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Best Nikon Binoculars for Bird Watching 2018

Brown, white, wholemeal, thick slice, thin slice, gluten free, ideal for toasting, reduced salt, low sugar and that is just for one of the seemingly hundreds of brands...

I vividly remember the very first time I went in a UK supermarket and tried to make a section as to the loaf of bread I should take back home!

You see where I come from in Southern Africa, there really was no choice. It was a loaf of bread or nothing. Ok, perhaps I am exaggerating a little as I am sure there was the choice between brown and white, but that was it!

So what has this all got to do with Nikon and birding I hear you ask? Well my point is that choice is generally good, but sometimes it can make it somewhat difficult, even overwhelming (and time consuming) to make the right selection one is right for you and what you need.

Thus as you would expect from one of the largest optical instrument manufacturers on the planet, Nikon Sport Optics produce a massive selection of binoculars and literally have one for just about everyone's needs and budget.

So with this in mind, I have done all the research for you and have selected what I believe to be the best Nikon binoculars for bird watching in a range of price levels and in this way if your passion is birding, you should be able to more quickly make your choice:

Considerations

Before I get into my selection of the top Nikon birding binoculars, I would just like to go over my thought process and just to point out that as with many things in life, with optics there really is not a one size fits all solution and as such you do need to think a little about what type of birding you mostly do and what kind of features that you appreciate most:

Different Types of Birding

Within "birding" there are actually different subsets which can be important to keep in mind. So for example searching for tiny, fast moving birds hopping about erratically in the canopy in a thick forest is very different to scanning over a wide open coastline observing large, more predictable seabirds.

So it stands to reason that the absolute perfect pair of binoculars for each of these extreme scenarios will be somewhat different.

Although having said that, if like most people you find yourself birding in a variety of different situations, rather than having to buy more than one instrument, you are probably best off getting a good general birding binocular that will perform well in most situations.

So for this article, this is exactly what I have focused on, my selections below are based on general birding and the instruments that will suit a wide variety of situations.

Image Quality & Brightness
So here important features that I have looked out for in my list of the best Nikon binoculars for birding include the potential for a good quality image, especially in lower light conditions like early in the morning, late afternoon and early evening and in forests, where and when a lot of birding takes place.

Field of View
A wide field of view is also an important aspect as this makes scanning for, locking onto and following birds much easier than a narrow one.

If you would like to get a more detailed information of these and all the other important features that I haver taken into account when making these selections, please refer to my Buyers Guide to the Best Birdwatching Binoculars.

Best of The Best

If you simply want the best pair of optics and are willing to pay a premium to get it then this is the ideal pair for you:

Nikon EDG 7x42 Binoculars

Nikon EDG 7x42 Binoculars

Whilst 8x42's have become popular, a 7x42 like this is a more classic birding configuration and here's why:

Super Wide FOV
First off the slightly lower power means that in many cases you are most often rewarded with a wider field of view and this is most certainly the case with the 7x42 Nikon EDG as it measures a massive 419 ft wide at a distance of 1000 yards away.

Image brightness in low light conditions will also improve for many users as you get a larger 6mm exit pupil (42 ÷ 7) compared to the 5.25mm you get on an 8x42. For more on take a look at this article on the exit pupil & image brightness.

Image Quality
There is no doubting the quality of the optical components and coatings used on the Nikon EDG binoculars. The optics are fully Multicoated, the lenses have ED (Extra-low Dispersion) elements and employ a field flattener system to reduce field curvature.

The prisms have also been phase corrected and have multilayer coatings of the best, very highly-reflective dielectric material, meaning more light gets transmitted and in the right way for the brightest, highest quality views possible.

Important Features

  • Magnification: 7x, objective lens size: 42mm
  • Field of view: 419 ft @ 1000 yards (8° angle of view)
  • Eye relief: 22.1mm
  • Min Close Focus: 9.8ft
  • ED Glass Lenses
  • Phase Corrected, Dielectric Coated Roof Prisms
  • Magnesium Fog & Waterproof chassis
  • Weight: 27.7 oz
  • Dimensions: 5.9in x 5.6in
  • Nikon lifetime warranty

Price Range

With a list price of $3280 and currently selling at around $2290, there is no denying that the 7x42 Nikon EGE is not cheap, but these are easily a match for ANY birding binocular currently on the market. Period.

