Insect & Butterfly Binoculars

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Monarch ButterflyViewing Butterflies through Binoculars
Everyone knows just how beautiful butterflies are, but by just using your eyes, you are mission out on so much detail. So for those of you who have never viewed them through a pair of binoculars, you are in for a real treat!

The traditional way of viewing these and many other beautiful insects would be to capture them, place them on a pin board and use a magnifying glass! Obviously this involves killing the creature, which in my opinion is very far from ideal. Whilst trying to get close enough to them by just using something like a magnifying glass is in most cases impossible and so by far one of the best ways to get a much better view is through a good pair of binoculars

So just what makes a good pair of binoculars for butterflies and what features do we need to look out for?

How to choose Binoculars for Butterflies, other Insects and Flowers
First I think you need to decide if you are just going to be using these binoculars for viewing small objects like butterflies from a near distance, or if you want a more all-round pair that will also work well for birds, other wildlife and many other activities. If this is the case, I would suggest take a look at good general use binoculars, that also have a close minimum focusing distance anything under 6ft (1.8m) is very good and you will be fine. To help you, take a look at the links below:

Close Focusing Distance

Without a doubt, the most important feature to look out for in a good pair of binoculars for viewing butterflies through is their close focusing distance. Close focus binoculars are essential as you want to be able to get as near to them as possible (without frightening it away). A pair of binoculars that can focus on a image at 6ft (1.8m) or less away will mean that the butterfly will fill your field of vision, bringing you as much detail as possible. A binocular with a further minimum near focusing distance will force you to back away and make the butterfly appear smaller, defeating the purpose of the binoculars. (importance 10/10)

So what is a good minimum? I would say that anything at or under 6ft (1.8m) would be fine and you can take a look at all the Close Focusing Binoculars, that I have so far reviewed - all of which have a close focusing distance of 6ft or under.

However if you want a pair of binoculars specifically for viewing objects at close range, you should try and get some binoculars that have very close focusing distances:

Pentax Papilio Binoculars 8.5x21Pentax Papilio Binoculars

Pentax have produced a series of binoculars that are ideal for viewing things like dragonflies and butterflies. The name "Papilio" actually Latin for Butterfly and they have incredibly close minimum focusing distances.

Pentax produces the Papilio in two configurations 6.5x21 and 8.5x21 and both can focus on an object from about 1.6ft (0.5m) away.

Optical Features include:

  • Unique Convergent Lens Optical System enables them to compensate for parallax and prevent the misalignment of the left and right image at very close range
  • Minimum Close Focus: 1.6ft
    Fully Multi-coated Lenses that increase light transmission with multiple anti-reflective coatings on all air-to-glass surfaces
  • BaK-4 Prisms - Optimize light transmission.
  • Reverse Porro Prisms - Generally offer a rich depth of field, compact design, and three-dimensional image

Reviews

The Papilio's have been designed as a special purpose close focus instrument but you can use them for something like birdwatching with an acceptable result, but you will not get the detail and brightness from more specific birding binoculars with larger objective lenses. Yet I feel that their fairly low price makes it acceptable to justify buying a pair as a special purpose butterfly binocular, even for those who are only starting to get interested in bugs and I highly recommend a pair to anyone interested in getting a much better view of butterflies, dragonflies, or flowers.

 
 

Buy & Compare Prices for Pentax Papillio Binoculars



 
 

Other Very Close Focus Binoculars Worth Considering:

 

Eagle Optics Ranger SRT 6x32 Binoculars

Eagle Optics Ranger SRT 6x32 BinocularsWith a minimum close focus of 3 feet (0.9m), the 6x32 Eagle Optics Ranger SRT, is nice compact binocular ideal for viewing objects like butterflies from close range.

The Ranger has a lightweight, durable body, and comes with an affordable price tag, making it easier to justify getting yourself a dedicated close focusing binocular.

Optical highlights include:

Other highlights include soft rubber, multi-position eyecups and very long eye relief (19.5 mm). They also have a very wide (409 ft.) field of view and the Eagle Optics Platinum Protection unlimited, unconditional lifetime warranty.

Price Range - at the time of writing, these were available from Eagle Optics for $179.99:

 

Vortex Viper 6x32 Binoculars

Vortex Viper 6x32 BinocularsLike the Eagle Optics Ranger above, these 6x32 mid sized binoculars have an excellent minimum close focus of only 3 feet (0.9m).

