Guides to Birdwatching & Birding Binoculars

Binocular Reviews Home > Birding

Swarovskl SLR Birding BinocularsIn this section of the BBR site, you will find articles, documents and guides related to birding in general as well as advice on choosing the best bird watching binoculars for your specific needs and requirements:

  1. Buyers Guides: Within this area there are a whole host of articles and advice with pretty much everything that you need to help you buy your perfect pair of bird spotting binoculars no matter your experience or budget.
  2. General Birding: Articles and field reports on birds and birding in general.
  3. Featured & Reviewed Birding Binoculars: This selection contains a selection of the most recent reviews that I have written on ideal birding binoculars. There is also a link to all bird spotting binocular reviews
  4. Technical & User Guides: Section on how to use your binoculars to get the best out of them and for those who want to really get under the hood, some articles that have a more technical flavour to them.

Buyers Guides

Birdwatching Binoculars

Birdwatching binocularsThis article is where to start if you are looking to buy a pair of binoculars that will mostly be used for general birdwatching.

In this guide I explain the most important features to look out for and why, so that you can make an informed choice based on your specific requirements.

I also list some of the best birding binoculars that I have reviewed in a number of different price brackets and size categories.

Hawke Endurance ED 8x42 Birding Binoculars

Hawke Endurance ED 8x42 Bird Watching Binoculars
Voted the best value for money bin in 2016, these Hawke Endurance ED's are most certainly get you plenty bang for your buck and on top of that are perfect for most birdspotting needs.

Best Value For Money Bird Watching Bins

Bird Watching Binoculars
Here I have taken my list of what I consider to be the best value for money binoculars and then selected only those that have also been rated as being ideal for birding from this list.

What is left are what I feel are the best value birding binoculars that I have reviewed on BBR.

10x42 Binoculars for Birding

The general advice for most types of birding is to get a binocular with a wide field of view as this feature is more often than not preferred over a more powerful magnification and a narrower view.

This is exactly why most birders tend to use an instrument with a an 8x or even 7x magnification.

However there are certain circumstances and types of bird watching where slightly more power trumps the width of view.

In this article, I explore these circumstances and offer up some advice as to the best 10x42 birding binoculars..

Birding Binocular Awards

Winner Best Birding Binocular 2016, the Eschenbach Trophy D 8x42 ED BinocularsEvery year BBR as well as a number of other writers, optical retailers and experts highlight the very best optics in a whole range of categories, including those ideal for bird watching by giving them an award.

So if you are interested in what we think are the very best birdwatching binoculars, take a look at some of the award winners over the past few years:

Wide FOV Binoculars

Wide Angle Minox Binoculars
Having a really wide field of view (FOV) is really important to some people and in some situations. Many birders particularly look for binocular with a wide viewing angle.

In this section, I explain the field of view, why and when it is important and list some of the widest available:
>> Wide Angle Binoculars
>> Wide Angle 10x42 Binoculars

Value For Money Binoculars

Bird Value Binoculars
What exactly makes good value for money and can you have a really expensive binocular that is better value than a cheap one?

I explore these and other questions as well as list what I believe are the best value optics in a range of different price categories:
>> Best Value For Money Binoculars
>> Best Value Birding Binoculars

Best Backyard Birdwatching Binoculars

Birdwatching binocularsI have always enjoyed birding from my back yard (garden when I was in Zimbabwe and the UK) as it has many advantages over going out to view "wild" birds.

These advantages include not having to worry about carrying your gear about and because many of the birds get used to you being about and the fact that they are fed via bird feeders, means that you you can often get very close.

As well as photography, this is great for really close observation with a good pair of bins. So what exactly makes a good pair of backyard binoculars? In this guide I go through the main features to look out for and offer some of my own recommendations.

 
 

General Birding Articles

Swarovski CL Companion 8x30 Binoculars
Expedition Report: Birding with the Swarovski CL Companion Binoculars in Charara, Zimbabwe

On the banks of the eastern basin of Lake Kariba, within the Zambezi valley is Charara Bay, a place from which many Zimbabweans use as a base to go onto the lake to fish the mighty Tigerfish.

However my main interest was to observe and photograph some of the local wildlife and in particular the incredible variety of birds.

As well as my photography and night vision equipment, I also took along a pair of the Swarovski CL Companion 8x30 binoculars with me to see just how well they would perform out in the field.

Lowepro Field Station Belt Pack
Lowepro Field Station Belt Pack Review

Designed specifically with birders in mind and perfect for not only packing away your bins, but your birding books and and a bunch of other gear that you often take out into the field when birding.

Not only for birding: The Field Station Belt Pack from Lowepro is also a great product for any wildlife enthusiast or researcher.

This small bag fits around your waist and has a pocket that enables you to carry your binoculars.

It also comes with a "shelf" than makes reading from and writing in your bird book, field guide, sketchbook or notebook really simple when out in the field.

Note: This shelf can also be used to carry and use your iPad or other tablet type computer.


