Best Binoculars for under $200 / £200

A few years ago when I first wrote an article about the Best Binoculars under $200 / £200 / €200, I really struggled to find many more than a handful that I could personally recommend at this price.

Sure there were quite a few at or under the $200 / £200 / €200 mark, but not many which I had tested that I also considered to be of a high enough standard to recommend.

But as we know, nothing in life stays still and there are actually now quite a few really good binoculars in this price range. This is partly down to increased competition and because we are seeing far more manufacturers move at least some of their production to places like China who now produce much better quality optics.

So let’s take a look as some of the best cheap binoculars:

Best Binoculars Under $200 (£/€)

Model Size Weight FOV Rating Price & Where to Buy
Hawke Endurance ED 8x32 Mid 19oz (539g) 388ft 80% $200 / £150 / €200
Meade 8x42 Rainforest Pro Full 25.6oz (726g) 395ft 72% $110 / £100
Vanguard 10x42 Spirit XF Full 23.5oz (666g) 332ft 77% $189 / £120
Celestron Nature DX 8x42 Full 22.2oz (629g) 388ft 72% $140 / £120
Helios Mistral WP6 8x42 Full 24.1oz (683g) 387ft 68% £110
Hawke Nature-Trek 8x42 Full 23.5oz (665g) 388ft 72% $120 / £110
Opticron Savanna R 8x33 Mid 15.1oz (428g) 366ft 68% $139 / £99
Kowa 8x30 YF Mid 16.7oz (473g) 396ft 70% $80 / £90
Pentax DCF NV 8x36 Mid 22.6oz (641g) 342ft 73% $150 / £160
Steiner 10x26 Safari Pro Compact 9.7oz (275g) 103ft $100 / £100
Pentax 9x28 DCF LV Compact 12.9oz (366g) 294ft 70% $200 / £200
Levenhuk Energy PLUS 8x25 Compact 13oz (369g) 378ft 70% $70 / £80
Vanguard Orros 10x25 Compact 9.88oz (280g) 330ft 70% $100 / £100

The table above lists a quick overview of the binoculars that I go through in much greater detail below, explaining why, after fully testing and reviewing them, I feel they deserve to be described as the best binoculars in this price range:

Very Cheap Binoculars

I have chosen a price point of just under $200 / £200 / €200 for this page because if you go much lower than this and get the very cheapest binoculars (By the very cheapest, I am taking about binoculars that cost less than $40/£30), the quality of the optics and their construction is quite often so poor that in many cases the device is almost unusable and not much better than a toy.

To illustrate this, if we create another Venn diagram similar to the main image above, there would be no overlap at all, so unless you only plan on using them once and then throwing them away, my advice is not to consider binoculars at this price range.

Mid & Low Cost Binoculars

Through my reviews, I have found that you can get some very good mid priced and even cheap binoculars (by mid priced I mean binoculars between $130 – $300 and by cheap I mean binoculars just under $130/£130). Obviously this is all relatively speaking as some people may argue that this amount of money means that they are not cheap, but if you compare to some of the very best binoculars that cost almost $2000, they are a tenth of the price and so that is why I consider them as being cheap.

Value for Money

I have a whole section on this website dedicated to the best value for money binoculars and some people are rather surprised that I list some very expensive pairs of optics on there.

But my definition of a good value for money binocular is one that gives you the most features, best quality components and the best image quality for the least amount of money possible.

So if you want the very best of everything – the highest quality lenses, prisms, coatings, body construction materials, carry bags and everything else, you have to pay for it and thus it is unrealistic to expect the very highest quality and very best binoculars will cost the same as some that use far lower quality components and manufacturing techniques.

But…..
With the increased competition, which leads to manufacturers putting a lower markup on their products, as well as lower production costs and better manufacturing techniques, a lot of the high end features begin to trickle down to lower cost binoculars.

So now the difference in quality and especially important, the difference between the quality of the image that you can see between a pair of binoculars at this price and some of the very best binoculars is far less than it has ever been and you really can get some really good value for money binoculars for just under $200 / £200.

