Best Celestron Binoculars for Wildlife, Travel & Safaris

I have recently received a number of questions from readers regarding Celestron binoculars and which ones are best for pursuits like general wildlife observation, travel and more specifically to take on a safari type holidays.

Thus rather than just repeating much of the information, I have decided to include all the answers to these questions on this page:

Have A Question For Me?Question 1: Best Celestron Granite Binoculars for General Wildlife Observation?

I love nature and so does my son… we’re doing more and more trips observing wild animals etc. Not particularly birding fans, but wild animals in general. So, we’re looking for quality general wildlife binoculars… much intended use would be in tropical jungles, but also forests, lakes, mountains, etc. We’ll eventually probably also do some safaris etc.

I understand a typical recommended binocular would be 8x42, but I was really intrigued by your review of Celestron Granite ED 9x33! I like the idea of slightly larger X and lower weight… but do you think 42 lens would give me much of visible advantage in jungle where light is poor? I won’t be using them much at very dark conditions like late dusk / early dawn. More in low-light forest / jungle conditions and open-air day conditions…

Basically, I like the pricing and quality of Celestron Granite ED, and all I now need to decide is between the 8x42 and 9x33 model. I would guess 10x42 would already be too much magnification?

Answer

Thanks for the great question, which I will try to answer to the best of my knowledge:

Celestron Granite 8x42 BinocularsFirstly I’d like to reassure you that I don’t think you will go far wrong no matter which model you choose and feel all three will be more than adequate for the uses you describe. This is one of the main advantages of opting for a higher quality pair of bins as their better grade of glass and coatings ensure that even those with smaller objective lenses will often outperform larger but cheaper bins in sub-optimal light.

Thus the choice comes down to which one’s particular strengths suits you and your needs better:

Low Light Performance

As you correctly pointed out, even though they use the same coatings and glass, the Celestron Granite 8x42 may produce a visibly brighter image in some low light conditions:

8x42 binoculars have an Exit Pupil that is 5.25mm (42÷8) in diameter – that is the shaft of light that exits the eye-piece is 5.25mm wide.

Celestron Granite 9x33 BinocularsWhilst a 9x33mm binocular has a smaller 3.67mm (33÷9) exit pupil, which means less light is exiting them than the larger Granites.

By how much they are brighter and as to the visible difference depends on a number of factors including the amount of available light and the size to which the pupils in your eyes have dilated to. You can read more about this in my complete guide to the Exit Pupil.

That is the science and in my experience and to my eyes, there is no doubt that I will perceive the 8x42 as being brighter in really low light and thus as far as brightness goes be better suited for you needs.

However having said that, the difference in all but extremely dark conditions will small and only really noticeable if you compare the view next to each other.

So as you say that you don’t expect to use them "much at very dark conditions like late dusk / early dawn", it is not something that I would be too concerned about.

So if you value the importance of the slightly lighter and more compact size that you get from the 9x33 Granite more than a small (and usually very small) difference in image brightness, then this will be the right choice for you. However if you want the assurance of a brighter and fractionally (but not always obviously observable) improvement image quality, then go for the 8x42 version.

10x42 Celestron Granite
You also ask as to if the 10x magnification on the Celestron Granite 10x42 would be too much? Once again, these will be fine for your intended use. Indeed as a safari guide, I used a 10x42 binocular a lot. However I was operating in wider open areas.

If I was a guide that mostly worked in forests and jungles, where everything is a little closer and the light probably less than ideal, then yes, they would probably not be my first choice. However a 10x42 will still be fine and far better than nothing at all.

This again leads back to the 9x33 Granite being a good compromise. You have the smaller and lighter frame than both the 8x and 10x42 and the 9x magnification sits nicely in between them both for a good all-round, general use wildlife binocular.

I hope that this answers your question. If you have any more, please use the comments section at the bottom of the page. I would also love to hear which model you eventually opt for and how they perform for you – once again you can use the comments section at the foot of this page.

 
 

Have A Question For Me?Question 2: Best Celestron Binoculars for Safaris?

I’m trying to select a pair of binoculars for an upcoming safari trip. Among your top recommendations are Celestron Granite 9x33 and Celestron Trailseeker 8x42.

