What Binoculars are best?

How to get the best binoculars for your needs

I often get sent questions like ‘what are the best binoculars’ or ‘what binoculars to buy’, without many more details given to me other than that.

To be honest such open ended questions like these are impossible to answer correctly as there is no such thing as one single pair of optics that is better than all others for everyone. A better question to ask would be something like: what are the best binoculars for me and then go on to list your requirements as well as your budget.

So my advice is to first have a think about why you want your binoculars and what you will mostly be using them for and in that way you will hopefully be able to find what binoculars are best for you:

Step 1

Decide on your main intended use for your optics – This does not have to be set in stone and it is ok to want a good general all rounder. Besides in many cases a great bird watching binocular will also make for really good or even great general use or larger wildlife observation optics. But what it will do is help you think about what the main features you should be looking out for in your optics.

Step 2

Decide what the main specifications & features you require

So for example if you want your binoculars mostly for birdwatching, a wide field of view will in many cases be more important than a very powerful magnification – this is not always the case however, because perhaps you will be doing most of your birding in wide open areas with the birds further away from you, I am thinking of places like on a lake or near the sea. So once you have your main intended use also think about if there are any sub-sets within that category to refine the main features you require.

So how do I know what features are required for a particular use?
Well a lot of it is common sense, like an ideal marine binocular would be one that is water proof, but there are some features that may not be quite so obvious. So to help I have outlined the main features to look for in your binoculars in a whole host of the most common uses:

 
 

Step 3

Decide on your budget

My advice to people when they ask how much they should spend on a pair of optics is to go with what you feel comfortable spending. Having said that, I strongly suggest that you stay clear of the very cheapest optics – they are far often little better than a toy and will only leave you frustrated because of the poor quality view through them and you will end up not using them.

This does not mean that you have to spend a fortune either, whilst the very best optics that use the best quality glass, coatings and components are usually on the expensive side, there are a load of really great value for money binoculars that for most casual users will be more than good enough.

Step 4

Find your binoculars – Then all you have to do is look for the pairs of binoculars within your budget that match as many or ideally all of your required specifications and features.

To do this quickly, take a look at my new Binoculars Features Search, that allows you to select the features (and budget) that you require and then browse as well as make Side-By-Side Binocular Comparisons between binoculars within specific criteria.

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