Choosing Hunting Binoculars (Australia, NZ) 27

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Every type of hunting requires the use of good binoculars. Some would say that they are just as essential as a hunter’s gun. As a hunter, you need binoculars to observe your surroundings and get up close to potential targets. This can include things such as determining species, their specific sex, assessing the range or simply getting a closer view of your target. The following guide explains how to choose the best binoculars for hunting. We’ve also short-listed our Top 5 Hunting Binoculars for 2018.

hunting binoculars image

 

Magnification and the FOV

Most hunters and binocular users in general already know that a higher magnification does not always mean a great buy. A larger magnification makes it harder to stabilise the image. When holding high magnification binoculars, even the slightest movement will result in a shaky image. Also, a larger magnification means that your field of view (FOV) is going to be much narrower.

A smaller FOV means that you will have a harder time scouting the wildlife in front of you, especially the ones that are fast. A wide field of view, on the other hand, will give you the ability to scout out larger amounts of ground.

The best magnification should take into consideration the terrain that you hunt in the most. If you like to hunt in the woods, then choose a pair of binoculars that has a lower magnification. This will allow you to achieve a significantly wider FOV, regardless of the brand or model you choose. 8x magnification would be ideal in this case.

If you often hunt in wide-open spaces or observe from longer distances, then you can opt for higher magnification. This will allow you to spot your target from further and in more detail. 10x magnification is a very popular choice in this case. The majority of hunters find that either 8x or 10x magnification best suits their needs.

The Best Lens Size

Some of the best hunting times are during early morning hours or late in the evening. So your binoculars need to be able to gather enough light and make the image as bright as possible.

Basically, with larger lenses, the binoculars will be able to gather more lighting in darker settings. Obviously, there will be other elements such as how well the lenses are crafted; the lenses coatings and the prisms that will determine how well the binoculars can transfer light to your eyes.

The downside to having larger lenses is that they are heavier and more expensive. So, you have to determine whether or not you want large, medium or small lenses, based on your personal preference.

A majority of standard size binoculars will possess an objective lens diameter of 42mm. The smaller sizes will usually have diameters in the range of 20mm to 32mm. Overall, from our experience, 42mm binoculars are by far the favourite choice for most hunters. 8×42 or 10×42 binoculars in specific. These specs represent a great balance between good magnification, good light intake and yet easy to handle binoculars.

Boar hunting binoculars

Waterproof and Fog-Proof Binoculars

When you are out in the bush for any duration, you will encounter all types of different weather conditions. This means that you should ideally opt for binoculars that are waterproof and fog-proof. Sealed binoculars will keep out moisture, dust and other foreign objects. Also, fog-proof binoculars contain argon or nitrogen gas to prevent inside fogging that can result from fluctuating temperatures. Try to purchase binoculars with rubber armour. These will provide a better grip and good protection for those times that you might drop them.

 

Our Top 5 Hunting Binoculars for 2018

Here at Procular, we stock over 400 different hunting binoculars. We are also passionate about testing, studying and reviewing every single one of them! Below is a list of our top pick binoculars for hunting:

** Note: All 5 binoculars recommended below are suitable for eyeglasses users **

 

Avalon 10×42 PRO HD Binoculars

Current Price: $249

Avalon 10x42 PRO HD Binoculars

These are Avalon’s best hunting binoculars yet offer excellent value for money. The Avalon 10×42 PRO HD Binoculars are available for $249, which puts them in the lower range when it comes to pricing. Considering that they are manufactured with excellent optical features they are a very smart choice in terms of both price and quality.

These roof prism binoculars have all the great features to maximise your hunting experience including a wide field of view, very lightweight (550g), fully multicoated lenses, waterproofing and a long eye relief. Their rubber armouring provides a secure and comfortable grip, as well as added shock-resistance.

All in all, if you want to get an affordable pair of great quality binoculars, that work well for hunting, then the Avalon 10×42 PRO HD binoculars are the best choice.

 

Nikon PROSTAFF 10×42 Binoculars

Current Price: $459 (Limited time offer)

Nikon PROSTAFF 10x42

Our #1 pick for mid-priced hunting binoculars. These are also our best selling model for hunting. They’ve been around for a while and are well known and appreciated by hunters worldwide. If you are looking for durable yet lightweight, top-notch binoculars with true low light performance then you will surely appreciate these ones.

The Nikon PROSTAFF 8×42 and 10×42 are made with prime glass and feature sharp images and vivid colours. Flawless performance at nearly dark or very poor light conditions. Their compact design is made with lightweight polycarbonate resin weighing only 650g. They are 100% Waterproof/Fog-proof/Shockproof and offer a wide 6.2° angle of view which is remarkable for their 10x power.

Another good feature of the Nikon Prostaff 10×42 is their close focusing distance. You can focus on subjects less than 4 meters away. The focus wheel works smoothly and is easy to use even with gloves on. They have a long eye relief which makes them suited for viewing with or without glasses (or sunglasses). The razor sharp image of these hunting binoculars will allow you to see your target in more detail.

Nikon Prostaff binoculars were specifically made for hunters and built to last you a lifetime. They feature broadband anti-reflective coatings that result in maximal brightness and resolution, true to life colour fidelity and exceptional contrast. Overall, these are one of the best binoculars you can own for hunting, especially in low light conditions.

And the price tag? $459. A very reasonable price by Nikon for their highest end hunting binocular. Actually quite a bargain compared to European brands such as Zeiss, Swarovski or Leica.

