Kowa or Celestron 8x30 Porro Prism Binoculars for Birding?

8x30 Kowa & Celestron binoculars

Today’s question comes from someone looking for a low cost birding binocular and can’t decide between the 8x30 Celestron Nature, or the 8x30 Kowa YF Porro Prism Binoculars:

Have A Question For Me?Question:

I am a first time buyer for a "birdwatching binocular." In my price range, I am undecided which to buy from two choices:

1. CELESTRON NATURE 8 X 30 PORRO, at £60.00(internet price)…

2. KOWA 8 X 30 YF PORRO at £119.00(internet price).

Thanks for your excellent review on these. As a Spectacle wearer, eye releif is important- CELESTRON 18mm, KOWA 16mm. I Also have small hands, so size and weight is important. Both of these bins, are waterproof, fog treated, and fully multi-coated, also important. For the extra £59.00, would you say that the KOWA have a better quality lens? Your advice would be greatly appreciated.


Answer

Whilst I have fully reviewed the Kowa YF 8x30 binoculars, I have not personally used the 8x30 version of the Celestron Nature bins, so cannot comment on them specifically. However because I have reviewed the 8x42 Celestron Nature roof prism binoculars, so I can give you some general advice. So to help us choose, lets see if there are some important differences between them both:

Design

As you can see from the main image above, both these binoculars have a very similar shape and design. They are both water and fogproof and have a rubber armoured body.

What I think is a little different is the actual finish to the product. Considering their low cost, I was very impressed with the finish and build quality on the Kowa 8x30 YF, which I feel will be just that litle bit better than the Celestons.

Porro vs Roof
In this price range, it is often the case that a porro prism binocular will optically outperform a roof prism one. This is because unlike a roof prism design, the total internal reflection on a porro prism means you not need the expensive highly reflective coatings applied to the prism surfaces.

So to keep the cost down, the cheaper roof prism bins will not use the best quality coatings and thus will not perform as well as expensive roof prisms that do use the best coatings, nor will they perform as well as most similar priced porro prisms.

So I think that you are making a great choice in opting for a porro design as the view through them will be a little better and probably brighter in low light.

Both bins use good quality BaK-4 glass as the material for their prisms which is good. As is the fact that they both have fully multi-coated lenses, to ensure as much light is transmitted through them as possible.

Size

One of the advantages of the roof prism design over a porro is the shape of the prism means you can make the bin smaller. However for a porro, the 8x30 Kowas YF is nice and compact (6.3 x 4.6 inches), has a nice ergonomic design and I would say is perfect for those with smaller hands. In fact I even recommend them as an ideal bin for woman or young adult/older child.

However I am also sure that the mid-sized 8x30 Celestron will also be completey fine for you as well, so no difference here.

Eye-Relief
At 18mm, the eye-relief on the Celestron is good, however to the best of my knowledge and for most people who wear glasses, the 16mm on the Kowa should be enough to enable you to still see the whole image without any blurring on the edges with your specs on.

Weight
As you would expect, their weights are also very similar: 475g for the Kowa vs 482g for the Celestron, so no real difference here.

Field of View (FOV)

The Kowa has a very wide FOV of 396 feet wide at 1000 yards, but even more impressively the Celestron is 430 ft wide at 1000 yards away. This is excellent and as we know a a wide FOV is a desirable feature for most birders.

However what I can’t say because I have not looked through them is if this wide view is sharp right to the edges as was the case with the Kowa’s that I tested.

Conclusion

So to answer your question, from what I have researched and learnt about the Celestron 8x30 Nature, is they look to be a good buy. I like the really wide FOV and they seem to match the Kowa in most other departments.

I think the Kowa has a slightly better finnish and probably a better build quality, but what I can’t unfortunatly do is say which has the better view, or better quality lenses and coatings. My hunch is that they would be pretty similar.

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Comments

One Response to “Kowa or Celestron 8x30 Porro Prism Binoculars for Birding?”

  1. Gerry says:

    Although I did not ask the question, thank you for answering as I am considering one of these two as my first pair of binoculars.

    I have been using my wife’s 10 year old Nikon Travelite 8*25s but find it difficult to follow birds in flight whereas the 8*42 roofs I tried were much easier,

    I wish there were some circular images online which give an idea of what to expect to see through various binocular sizes as I don’t want to buy something and regret it !