Top 10 Best Birdwatching Binoculars 2017

birdwatching binocular reviews

NameMagnificationRange (Metres) 
Olympus 8×40 DPS 1 8x128 at 1000 Check Amazon Price
SkyGenius 10x 5010x112 at 914 Check Amazon Price
TopElek 8×21 Compact8x126 at 1000 Check Amazon Price
SGODDE Outdoor Waterproof 8x143 at 1000 Check Amazon Price
Aoneky Mini 8×21 8x128 at 1000 Check Amazon Price
Birdwatching has long been a popular pastime in the UK – and the rest of the world. We have a diverse and fascinating variety of species in such a small country, and ‘twitchers’ like to spot the rare birds that not only live here, but that fleetingly arrive unexpectedly for a quick visit. From the common garden birds that visit your bird table to the rare and beautiful species that are more elusive there is plenty to see, and it can be an utterly fascinating way to spend your leisure time.

Birds are wonderful to watch, especially when they are feeding their young in the breeding season. The young strive for food in a quaint and charming fashion, and the parents work hard to keep up with the constant demand. It’s a never ending circle, and then, all of a sudden, the youngsters fledge, and are off to enjoy their lives. We also like to protect our wildlife, so it is natural for us to put food out for the birds that visit the garden. Anything we can do to help them in the harsh winter months, when finding their natural food may not be so easy, is welcome and helpful.

So, whether you are an experienced birdwatcher or someone who is looking to take up the hobby, you need the essential item: binoculars. If you are planning to travel to watch birds, you need to make sure your binoculars are light and compact, yet powerful enough to allow you the perfect view of the birds. That’s why we have put together this review of the top 10 best birdwatching binoculars, so we can help you find the set you need. Before we get onto the review, let’s have a look at what they are, and what they do.

The Top 10 bird watching binoculars

1: Olympus 8×40 DPS 1

With all of our reviews we are quick to point out name brands, and in the world of optical equipment, few are as well-known as Olympus. Offering a wide variety of excellent instruments, including binoculars, Olympus has many virtues, not least a guarantee of top quality. These standard binoculars have excellent optics within and have a wide field of view which makes them perfect for birdwatching, and 8x magnification is perfectly adequate for the purpose. They are relatively light and compact, too, so will fit in your backpack or hang comfortable around your neck.

This model is designed for ease of use with a large focus wheel and UV protection, and comes with a promise of no distortion and excellent visual results. They are finished in a rubber, easy grip coating and come with the promise of quality that all Olympus items are blessed with. If you want proper binoculars – rather than the truly portable models you will read about elsewhere in this review – this could be the model for you, but you pay more than £50 for an undoubtedly top quality pair.

Pros
  • Olympus quality and brand
  • Excellent optics
  • Easy to use
  • Very impressive
Cons
  • none if you want a quality pair of binoculars

2: SkyGenius 10x 50

This model is a bigger all-round pair than those reviewed above, and while not a name brand, SkyGenius does have a reputation for impressive optical equipment and sensible prices. They are finished in the usual rubber skin for excellent grip and ease of use, and they provide 10x magnification which makes them perfect for a whole range of uses, including that we are interested in, birdwatching.

The wide 50mm lenses give excellent results even in poor light, and they are fully coated for better, clearer vision with no distortion. The very large field of view is ideal for watching birds on the move, and they are easy to focus with a perfectly placed focusing wheel. You also get a tripod screw for added convenience. At 1.5lb they are not the lightest pair of binoculars on this list, but they are very well priced at less than £30 and would make a great gift.

Pros
  • Excellent optics
  • Great price
  • Easy to use
  • Fully coated lenses
Cons
  • Quite heavy, but great value

3: TopElek 8×21 Compact

This model is one of the first of the portable folding models that we included in this review, and if this is the sort of binoculars you want, then you might want to read on. The upside to this sort of design is that it is very compact when folded, and would fit easily into a pocket. It’s also very light, so you won’t even notice it when carrying them around. They are also, at around £10, surprisingly cheap, but clearly you don’t get the quality you find with bigger, standard style models.

The downsides: the 21mm lenses give a limited field of vision, so these are perhaps best used only for casual use. While 8x magnification is perfectly good, there are more powerful options. The lenses are fine, but not top quality optics, and the eye-pieced are perhaps more suited to children than serious adult birdwatchers. So – cheap, portable and fine for casual use, but not for serious watching.

Pros
  • Compact
  • Foldable
  • Affordable
  • Child Friendly
Cons
  • Limited View
  • Not The Best Quality

4: SGODDE Outdoor Waterproof

This design is sort of a hybrid between the compact and the full size binoculars we have so far reviewed, and many birdwatchers favour them for their compact size and impressive lens capacity. This one offers 8x magnification, which is about the standard you expect from these, and it has 25mm lenses which are not the largest, but still adequate if you are not concerned about wide field of vision. The eye width is fully adjustable, so anybody will be able to use these.

