The best binoculars for bird watching

Elevate your bird watching experience with the best binoculars to accompany you.

The best binoculars for bird watching

by Angelica Daujotas |
Updated on

A great pair of binoculars is the most important companion to any bird enthusiast, and choosing the right pair for you is vital.

The world of binoculars can be confusing, especially if you're a bird-watching newbie. With so much on offer and different lens numbers to understand, it can be frustrating to figure out what fits your needs.

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To help you out, we've highlighted some key features and specifications you should look out for when choosing the right pair for you:

Magnification and objective lens

The set of two numbers very commonly seen in binocular names looks like this: "8x25", which refers to the magnification and size of the objective lens.

The first number highlights magnification, the power of the zoom, and the second number denotes the size of the objective lens in millimetres. So, if you take 8x25 as an example, the binocular has a 25mm lens with a magnification of 8x.

Magnification can get as high as 16x, which is exceptionally high and not convenient for everyone. The best range is between eight and ten, which is better for handheld binoculars and offers greater eye relief.

Binocular brightness

Considering birds are most active in the early morning and late nights, a binocular that delivers in low light is important. Image brightness is important to consider if you want to get the most out of your experience and be able to see details clearly in poor light.

Field of view

The more you can see, the better. Binoculars with a wider field of view are really great for bird watchers as they allow you to scan over larger areas quickly. A wide field of view is especially beneficial if you’re following more erratic and fast-moving birds, as you’ll be able to find and follow at the same pace.

The field of view is typically measured as an angle, most commonly between six and nine degrees.

Eye relief

Eye relief is the distance from the surface of the eyepiece lens to the user's eyepoint. For all binoculars, there is a perfect distance your eye should sit from the eyepiece, this is called eye relief. If you’re either too far or too close, you risk missing the full edge of the picture.

When looking at eye relief, take into consideration if you wear glasses. If you do, then a longer eye relief is best, with a minimum of 16mm.

Looking to upgrade or buying your first pair of bird watching binoculars? We've hand-selected the best binoculars available in the UK, to help you get started on your new bird watching adventure.

Best binoculars for bird watching under £100

Olympus 8 x 40 DPSI BinocularAmazon

Rrp: $47.49

Price: $41.99

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Durable, high-quality finish with sure-grip rubber coating and UV protection to protect eyes against the suns harmful rays. Wide-angle field of view for fast-moving subjects, while aspherical optics guarantee a distortion-free view.

Specifications:

Weight - 710g

Eye relief – 12mm

Dimensions – 5.8 x 18.2 x 13.9cm

Extras - comes with case, neck strap, lens covers and manual.

Best lightweight binoculars for bird watching

Zeiss Terra ED Compact Pocket Binocular 8 x 25 cmAmazon

Rrp: $398.99

Price: $378.82
Alternative retailers
Walmart$399.99View offer
B&H Photo Video$399.99View offer

For the best value without compromising on power, these Zeiss binoculars are the perfect compact option - great for those who like to birdwatch while out walking. The large, smooth and easy-to-grip focus wheel makes it particularly fast and easy to focus. Plus, they're made for being portable, so are tough, waterproof, and designed for use in adverse weather conditions.

Specifications:

Weight – 309.87g

Eye relief – 16mm

Dimensions – 24.13 x 17.02 x 10.16cm

For a more budget-friendly option that still won't let you down, Kowa is a great brand. At under £100, these are more affordable, but they're also compact and powerful.

Specifications:

Weight - 260g

Eye relief – 15mm

Dimensions - 4.2 x 10.8 x 10.4cm

Best binoculars for bird watching under £250

Celestron 71346 8 x 42 Outland X BinocularAmazon
Price: $99.95
Alternative retailers
Walmart$99.95View offer
B&H Photo Video$113.00View offer

Celestron's mid-size Outland Series was designed to meet the needs of every outdoor enthusiast, including birders. The optics are multi-coated to obtain high resolution and high contrast views. The binoculars are waterproof, fog-proof and nitrogen purged, for use in all-weather environments. Large focus knobs make for easy and precise focusing, with twist-up eyecups to allow for quick adjustment of eye relief to obtain the full field of view. Comfortable straps are pre-attached to the binoculars to make them ready to use.