According to Vortex, Viper, customers have been amazed by the bright views and sharp details delivered through superior optical engineering, which I cannot confirm, but will say that their as well as their close focusing distance, their field of view of 420 feet at 1000 yards is excellent as is their full 19.5 mm of eye relief.

Optical highlights include:

Price Range - at the time of writing, these were available from around $275 - $399 depending on where you get them, which when you consider their list pice was $549, it is a real bargain for a quality pair of optics:

 

Meopta MeoPro 6.5x32 Binoculars

Meopta MeoPro 6.5x32 BinocularsThe Meopta equivalent of the Vortex Viper and Eagle Optics Ranger above, comes with a slightly higher magnification of 6.5x. This means that you will get a little more image detail, but makes the exit pupil just a little smaller.

This Meopta binocular has a minimum close focus of 3.28ft (1.1m) which is a fraction more then the two above, but still should be plenty close enough.

Other impressive features include their wide FOV of 432ft @ 1000 yards and a very long eye-relief of 22.3mm.

Related ArticlesMore Information

Price Range - at the time of writing, these were available for under $300 / £300 - check the link below for current prices:

 

Other Important Features

When choosing your ideal close focus butterfly binocular, take time to compare and look at these other important specifications and features on the binocular. This way you can get the best binocular for your needs in any particular price range:

Field of View

This is not as important when observing the details close up of a slow moving object, but if you also would like to use your binoculars for things like birding or for taking to a sporting event, then the field of view (FOV) becomes much more important. The FOV is basically the width of the scene that is in view when you look through your binoculars, for a full explanation see field of view in my optics glossary.

A wide field of view will make it easier to find objects especially fast moving ones, it also gives you a more immersive, big-picture experience. On the down side is often a loss of pinpoint detail that you find in high magnification binoculars. In simple terms lower magnification often means wider field of view. A field of view that is too wide will often result in distortion at the edges of the image. (importance 5/10)

Eye Relief

This is very important if you use glasses. Take a look at Eye Relief in my glossary for a detailed explanation, but basically it is the distance behind the ocular lenses where the image is in focus. If you wear glasses, you can't get your eyes as close to the lenses than people who don't and so you need a longer eye relief that basically projects the image beyond the ocular lens. If you wear glasses, you should be looking for an eye relief of at least 15mm, to see the full image full image projected.

Eye-cups are related to the eye relief as they keep the distance from the oculars to our eyes, but also help keep stray light away from your eyes while using binoculars. Many eye-cups are made from rubber and can roll up or down depending on whether you use lasses or not. The problem with these is that the constant rolling causes the eye-cups to break. Another type are eye-cups that slide rather than roll, but these can be hard to keep in place. The third type are eye-cups that twist up and down and so they can be left at any position from all the way up to all the way down, some even have click stops at regular intervals with the eye relief distance for each stop marked on the cup so you can get the perfect eye relief for your vision. (importance 8/10 if you use glasses)

 
 

Reviewed Close Focus Binoculars

Below are some recent binoculars that I have reviewed that have a near focus of less than 5.6ft. They are listed in order with the smallest minimum focus ones at the top:

 

Pentax Papilio 8.5x21 Binoculars

Compact porro prism binoculars with fully multi-coated optics and an incredibly close minimum focusing distance that is ideal for close observation of birds, flowers, butterflies, bees and other insects and objects both out in the field or in a gallery or museum.

Their compact design makes them easy to carry about and so like any other compact bin, they make great hiking, camping and general travel companions, as well as for taking to most spectator sports.

Price: (2/6) Low Cost Binoculars
BBR Ratings:
Body Quality: 7/10 70%
Excellent
Body Stats: 7/10
Optical Quality: 6/10
Optical Stats: 8/10
Image Quality 8/10
Extras & Details: 6/10

 

Snypex Knight ED 10x32 Binoculars

A very lightweight and compact open bridge body that is tough as well as fog and waterproof do a great job of protecting the high quality optics contained inside these Snypex binoculars.

Components like Apochromatic lenses with ED Glass Lens Elements, fully multi-coated optics and Phase Coated, BaK-4 Roof Prisms all combine to produce an image of stunning clarity and brightness that is a match to any in this class.

