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..

Best Monoculars for Birdwatching

Leica 8x20 Monovid MonocularBasically half a binocular, there are both advantages for, as well as downsides against a monocular when compared to a binocular for birding.

On the plus side, they are both smaller and cheaper. However with a monocular you get a less immersive experience and they can be a bit more tricky to keep still.

However for the right application they can be either a good alternative or something that you can use in conjunction with your binos.

In this guide, I take a look at some of the best birding monoculars in a range of categories to help you find the ideal one for your needs and budget.

Birding Binocular Awards

Winner Best Birding Binocular 2018, the EOpticron Imagic BGA VHD 8x42 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.

Best Nikon Binoculars for Bird Watching

Birdwatching binocularsNikon Sport Optics manufacture and produce a truly massive range of binoculars that vary in price from well over $3000, right down to many that cost less than $50.

Within these price categories they have models ideally suited for many activities and uses including travel, hunting, marine use, security, general use, astronomy, wildlife observation and of course birding.

But with such a huge selection it can be very difficult narrowing it down to the right model perfect for you, the type of bird watching you do and your budget.

In this article I aim to help by selecting my top recommendations in each price category, size and also take a look at which Nikon porro prism binoculars are ideal for birding.


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:


National Geographic 6x21 Children's Binoculars by Bresser Review

Bright and colourful, these National Geographic binoculars are made by the German optics company Bresser and are specifically designed for younger children.

The lightweight and very compact body is perfect for small hands and faces and the low 6x magnification ensures a wide field of view and an image that kids with shaky hands can keep still to ensure a good view...

Price: (1/6) Cheap Binoculars
BBR Ratings:
Body Quality: 6/10 65%
Very Good
Body Stats: 10/10
Optical Quality: 5/10
Optical Stats: 7/10
Image Quality 6/10
Extras & Details: 5/10


Snypex Knight D-ED 10x32 Binoculars Review

These high performance, mid-size Snypex binoculars offer the user greater image detail at longer ranges and are an ideal instrument for travel, safaris, hunting and general nature and wildlife observation.

Top specification optical components include APO lenses with ED glass elements, Bak-4 Dach roof prisms with phase correction and dielectric coatings that ensure the best possible views...

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


GPO Passion ED 8x42 Binoculars Review

Offering extremely good value for money, these GPO Passion ED binoculars combine components like a magnesium chassis and a fully multi-coated optical system with dielectrically coated, phase corrected roof prisms with a whole host of very impressive specifications.

The result is a highly capable binocular that beats most in its class and competes very well with many far more expensive instruments.

Price: (4/6) Mid-High Value Binoculars
BBR Ratings:
Body Quality: 8/10 85%
Body Stats: 9/10
Optical Quality: 8/10
Optical Stats: 9/10
Image Quality 9/10
Extras & Details: 8/10


Hawke Frontier 8x42 ED X Binoculars Review

When you factor in their price, the list of highlights on these mid-to-high end Hawke binoculars is truly impressive.

Highlights on the exterior include a magnesium housing, metal eyepieces and focus wheel. Optically they are fully multi-coated, have ED glass lenses with water repellent coatings as well as phase corrected, dielectrically coated prisms

The field of view is phenomenal as is the image quality and brightness....

Price: (4/6) Mid-High Value Binoculars
BBR Ratings:
Body Quality: 8/10 87%
Body Stats: 9/10
Optical Quality: 9/10
Optical Stats: 9/10
Image Quality 9/10
Extras & Details: 8/10


Athlon Midas 8x42 Binoculars Review

The best value for money range from Athlon Optics is the Midas series and in my opinion the best model within that series is this 8x42 version and is without question, one of the best value binoculars currently on the market.

Why I hear you ask? Well to start with they use all the high end components and features of far more expensive binoculars, then these also have an extremely wide field of view and...

Price: (3/6) Mid Priced Binoculars

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


Birding Binocular of the Month - November 2018

Eschenbach Trophy D 8x42 ED

This month I have decided to bring to your attention one of Europe's and in particular one of Germany's lesser known manufacturers of super quality bins:

Eschenbach produce some of the best bins available, but because they are perhaps not quite as well known as the other 'alpha brands', their prices are nowhere near as inflated.

These Trophy D 8x42 ED's are a perfect example of this and in regards to their build quality and optical performance are a match for just about anything else out there.

Scoring a mega impressive 9/10 for image quality and with the stats to match, these are without doubt one of the best binoculars for bird watching that I have used and ideal for general wildlife observation and hunting:

Important Optical Features

Wide Field of View
An important feature to many wildlife and in particular birders is one that has a wide field of view which makes it more easily find and then follow animals and birds, especially the small faster moving ones! At 408ft wide at 1,000 yards away, these Eschenbach Binoculars are once again up there with the very best 8x binoculars.

Premium German Quality at a Reasonable Price
Made in Germany to the highest standards, there is no mistaking that the 8x42 Eschenbach Trophy D ED is a quality optical instrument. But what also really impressed me about them was whilst you would never call them cheap, these Mid-High End binoculars currently retial for around: $430 / £309, which is ALOT less than you can expect to pay for many other top of the range premium brands and which is why if you are in the market for a high end pair of optics, you really should take a closer look at these:

Shopping BaketBuy & Compare Prices for these Eschenbach Trophy D-ED Binoculars

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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