For latest prices in the US, UK, Canada, India, Australia, Germany and the rest of Europe, please check the link below:

Buy & Compare Current Prices for Nikon EDG Binoculars

Best Overall

There is no denying the pedigree of the EDG above, however the premium level price tag will exclude many people.

So for my selection as the best overall Nikon binocular for bird watching, I have also taken cost into account (as well as all the other important components and features):

Nikon Monarch HG 8x42 Binoculars

Nikon Monarch HG 8x42 Binoculars

Nikon Monarch HG 8x42 BinocularsIn just about every way, the Monarch HG is the same as the EDG (especially the most important areas), but yet it costs less than half the price and this is why I have no hesitation in suggestion that for my money, this is the best Nikon birding binocular overall:

The HG uses the same ED glass as the EGE, the same field flattener lens system, has dielectric and phase corrected coatings on the prisms and is fully multi-coated.

The also have a magnesium chassis just like the EDG and even details like a locking diopter adjuster are the same.

To be honest it is hard to see why these don't cost far more or indeed why the EDG does not cost a whole lot less.

The main difference here is that you don't get an option of a 7x magnification, however you actually get a wider view. So the only downside is that the smaller exit-pupil will mean that these may not see quite as bright in very low light. But even then the fact that they use such high quality optics means that these will no doubt perform at least on a par with the very best 8x42 birding binoculars on the market.

Important Features

  • Magnification: 8x, objective lens size: 42mm
  • Field of view: 435 ft @ 1000 yards (8.3° angle of view)
  • Eye relief: 17.8mm
  • Min Close Focus: 6.6ft
  • ED Glass Lenses
  • Phase Corrected, Dielectric Coated Roof Prisms
  • Magnesium Fog & Waterproof chassis
  • Weight: 23.5 oz
  • Dimensions: 5.7in x 5.2in
  • Nikon lifetime warranty

Price Range

With just about all the same features and optical components as the EDG above it is incredible to note that the Monarch HG costs less than half the price (currently retailing for about $980) and this for me offers extremely good value for what is a top end instrument and which matches the flagship model in most other manufacturers lineups.

For the current prices in the US, UK, Canada, India, Australia, Germany and the rest of Europe, please check the link below:

Buy & Compare Current Prices for Nikon Monarch HG Binoculars

Best Value For Money

Whilst I do feel the Nikon Monarch HG 8x42 listed above offers extremely good vale for money, for my selection as the best value for money Nikon birding binocular, I looked for a mid to high level instrument that is even more affordable, yet still possesses as many high end components and features as possible:

Nikon Monarch 7 ATB 8x42 Binoculars

Nikon Monarch 7 ATB 8x42 Binoculars

Nikon Monarch 7 ATB 8x42 BinocularsI could be wrong here, but I think the Nikon HG series is a recent addition, so up until fairly recently the Monarch 7 series was Nikon's second in line and as such is still a very high end device, but comes with a more pocket friendly price tag.

Optics
The level of optics and coatings used is very similar, indeed the only difference that I can see is that the Monarch 7 does not have the field flattener lenses like the EDG and HG lines do, but at this price range this is what you would expect and so these will be no different than any of their direct competitors.

At 420ft wide at 1000 yards, the field of view is still up there with the best and they come with what should easily be enough eye-relief should you wear glasses.

Indeed the only slight downside is the 8.2ft minimum close focus distance, which beats the EDG and should still be perfectly fine for nearby bird watching, but means that these may not be the ideal if you also like viewing things like butterflies or flowers from very close ranges.

