Best Birding Binoculars

Watching birds with binocular

Are you looking for the best birding binoculars?

Whether you are new to bird watching or you've been doing it for years, choosing the right pair of bird watching binoculars can be a challenge.

Without a doubt the most important tool for every bird watcher is a good pair of birding binoculars.

I can tell you from experience that it is better to use your naked eye than to struggle with a bad pair of bird watching binoculars. You may not understand just how important quality optics are until you try them for yourself.

You may have noticed a few things while shopping for the best birding binoculars.

They come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes,specifications and prices.

Nearly all are designed for multiple purposes, including bird watching, nature observation, hiking,fishing, sporting events, concerts and more.

With their large,light-gathering capability and the typical wider spacing of the lenses, binocular images are brighter, have more detail and appear more three-dimensional than normal vision.

Because no one pair of binoculars are suitable for all situations, determining their principal use is one of the most crucial factors when choosing the best birding binoculars for your needs.

It may help to understand what makes one pair of bird watching binoculars different from another.


What Do the Numbers on Binoculars Mean?

There are two numbers, the first one refers to the magnification power of the binoculars, the second number refers to the size of the objective lens (the lenses farthest from your eyes).

Magnification:

The first number on the binocular describes how much larger, or closer, the image will appear.

The magnification number is usually followed with an "x", indicating the "power" of the binocular.

So when looking through 8 x 40 binoculars a subject will look 8 times larger than when viewed with the naked eye.

But more magnification is not always better.When magnification increases, brightness and clarity may decrease, and the field of view is normally more restricted.

Objective Lens/Aperture:

The second number on the binocular describes the diameter of the objective lens (the lenses farthest from your eyes). It is normally directly related to the size and weight of the binoculars.

Compact binoculars usually have objective lenses that range from 15mm to 25mm in diameter, while "full-size" binoculars' objective lenses range from 35mm to 42mm.

Larger objective lenses are beneficial because their light gathering capabilities providing you with more detail and a clearer image.

The downside to having larger objective lenses is that the binoculars themselves become heavier and can be cumbersome for some users.

These may not be the best birding binoculars for you.

Best Birding Binoculars Designs:

Porro Prism Binoculars: These binoculars feature theclassic letter M shape.

The Porro prism design features a wide field of view with superior image sharpness usually at very affordable prices.

Traditional Porro prism binoculars have off-set barrels that are generally large insize and somewhat bulky.

Compact models have prisms that are designed differently in order to minimize the overall size of the binoculars.

Roof prism binoculars: The roof prism binoculars are a newer design. These binoculars are generally smaller and more streamlined than Porro prism binoculars.

The barrels are straight with a compact optical design that can tolerate rough treatment.

These models demand precise tolerances, and their complex prism configurations often mean that the price is significantly higher than Porro prism models of like quality.

Exit Pupil:

The exit pupil of a binocular is the point where all the light rays that enter the objective lens and pass through the binocular, exit through the eyepiece and form a magnified, circular image.

If you hold the binocular away from your eyes and look through at ocular lens, you can see the clear circular exit pupil.

Eye Relief:

Eye relief is crucial for people who wear eyeglasses. A minimum of 14-15mm of eye relief is needed for eyeglass wearers to see through binoculars effectively.

Eye relief in a binocular refers to the distance images are projected from the ocular lens to their focalpoint. The eye relief of a binocular may vary from 5mm to as much as 23mm.

Binoculars' eyepieces come in three styles: rubber eyecups, fold-down eyecups or more modern retractable style eyecups.

Retractable style eyecups are more accommodating for the user, whether they wear eyeglasses or not.

Field of View:

The field of view describes the size of the area you can see using a pair of birding binoculars.

This area is expressed as the width, measured in feet, at a distance of 1000 yards.

Close Focus:

The close focus of a pair of binoculars des

cribes the minimum distance that it will focus to. The optical design determines the close focus of a particular and, to a small extent, the characteristics of your eyes.

For many birdwatchers and butterfly watchers, it is desirable for binoculars to focus to at least 10 feet.

Interpupillary Distance (IPD):

IPD is the distance from one eye pupil to the other, expressed in millimeters.

For most people, IPD is not a consideration, but for a person with either narrow-set or wide-set eyes it can be important to know your interpupillary distance.

Twilight Factor:

Twilight factor is a commonly used measurement of viewing efficiency and image detail in low lighting conditions.

Protection - Weatherproofing:

Weatherproofing ranges from none to showerproof to waterproof to nitrogen purged. Waterproof sealing is done with rubber "O" rings.

Nitrogen purged waterproofing models are considered the best birding binoculars, whether you live in a humid climate or not. Nitrogen purging can also keep out dust, sand, or anything else that can get inside the binoculars.

That's why we prefer the term "weatherproofing".


I know this seems like a lot of information, but choosing the best birding binoculars is not that difficult.

The best advice I can give you is to try as many pairs of bird watching binoculars as you can. Evaluate the weight, how they feel in your hands, how they fit your eyes and ease of focus.

Narrow your search to three or four pairs, then check the details using the information above and purchase the best birding binoculars you can afford.


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