Binoculars for birding. Recommendations?

Levina de Ruijter

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My old, cheapo binoculars literally came apart and I’m looking for a replacement. There is a forest of them out there and I don’t know which one to choose. So anyone know what I want for birds? Do I want 8x32, 8x42, 10x42? What? Do I want a porro prism or a roof prism?

I need it to be not too big, not too heavy, and not flimsy as it will go with me on my bird shooting outings, stuffed in a bag. And it needs to have decent optics with some nice clarity. I can spend some money but within reason (not getting a Swarovski!).

Any recommendations?
 
8x42 is the Goldilocks size. The 8 gives the right field of view - wide enough to capture the bird and not too wide. The 42 is a good size for the objective. Any bigger and it will get too heavy.

There are 8x42 binoculars in every price range.
 
This is what I have:


Of course, if you can get a Svarovski, got for it! 😀
$ 399 on Amazon.com becomes € 529 on Amazon.nl! I think I will look for a local brand.

But thanks very much, Sam. At least now I have an idea of what to look for: 8x42, roof prism.

Also thanks for the link to the Audubon binoculars guide. (y)
 
It depends on how much money you are willing to put into it. You have Swarovski on the high end
(very expensive) and the cheap chinese brands on the other end! I went for something in between (Breitler) as it covers my need/purpose!
 
I broke my Nikon P3 8x32 last year and 'upgraded' to a pair of Nikon M7 10x42. They are *so* much better.. Brighter, clearer, much easier to use with my glasses on.. Dont know if it's worth 3x the price but I definitely enjoy using them a lot more than my old ones!
 
It depends on how much money you are willing to put into it. You have Swarovski on the high end
(very expensive) and the cheap chinese brands on the other end! I went for something in between (Breitler) as it covers my need/purpose!
I’m not looking for pro quality, say. I just need something fairly decent to use in the field. I’d like to keep it below 500 euro.
 
I broke my Nikon P3 8x32 last year and 'upgraded' to a pair of Nikon M7 10x42. They are *so* much better.. Brighter, clearer, much easier to use with my glasses on.. Dont know if it's worth 3x the price but I definitely enjoy using them a lot more than my old ones!
I was just looking at the Monarch M7 8x42. It € 439 with 5 year warranty. It gets good reviews on Amazon.

The Dutch society for the protection of birds has a brand of their own, and has a series in the same price range that was chosen as best in its class a few years ago. The 8x42 is € 469 and comes with a warranty of no less than 30 years. I think I’m going to do that. Although tempted to go for the 10x42.
 
I have the Vortex 10x42 Diamondback HD For the price cant be beat IMO. They're currently on sale for $189. Also, Vortex has a lifetime guarantee and great customer support.
They’re not on sale here (€ 259), but it’s definitely an option. It gets very good reviews. Lifetime warranty. And it’s about 100 gram lighter than any of the others I looked at.
 
I was patient and got Zeiss Victory Pocket 8x25 when on sale.
Not cheap. Very small. 290 grams. Minimum focus distance 1.9m which I Iike.

I have Monarch 7 10x42 also. Had them for 8? years. They replaced 10x42 Prostaff.
I was happy with that upgrade. Twice the price but particularly noticeable was 'across the frame' performance.
I think Monarch are around the point of diminishing returns.

I also have Vortex Kaibab 18x50. They are for me, tripod (or other stable mount) use only.

With ownership and hindsight, I'd have the Zeiss as only bins, or the Zeiss and Vortex.
 
I was patient and got Zeiss Victory Pocket 8x25 when on sale.
Not cheap. Very small. 290 grams. Minimum focus distance 1.9m which I Iike.

I have Monarch 7 10x42 also. Had them for 8? years. They replaced 10x42 Prostaff.
I was happy with that upgrade. Twice the price but particularly noticeable was 'across the frame' performance.
I think Monarch are around the point of diminishing returns.

I also have Vortex Kaibab 18x50. They are for me, tripod (or other stable mount) use only.

With ownership and hindsight, I'd have the Zeiss as only bins, or the Zeiss and Vortex.
8x25 seems a bit limited for in the field, especially at dawn. Although it’s no doubt a very good binoculars.

I think I’m going with either a 8x42 or a 10x42. I plan to go to my camera shop this week to look at a few. They also have the Vortex Diamondback that Gossamer mentioned. As well as the Monarch. I need to see them, hold them, look through them. Then I will decide.

18x50 would be nice for star gazing! :D
 
8x25 seems a bit limited for in the field, especially at dawn. Although it’s no doubt a very good binoculars.

I think I’m going with either a 8x42 or a 10x42. I plan to go to my camera shop this week to look at a few. They also have the Vortex Diamondback that Gossamer mentioned. As well as the Monarch. I need to see them, hold them, look through them. Then I will decide.

18x50 would be nice for star gazing! :D

You may need to also get a gym subscription to handle that 18x50! :D
 
Many years ago I bought a Steiner Military Marine 8 x 50. It is great for dusk and dawn. For any magnification greater than 8, I would have to go stabilized! I always lusted after the Canon IS binoculars, but they are above my pay grade.

Roof prism is more compact than porro prism, but they need better coatings and glass to maintain high quality. But in your price range you should be fine with roof prism binocs.
 
Many years ago I bought a Steiner Military Marine 8 x 50. It is great for dusk and dawn. For any magnification greater than 8, I would have to go stabilized! I always lusted after the Canon IS binoculars, but they are above my pay grade.

Roof prism is more compact than porro prism, but they need better coatings and glass to maintain high quality. But in your price range you should be fine with roof prism binocs.
Funny you should mention Steiner, Dale. I was just looking at the Steiner SkyHawk 4.0.
Is 10x magnification that much harder to keep stable than 8x?

Thanks for explaining a roof prism vs a porro prism.
 
I don't use binoculars a ton. In places where I'd use them, I usually have 600mm or more mounted up on a camera. That's 12x in binocular vernacular. Still, I keep a pair handy, but I've never spent a ton of money for a set.

I'd say look at Nikon and Vortex. They both build excellent products that will fit your budget, whatever that is. The cheapest ones are fine, and the most expensive ones are great, and both manufacturers have several models in between.

For around $200 you can get a Nikon Prostaff or a Vortex Diamondback in an 8x42 configuration. Those are the ones that I own and they work fine for what I use them for, but checking out their whole line, you can probably fine a pair that fits your needs and budget. The Nikon Monarch series (M3, M5, M7) is a step up from the Prostaff, both in quality and price.

The trend now is for roof-prism design. The biggest advantage is that they're smaller and lighter than porro prisms. Optically, there's not much difference, so size and weight of the roof prisms pushes that design over the top for me.
 
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