Specifications:

Weight - 810g

Eye relief – 18mm

Dimensions - 17.8 x 7.62 x 20.32cm

Extras - moisture-resistant neoprene carrying case.

These 'Savannah' binoculars are a blend of superb optical quality, advanced mechanical design and rugged refinement. The wide field of view with the combination of 8x magnification and 42mm objective lenses, gives clear bright images in high resolution. Suitable for use in low light conditions, such as dawn and dusk when wildlife are on the move, or looking closely at a bird's plumage, to identify its species, in dense foliage where the light is restricted.

Specifications:

Weight - 819g

Eye relief – 18mm

Dimensions - 15.2 x 13 x 5.7cm

Ignite your sense of adventure with the new Avalon 10u00d742 PRO HD. The worldu2019s lightest professional level binoculars. Featuring a stylish waterproof design and fully multicoated optics, they produce bright, razor-sharp images. Avalon 10u00d742 PRO HD binoculars weigh only 550 grams and can be used with or without glasses. They are the perfect choice for birdwatching.

Specifications:

Weight - 550g

Eye relief – 15mm

Dimensions - 14.3 x 12.4cm

Extras - carry case and strap with a beautiful gift box included, covered by Avalon's VIP Lifetime Warranty.

Best binoculars for birding pros

These fully multi-coated optics feature double ED glass objective lenses have a close focus of 2m. They are fully waterproof with fog proof construction. The lightweight body covered in TPU body armour is textured and easy to hold with thumb holds.

Specifications:

Weight - 600g

Eye relief – 16.7mm

Dimensions - 13.5 x 12.5cm

Extras - 10-year guarantee Supplied with a padded case, RSPB lens cloth and exclusive HD pin badge.

Hawke Frontier ED X 8x32 BinocularAmazon
Price: $459.99
Alternative retailers
B&H Photo Video$439.00View offer
Adorama$499.99View offer
Walmart$499.99View offer

The Frontier ED X family of binoculars has ED glass to reduce chromatic aberration while increasing colour reproduction, while designed to offer the best performance available. These 8x32 are ideal for all-round use, compact & light for all-day use and great in all conditions.

Specifications:

Weight - 540g

Eye relief – 16 mm

Dimensions - 12 x 11.8cm

Extras - lens cloth, protective case, case strap, harness adaptors, neck strap, objective lens covers and ocular lens covers.

Nikon is well known in the world of optics, which is no wonder one of its pairs of binoculars has made our best-of list. This pair can be fixed to a tripod using an optional tripod adaptor. All lenses and prisms are multilayer-coated for brighter images, and the die-cast magnesium-alloy body is lightweight.

Specifications:

Weight - 625g

Eye relief – 13.8 mm

Dimensions - 20 x 16.4 x 9.4cm

Best binoculars for children

DMbaby Binocular for Kids DL08Amazon

Rrp: $28.99

Price: $18.99

If your children are interested in bird watching, we recommend this compact shock-proof pair. These compact binoculars are designed for both boys and girls from ages three upwards but aren't to be mistaken for a cheap toy pair of binoculars. With 8x magnification, they produce a clear sharp image, with a wide field of view perfect for birdwatching or nature spotting on walks.

Specifications:

Weight - 199.58g

Dimensions - 10 x 4 x 10cm

All of these binoculars have been hand-selected by What's The Best shopping experts. Our team has spent hours investigating and researching, so you can choose the best one. Plus, we'd never recommend a product we don't believe in. Find out why you should trust us here.

The verdict: what are the best binoculars for bird watching?

For a mid-range price but a high-quality product, you can't go wrong with the Barr & Stroud Savannah 8x42. The fact that they're designed to produce a quality image in low light makes them particularly useful so that no matter the weather – even on a gloomy grey day – you'll be able to clearly spot wildlife. The stylish and traditional exterior makes them feel like a much more expensive model, with the performance to match.

Want to get the most out of your new binoculars? Subscribe to the only bird watching magazine that offers help, advice and all the latest bird news to birders of all ages and abilities,

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Angelica Daujotas is a Commercial Content Writer for WhatsTheBest. She has a passion for fitness, fashion and interiors.

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