Binoculars, Telescopes and Optics Cameras and Optics

The Best Birding Binoculars

Last Updated on January 7, 2021

Best Birding Binoculars Quick List

Binoculars are a great tool for birding and bird watching.  We have a great selection of handheld and compact birding binoculars that cover a wide range of prices for birding.

Steiner Optics HX 8×42 Birding Binoculars

Widely known for hunting optics, we feel the Steiner HX 8×42 is a great birding binocular at a great value.  Small enough for effortless carry, with a wide field. 8x magnification brings wildlife close and clear: perfect for birding in all light conditions.  Built with high-precision roof prism design, advanced lens coatings, and ergonomic rubber-armored polycarb frames.

Steiner’s new optical approaches and frame designs promise brighter, clearer images, extended field of view, easier handling, and all-weather toughness.

With a weight of 27.7 oz. they are very field friendly.

New Frame Design: makes the HX binoculars easier to grip, more comfortable for extending scouting
Bright, Crisp Images: are the result of new lens coatings that increase light transmission across the spectrum
Wider Field of View: helps you spot wildlife more quickly, at greater distances, than ever before.
Ergonomic Eyecups: shield against side light and drafts for clear, crisp view
Fast-Close-Focus™: central focusing wheel requires minimal rotation for quick, absolute sharpness from close up to infinity.

Steiner Nano-Protection: hydrophobic molecular coating creates a lens surface so smooth, water sheets off and dirt, dust, snow, and fingerprints are repelled.
Makrolon® housing: is durable polycarbonate with NBR Long Life rubber armoring, creating a lightweight, rugged chassis that withstands 11 Gs of impact. Impervious to harsh conditions for generations of trusted use.
N2 injection™ system: seals 14-psi pressurized dry nitrogen into the optic, for fogproof clarity in any condition – from artic cold to desert heat.

Nikon EDG 8×42 Binocular

Nikon’s top-of-the-line binoculars.  We rate these binoculars even higher than traditional favorites from Swarovski.  If you’re willing to spend the money, you’ll get the best birding binoculars on the market.  Many birders can’t justify the price which is why we list these as number 2 on our list.

Nikon’s exclusive and legendary ED (Extra-low Dispersion) glass lenses:  Deliver superior sharpness and color correction for unmatched detail resolution.

Dielectric High-Reflective Multilayer Prism Coating:  This technique provides almost the same brightness as that perceived by the naked eye, and clear, high-contrast images that display accurate color reproduction.

Advanced, fully multicoated optics: Multiple layers of anti-reflective compounds on every glass surface for bright, vivid sight pictures.
Field Flattener Lens System: This expert lens design minimizes field curvature, producing images that are as sharp in the peripheral areas as they are in the center.
New body style: New ergonomic construction balances perfectly in the hand for extended hunts.
Dual focus knob with locking diopter adjustments: A quick, central focusing knob has been paired with pop-up diopter adjustments for unparalleled speed and convenience.

Long eye relief with ratcheting eyecup adjustments: Allow for a perfect view, with or with or eyewear.
Horn-shaped detachable eyecups: Ergonomically contoured eyecups block out peripheral light for a clear field of view.
Lightweight, rubber-armored body: Delivers superior ruggedness that is still easy to hold in any weather.
Magnesium-alloy body: New body cuts weight without sacrificing durability.
Waterproof/fogproof optical performance: O-ring sealed and dry nitrogen filled to handle the toughest conditions on the planet. (Up to 10 minutes submersed at 16.4 feet).

Swarovski EL 8.5×42 W B with FieldPro Package

Swarovski binoculars are a top performer for any birding binoculars list.  EL 42 binoculars combine size, weight, and optical performance to give the perfect product. They are multipurpose and reliable, suitable for use both during the day and at twilight. Nature lovers appreciate the unique close-up setting of 3.3 m and the rapid, precise focusing mechanism.

The large field of view and optics providing edge-to-edge sharpness make the EL 8.5×42 binoculars versatile to use. The 4.9-mm exit pupils also produce bright images in poor light conditions.

The EL’s legendary wrap-around grip promises exceptional comfort.

UNCOMPROMISING IMAGE DEFINITION: Field flattener lenses deliver an almost flat, completely distortion-free image – right up to the edges.
ULTIMATE OPTICAL PERFORMANCE: Pin-sharp contours, high-contrast, and true-to-life images, allow you to make out every detail.
MAXIMUM COLOR FIDELITY: Innovative lens coatings provide excellent color rendering with high light transmission.

Zeiss Victory SF 8×42 Birding Binoculars

Built for the birdwatcher, the ZEISS Victory® SF has great optics and an unparalleled wide-angle field of view. Thanks to its light weight, unique ergonomic design and dynamic fast-focus feature, the Victory SF allows for hours of relaxing birding without fatigue. The Victory SF is the new benchmark for birding and wildlife observation in the 125-year development of ZEISS binoculars.