 
 

Birdwatching Binoculars Reviewed

Below is a selection of ideal binoculars for birdwatching and bird spotting binoculars that I have fully tested & reviewed:

 

Snypex Knight D-ED 8x32 Binoculars Review

These 8x32 Snypex Knight D-ED binoculars come about as close as any as being the perfect general use mid-sized instrument.

The highest quality optical components like APO lenses with ED glass elements, Bak-4 Dach roof prisms with phase correction and dielectric coatings all come together to deliver an image that is as good as many high quality full sized instruments...

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

 

Carson RD Series 8x42 Binoculars Review

Price wise these Carson binoculars hover right on the boundary between mid range and low cost instruments. However in terms of the components and features these sit comfortable amongst many mid level binoculars and thus look to offer some more than decent value for money.

Highlights include BAK-4 roof prisms, fully multi-coated optics, plenty of eye-relief and a more than decent field of view.

Price: (2/6) Low Cost Binoculars
BBR Ratings:
Body Quality: 7/10 72%
Excellent
Body Stats: 8/10
Optical Quality: 7/10
Optical Stats: 7/10
Image Quality 7/10
Extras & Details: 7/10

 

Athlon Argos 8x42 Binoculars Review

These mid range, open bridge 8x42 Argos binoculars from Athlon Optics boast features like FMC optics and BaK4 roof prisms that have both Dielectric and Phase correction coatings.

Indeed they Use exactly the same very high level optical coatings as more expensive binoculars from Athlon, which at this price is super impressive.

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

 

Levenhuk Sherman Pro 8x32 Binoculars Review

These low cost binoculars from Levenhuk deliver a good image quality and high level of brightness for a mid sized (32mm) bin at this price level, which almost certainly is a result of the relatively simple but good quality BaK-4 porro prism design combined with fully multi-coated optics.

Add to this a very wide field of view, tough water and fog proof exterior and you have a good all-round mid-sized take anywhere binocular with a really good value to performance ratio.

Price: (2/6) Low Cost Binoculars
BBR Ratings:
Body Quality: 6/10 68%
Very Good
Body Stats: 7/10
Optical Quality: 7/10
Optical Stats: 7/10
Image Quality 8/10
Extras & Details: 6/10

 

Eagle Optics Denali 8x42 Binoculars Review

Updated, the new mid priced 8x42 Eagle Optics Denali binocular comes with upgraded coatings and a higher quality prism.

You also get a closer minimum focus and even more eye-relief, making them an ideal all-round instrument and perfect for the eye-glass wearer.

Price: (3/6) Mid Priced Binoculars
BBR Ratings:
Body Quality: 7/10 72%
Excellent
Body Stats: 7/10
Optical Quality: 7/10
Optical Stats: 8/10
Image Quality 7/10
Extras & Details: 7/10

 

View >> All binoculars that I have reviewed ideal for Birdwatching

 
 

Technical & User Guides

This section contains articles I have written on some of the more technical aspects and features of binoculars and optics in general. They are also the ones that I think are are important as well as relevant to binoculars that you would use for looking at birds with:

The Complete Guide to: The Exit Pupil

A common misconception is the bigger the exit pupil, the brighter your binoculars will be.

Whilst this is true... to a point as there is only so much light that your eyes can take in. The size of the exit pupil and just how bright an image you will see also varies depending on the surrounding lighting conditions and a bunch of other factors too.

So depending on how, where and when you use your binoculars you may not actually need those giant objective lenses. For more, take a look at my complete guide to the exit pupil.

 

Eye-ReliefBest Long Eye Relief Birdwatching Binoculars

I have come across many birders over the years who wear glasses, but did not know how to, or even if they could still keep them on whilst glassing.

To do so and still get to view the full image, you need bins with an eyepiece which allows for the adjustment. i.e. you need a good amount of eye-relief.

This article explains exactly what eye-relief is, how much you need and I list some of the very best long eye relief birding bins that hopefully make your choice simpler.

Cleaning Your Binoculars

Zeiss Lens Cleaning Kit
When cleaning your bins, especially the lenses, it is very important that you do it properly and in such a way so as not to scratch or damage the coatings on the glass.

In this guide, we discover the best ways this is achieved by using just a cleaning cloth or specialized optical cleaning kits.

8x42 vs 8.5x45 Binoculars


When it comes to birding, the most popular configuration of all full sized binoculars is an 8x42.

There are many very good and valid reasons for this, but is in this article I explore if an 8x42 is right for everyone or would something like an 8.5x45 be better for your specific requirements?

How to quikly aim your binocularsBirding with Binoculars - Aiming

A good friend of mine recently pointed out to me that main guide to choosing binoculars specifically for birding was for her, a little too technical.

She said that as a beginner, it did not focus enough on the basics like how to actually use your binoculars when birding.

So with this in mind, I started with this article which goes over the basics on how to aim your binoculars so that you quickly lock onto your target before it flies away!


Using Binoculars in WinterSelecting & Using Binoculars for Winter Birding

It can be much more difficult to use your binoculars in winter when you may be using things like gloves.

In this short guide, I give a few tips on what to look out for in a good winter bin and what else you can do to make them much easier for you to use when it is very cold.


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