Would you comment on how you might go about selecting one over the other?

Also wonder if you could compare Celestron Granite 9x33 versus Celestron Trailseeker 8x32, if size becomes a factor.

Answer

Firstly great question, so thank you. As I almost always recommend when trying to choose between binoculars, the best way to start off is to draw up a table to compare their main features and specifications side by side:

  Celestron Granite 9x33 Binoculars Celestron Trailseeker 8x42 Binoculars Celestron Trailseeker 10x32 Binoculars Celestron Trailseeker 10x32 Binoculars
  Celestron Granite 9x33 Celestron Trailseeker 8x42 Celestron Trailseeker 8x32 Celestron Trailseeker 10x32
Chassis Magnesium Magnesium Magnesium Magnesium
Water& Fog Proof Yes Yes Yes Yes
Tripod Adaptable Yes Yes Yes Yes
         
Weight: 20.1oz (570g) 23.1oz (655g) 16ozs (454g) 16ozs (454g)
Length: 5.4in (13.7cm) 5.5in (14cm) 4.8in (12.2cm) 4.8in (12.2cm)
Width: 4.9in (12.4cm) 5.1in (13cm) 4.8in (12.2cm) 4.8in (12.2cm)
         
Eye Relief: 14.1mm 17mm 15.6mm 14.4mm
Close Focusing Distance: 8.2ft 6.5ft 6.5ft 8.2ft
Field of View at 1000yds: 378ft 426ft 409ft 425ft
Angular Field Of View 7.2° 8.1° 7.8° 6.2°
         
Lens Coatings: Fully Multi-Coated Fully Multi-Coated Fully Multi-Coated Fully Multi-Coated
Phase Correction Coatings: Yes Yes Yes Yes
Prism BaK-4 Roof BaK-4 Roof BaK-4 Roof BaK-4 Roof
Prism Coating Dielectric Dielectric Dielectric Dielectric
Extra Low Dispersion Glass: Yes No No No
         
Price Buy & Compare Current Prices of Celestron Binoculars Here
Includes online retailers from the US, UK, Canada & Germany
RRP: $399.99 / £400 $239.95 / £260 $306.95 / £235 $322.95 / £235
Current Price (approx): $330 / £344 $230 / £200 $219 / £171 $230 / £182
         

As you can see all these binoculars are fairly close in many areas, especially regarding most of the components and materials used in their construction. Thus I feel that because they are all of a good standard, you would not be wrong in choosing any of them for your safari, it just boils down to a few small differences and your own personal preferences/needs:

Granite 9x33 vs Trailseeker 8x42

Image Detail & FOV
With the Granite and it’s 9x magnification, you get just a little more reach and thus a little more image detail, although the difference is very small and not that noticeable, unless you are comparing an 8x and 9x binocular next to each other. Their Field’s of View (FOV) however are quite different and whilst the 7.2° that the Granite offers is very good, the 8.1° of the Trailseeker is superb.

This very wide FOV allows you to see more of what is in front of you at once. For birders this is often very important as it makes locating and following what can be small and fast moving objects that much easier.

However on safari it to can be an advantage as you just get to enjoy more of the scene without having move the bin about. I also found that when I was working as a safari guide, a wider FOV was an advantage when searching over wide areas looking for game.

Size & Weight
One of the most important areas to me when choosing a binocular for travel and especially safaris is weight, but especially size. Not only will a smaller and lighter binocular be easier to pack away for the plane journey, but they are easier to keep with you without becoming a pain whilst on safari.

So because the 9x33 Granite’s are on the large size for a mid sized bin, and the 8x42 Trailseeker’s small for a full sized bin, the difference between them is as you can see quite small. However the Granite is somewhat lighter.

HD Glass
The optics and the coatings between the two are quite similar, the main difference which is probably the main reason the Trailseeker is cheaper is that it does not have a ED glass in the lenses, which can improve the quality of the view by reducing or even eliminating color fringing.

However and as you can read in my review, just adding ED glass to an optical system does not automatically guarantee this and the whole system still has to be well designed. The Granite is well designed and they performed very well in this area, however I also felt that the amount of color fringing that I could see when looking through the Trailseeker was also very minimal and in my opinion not something you need to worry about in this case.