With a field of view of 148m / 1000m, the 8x magnification offers the widest, most natural view and leaves nothing hidden. The seven-lens eyepiece delivers extremely sharp focus all the way to the edges. The moderate magnification, balanced weight distribution and ergonomic grip make these binoculars easy to hold for hours of relaxing viewing. A transmission rate of 92% and large exit pupil measuring over 5 mm reveal the details in dark shadows or the dim light of dusk.

Extremely wide field of view:  With birds often hiding in dense cover, it’s essential that you have a wide field of view to allow you to spot any slight movements. The wide field of view of the ZEISS Victory SF binoculars increases the observable area of interest by up to 20% in comparison with other binoculars. Depending on the model, the field of view is between 120 m and 155 m, giving the user an impressive overview.

92% Light Transmission: The Ultra-FL Concept is containing several SCHOTT fluoride glasses for absolute color fidelity, brightness, clarity and the finest resolution of details, even in the harshest conditions and most challenging environment.

True-to-life image quality:  Compromises cannot be made when it comes to bird identification – fine details have to be recognised within seconds for an accurate and reliable identification. The ZEISS Victory SF family was developed to master the most demanding situations encountered in birdwatching. The optical performance was maximised with a UFL Concept. This allows the user to master the most demanding of bird-watching scenarios, ensuring every precious moment is captured with absolute clarity.

A clear view, whatever the weather: There are always exciting things to be seen in the world of nature – even in wet weather. This is why ZEISS developed LotuTec®. A coating for the lenses of binoculars and spotting scopes that enables a clear and unhindered view in all weather conditions.

SmartFocus Concept:  The outstanding SmartFocus concept allows you to respond as quickly and intuitively thanks to the improved focusing speed. The focusing wheel is positioned in the triple-link bridge to allow for a comfortable, natural hand position. The anti-slip surface allows for easier, more precise operation and ideal focusing.

ZEISS T* Coating:  ZEISS T* coating is a guarantee of the brilliant, high-contrast images­­ which you will experience above all in adverse light conditions and in the twilight. Behind it, however, there is no specific formula for building up the layers. Instead, it is a technology that is constantly adjusted to suit new glass materials and requirements, which varies from lens to lens.

ErgoBalance Concept: Thanks to the ErgoBalance Concept, the binoculars are ideally balanced in the hands and enable prolonged and steady observation with minimum fatigue by reducing stresses on the muscles of the upper and lower arms.

Celestron TrailSeeker 8×42 Binocular

Celestron makes excellent telescopes and optics for astronomy.  However, they also make a great budget birding binocular.  The 8×42 TrailSeeker binocular provides high-level outdoor performance—a perfect choice for avid birders, hunters, and outdoor enthusiasts. TrailSeeker is packed with optical, mechanical, and ergonomic features that make it comparable to binoculars costing two to five times as much.

TrailSeeker features a close focus of just 6.5 feet, making it perfect for viewing birds, butterflies, plants, or other nearby subjects. But this 8×42 binocular also offers the magnification needed to get great views of distance subjects, plus a wide field of view so you can easily follow them as they move. No matter how you choose to observe, this versatile binocular is an excellent all-around performer.

Wide Field of View: The larger viewing area allows the subject to quickly acquire subject and move within the viewing area without constant movement of the binocular.

Coatings and Prisms

TrailSeeker features fully broadband multi-coated optics and phase and dielectric-coated BaK-4 prisms. Fully broadband multi-coated is the highest-quality multi-coating available; it extends the range throughout the visual spectrum and enhances the view. It decreases the surface reflectivity therefore allows greater optical through-put across the entire visible light spectrum.

The prism inside TrailSeeker is made of high quality BaK-4 glass with both phase and dielectric coatings so that more light is reflected off the prism and diverted through the eye. Taken together, fully multi-coatings and BaK-4 prisms maximize light transmission for the brightest, most detailed images possible.

The Body

TrailSeeker is composed of lightweight and durable magnesium alloy. Its tough, rigid frame is coated with rubber to stand up to hard use in the field. What’s more, the binocular is fully waterproof and filled with dry nitrogen gas to prevent internal fogging of lenses. TrailSeeeker can stand up to even the toughest outdoor conditions.

Viewing through TrailSeeker is comfortable for both eyeglass wearers and non-eyeglass wearers alike, thanks to the durable metal twist-up eyecups. Twist through multiple click stops to find the position that works best for you. The metal twist-up eyecups are more durable with a longer life than plastic eyecups; less susceptible to breaking.