So what are the best cheap binoculars that I have reviewed:

Overall Best Binocular under under $200 / £200 / €200

Every time I review a binocular within this price level, I fist consider if it is worthy of being added to this page. Then from those that are, I choose what I think is the best. So listed below is currently what I consider to be the very best binocular that I have tested at this price level:

Hawke Endurance ED 8x32 Binoculars

Hawke Endurance ED 8x32 BinocularsLast time I checked, these Hawke binoculars cost around $200 / £150 / €200 and so are just within budget, but are truly one of the very best binoculars at this price point that I have ever had the good fortune of testing. I truly believe that they offer superb value for money and are easily as good as or even better than many mid range instruments out there.

To start with they are built up from a Magnesium chassis, which is something almost unheard of at this price and usually only the reserve of much more expensive products.

With their ED glass lenses and phase corrected roof prisms, the quality of glass used and their coatings is as good as you are ever going to find at this cost. Whilst this is impressive, more importantly this all translates to what I thought was an extremely high quality image, especially for a mid-sized 32mm binocular and I believe is hard to beat… at almost any price.

The field of view, minimum close focus and amount of eye-relief are also all very good. Other nice touches include a semi-rigid carry case and a lifetime warranty for peace of mind.

Read full Review – Read my full review of these Hawke binoculars.

 

Best Full Size Binoculars under $200 / £200

It is harder to find really good full size binoculars in this price range, than compacts, but over the years I have reviewed a few gems that I feel far outperform their price tag:

Meade 8x42 Rainforest Pro Binoculars

Meade 8x42 Rainforest Pro BinocularsWhen these Meade binoculars were initially released, they were initially set at a price that put them above our $200 / £200 limit and so were omitted for appearing on this page. However I have recently checked them again and they are now readily available for around $110 / £100, which for a binocular with the following credentials is simply incredible:

  • Fully Multi-Coated Optics
  • Waterproof & Nitrogen Purged for Fog Protection
  • Phase Coated BaK-4 Roof Prisms with Silver Mirror Coatings
  • Field of View: 395ft @ 1000yds
  • Eye Relief: 17mm
  • Limited Lifetime Warranty

What is more, I thought that all of these and their many other excellent features combined to deliver when it it most important – out in the field and thus it is easy to see why these won the award as Best Low Cost Binocular for 2015. For more details, please take time to Read full Review.

Price
As I mentioned at last check, I spotted them in most of the big online retailers for around $110 / £110, which I think makes these some of the best value for money low cost binoculars I have ever used:

 

Vanguard 10x42 Spirit XF Binoculars

Vanguard 10x42 Spirit XF BinocularsWith fully multi-coated lenses, phase correction coatings on the Bak-4 Roof prisms, all contained in a lightweight, tough, water and fog proof open bridge body, these inexpensive binoculars come with many of the features and components that you would only expect to find on far more expensive binoculars.

Wide Field of View – The field of view on these Vanguard Spirit XF 10x42 binoculars is 111m at 100m / 332ft at 1000 yards (6.3°) – which, when you consider they have a 10x magnification is very good and ranks them well above average when compared to most other 10x42 binoculars that I have reviewed.

Like almost all binoculars in this price range they don’t come with expensive ED glass or dielectric coatings on the prisms, but they still have enough quality optical components and coatings to produce an image that is as good or superior to most at this price level and indeed I thought it matches many that cost much more.

Likewise, they may not have a magnesium chassis or lockable diopter adjustment ring, as you would expect to find on high end binoculars, but they do have most of what is important and their weight, dimensions and quality of the body is well above most in their class which if you take everything into consideration, they really are great value for money.

Price
Currently these are available for around $189 / £120 – to compare latest prices and to buy, please check the link below:

 

Celestron Nature DX 8x42 Binoculars

Celestron Nature DX 8x42 BinocularsLike the Vanguard Spirit XF above, these have fully multi-coated optics as well as phase corrected, Bak-4 roof prisms that are not often found on binoculars within this price range.

The polycarbonate body is fog and waterproof and weighing in at only 22.2ozs (629g) these are one of the lightest full sized binoculars that I have ever used.

The dimensions too are also very compact for a 42mm, full sized binocular, making these Celestron binoculars ideal as full sized travel companions, but perfect for hiking, camping, or to take to an outdoor sporting event.

These factors, as well as a very good minimum inter-pupillary distance (IPD) will also mean that they will offer more comfort to those with smaller hands and close set eyes, like older children or women.

In my opinion, the good field of view as well as a bright, high quality view for this class, makes this Celestron Nature DX the perfect entry to mid-level binocular for birding, general use and most types of wildlife observation.

