Finding The Best Binoculars For Birding – Everything You Need To Know

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In this article, we will give you everything you should know to choose the best binoculars for bird watching unique to your use case. Whether you are looking for top notch binoculars for hiking, backpacking, or bird watching specifically, this article should help you.

Binoculars are essential for those that love to bird watch. While spotting birds is difficult enough, utilizing binoculars will allow you to observe them as they hunt, play, and roam through their natural habitat. But do you know how to choose bird-watching binoculars?

The majority of people believe that picking out a pair of binoculars for bird watching is as simple as picking up the first pair they see in a department store or online. However, due to the numerous brands and types available, each with its unique set of characteristics, purchasing binoculars could be intimidating.

Quick Navigation:
Types Of Binoculars | Magnification | Understanding Binocular Numbers | Exit Pupil | Weight

 

How to Choose Binoculars for Bird Watching

Bird watching is no longer only a passion for ardent amateur ornithologists; it has become a popular pastime for many people. Binoculars are the most crucial instrument to bring with you if you enjoy bird watching. However, if you are a newbie looking to buy a binocular, it can be difficult to choose the ideal one for you, so here are some tips:

 

Types Of Binoculars For Birding

Porro Prism: Porro prism is the classic look of binoculars where the body is angled, and the lenses “step out” from eye pieces.

Roof Prism: This style have straight tubes from the eyepiece to the lens. This style is often lightweight and more compact.

Porro Prism Roof Prism
Weight Often heavier weight when compared to same quality Often lighter weight when compared to same quality
Cost Generally less expensive when compared to same quality Generally more expensive when compared to same quality
Size Often larger size when compared to same quality Often smaller size when compared to same quality

 

 

Porro Prism Vs Roof Prism Binoculars

 

What Magnification Do I Need For Birding?

With regards to magnifications, you should keep the below chart in mind.

Lower Magnification Higher Magnification
Brightness The lower the magnification, the brighter your image is More magnification leads to darker images
Focus The closer an object can be that your binoculars can focus on The farther an object can be that your binoculars can focus on
Depth Of Field Greater depth of field Lesser depth of field
Size Tends to be smaller sized binoculars Tends to be larger sized binoculars
Ease Of Use Generally easier to hold steady Zoomed in, small movements in hands become easy to see. Heavier binoculars are often harder to hold still.

 

When commonly birding in general situations, a 7x or 8x magnification seems to be most versatile and best. If you will commonly be birding in expansive areas, or birds will always be at a distance, a 10x magnification or higher may be best fit. Keep in mind, that if long distances, and even larger magnification is needed, utilizing a tripod or stand to hold your binoculars is recommended.

 

Should You Look For Variable Zoom Binoculars?

Most will tell you that variable zoom binoculars will have lower image quality, and therefore, for birding, they are often not recommended.

 

What Do The Numbers Mean On Binoculars?

A common binocular you may come across would be an 8 x 32, which means, an 8x magnification zoom, and a 32 mm diameter lens. The larger the first number, the larger the magnification, the larger the lens diameter, the more light the lens can capture, and therefore, the better they operate in low light situations. Most binoculars best for birding will be between 7×10 magnification, and have a 30-50 mm diameter lens. Lenses larger than this will often be quite heavy, and smaller than this won’t have the ideal light capturing capabilities for low light conditions.

Field Of View: You may find a degree number, or The field of view may be quoted in degrees or in meters at a certain distance, (for example: 6.5° or 140 m at 1,000 m). Roughly, 1°=17 m at distance of 1,000 m. This number gives you an idea of how large the field of view is in the binoculars.

 

Understanding Exit Pupil and Relation to Objective Diameter

Exit Pupil size is calculated by dividing the diameter of the objective lenses by the magnification number. For example, an 8 x 32 lens would have an exit pupil size of 4. The larger the exit pupil, the more light allowed in, and the easier and better the viewing experience is.

 

Weight

When it comes to binoculars, the bigger isn’t necessarily the better. When you hold your lenses up to your face for extended periods of time, they will add unwanted weight and bulkiness to your hands. If hiking or backpacking, you’ll likely want a lightweight and compact pair, so look for compact models but powerful binoculars with well-balanced lenses and 7x-10x magnification.

 

Telescope Vs. Binoculars – Which One Is Better For Bird Watching?

Telescopes often have a much greater magnification, and size, meaning that a tripod is necessary for good use. In long distance situations, a telescope with a tripod might be extremely effective for bird watching, but generally, the portability and ease of use would lend most bird watchers to elect for binoculars.

 

Conclusion

It’s critical to think about all of your requirements while purchasing a pair of binoculars. There are plenty of options available, whether you’re looking for a low-cost pair or the highest quality on the market.

Max DesMarais
Max DesMarais

Max DesMarais is the founder of Hiking & Fishing. He has a passion for the outdoors and sharing experiences with others. Max is a published author for various outdoor websites and digital marketing websites. You can read more about him here: hikingandfishing/about