Binoculars for the House under $500

Marina View

Today’s question comes from someone who is lucky enough to live where they have views over a marina and out onto the sea and they are looking for a good all-rounder, a pair of binoculars for the house:

Question
I want a pair of binoculars for the house, we have a lovely view overlooking a marina, peninsula and small island all out to sea where we can see the yachts going by. My hands shake a bit – can you please recommend a pair of binoculars under US$500.

Answer
I will try and answer your question as best I can:

It sounds like you live in a great place and that you have some great wide open views and generally when people are looking for a pair of binoculars to use round the house, they need some good all rounders. Something to use for birding in the garden and perhaps take to a sporting event or on holiday.

Magnification
Something with an 8x or 10x is usually fine as a good all rounder, but you said that you have a view out onto the water and so have plenty of wide open spaces, you could opt for a stronger magnification (12x). You also mentioned that your hands shake a bit and as you may know, increasing the magnification also makes the image that you are looking at through the binoculars harder to keep steady, so I would probably stick to 10x or go for binoculars with image stabilization. The down side of image stabilization binoculars is increased size, weight and usually cost.

Size of Binoculars
If they are for keeping around the house, size should not be too much of a factor, so standard binoculars with about 42mm objective lenses sound right as they perform well in most light conditions.

Cost
Your maximum budget is US$500, which is a fair amount for general purpose binoculars and you can get a really good pair of binoculars at that price.

A few Suggestions:

Minox 10x42 BV BinocularsMinox 10x42 BV Binoculars

Great all purpose binoculars from a quality brand and on sale at Amazon and Eagle Optics (links on the review page on my site) for under $300, so way under budget. Tough enough to take anywhere, but may be a bit “Outdoors” looking for around the house?


Canon 10x30 IS Image Stabilized BinocularsCanon 10x30 IS Image Stabilized Binoculars

If you are worried about image shake, then these will really help and they are currently on sale at around $350 – $390 (see links on my site). You could even go for the 12x30 IS, that are available at slightly over budget at $550. The down side to these is the smaller objective lenses (30mm) will probably mean they probably wont work quite as well as 42mm binoculars in low light conditions.


Olympus 10x42 Magellan BinocularsOlympus 10x42 Magellan Binoculars

Now available for around $200, you get plenty of binocular for your buck – you could even get two pairs! I would however say that if you are looking to spend around $500, I would go for the Minox 10x42’s, still way under budget and a superior pair of optics.

I hope that these suggestions help.

Photo Credit: Sunrise at the Marina taken by Indy Kethdy

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