Price
Currently these are listed at about $140 / £120 – to compare latest prices and to buy, please check the links below:

 

Helios Mistral WP6 8x42

Helios Mistral WP6 8x42 BinocularsLast time I checked these Helios bins will set you back just £110 (Don’t think they are available in the US) and with all their features and specs, it was a no-brainer that they share the prize with the Opticron Savanna R 8x33 for best low cost binocular of 2016.

Whilst testing these, the quality of the image really stood out for me in relation to other bins at this level and I was impressed by the build quality of the exterior with details like the etched all-metal focus wheel an example of the great attention to detail shown.

  • Polycarbonate Chassis
    • Sealed & Nitrogen filled for water & fog proofing
    • Tripod Adaptable
  • Fully Multi-Coated Optics
    • BaK-4 Silver Coated Roof Prisms
  • Field of View: 387ft @ 1000yds
  • Close Focus: 2m (6.6ft)
  • Twist-Up Eyecups
    • Eye Relief: 17.5mm

Cost & Where to Buy

 

 

Hawke Nature-Trek 8x42 Binoculars

Hawke Nature-Trek 8x42 BinocularsThe newer version of the Hawk Nature-Trek has been updated and now includes a great looking single top hinge body design, that I thought looked and felt much more expensive than their very low price tag.

They are fully water and fogproof and this body design helps them achieve the very low weight of only 23.5oz (665g) and like the Celestron above makes them one of the lightest I have ever tested.

They have fully multi-coated optics and good quality Bak-4 roof prisms, but do not have the phase correction coatings as the two binoculars above feature. However they still produced what I thought was a great view and come in at a far lower price (see below).

Their minimum close focus, field of view and eye-relief are all good for an 8x42 binocular as is the quality of image produced. Combine this with their good quality, great looking body and they make what I think is an excellent choice for those looking for a cheap but capable binocular for general use, bird watching and wildlife observation.

Price
Whilst still very new, incredibly these only cost about $120 / £110 – to compare latest prices and to buy, please check the link below:

Best Mid-Size Binoculars under $200 / £200

Like full-sized binoculars, it is relatively harder than compacts to find better quality optics at this price point, but if you look around there are some great deals to be had:

Opticron Savanna R 8x33 Binoculars

Opticron Savanna R 8x33 BinocularsWith a current retail price of only around approx $139 / £99 these mid-sized 33mm bins from Opticron comes in well under budget, yet in many ways competes very well with many others on this page.

Highlights include the great looking and very well made open bridge, rubber coated polycarbonate and aluminium body that not only looks far more expensive than it is, but actually shares many of the same components and features as that of Opticron’s more expensive models.

These bin also have a nice wide field of view which helps in many instances, but will especially please wildlife enthusiasts and birders looking for a more compact instrument to carry about.

The excellent amount of eye-relief (20mm) also makes them a perfect option for eye glass wearers.

What is more, these come offered with a limited lifetime warranty in the US and 10 year guarantee in the UK, something which is not common at this price point and which also goes to show the confidence that Opticron have in this product.

 

Kowa 8x30 YF Binoculars

Kowa 8x30 YF BinocularsWinner of the award for the Best Low Cost Binocular 2012 (Under $130 / £130) in my Annual Awards, the words "Kowa" and "Low Cost" are not often used in the same sentence. This is because up until recently this Japanese company focused all their attention on the top end of the market producing some of the very best binoculars and scopes available – Indeed their excellent Kowa 10.5x44 Genesis XD Binoculars won my award for Binocular of the year in 2010.

However this has changed with the announcement of two new ranges of much more affordable binoculars – the SV roof prism binoculars and the YF Porro Prisms which includes this 8x30 model.

What really impressed me when I reviewed these is that despite their low cost, they still come with a whole host of quality features and impressive specifications.

Kowa have partly achieved this by reducing their costs through simultaneous product development and instead of being made in Japan, the 8x30 YF binoculars are manufactured in China.

Porro Prism Design – In the cheap to medium price range, porro prism binoculars are also quite often optically superior and perform better than roof prism ones because they don’t require expensive phase correction and high reflective coatings on the prism glass as you do with the roof prism design.

Porro prism binoculars generally offer a better depth of field, a wider field of view and because the objective lenses are often spaced wider than roof prisms, they often produce a slightly better stereoscopic image.