The focusing mechanism is designed to be very accurate for clearer images, and these binoculars use special prism technology for excellent results even in lower light conditions, so are perfect for watching birds early in the morning or in the evening. The quality body is nice to handle and finished beautifully, while the whole set up is of a decent quality. All in all, good binoculars at a sensible price of around £25, but we are a little concerned about the field of vision.

Pros
  • Quality
  • Fully Adjustable
  • Affordable
  • Compact
Cons
  • Limited View

5: Aoneky Mini 8×21

Back to the mini folding binoculars with this one, and we’ll start by saying that if you are looking for a starter pair for the kids, this could be the perfect choice: if, however, you want a more professional standard, you should look away now! These are very small and will fit easily into a pocket when not in use. They are finished in a range of funky colours, and have ruby lenses for reduced glare. They are also very cheap at little more than a tenner so make for a nice gift.

The lenses are 21mm which means limited field of vision, and they offer a decent level of magnification at 8x, but they will not be great for use in serious birdwatching situations. You get a carry bag and a handy loop, so they are easy to cart around with you, but really, they are intended for kids, and it shows. If that’s what you want then they are worth a look at the price.

Pros
  • Compact
  • Exciting Colours
  • Affordable
  • Great For Kids
Cons
  • Limited View

6: Bfull Mini Binoculars

Staying with the mini style for now, and this pair of binoculars seem to be of a distinctly higher quality than the previous pairs we have reviewed. They are a traditional style in this format, with quality lenses, and fold to a very small size indeed. At just 300g they are also very light, so are perfect for carrying around when out and about. They come with the promise of quality optics with coated lenses for excellent vision and clear results. They are also waterproof so good for outdoor use.

You get a carrying pouch so they are protected from the weather when on the move, and they offer a very powerful and two 10x magnification, which is impressive for something of this size. However, thanks to the compact size, a 25mm lens – better than the usual with these small designs – offers good but limited field of vision when compared to the bigger models, and at around £15 we feel these are decent value for what they are.

Pros
  • Quality
  • Solid Build
  • Affordable
  • Compact
Cons
  • Limited View

 

7: Hutact Compact 10×42

Now we’re back to the serious stuff; Hutact has a range of optical instruments of a given quality, and these binoculars are unashamedly professional in their quality and standard. They may be a compact design – although not as small as the genuine mini versions – but they offer full versatility and excellent results. You get a pair of binoculars that are surprisingly light and beautifully made, with fully coated, excellent quality optics and lenses, and you also get a pair that you can use safe in the knowledge you will see every detail at a great distance.

10x magnification is more than adequate for the purpose, but it’s the 42mm lenses that are the selling point. Offering superbly details vision and a very wide field of vision – perfect for fast-moving birds or other objects – these are excellent for field use, and are fully waterproof and dustproof. If you want unmatchable quality in a compact set of binoculars that you can comfortably carry around, we reckon this pair to be among the best, and at under £50 they are also very good value.

Pros
  • Excellent Quality
  • Wide Field of Vision
  • Affordable
  • Compact
Cons
  • None

 

8: Nikon Aculon A211

Time to bring on the big boys! We opened this review with a brand name – Olympus – but there really is no brand bigger in this field than Nikon. Famous for top quality cameras and other equipment, their binoculars have to be among the very best in the world, and this model – from their Aculon range – shows why. Excellent quality of build is evident all-round, the optics are superb and multi-coated lenses make for excellent results, plus they are easy to use and superb to handle.

Focusing is direct and very accurate, and a 10x magnification level is perfect for birdwatching. You have 50mm lenses for superb field of vision, plus fully adjustable eye cups for excellent levels of comfort. In fact, they haven’t left anything to chance: these are simply superb, traditional-style binoculars of a professional standard. Now for the crunch – you pay for them, as you would expect, at a little more than £100, but if you want the best, you know where to look.

Pros
  • Nikon
  • Amazing Quality
  • Great Design
  • Compact
Cons
  • Expensive

 

9: SkyGenius 8×42

Our second selection from SkyGenius is a slightly smaller pair than the other, with 8x42mm lenses. This model is a bigger all-round pair than those reviewed above, and while not a name brand, SkyGenius does have a reputation for impressive optical equipment and sensible prices. They are finished in the usual rubber skin for excellent grip and ease of use, and they provide 8x magnification which makes them perfect for a whole range of uses, including that we are interested in, birdwatching.

