Best Long Eye Relief Binoculars for Bird Watching

Birders who wear eyeglasses, will know what a pain it can be to have to remove them every time you bring your binoculars up to your eyes to use them. This is also not only annoying, but the extra time it takes can make the difference between identifying the bird or not.

The good news is that this does not have to be the case and there is actually quite a simple solution:

Long Eye Relief Binoculars

Eye Relief - wearing Glasses with BinocularsA binoculars eye relief is how far back from the eyepiece or more correctly the ocular lens, your eye should be positioned to see the whole field of view without any vignetting.

A binoculars eye-cups make sure this is simple to do every time you use your binoculars and are designed so that when they are fully extended and you push your face against them (without glasses), your eyes are at that particular binoculars perfect eye-relief distance.

With Eye-Glasses

However this is all well and good if you don’t use eye glasses. What if you do?

When you wear glasses, you now have a buffer in-between your eyes and the binoculars and so you need to retract the eye-cups to take this in account and make sure that your eyes and not your glasses are at the right distance from the ocular lens. This binoculars with a long eye relief have more distance that you can play with, giving you more flexibility and so will suit more eye glass wearers and different types of glasses and different shaped faces.

So to make sure that you can use your binoculars whilst wearing your glass you need to:

1) Firstly make sure that the binoculars you use have enough eye-relief to compensate for the extra distance that your eyes will be away from the ocular lenses on the binocular.

How Long is Long Enough?

In many cases an eye relief of 14 to 15mm is often enough for most eyeglass wearers to see the whole image. However to make sure and to give you as much flexibility as possible try and look for binoculars that have at least 16mm but if you really want to be sure go for 18mm or more.

Twist-Up Helecoid EyecupEye-Cups
2) As well as a long eye relief, you need to make sure that the binocular has adjustable eye-cups that can be positioned and kept in the perfect location for you to get the full field of view without any vignetting.

If you have to use them in any position other than fully retracted, they also need to stay in this position when you press your glasses against the.

Because of this the best design for a long eye-relief is often the twist-up eyecup that uses as helicoid mechanism to move up and down. Look out for ones that have at least one, but preferably more fixed intermediate stops. This will give you more options when it comes to positioning your eyes with your glasses on at exactly the right distance from the ocular lenses.

Best Long Eye Relief Birding Binoculars

The binoculars listed below are a selection from a list I made from all the binoculars I have reviewed, then I have filtered out the ones that I consider to be ideal or the best for bird watching and then I filtered this list again to only show binoculars with an eye-relief of 18mm or more and so are in my opinion the best really long eye relief birding binoculars that I have fully reviewed:

Eagle Optics 8x42 Ranger ED Binoculars

Eagle Optics 8x42 Ranger ED Binoculars

Winner of my Best Birding Binocular award in 2011 the 8x42 Ranger ED from Eagle Optics has pretty much everything you could want in a birding binocular without costing the earth and comes with an impressive 18mm of eye-relief.

Highlights Include

The Eye Cups

When I reviewed these Eagle Optics Bins, I noted that I thought the helicoid twist-up eyecups were smooth and worked well.

Something to keep in mind is that they only have one fixed intermediate stop in-between the two extremes of fully extended and fully retracted which does make them a little less easy to fine tune as ones with more fixed stops.

 

Vanguard Endeavor ED 8.5x45 Binoculars

Vanguard Endeavor ED 8.5x45 Binoculars

With a massive 20mm, these have one of the longest eye-reliefs of any binocular that I have ever tested. On top of this you get ED glass elements in the larger than “standard” 45mm objective lenses for superior light gathering potential.

These larger lenses are also fully multi-coated with anti-reflection coatings that maximize light transmittance for superior low light performance like in dark forests, at daybreak or sunset which is exactly where and when a lot of birding takes place.

Highlights Include

  • Lightweight Open Bridge Body Design
  • 100% Water & Fog Proof
  • Extra low-Dispersion, ED glass
  • Fully Multi-Coated Lenses
  • Phase Correction Coatings on the Prisms
  • The eyecups on the Vanguard Endeavor ED BinocularsField of View: 340ft at 1,000 yards
  • Eye-relief: 20mm

The Eye Cups

These Vanguard Endeavors use the twist up style of eye-cup which is good and as
I noted in my review, the mechanism was really smooth.

