How to Choose a Birding Binocular?

How to Choose a Birding Binocular?

A birding binocular is an essential component of bird watching. In fact, it is claimed that such binoculars are an extension of the bodies of bird watchers. You can never get those fine details of birds without a good pair of binoculars. When it comes to birding, your pair of binoculars is what makes the really difference.

Once you spot a bird of interest, you need to keep it within the field of view and gather as many details as possible. However, this is not possible when using a poor quality binocular. A suitable birding binocular must be bright to show those fine details. You also need a binocular that focuses pretty fast to get that fast-moving bird.

You can enjoy birding more when you have a “bird worthy” binocular. So, how do you choose the best birding binoculars?

Factors to consider when choosing a birding binocular

Choose what suits your needs

Finding the best birding binocular is finding what best works for you. A binocular that works perfectly for somebody else might not work for you. You need to strike a good balance between optical performance, weight, size, and ergonomics. Look for a combination of features that best suits your needs.

Consider the price

When it comes to binoculars, price plays a crucial role. You’re not going to find the best rated binoculars for birding at a cheap price. Some of the top wildlife/birding binoculars will cost you in excess of $1000 dollars. Such binoculars have the best features and will usually outperform the rest.

However, this does not mean you cannot get a decent birding binocular at a good price range. Consider your needs and have a workable budget. For the most avid bird watchers paying the premium price is recommended. However, for occasional bird watching, you can get quality binoculars at a low price.

Consider the magnification

It is all a number’s game when choosing optic devices.  What is the best magnification for bird watching? For most beginners, the higher the magnification, the better the view. Well, this is not the case. A wide magnification reduces the field of view and brightness.

In fact, when it comes to bird watching, the field of view and brightness are more significant compared to the magnification. A higher magnification of 10X creates image distortion due to the rising air currents. For a better bird watching experience, choose binoculars with a magnification of 6x, 7x and at most 8X.


As we’ve seen, the brightness of the binocular is usually affected by magnification. You need binoculars with a large objective lens to make them bright. However, this also means having a heavy and bulk binocular. Choosing the right size objective lens means compromising on other features and creating a balance on what best works for you. Here are common objective lens sizes to consider:

  • 50mm and more: Support long-distance viewing at very low light conditions. However, the binoculars are large and bulky hence not suitable for extended use.
  • 40mm to 50mm: These are full-size binoculars that offer a balance between low light, portability, and performance.
  • 30mm to 40mm: Compact design binoculars and offering a reasonable amount of brightness. They are small, compact and best-suited for mid-range bird viewing.
  • 20mm to 30mm: Very compact and portable but poor view at low light conditions.

As you can see, the ideal objective lens comes down to what best works in your situation.

Type of binoculars

There are usually two basic designs of binoculars on the market. This is based on the type of prism that makes their optical construction. We usually have the traditional Porro prism and the modern roof-prism design. Porro prism binoculars were the most common but that is changing with the prices of roof-prism binoculars greatly dropping.

Porro prism: These ones usually feature small eyepiece and larger objective lenses. They are usually cheap and offer better quality images. However, they tend to be heavier and bulkier hence a little heavy to handle. This can be a huge factor for a comfortable bird watching experience. They also feature a less robust construction making them susceptible to damages.

Roof prism: These are more compact and ergonomic binoculars with a robust design. They are extremely lightweight hence easy to handle for extended periods. These binoculars can withstand damage and impacts due to robust construction. However, they tend to have poor image quality because they reflect light off internal surfaces. The image sharpness is also affected by a phenomenon called phase-shifting. However, such defects are corrected in high-quality roof-prism binoculars making them surpass the quality of Porro prism. But, this is at a higher price.

Eye relief

 You also need to check the eye relief and choose binoculars that will accommodate your eyes well. The best binoculars feature durable and easily adjustable eyecups. When the eyecups retract, they can accommodate persons that wear glasses.


These are the main things to consider when choosing a birding binocular. Most importantly, make sure you choose a binocular that works for you. If you need more information and want to find a specific model that suitable for your needs, I would suggest you to check out this site:

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