How to Choose Birding Binoculars

A great pair of bird watching binoculars can take your hobby to the next level, allowing you to view countless new species and flocks' worth of birds in lifelike detail. Although birding binoculars can be expensive, there are also plenty of birding binoculars under $200 that provide the bright, sharp views you need to get more IDs in the field.

What should you look for in a pair of birding binoculars? The first consideration is size and weight. The 8x42 binocular is the gold standard in birding. It seems to strike the perfect balance, with lenses large enough to gather plenty of light, yet small enough to remain comfortable and easy to hold. If you're just starting out, you may prefer something with a little less magnification, which will make it easier to locate birds, especially if they're on the move.

Once you've determined a size, it's time to look at the binocular's key features. You'll probably want a waterproof binocular. While most optics offer some level of water-resistance, look for the words "nitrogen purged" in the description. This means that the air in between the lenses was replaced with dry nitrogen gas, so your optics won't fog up internally in wet conditions.

Also pay attention to the types of glass and optical coatings used in your binoculars. "Fully multi-coated optics" means that all air-to-glass surfaces were coated with multiple layers of high-transmission coatings. These coatings enhance your view by allowing more light to pass through to your eyes. Extra-low dispersion (ED) glass eliminates chromatic aberration, also known as color fringing. Although ED lenses cost quite a bite more, you'll notice the difference, especially in high contrast situations such as viewing a bright white bird on a dark lake.

After selecting the perfect birding binoculars, don't forget to add a few accessories. A cleaning kit will keep your optics--and the views through them--as good as the day you bought them. If your binocular doesn't come with a harness, you may want to consider adding one. Harnesses distribute the weight of the binocular across your upper back, avoiding neck strain and fatigue that a simple neck strap can cause after a few hours in the field.

Still have questions about birding binoculars? Give us a call at the number listed below. We'd love to help you find the right binocular for you!