The 20mm of eye-relief and two fixed intermediate stops in-between fully extended and fully retracted also gives eyeglass wearers a good amount of flexibility when it comes to adjusting the distance from the ocular lens to suit their exact requirements.

 

Vortex Viper HD 8x42 Binoculars

Vortex 8x42 Viper HD Binoculars

Another binocular with a massive 20mm of eye-relief.

The use of very high quality optical components and coatings translates to an excellent quality and bright image. Other highlights on the Viper 8x42 binoculars include their low weight and very close minimum focusing distance.

The quality of the extras and attention to details like the nicely padded neck strap and the lockable diopter setting ring is also very good. They feel very comfortable to hold and are nicely balanced and the small touches like the serrated focussing wheel show a good attention to detail.

Highlights Include

  • High Density Extra low-Dispersion (ED) glass
  • Fully Multi-Coated Lenses
  • Phase Correction Coatings on the Prisms
  • 100% Water & Fog Proof
  • The eyecups on the Vortex Viper HD BinocularsField of View: 347ft at 1,000 yards
  • Eye-relief: 20mm

The Eye Cups
I loved the twist up and down eye-cups on these Vortex Viper HD, as not only were they comfortable on your face, but with two fixed intermediate stops and the excellent 20mm of eye-relief, they give eyeglass wearers plenty of room and flexibility to help ensure that they get the perfect view through these optics.

 

Minox HG 8x43 Binoculars

Minox HG 8x43 Binoculars

Winner of my award for the Best Wildlife & Hunting Binocular for 2012, these very high end Minox binoculars come with an excellent 19.5mm of eye-relief.

The also use the very best optical components and coatings as well as the slightly larger than normal 43mm objective lenses that all help to produce an image of the highest quality and ensures that they really excel in poor light conditions. The difference is especially noticeable when the view is compared to cheaper and inferior products.

Highlights Include

  • Fully Waterproof & Fogproof
  • Diopter Locking System
  • Quick- Close-Focus (QCF) mechanism
  • Tripod Adaptable
  • Phase Coated Roof Prisms
  • Fully Multi-Coated Optics
  • Minox MinoBright Coating – 99.8% efficiency of the light reflected at the mirror surface.
  • Field of View: 379ft at 1,000 yards
  • Eye-relief: 19.5mm

The Eye Cups
As with the rest of the device, the twist-up eyecups are excellent on these Minox HG binoculars. As mentioned earlier they have 19.5mm of eye-relief, and two intermediate stops, which should be perfect if you wear glasses.

 

Vanguard Spirit ED 8x42 Binoculars

Vanguard Spirit ED 8x42 Binoculars

One of the main aspects that really stood out for me when I reviewed these very affordable Vanguard binoculars was that in terms of overall performance they punch well above their price tag.

They also come with an excellent 19mm of eye-relief and so should suite all those looking for a low cost option for birding that you use with your glasses on.

Highlights Include

  • Extra low-Dispersion (ED) glass Lens Elements
  • Fully Multi-Coated Lenses
  • Phase Correction Coatings on the BaK-4 Roof Prisms
  • 100% Water & Fog Proof
  • The eyecups on the Vanguard Spirit ED BinocularsField of View: 330ft at 1,000 yards
  • Eye-relief: 19mm

The Eye Cups
Like all the models in this article, the eyecups are of the twist-up helicoid design and which performed well in my tests.

They do however only have one fixed intermediate stop although because there was enough resistance to movement on the pair that i tested, I could actually stop them at any point, but if you need to do this, you will have to take a little more care to prevent them moving accidentally.

 
 

Pentax DCF ED 8x43 Binoculars

Pentax DCF ED 8x43 Binoculars

The DCF ED is the flagship range for Pentax and as you would expect they are in most areas an excellent binocular with top spec components and coatings.

Highlights Include

  • Aspherical Lenses
  • Extra low-Dispersion (ED) glass Lens Elements
  • Fully Multi-Coated Lenses
  • Phase Coated Roof Prisms
  • 100% Water & Fog Proof
  • Field of View: 330ft at 1,000 yards
  • Eye-relief: 22mm
  • The eyecups on the Pentax DCF ED 8x43 BinocularsLockable Diopter Adjustment Ring

The Eye Cups
As well as this you get the a massive 22mm of eye-relief and the twist up eye-cups come with 4 click stops (two intermediate) which should mean that they can comfortably accommodate everyone’s needs ensuring that you get the full view without any rings on the edges even with thick glasses on.

 

Further Reading

 
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