The wide 32mm lenses give excellent results even in poor light, and they are fully coated for better, clearer vision with no distortion. The very large field of view is ideal for watching birds on the move, and they are easy to focus with a perfectly placed focusing wheel. You also get a tripod screw for added convenience. At 1.5lb they are not the lightest pair of binoculars on this list, but at around £45 we feel they are a little over-priced in this company.

Pros
  • Excellent Optics
  • Easy To Use
  • Fully Coated Lenses
  • Wide Field of Vision
Cons
  • Heavy

 

10: Olympus 10×50 DPS 1

We end our reviews as we began, with a pair from Olympus. With all of our reviews we are quick to point out name brands, and in the world of optical equipment, few are as well-known as Olympus. Offering a wide variety of excellent instruments, including binoculars, Olympus has many virtues, not least a guarantee of top quality. These standard binoculars have excellent optics within and have a wide field of view which makes them perfect for birdwatching, and 10x magnification is perfectly adequate for the purpose. They are relatively light and compact, too, so will fit in your backpack or hang comfortable around your neck.

This model is designed for ease of use with a large focus wheel and UV protection, and comes with a promise of no distortion and excellent visual results. They are finished in a rubber, easy grip coating and come with the promise of quality that all Olympus items are blessed with. If you want proper binoculars – rather than the truly portable models you will read about elsewhere in this review – this could be the model for you, but you pay more than £80 for an undoubtedly top quality pair.

Pros
  • Olympus
  • Excellent Optics
  • Easy To Use
  • Compact
Cons
  • None

 

That’s our list of the top 10 best birdwatching binoculars, but which would you choose? Before we go on to give our verdict, let’s have a look at the important features to consider when buying a pair of these.

Important Features to Consider

You may be spending a fair amount of money on your binoculars, so it is vital you know the points that you need to consider. Let’s have a look at the important features, so you can make your choice more easily.

Large or Small – our list consists of a mixture of two styles: portable or mini binoculars, and the traditional model you will be familiar with. The bigger ones have many advantages, including bigger lenses for better field of vision, and the smaller are better for carrying around – the choice really depends upon how seriously you take your birdwatching.

Magnification – the choices on our list offer either 8x or 10x magnification; obviously, the higher the better, but there is little in it here, so it’s up to you.

Field of Vision – when birdwatching you may be looking at fast moving creatures, and the wider your field of vision – that is the area you are framing when viewing – the better. The trick is to look for larger lens diameter, and the biggest here – at 50mm – offer excellent field of vision, the smaller – 21mm – considerably less so.

Optics – quality lenses and the optics inside mean clearer, better definition from your viewing, so make sure you pick the best that you can afford to avoid disappointment.

That’s our list of things to consider and there are many more. In fact, we should mention cost, as the prices here range from little more than £10 to more than £100, so you need to know your budget before you commit to your purchase. So, now that we’ve said all that, all that remains is to wrap things up!

How It Works

You are most likely familiar with binoculars; they are one of many fine and specialist optical instruments that have become household items in many ways. Binoculars are used to magnify objects viewed at a distance; indeed, they were invented at around the same time as the telescope – in the 17th century – when it became clear that mounting what effectively was two telescopes together had many advantages, not least viewing with both eyes. Nowadays, the very best optics are used in even the most affordable binoculars, and all operate in a fashion that is uniform.

Now, about birdwatching: where did that originate? Well, to be honest, it’s probably been an unconscious thing since man first cohabited with the other animals on the planet, and these days it is one of the most fascinating hobbies of all, with plenty of variety and enjoyable sights to see. From the humble blackbird – with its beautiful and haunting song – to the wonderful flocks of tits that appreciate the food you leave out, you have it all. Then there’s the amazing sight of starlings swooping in the evening and early morning in spectacular fashion, a vision that is simply as wonderful as any other in nature.

There is a fascination with birds perhaps more than any other animals as they exist in close company with us. Some, such as the wonderful Robin, can become tame and may even eat out of your hand. It takes patience, but is a very rewarding experience. However, if you want to seek out the rare and more exotic and hard to find species, you need your binoculars, so let’s get on with our review of the top 10 best birdwatching binoculars on the market right now.

Let’s Wrap It Up!

Birdwatching is a rewarding and exciting hobby, and even more so when you have the right pair of binoculars for the job. So, from the above list, which would be our choice?

If you want a mini pair of binoculars, one to carry around on a just-in-case basis, then we recommend that you go for the Bfull model at number 6, as they are the best quality of that ilk and sensibly priced.

If, however, you want proper binoculars, you have a difficult choice. Obviously, the Nikon is the best of the lot, but you have to shell out £100 – well worth it if you are willing to spend that much – and we like the Olympus pair, too. Ultimately, it’s your choice, so read again and make your shortlist, and enjoy your new clear view of your feathered friends!

 

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