Main Features

  • Magnification: 8x, objective lens size: 42mm
  • Field of view: 420 ft @ 1000 yards (8° angle of view)
  • Eye relief: 17.1mm
  • Min Close Focus: 8.2ft
  • ED Glass Lenses
  • Phase Corrected, Dielectric Coated Roof Prisms
  • Fog & Waterproof chassis made from fiberglass-reinforced polycarbonate
  • Weight: 22.9 oz
  • Dimensions: 5.6in x 5.1in
  • Nikon lifetime warranty

Price Range

The 8x42 Nikon Monarch 7 currently sells for around $480, which is half the price of the Monarch HG and less than a quarter of the EDG, yet it still contains Nikon's ED glass, phase and dielectrically coated prisms and a super wide view. This is why in my opinion it is not only the best value for money Nikon binocular, but certainly one of the best value birding binoculars currently on the market:

Check the link below for current retial prices in the US, UK, Canada, India, Australia, Germany and the rest of Europe:

Buy & Compare Prices for Nikon Monarch 7 ATB Binoculars

Best Porro Prism

So far we have only looked at roof prism binoculars. But I know that there are many birders who prefer the more traditional shaped porro prism design.

Apart from ergonomics, a porro prism bin has a number of advantages and can be often be a better option if you are on a more limited budget as they do not require the expensive phase correction and highly reflective coatings on the prism to achieve the same quality and level of transmittance as a roof prism one does.

So with this in mind below is my pick as the best porro prism Nikon binocular for bird watching:

Nikon Action EX Extreme 8x40 Binoculars

Nikon Action EX Extreme 8x40 Binoculars

The porro prisms used in these are made from BaK-4 glass, which is important. This design of prism also means they they do not require any additional highly reflective coatings to achieve total internal reflection as the roof prism models do, nor do they need to be corrected for phase shift.

This means that the prisms are cheaper to make and yet will perform at the same level as high end and much more expensive roof prisms.

So whilst they lack the ED glass and are not fully multi-coated, at this low price (see below) you still will get a more than competent birding binocular, especially when you consider the very wide field of view.

One downside that I can see is that the minimum close focus of 16.4ft may rule these out as ideal backyard bird watching binoculars where many people like to view birds on feeders at really close range.

Important Features

  • Magnification: 8x, objective lens size: 40mm
  • Field of view: 430 ft @ 1000 yards (8.2° angle of view)
  • Eye relief: 17.2mm
  • Min Close Focus: 16.4ft
  • BaK-4 Porro Prisms
  • Fog & Waterproof chassis
  • Weight: 30.1 oz
  • Dimensions: 5.4in x 7.4in

Price Range

At under $130, the 8x40 Nikon Action EX is a seriously good option if you still want a birding binocular with a great image and a really wide view, but are on a tight budget.

For up-to-date prices in the US, UK, Canada, India, Australia, Germany and the rest of Europe check the link below:

Buy & Compare Prices for Nikon Action EX Extreme Binoculars

Best Mid Size

A mid sized birding binocular can fulfil many roles. the slightly smaller size and lower weight makes them easier to carry about on long walks, or simply easier to use if you have smaller hands. They also save space and thus a good option when going away on holiday:

Nikon Monarch 7 8x30 Binoculars

Nikon Monarch 7 8x30 Binoculars

Nikon Monarch 7 8x30 BinocularsBecause the smaller objective lenses capture less light, if you want a quality image and one that can show of birds in all their splendor, then it is important that the optics on your mid sized instrument is of a high standard and so optimally use what light they have.

Thus it is mainly for this reason that I have gone back tho the Monarch 7 series as my choice of the best mid-sized Nikon birding binocular as they combine a high level of optics with a more than competitive price tag.

With the 8x30, you get the same optics as the full sized Monarch that I have listed above, but along with a smaller size and reduced weight, you get an even wider view and closer minimum focus distance.

The eye-relief is a little less, but the 15,1mm still should be enough for most eye-glass users.

Main Features

  • Magnification: 8x, objective lens size: 30mm
  • Field of view: 435 ft @ 1000 yards (8.3° angle of view)
  • Eye relief: 15.1mm
  • Min Close Focus: 7.8ft
  • ED Glass Lenses
  • Phase Corrected, Dielectric Coated Roof Prisms
  • Fog & Waterproof chassis made from fiberglass-reinforced polycarbonate
  • Weight: 15.3 oz
  • Dimensions: 4.6in x 4.8in
  • Nikon lifetime warranty

Price Range

The 7x35 Nikon Nikon Monarch 7 Binocular was for sale at around $375 in the US at the time I wrote this, you can check latest prices in the US, UK, Canada, India, Australia, Germany and the rest of Europe by clicking on the link below:

Buy & Compare Prices for Nikon Monarch 7 Binoculars

Best Compact

If having the smallest size and lowest weight is of critical importance, then a compact birding binocular is the way to go. However here it is even more important that the optics are at a level so that what little light is captured gets used to make a bright and highest quality image as possible:

Nikon Premier LX 8x20 Binoculars

Nikon Premier LX 8x20 Binoculars

Nikon make a lot of compact binoculars and many of them are what I would describe as being within the inexpensive to cheap price ranges.