33mm vs 42mm
Because most of the glass used in the optical system and their coatings are so similar between the two, they will probably have roughly the same transmittance levels, but I would expect the Trailseeker to offer a slightly brighter image, that you may be able to notice in low light:

The objective lenses on the 8x42 Trailseeker’s are 9mm larger (in diameter) to that of the 9x33 Granite bins. These bigger lenses are able to capture more light. The lower magnification on the 8x Trailseeker also helps a little in regards to image brightness, firstly because thinner glass can be used in the eyepieces when magnifying the image which makes it easier for more light to travel through and because they will produce a larger exit pupil.

For more on this and if you don’t understand the concept and how it helps in low light, please take some time to read my complete guide to the Exit Pupil.

Conclusion
So if weight and size are very important to you, I would opt for the 9x33 Granite’s, but if you like the lower price, slightly brighter image in low light and much wider FOV that the 8x42 Trailseeker’s offer then this would be the right choice for you.

Granite 9x33 vs Trailseeker 8x32

Here once again and even more so than before, the two binoculars are very similar. In my opinion and especially for safaris, the lighter weight, smaller size and lower price of the 8x32 Trailseeker’s more than makes up for the very small loss in image detail because of their lower power. The wider FOV on the 8x32 Trailseeker is also a welcomed bonus.

Low light performance too will probably be very similar and not something I would worry about.

Trailseeker 8x42 vs Trailseeker 8x32

So if it was me and keeping in mind that these binoculars are essentially for travel and safaris, the choice comes down to the two Trailseeker’s:

  • Go for the 8x42 Trailseeker if image quality, low light performance and a very wide FOV are really important to you and are prepared to carry about a little extra weight. Also worth mentioning is if you wear glasses, the longer eye-relief may be important.
  • Choose the 8x32 Trailseeker if you highly value the qualities of a smaller, lighter device. Remember these still offer a really nice wide FOV, that will be more than enough for most needs, it is just not quite as wide as the 8x42 version.

Price & Where to Buy

Check & Compare current prices at a number of online retailers in the US, UK and other countries:

I hope that this helps you in making your decision. If you need any more information, please take some time to read through the following articles:

 
 

Have A Question For Me? Need Some Help?

Take some time to browse through the website as there is plenty of information, recommendations and reviews to read. However if you do and you still cannot find what you are looking for and you would like my advice, please feel free to Ask Me Here.

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Comments

3 Responses to “Best Celestron Binoculars for Wildlife, Travel & Safaris”

  1. Below is the feedback I got from the reader who originally asked the question above:

    Hello! I wasn’t able to get back to you via the comments section on the page above. But you were kind to answer my question, and I wanted to follow up.

    I was able to try all three (Celestron Granite 9x33, Trailseeker 8x32 and Trailseeker 8x42. My eventual choice was not what I expected. I had decided based on your input to go with the Trailseeker 8x32, but the pair I was sent seemed to have a loose plastic piece in the center focusing wheel which caused rattling noise when focusing – I thought this would drive me crazy. I ended up choosing instead the Granite 9x33 primarily because of size and they had a really good feel in my hands (which are on the small size).

    They worked beautifully and I am very happy with the choice. I just got back from my first safari and they got a lot of use.

    My travelling companion had a new pair of Nikon Monarch V, and we both preferred the Granite 9x33.

    Again, many thanks, and I hope my feedback is of some use to you. Best wishes, Jim.

  2. John says:

    Thank you for the very much in-depth reply to these questions! It seems Celestron Granite 9x33 really is a good option for general-purpose wildlife. I’m only slighly hesitating still considering that external dimensions of Granite 10x42 are exactly the same… only weight is approx 100g heavier due to the optics. So would that extra x give me some added value?
    …really probably the only way to tell would be to compare side-by-side.

  3. Hi John,
    You are welcome. A higher magnification will give you more image detail, although the difference between 8x and 10x in not huge. You will however sacrifice a little on the width of the view. So once again, there is no wrong choice, it is more of the right choice for you, depending on which characteristic you find more important.

    Also take a look at this page on How Different Configurations Affect a Binocular which may help a little: http://www.bestbinocularsreviews.com/blog/how-different-configurations-affect-a-binocular-04/