent optics, that offer a good field of view and bright image.

Best Birdwatching Binoculars – Price

How much should you pay for your bird watching binoculars?

Obviously, as much as you can afford.

But you’ll discover sound birding binoculars in all price classes.

Check out the list of binoculars below … they’ve all received excellent reviews for birding, and are divided into price range …

Economy Price Range

  • Nikon Action EX 7×35
  • Eagle Optics Denali 7×32
  • Bushnell Nature View 10×42

Mid Price Range

  • Leupold Wind River Katmai 6×32
  • Nikon Monarch 8×42
  • Leupold Wind River Pinnacle8x42
  • Celestron Noble 8×42

High Price Range

  • Nikon Premier LX 8×32
  • Pentax DCF SP 8×43

Top Price Range

  • Zeiss FLT* 8×42
  • Swarovski EL WB 8×32
  • Leica Ultravid BR 7×42
  • Leica Trinovid BN 8×32

Perhaps you also wish to document and photograph the beautiful birds you see?

If this is the case, you should check out the extremely affordable Bushnell Instant Replay 8×30 5MP digital camera binoculars.

You’ll also find Bushnell 7×35 PermaFocus Focus-Free Wide-Angle Binoculars highly suitable for birding … and remarkably cheap.

Best Birdwatching Binoculars -What To Avoid

Is there anything you should avoid when choosing your birding binoculars?

The answer to that is “Yes”…

First of all, ‘though it’s tempting to buy Compact Binoculars, due to their light weight, they’re not ideal for birding.

Their image quality tends to be inferior, and their field of view rather narrow for following birds.

If you must buy them, use them as your secondary pair.

Also, seasoned birders declare zoom binoculars to be unsuitable for birding.
As you will see, the best binoculars for you are the binoculars that fit your individual needs. Many people assume that there is one “best” binocular, but this just isn’t the case. Think about how you will use your binoculars the most and read on for thoughts about features that will be most important for the following situations.

Choosing binoculars for birding in various habitats:

Backyard Birding

What features do backyard birding binoculars need?

Many people that label themselves birdwatchers spend most of their time viewing birds in the backyard. Not only do backyard birdwatchers attract a wide variety of birds to the yard, but they also take pride in knowing the various species that come to visit. Binoculars with a magnification of 8x are great for use in the backyard.Backyard birders typically fall into two categories: those wanting a compact binocular and those wanting full-size binoculars.

Compact Binoculars
Compact binoculars (like 8×25 binoculars) are small enough to fit in a pocket while you’re at work in the yard. These small binoculars will be bright enough for daytime use and, if light gathering isn’t an issue, are easier to travel with and take along for walks, concerts and football games.

Full-Size Binoculars
Full-Size Binoculars (like 8×40 or 8×42 binoculars) will provide better image quality than compact binoculars. Full-size binoculars (like 8×40 or 8×42 binoculars) will gather enough light to show good color and definition from dawn to dusk. However, compact binoculars may get used more often because of their size.

Deserts

What features do binoculars for birding in the desert need?

Waterproof, internal-focus binoculars are ideal for desert birding. It may seem odd to recommend waterproof binoculars for desert applications, but the sealed bodies and minimal moving parts will help prevent damage inflicted by sand and grit.
The ability of a binocular to gather light may not be as important a factor for desert viewing, especially during daylight hours, so you may be able to use a lighter, compact binocular. If much of your viewing will take place during the hottest hours of the day, choose a binocular with lower magnification.

Note: As you increase magnification, you also magnify the distortion produced by heat shimmer.

If you plant to camp in the desert, a full-size binocular will provide you with brighter images of nocturnal wildlife and breathtaking views of starry skies. In open terrain, a 10×42 binocular or a 10×50 binocular can help you identify wildlife from a greater distance.

 

Mountains

What features do binoculars for birding in the mountains need?