Apart from their more than reasonable price tag, highlights for me included their wide field of view, very low weight and compact size. The quality and brightness of the view through them was also well above what you would expect in their class and the name, build quality and styling make them look far more expensive than they really are, which is always a good thing.

 

Pentax DCF NV 8x36 Binoculars

Pentax DCF NV 8x36 BinocularsWith their rather unique 36mm objectives, these Pentax DCF NV binoculars could be described as either a large mid-sized binocular, or a small full sized binocular. This indeed is the exact intention of manufacturers, who wanted to produce a binocular that was a little smaller and lighter than most 42mm bins, but still offered a better light gathering and optical performance than a true mid sized bin with 30-32mm objectives could offer.

At the time of writing, these mid priced Pentax binoculars currently only cost about $150 (£160), which if we take a look at the quality of their construction, as well as the materials and optical components used including fully multi-coated lenses and phase and "super-reflective" coated roof prisms, is "super" impressive.

Best Compact Binoculars under $200 / £200

Whilst it is far easier to find compact binoculars than the other sizes within in this price range, but I find that many are of really poor quality, so which are the best that I have so far reviewed?

Steiner 10x26 Safari Pro Binoculars

Steiner in general offer some of the best value for money binoculars on the market and in my opinion these 10x26 Steiner Safari Pro binoculars from Steiner offer an incredible quality to value ratio and are for me the best in their class. If you are looking for a compact, tough good value pair of binoculars ideal to travel with, these should towards the very top, if not the top of your shopping list.

Whilst it is probably true to say that Safari Pro’s don’t use Steiner’s ultimate quality optics, you must remember that these are a fraction of the cost of top end binoculars and yet these still offer you a very impressive bright and sharp image. Steiner say that their optics also block haze and filter UV light, which protect your eyes making them comfortable to look through as well as to bring you sharp images.

 

Pentax 9x28 DCF LV Binoculars

Pentax 9x28 DCF LV BinocularsA rather unique compact binocular with a 9x magnification that offers just a little more reach than those with 8x, but without sacrificing too much field of view.

These are a great little pair of binoculars and to be honest, it was a real coin toss as to weather I should declare these as being the best compact binoculars for under $200 / £200 or the Steiner’s above.

Fully fog and waterproof (which the Steiner is not), Pentax have used good quality BaK-4 roof prisms as opposed to the cheaper and inferior BK-7 prisms found on many in this price range. On top of this Pentax have also applied phase-correction coatings to the prism glass, which is only usually only found on higher end optics.

The lenses are also fully multi-coated, which means all air-to-glass surfaces have received multiple layers of anti-reflective coatings, which has a dramatic effect on the amount of light that gets transmitted to your eyes and not reflected away.

It is for this and many other reasons that when I reviewed them, I thought that optical performance was very good and they compare very well with compact binoculars that are far more expensive than these.

Read my full review on the Pentax DCF LV 9x28 Binoculars.

 

Levenhuk Energy PLUS 8x25 Binoculars

I was amazed to discover that these cost about $70 / £80 when I reviewed them, especially considering the generally good quality build and components used:

Levenhuk Energy PLUS 8x25 BinocularsUnlike many cheap compact binoculars that are only single or multi-coated, these Levenhuk binoculars are FULLY multi-coated, which means that every glass surface throughout the optical system has had multiple layers of anti-reflection material added to them, which makes a truly observable difference to not only the brightness, but also the overall quality of the image produced as well. On top of this, the body has been sealed making and filled with nitrogen gas to make them both fog and waterproof and like the Vanguard’s below, these have roof prisms made from BaK-4 glass.

Another major strong point of these Levenhuk binoculars is their very wide field of view, which is as good as or better than some of the very best 8x compacts out there. This wide FOV will bring a smile to most peoples faces, but especially birders and general wildlife observers as it makes finding what you want to observe that much easier and quicker. As well as this, it makes it much easier to follow fast moving and erratic critters like small birds in the canopy etc.

Read my full Levenhuk Energy PLUS 8x25 Binoculars Review.

 

Vanguard Orros 10x25 Binoculars

Costing less than $100 / £100 I feel that these Vanguard Orros binoculars are a great little pair of bins for their price and here are a few reasons why:

Vanguard Orros 10x25 BinocularsWhilst they only have a single hinge, it is unique in that it is offset to one side. The advantage of this is that it enables them to fold up into a more compact shape that all other single hinged compacts that I have used and are almost as compact as many duel hinge compacts, making them a true pocket binocular.

