The best bird watching binoculars for astronomy are different to what you would choose for bird-watching, hiking or horse racing. If you’re not sure what type you need, our guide will explain the differences. If you are just starting out with your hobby you will probably want an affordable pair of binoculars, while experts looking to upgrade will probably be ready to spend more to get the best bird watching binoculars available.
Top 10 best bird watching binoculars in UK 2021
Let’s delve into our official ranking of the best bird watching binoculars around.
1. Celestron Outland X 8×42
Something of a bargain, this pair of Celestron BaK-4 prism binos boasts 8x magnification and multi coated optics to prevent anything from marring your view. This isn’t the only size – you can get these Outland X binoculars in other magnifications and sizes too. Suitable for outdoor use by birders and wildlife watchers, thanks not only to said magnification but also a sturdy polycarbonate build and waterproofing, the decent-sized 42mm objective lenses on offer here will aid light gathering, making these binoculars suitable for use in low light as well as regular daylight. A large smooth-feel focus wheel aids operation and a long 18mm eye relief delivers viewing comfort. Capable of being tripod mounted if desired, a strap, lens cloth and carry case comes as standard, plus a limited lifetime warranty.
2. Slokey 8×32 Professional Binoculars
If value for money is high on your list of priorities when choosing the best binoculars, this pair from Slokey are worthy of serious consideration.
They provide equivalent professional performance at a fraction of the price of some of the high-end brands.
Casual bird watchers and ornithologists alike will benefit from owning these binoculars; their incredible luminosity provides amazingly bright, clear, and sharp images. Birds in trees or flight a couple of hundred metres away appear very close and it’s easy to pick out fine detail.
Bringing images into focus is easy, the focus wheel moves smoothly and is very responsive.
If you are going to be watching the birds for a great length of time, there is a handy adapter on the underside to connect the binoculars to a standard tripod.
3. The Nikon Monarch HG 10 x 42 Binoculars
The Nikon Monarch binoculars come with a magnification of 10×42 and have a 42mm diameter with ED glass that corrects aberrations in your binocular lens.
Feature-wise the best bird watching binocular boasts a phase-corrected roof prism and multi-coated lenses, along with a 17mm eye relief. It additionally has a field flatten system which stops distortion in a wide-angle range of view and all light conditions.
Design-wise the binoculars additionally have an all-weather proof design which is nitrogen filled along with included twist-up eyecups and a large central focusing knob.
4. OLYMPUS 10X25 WP II
Aimed at outdoor enthusiasts who prize portability over everything else, these handily foldable compact binoculars offer a decent 10x magnification and a 25mm objective lens. Add to that some waterproofing and it ensures they can be used whether at sea or at the races on dry land.
If you wear glasses know that the Olympus 10×25 WP II feature built-in dioptric correction that can be adjusted to individual eyesight. Multi-coated lenses help deliver edge-to-edge sharpness and crisp and clear viewing, while a central focus knob ensures adjustment is easy and convenient without needing to take a step back, or forward. Their closest focus point is 1.5 metres. A nitrogen-filled body also makes them fog-proof and dirt-proof – though not drop-proof – while they’re also rubber-coated, so easy to grip.
5. Zeiss 8X25 Terra ED Compact Pocket Binocular
If you’re looking for a lightweight binocular, the Zeiss Compact Binocular is one of the best options on the market right now.
These binoculars only weigh .68lbs and have an extremely compact folding design.
With the 8x magnification, you will still get close to the action and the field of view on these tiny optics is impressive, to say the least.
These binoculars are great for travelers looking to minimize storage space without reducing quality.
The Zeiss 8X25 Terra ED Compact Pocket Binocular, though small, feels great in the hands and the focus knob turns effortlessly.
Anyone interested in these binoculars will also be happy to know that the lenses are coated in Zeiss’ trademark Hydrophobic Zeiss MC to optimize image clarity and comes with a limited lifetime warranty.
6. Gosky – 10 x 42 Binoculars for Bird Watching
Gosky have a serious contender for the best pair of birdwatching binoculars under £100 with these stunners! At 10x magnification, and with a 42mm objective lens, they are certainly high-powered, full-sized and ready for birding business.
They have a respectable 100m field of view, allowing for a decent amount of tracking. Their roof prism design is robust, and the rubber shell gives a good amount of shock-proofing. And they come with all the right accessories, including a quality neck strap, which at 700g you will certainly need.
7. Occer 12×25 Compact Binoculars
Bird watching requires some quality optics, but that doesn’t mean you have to spend a fortune. Take these Occer compact binoculars, for example. They’re dirt cheap, but offer performance that punches way above their price, which is why we think they’re the best binoculars for bird watching for the money.