Many of these cheap instruments are fine for the occasional user, but for the BEST compact Nikon bird watching binocular I have opted for a higher end instrument as I feel it is more important than ever to have quality optics to make be best use of the limited amount of light that a compact can collect and use.

I also really like the double hinge design on these which means they can fold up to a much smaller shape than a single hinge compact, making these a true pocket size compact.

Main Features

  • Magnification: 8x, objective lens size: 20mm
  • Field of view: 356 ft @ 1000 yards (6.8° angle of view)
  • Eye relief: 15mm
  • Min Close Focus: 7.8ft
  • Multi-Coated optics
  • Phase Corrected, Silver Coated Roof Prisms
  • Fog & Waterproof
  • Weight: 9.5 oz
  • Dimensions: 3.7in x 4.3in

Price Range

The Nikon Premier LX 8x20 currently sells for around $525 in the US, you can check latest prices in the US, UK, Canada, India, Australia, Germany and the rest of Europe by clicking on the link below:

Buy & Compare Prices for Nikon Premier LX Binoculars

Nikon ProStaff 8x25 ATB BinocularsCheaper Option

If the price for the Premier LX is above your budget, then I would take a look at the Nikon ProStaff 8x25 ATB

With it's 330-foot field of view and good quality porro prisms, I feel it is a good low cost (about $110), compact birding binocular from Nikon.

Best Cheap Nikon Binocular For Birding (Under $100)

If you are on a really tight budget, then the option below may not compete with the high end models, but the image that they do produce is far from bad, Indeed I tested these at a trade show and was genuinely impressed and thus I have no hesitation in suggesting them to you:

Nikon Aculon A211 7x35 Binoculars

Nikon Aculon A211 7x35 Binoculars

Nikon Aculon A211 7x35 BinocularsAs I mentioned above, when it comes to the cheaper end of the market it is often a really good idea to go for a porro prism binocular over a roof prism one. They are far cheaper to make and thus you get the same quality of image as a much more expensive roof prism binocular.

or if you look at it the other way around, for the same price, you usually get a better image than a roof prism binocular at the same price.

The 7x35 Nikon Aculon goes back to the more traditional 7x power, which helps with image brightness in low light and maintaining a wide view. Indeed at 488ft wide at a distance of 1000 yards, the FOV on these is incredible, the widest of every option on this page and good for birding.

I would also suggest that because of this wide view, their low power, low cost and fairly small size that these also make a good option as a great first time birding binocular for a older child or teenager.

What is not so great on these is the short amount of eye-relief, which means if you wear glasses, I would probably look at another option. Also the close focus distance is not that near, so if you often view insects or even birds form very close range, the Nikon Aculon 7x35 binocular will not be the ideal choice.

Main Features

  • Magnification: 7x, objective lens size: 35mm
  • Field of view: 488 ft @ 1000 yards (9.3° angle of view)
  • Eye relief: 11.8mm
  • Min Close Focus: 16.4ft
  • Multi-Coated Optics
  • BaK-4 Porro Prisms
  • Weight: 24.2 oz
  • Dimensions: 4.6in x 7.3in
  • Lifetime Warranty

Price Range

These Nikon Aculon binos currently retail for around $69.95 in the US, you can check latest prices in the US, UK, Canada, India, Australia, Germany and the rest of Europe by following the link below:

Buy & Compare Prices for Nikon Aculon 7x35 Binoculars

Conclusion

Nikon have some great options when it comes to birding and whilst I started this article saying their selection was massive and I have narrowed it down a huge amount, I do feel that this shortlist is still quite long!