Price: (4/6) Mid-High Value Binoculars
BBR Ratings:
Body Quality: 8/10 78%
Excellent
Body Stats: 8/10
Optical Quality: 8/10
Optical Stats: 7/10
Image Quality 8/10
Extras & Details: 8/10

 

Kite Lynx HD 8x30 Binoculars

Small mid-sized bins or large compacts? You decide, but these high quality Kite Optics binoculars are ideal for anyone who wants to save space, but does not want to sacrifice too much on optical performance.

They are a very well made and produce a great quality image with a very wide field of view and very near close focus.

Price: (4/6) Mid-High Value Binoculars
BBR Ratings:
Body Quality: 7/10 83%
Outstanding
Body Stats: 10/10
Optical Quality: 9/10
Optical Stats: 9/10
Image Quality 8/10
Extras & Details: 7/10

 

Kite Ibis ED 8x42 Binoculars

These premium grade 8x42 binoculars are made in Japan using all the top end components and coatings you expect including ED Glass Lens Elements, Fully Multi-Coated Optics, Phase Corrected Bak-4 Roof Prisms with Dielectric Coatings on the reflective prism surface.

This results in a superb quality of view at a cost that is less than you'd expect and so should bring a smile to even the most discerning users.

Price: (5/6) High Value Binoculars
BBR Ratings:
Body Quality: 8/10 82%
Outstanding
Body Stats: 8/10
Optical Quality: 9/10
Optical Stats: 8/10
Image Quality 9/10
Extras & Details: 7/10

 

Opticron 10x32 Traveller BGA Mg Binoculars

Very compact and lightweight mid-sized binoculars that are fully water & fogproof. They also come with quality optics and coatings to ensure a high quality and bright image is produced.

Price: (3/6) Mid Priced Binoculars
BBR Ratings:
Body Quality: 8/10 75%
Excellent
Body Stats: 9/10
Optical Quality: 8/10
Optical Stats: 7/10
Image Quality 7/10
Extras & Details: 6/10

 

Snypex Knight ED 10x50 Binoculars

High specification 10x binoculars with larger than standard 50mm objective lenses for superior light gathering ability, which combined with optical features like fully multi-coated optics and highly reflective silver mirror coated prisms deliver a stunning low light performance for a 10x binocular of this size.

Other optical highlights include the use of ED glass elements in their apochromatic designed lenses and phase corrected Bak-4 roof prisms.

Price: (5/6) High Value Binoculars
BBR Ratings:
Body Quality: 8/10 78%
Excellent
Body Stats: 7/10
Optical Quality: 8/10
Optical Stats: 8/10
Image Quality 8/10
Extras & Details: 8/10

 

Snypex Knight ED 8x50 Binoculars

These 8x5 Snypex binoculars with their large 50mm objective lenses have improved light gathering compared to the more commonly found 42mm models, but with only a slightly larger and heavier body.

This combined with optical features like ED glass elements in their apochromatic lenses, phase corrected Bak-4 roof prisms, fully multi-coated optics and silver mirror coated prisms produce a high quality view, bright image and improved low light performance.

Their Magnesium & Aluminium body is fully water and fogroof and covered in a tough rubber armour.

Price: (5/6) High Value Binoculars
BBR Ratings:
Body Quality: 8/10 78%
Excellent
Body Stats: 7/10
Optical Quality: 8/10
Optical Stats: 8/10
Image Quality 8/10
Extras & Details: 8/10

 

Eagle Optics NEW Ranger ED 8x42 Binoculars

The latest version of the Eagle Optics Ranger ED Binocular improves on it's predecessor and now features a single bridged lightweight body that is of course both water & fog proof.

Optically these are hard to beat, especially at this price point as they are equipped with ED (extra-low dispersion) glass lenses, dielectric and phase-corrected BaK-4 prisms and fully multi-coated optics.

Price: (4/6) Mid-High Value Binoculars
BBR Ratings:
Body Quality: 8/10 82%
Outstanding
Body Stats: 8/10
Optical Quality: 9/10
Optical Stats: 8/10
Image Quality 9/10
Extras & Details: 7/10

 

Books on Binoculars for Butterflies

Below are some books on butterflies specifically for people using binoculars to view them with.

USA FlagAmazon USA


British FlagAmazon UK

 
 
 
 

Christmas Guide


The best Christmas deals and offers as well as recommendations for the birder, wildlife guru, sports nut or traveller. No matter what your budget, there is the perfect gift for you. Includes binoculars, spotting scopes, night vision and accessories >> BBR Christmas Guide.

 

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