We were surprised at how good the image quality is when using these binoculars. Especially for the price, the sharp image and accurate color representation are quite impressive. The field of view is pretty narrow though at just 273 feet. This means it can be more difficult to follow your subject during flight, but you’ll get a great view when they’re perched.
What’s really nice about these binoculars is their compact size and light weight. They weigh in at less than a pound with a footprint that’s small enough to slip into your pocket. Even after hours of viewing, these are so light that they’re unlikely to fatigue you. And since they’re so light and small, you’ll hardly notice them while you’re carrying them to your destination, even if they’re hanging around your neck.
8. RSPB Puffin 10×42
The general rule is that the cheaper the binocular, the more difficult to focus and to see a clear image they get. These compact binoculars buck that trend spectacularly.
Typically sold at RSPB bird reserves, they cost a bargain £60 yet the image you see through them is clear and crisp with little distortion, and you won’t spend ages adjusting them thanks to the wide 7.5° field of view.
True, you don’t get such luxuries as extra-close focusing (take the 2.5m close focus claim with a large pinch of salt, it’s actually longer than 3m), and they’re quite soft at the edges of the field of view. The strap and pouch are basic, and eye-relief is a low 13.6mm. Glasses wearers would be well advised to try these out before buying.
However, the binoculars themselves feel solidly made, they’re light and portable and offer screw-out eyecups – a lot more than you’d expect for the money.
9. Avalon 8X32 Mini HD Binoculars
Despite being compact these binoculars from Avalon offer up impressive high definition, long distance images, ideal for both bird watching and butterfly spotting.
They have a comfortable grip and also come with a carry case and strap. They can easily fit into your jacket pocket or a handbag, and are both fog and waterproof. One of the best compact binoculars you can find.
10. Celestron Skymaster
If your purpose for buying a pair of binoculars is long-range observation such as astronomy, then you can’t overlook the size of the aperture. This is why the Skymaster line of affordable binoculars from Celestron is the right option for those who want to take a serious gaze at the stars, albeit on a budget.
They are designed with undersized prisms, which cut down the effective aperture below the marketed number. The implication is that the images aren’t particularly sharp.
The quality control is another issue with binoculars from Celestron. Many units have been shipped with miscollimated prisms. Thankfully, the extra aperture, as well as the power offered make up for the underwhelming features.
How Do Binoculars Work?
Lenses are curved pieces of glass which affect the way light travels. When it hits a lens, it’s direction of travel is altered, slowing it down and making it bend.
There are many different types of lenses, but convex lenses are those which are used in binoculars. These lenses have a middle which is thicker than their outer edge, and thus attract the light to their centre. Essentially, this “converges” all the light into one place, making whatever you are looking at seem much larger.
Therefore, if you want to get a better view of something much farther away, it is best to put two convex lenses together to intensify the result. In simple terms, this is what binoculars are.
The first of the lenses receives the light from whatever you are pointing it at, and pulls all of it together, making the image larger. The second one receives this bigger image and repeats the process, making it even more magnified to the eye.
Of course, this works in reverse too. This is why if you have ever flipped binoculars the other way around, things appear much smaller when you look through the eyepieces.
However, the process doesn’t end there. The images created by the convex lenses are reversed, due to the way the light is bent when it hits the glass. In order to rectify that problem, binoculars have two glass prisms inside which are shaped like wedges. These prisms correct the image, each flipping it through 90 degrees so that by the time it reaches your eye, it has been turned the right way up.
As you have probably noticed, binoculars require the use of a lot of high-quality glass components to work effectively. For this reason, binoculars are generally bulky and the most powerful models can be very heavy.
How can I keep my binoculars clean?
If you spend most of your time on the trail, chances are you’re going to be taking your binoculars almost everywhere with you. At some point, the device is going to get dirty and require some cleaning. However, you need to be careful how you handle this as there is a fragile and sensitive coating on the lens that can be damaged if you’re too rough.
The general rule of thumb when it comes to cleaning binoculars is to do it as seldom as possible. You can get a soft cleaning brush to go gently over the lens as you try to get rid of any specks of dust.
Start by removing any large specks on the lens before gently proceeding to the finer ones using soft and circular cleaning motions. But if this does not eliminate the dirt, you can purchase a special cleaning fluid to get the job done more effectively. Note that thorough cleaning should only be performed once in a blue moon and always remember to put the caps back on when you’re done using the binoculars.
A good pair of binoculars is a must-have for any birder, so don’t miss out on the immense opportunity for discovery when looking to the sky’s and trees, trying to spot these feathered, flying and awe-inspiring creatures!