As the terrain varies, so do the demands placed on a binocular. Will you typically bird in the heavily wood mountainside, or the rocky slopes? Mountain birding is challenging for several reasons:

1. As you gain elevation,
the ecosystems change with
different plants, terrain, and wildlife.

2. Because of changing terrain and views,
wildlife can be very close or extremely distant.

3. The best mountain birding requires trail hiking
where binocular weight is a prime concern.

4. High elevation and active hiking make it
difficult to hold binoculars steady.

Binoculars for Use on Heavily Wooded Mountainsides
Heavily wooded mountainsides with thick canopies have many shaded areas and indirect lighting. Because of poor lighting, binoculars with large apertures of 40-50mm will provide brighter images with better color fidelity. This is especially important if you use your binoculars to view details on woodland songbirds, warblers, and hummingbirds.
Note how these fairly small birds move about frequently when feeding or avoiding predators. Finding and keeping them in sight is much easier through a binocular with a wide field of view. Binoculars with magnifications of 7x or 8x will provide enough power for identification and also have wider fields of view than binoculars of higher magnification. The ideal binocular for wooded mountainsides would be an 8×40 or 8×42 binocular.

Binoculars for Use On Rocky Slopes
If you climb rocky slopes, you’ll often find yourself in the brushy vegetation that is home to various finches, warblers and hummingbirds. Here again, binoculars with wider fields of view are easier to use. Choose either an 8x or 10x binocular, but decide if the wide field of view or greater magnification is most important to you. Long views of raptors and perching birds are best seen with a 10×42 or 10×50 binocular. The higher magnification of a binocular also makes it easier to identify birds (especially hawks) at greater distances .
If you are doing a lot of active hiking, the weight of your binoculars is of primary importance. A compact binocular may not gather as much light as a larger configuration, but it is a more enjoyable companion on the trail.

Note: You can do a lot of birding with a compact set of binoculars, but you will find that they are less steady than full-size binoculars (heavier binoculars require more hand movement to create a shift in your view). A compact 8x binocular will provide you with steadier views than seen through 10x binoculars.

 

Prairies, Fields & Grasslands

What features do binoculars for birding in prairies, fields & grasslands need?

You’ll want to take your binoculars with you to open prairies, fields and grasslands where lighting conditions are usually good for viewing a variety of birds. So, based on lighting alone, there shouldn’t be any trouble in using either compact or full-size binoculars. With good lighting, the optical performance of compact binoculars can be similar to larger binoculars.
Field of view can also be important in grassland birding. Small, shy birds (like some of the uncommon sparrows) are difficult to coax into the open. They will often burst out of cover, perch for an instant to get a good look at you, and then dive back into the tall grass. Having a binocular with a wide field of view will be a tremendous advantage to you.
Binoculars with higher magnification can be helpful in viewing birds, like cranes, that remain at a distance in a field. You’ll also get better views of birds perching on distant limbs. If you choose a binocular of higher magnification (or a spotting scope), look into mounting it on a tripod to maintain a steady view of your subject.

 

Shorebirds & Waterfowl

 

What features do binoculars for shorebirds and waterbirds need?

You’ll want a binocular that works well where these birds hang out–in open terrain, at greater distances, and under favorable lighting conditions. All of these factors make high magnification binoculars both workable and desirable. If you’re seriously interested in viewing shorebirds and waterfowl, you are sure to find yourself out in the rain or sleet along with these birds. Since some of the most interesting sightings are made during inclement weather, you’ll want to consider waterproof binoculars.
Practically any binocular can be used for viewing shorebirds, however full-size binoculars are suggested due to their light gathering capability. Binoculars with objective lenses of 30mm up to 42mm sizes gather sufficient light and are very portable. A 50mm binocular may provide brighter images, but because of the large objective lenses, you’ll want to consider the size and weight of the binocular.

Binoculars and Watercraft
Viewing birds from small boats like canoes and kayaks is becoming increasingly popular. If you plan to use your binocular from a small watercraft, you’ll appreciate waterproof binoculars that can survive an accidental dunking and keep going strong.

Woodlands

What features do binoculars for birding in woodlands need?

Woodlands offer a variety of bird life and are a favorite birding habitat for birders. Many woodland birds are not only small, but also move unpredictably as they hunt for food and avoid predators. Not only does this make it difficult to find the birds in the first place, but equally challenging to follow them as they move. A binocular with a wider field of view, found in binoculars with magnifications of 6x, 7x, or 8x, will help you find and follow these woodland species.
In thick woods, the canopy blocks out much of the direct sunlight. With this indirect lighting and deep shadows, it is important to choose binoculars that provide you with bright, clear images since many birds have coloration that shows up best in direct light. As these birds move in and out of the shadows, you’ll find binoculars with larger objective lenses of 40-50mm, along with better quality glass and coatings (found on more expensive models), will give you an advantage in distinguishing field marks.


Choosing the best birdwatching binoculars …

Choosing the best birdwatching binoculars …
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