Seattle Times: Affordable Wildlife Binoculars

It is not often that you read about binoculars in a newspaper, even if it is in the tech section. So that is why when I came across an article in the The Seattle Times written by gear reviewer Dan Nelson recommending affordable binoculars to bring wildlife up close, I was interested.

The article aims to give the reader advice on choosing an affordable pair of binoculars ideal for viewing wildlife with.

Which Binoculars they Recommend?
They say that “After checking out several binoculars, we found a couple that have crystal-clear optics at a reasonable price.” and below are their two recommendations:

Brunton Echo 8x25 Binoculars and these are their reasons why:

At the top of the list stands Brunton’s Echo Compact series. The Seattle times writer says that they recommend the 8-power version (8x25) since 10-power compacts can be difficult to hold steady (the extra magnification also magnifies any vibration/hand shake, creating an unstable image). – Which is true, but unless you really have unsteady hands you should easily be able to hold a 10x compact steady enough to be able to look through them and get a good stable view. For me the main reason for choosing an 8x binocular over one that has a more powerful magnification would be their wider field of view. That is not to say that 10x and even more powerful optics don’y have their uses.

They also say that the “Echo 8x25 glasses proved remarkably comfortable in the hand, and the lenses were sharp through the field of vision — we noticed just a hint of fuzziness at the extreme edge of the field of view. The light transmission was very good, presenting a bright view, even at dusk and dawn when wildlife is most active. We used these while watching young bighorns scamper in the twilight above Umtanum Canyon in Central Washington, and to spy on ospreys hunting trout in the Yakima River Canyon.” This is great, I am really glad to see that they took into account a binoculars light transmission, especially for wildlife when as they say a lot of your observation will take place late afternoon or early morning when a lot of wildlife is most active. So some great advice here – I then just wonder why they did not also consider larger mid-sized or even full sized binoculars? There are plenty of these that are affordable on the market and their larger objective lenses have the potential to let in more light and therefore, have the potential to produce brighter images than a compact.

The article then goes on to say that “The Echos even earned praise from our hardest-to-please binocular tester: Donna has a small face, and frequently finds she can’t bring binocular barrels close together enough to allow easy viewing. The Echos, though, fit her well, while also working wonderfully for our bigheaded, wide-eyed lead tester (yours truly).”

The Brunton Echo 8x25s weigh 38 ounces and sell for $120. Click here to Buy & Compare Prices for Brunton Echo Binoculars

Pentax Papilio 8.5X21 binoculars
Their second recommendation are the Pentax Papilio 8.5x21 binoculars:

“For a smaller, lighter pair, we recommend the Pentax Papilio 8.5x21 binoculars. These compact optics fit comfortably in the hand, adjust to fit a wide variety of faces (including Donna’s) and weigh a mere 10 ounces. The optics are sharp and clear — not as bright as the Bruntons, but nearly as sharp. What’s most remarkable about the new Papilios, though, is the focusing range. These binoculars have a close-focus distance of just 19.5 inches, meaning you can zoom in on that bee sitting on the flower right in front of you. You can examine the patterns of pollen on its legs, and count the hairs on its back as it flies over to sting you! No other binoculars we’ve found — or even heard of — offer this ability to act almost as a microscope on your wilderness adventures.”

This is very true and that is why I highly recommend these, if you plan on spending a lot of your time viewing the smaller wildlife out there like butterflies. View my article on Butterfly Binoculars, where I also take a look at these Pentax Papilio Binoculars.

The Pentax Papilio 8.5x21 binoculars sell for $149 Click here to Buy & Compare Prices for Pentax Papilio Binoculars

Best Binocular Reviews Recommendations

With so many binoculars out there, I am always interested in how they get to such a small short list of choices. Sure, if you are looking for cheap compact binoculars, the Brunton Echo Compacts and the Pentax Papilio 8.5x21 binoculars are not bad choices, but there are so many others out there, that in my opinion are as good or even better.

So which affordable binoculars, ideal for wildlife observation would I recommend?

Well If you are specifically looking for compact binoculars, that cost under $130/£130 take a look at this list of binoculars that I have reviewed: Low Cost Compact Binoculars.

For a larger selection and a better pair of optics, take a look at these Mid Priced (still under $300/£300) Compact Binoculars.

But what I would really recommend is getting a pair of mid-sized binoculars – these are still compact enought to easily carry about with you, yet offer far better light gathering potential:

Mid Priced, Mid-Sized Binoculars

More Information

About The author: Dan Nelson is a Freelance writer and a regular contributor to Backpacker magazine, and an author of outdoor guides with The Mountaineers Books.

Click here to view the original article on the Seattle Times.

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