Another benefit of this design is that from one side it increases the distance to the focus wheel, making them feel much more like a full sized bin when adjusting the focus, which is much more comfortable and less "fiddly" for those with larger hands. On the other side, the wheel is now closer than normal, which will benefit those with smaller hands, like some women and older children.

The compacts are multi-coated as well as fully fog and waterproof (which the Steiner is not) and like the Pentax above, Vanguard have used quality BaK-4 roof prisms on these, which is not always the case at this price.

Read my full Vanguard Orros 10x25 Binoculars Review.

 

Compare Side-By-Side:

Compare all the main features of these and other Mid Range binoculars Side-By-Side

Also worth checking out….

Bushnell 10x42 NatureView Binoculars

Bushnell 10x42 NatureView BinocularsPrimarily designed for birding and wildlife viewing, but they also make fantastic general all purpose binoculars. They come with quality BaK-4 roof prisms, as well as Multi-coated optics. One of the features that really stands out on the Bushnell Nature View series are the fact that they are fully fog and waterproof and are encased in a rugged, non-slip rubber armor, that will not only absorb small shocks that are bound to occur in day to day use, but are really comfortable and well balanced, making them great for observing a subject for long periods of time. An added feature that shows Bushnell’s attention to detail is the fact that they can be adapted to fit onto a tripod, using the standard ¼-inch threading.

If you are looking for full size binoculars specifically for bird watching, you may also like to consider the Bushnell 8x42 NatureView Binoculars that whilst are slightly less powerful, they have  a wider field of view.


Vanguard 10x42 Spirit ED Binoculars

Vanguard Spirit ED 10x42 BinocularsWinner of the Best Value For Money Binocular in 2011, the Vanguard Spirit ED currently has a retail price of about $250 / £240

The reason I have included it here is because the manufacturer is also offering a $50 Rebate on these in the US or a £40 Cashback in the UK, which not only brings them down to this price point, but makes them one of the very few binoculars that you can get with ED glass for this price.

They also come with advanced lens coatings for a light transmission up to 90%. They have a lightweight waterproof and fogproof body, long eye relief, large easy to adjust focusing wheel and come with the Vanguard limited lifetime warranty.

Read my full review of the Vanguard Spirit ED 10x42 Binoculars


Nikon Monarch 3 Binoculars

Nikon Monarch 3 Binoculars
Highlights Include:

  • Fully Multi-coated Lenses which increases light transmission with multiple anti-reflective coatings on all air-to-glass surfaces
  • BaK-4 Prisms: a higher quality glass than the cheaper BK-7 glass that is sometimes used to make the prisms
  • Phase Correction Coatings on the Roof Prisms
  • Silver alloy-coated Prisms which increases the amount of light transmitted to your eyes than the cheaper aluminium coatings sometimes used
  • Waterproof: the optics are sealed with O-rings to prevent moisture, dust, and debris from getting inside the binocular
  • Fogproof: Barrels are filled with nitrogen gas to inhibit internal fogging
  • Tripod Adaptable

Olympus 10x42 Magellan Binoculars

Olympus 10x42 Magellan BinocularsThese are designed for the extreme outdoor enthusiast and they use some of the finest quality components to produce an overall excellent quality binocular. They come with high index Bak-4 roof prisms, meaning that they are made from superior optical glass that produces clearer and sharper images. The quality of the optics in any pair of binoculars is a key indicator to it’s overall quality. Cheaper binoculars will use Bk-7 prisms which are adequate, but far inferior to Bak-4 prisms, which offer better light transmission and sharpness to the edges of the image.

The lenses on these are also fully multi-coated, the word “fully” is important here as many cheaper binoculars will advertise that their lenses are “Multi-Coated” which means that at least some surfaces (usually only the first and the last) have multiple layers of anti-reflection coatings. These are Fully Multi-Coated meaning that every air to glass surface has multiple layers of antireflection coatings that will assist in the transmission of light to make the image that you look at sharp and clear.

These Magellan’s have a recommended retail price of around $300, but in reality you can find them on most websites including Amazon for under $200, making them excellent value for money. As with the Bushnell’s above, these are also available with an 8x magnification that may suit you better if you are looking for birding binoculars: Read my review on the Olympus 8x42 Magellan Binoculars.


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