Which model you eventually settle on will now probably come down to the price and how much you should spend:

How Much to Spend
The seven instruments that I have selected above as the Best Nikon Binoculars for Birdwatching range in price from over $3000 to well under $100 and as such I am sure you can appreciate the difference in the levels is substantial.

However as with most things, the higher up you go the more and more you have to pay for smaller and smaller improvements (diminishing returns) and so whilst the Nikon EDG may be more than 30x more expensive than the cheapest option on this page, they are far less and 30x better. Much better yes, but not 30x better.

How much you decide to spend will largely depend on your personal circumstances, how often you use your optics and how much you want to get out of them.

My advice as always is to spend as much as you can comfortably afford to loose!

I hope this helps and I would love to know if you have any ideas or alternatives that you would like to add. Please feel free to contact me if you do.


Where to Buy Nikon Binoculars:

 


Featured Nikon Binocular Reviews

Below are some recent Nikon binoculars that I have reviewed:


Nikon 8-24x25 EagleView Zoom CF Binoculars Review

These good looking, but inexpensive compact porro prism zoom binoculars from Nikon have a centrally located zoom control lever that enables the user to select any magnification from 8 power to 24 power with the push of a finger. The Multilayer-coated lenses produce a good quality as well as bright image especially at the 8x magnification setting.

Price: (2/6) Low Cost Binoculars
BBR Ratings:
Body Quality: 5/10 52%
Above Average
Body Stats: 6/10
Optical Quality: 5/10
Optical Stats: 4/10
Image Quality 6/10
Extras & Details: 5/10


Nikon 8.5x45 Monarch X Binoculars Review

These Nikon binoculars with their larger than "standard" 45mm objective lenses and great quality optical elements and anti-reflection coatings make them excellent performers in low light conditions. On top of this they come with a tough high quality and comfortable open bridge body design that is fully fog and waterproof.

Price: (4/6) Mid-High Value Binoculars
BBR Ratings:
Body Quality: 9/10 77%
Excellent
Body Stats: 8/10
Optical Quality: 8/10
Optical Stats: 6/10
Image Quality 8/10
Extras & Details: 7/10

These Binoculars are On SaleDiscounted Binoculars: These Nikon 8.5x45 Monarch X binoculars are being offered at a huge reduction in price at Warehouse Express in the UK and on Amazon, Binoculars.com and Eagle Optics in the USA
>> Check Prices

Nikon 10x36 SHE Safari Monarch ATB Binoculars Review

Nikon & SHE Outdoor Apparel have come together and designed a pair of binoculars for women ideal for most outdoor adventures including especially safaris. The Nikon SHE Safari Monarch is not only good looking, but include high spec quality optics that produce an excellent quality image.

Price: (3/6) Mid Priced Binoculars
These Binoculars are On SaleDiscounted Binoculars: The Nikon SHE Safari binocular is available at a discounted price on Amazon.com, Eagle optics and Binoculars.com in the US
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Nikon 10x36 Monarch ATB DCF Binoculars Review

Fully Multi-coated Lenses with Phase corrected Bak-4 Roof prisms. The 10x36 Monarch ATB binoculars bundle great performance with a lightweight, compact and super rugged body.

Price: (3/6) Mid Priced Binoculars
These Binoculars are On SaleDiscounted Binoculars: The Monarch 10x36 binocular is available at a discount on Amazon.com, Binoculars.com and Eagle Optics in the USA and Amazon.co.uk in the UK
>> Check Prices

Nikon 10x42 EDG Binoculars Review

Designed to compete with the best binoculars in the world, the 10x42 Nikon EDG binocular comes with Nikon's fantastic ED glass lenses and advanced multilayer coating and phase correction roof prisms that produce stunning clear images with a powerful 10x magnification, a tough, waterproof and fog-proof body and so much more.

Price: (6/6) Expensive Binoculars
BBR Ratings:
Body Quality: 9/10 92%
The VERY Best
Body Stats: 8/10
Optical Quality: 10/10
Optical Stats: 9/10
Image Quality 10/10
Extras & Details: 9/10

These Binoculars are On SaleDiscounted Binoculars: The Nikon EDG 10x42 binoculars are available at a discount on Amazon.com and Binoculars.com in the USA
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