 

Vortex Viper HD 8×42 and 10×42 Binoculars

Current Price: $949

Vortex 8x42 Viper Binoculars

The Vortex Viper 8×42 hunting binoculars sell for just under $1,000 (discounted) but are comparable in their quality to the world’s best binoculars in the $2k – $3k range. These are 100% waterproof and weather proof with a wide 6.6 degrees angle of view. Featuring HD (High Density) extra-low dispersion glass they excel in low light and twilight hours.

Rivalling higher-priced European binoculars such as Zeiss, the HD glass, XR coatings, ArmorTek protection and phase-corrected prisms deliver extra-high resolution and increased light transmittance – rendering brighter views than one would expect from binoculars in this class. If you are looking to buy very high quality hunting binoculars and don’t want to spend over $2,000 then the Vortex Viper 8×42 and Vortex Viper 10×42 are exactly the ones for you.

A lot of people have commented on the fact that the Vortex Viper binoculars have excellent twilight performance. This is truly a great set of binoculars for hunting.

 

The Best Hunting Binoculars Money Can Buy

We often receive customer requests and emails asking which are the “world’s best hunting binoculars”. Although there is no definitive answer, we at Procular like to believe it is the Carl Zeiss binoculars. German manufacturer Zeiss is a world leader in high-end optics. Any binocular by Zeiss will produce crystal clear, razor sharp images with a remarkable 90% to over 95% light intake. Zeiss binoculars were designed for the professional hunter and are second to none in low light performance. They feature a beautiful minimalistic design yet are extremely durable. In terms of optical quality they are in many opinions the world’s best binoculars.

Zeiss Victory SF Binoculars

As you can imagine, Zeiss binoculars don’t come cheap! The most affordable Zeiss hunting binocular would be the Zeiss Terra 8×42 at $799 which features excellent optical performance.

The highest-end model by Zeiss is the Zeiss Victory SF 10×42 priced at $3,399 (reduced). These are world class, award winning binoculars well suited for the most demanding hunter.

 
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27 Comments

  1. Hello Adam,
    Great work with all the information you have provided.
    I am after a pair of 10×42 binos the Zeizz Terra ED possibly looked to be the best buy. In your opinion would it be worth spending the extra money and getting the Vortex Viper HD?
    Thanks in advance for your help.
    Regards Graydon

    1. Hi Graydon,

      The Zeiss binoculars outperform the Vortex Viper HD in terms of both design, performance and image clarity so a better buy all together.

      Adam Murray, Procular
      1. Thanks again Adam you have been a big help to a lot of people I’m sure.
        I will go with the zeiss. Cheers

      2. would the zeiss terra ed 8×42 or 10 x42 be the better choice for deer hunting over the vortex viper 8×42 or 10 x42 and which would be better the 8 x or 10 x for early morning and twilight and day time? many thanks Ian

        1. Hi Ian,

          The Zeiss Terra ED 8×42 and 10×42 outperform the Vortex Viper for deer hunting as well as for low light viewing. Both work very well for early morning, twilight and daytime. The Zeiss Terra ED 8×42 are slightly brighter than the 10×42 ones but it is not a noticeable difference.

          Adam Murray, Procular
        2. Adam thank you very much for your import on binoculars will be ordering mine on Monday

  2. I am looking for a small lite binocular that will fit in my top pocket that i can use inside the bush for hunting it’s quite often wet and vision is 200m at the most usually a lot less i have 10×42 Bushnell Elite binos for the open stuff to cumbersome for in your face hunting what do you recommend I’m off for the roar on the 1st April and live in NZ

    1. Hi John,

      We can recommend either the Avalon 8×32 Mini HD binoculars or the even more compact Zeiss Terra ED 8×25 binoculars. Both offer an excellent quality image, good power, wide field of view and are 100% waterproof and fog-proof. So it mainly depends on the size you can carry/store in your top pocket. The Zeiss are much more compact, pocket size actually. The Avalon 8×32 are slightly larger. They won’t fit in (pants) pocket but will fit in a small backpack pocket.

      Below are links to both models. If you scroll down these pages there are several photos and videos which show the product’s real life size to help with your decision:

      Zeiss 8×25 Terra ED Binoculars: https://procular.com.au/zeiss-terra-ed-8×25-compact-binoculars/
      Avalon 8×32 Mini HD Binoculars: https://procular.com.au/avalon-8×32-mini-hd-binoculars/

      Adam Murray, Procular
  3. Hi Mate,

    Thanks for coming up with top 5 and explaining each in details. This has been great help for people like me who do not know much about binoculars and would like to get best deal out of their $.I want a good bino for sambar hunting i was looking at Monarch 5 8×42 as my price range is between $400 to $500. After reading your recommendations i am seriously thinking about Avalon 10×42 PRO HD Binoculars. How do you rate them against monarch 3 and 5 ? can you also give us some more info on Avalon including made in etc ?

    1. Hi Ali,

      We would say that the image quality of the Avalon 10×42 PRO HD binoculars is 90-95% up there with the Nikon Monarch models! In terms of sharpness, brightness, low light performance and ease of focus. On top of that, they are slightly lighter than any of the Nikon models, compact designed and very comfortable to use. So in many ways similar or even better than the Nikon binoculars and sold at about half their price!! Both are Nitrogen purged and 100% waterproof and fog-proof. So both brands and models are excellent for hunting as well as any other kind of viewing.

      The Nikon Monarch 3 were replaced by the Nikon Monarch 5. They feature ED glass while the Avalon use BAK-4 prisms but this is not that noticeable thanks to Avalon’s high quality optics used in their PRO HD binoculars. Avalon binoculars are designed in Australia and manufactured (like most other optics brands now) in China. You can read more about the Avalon 10×42 PRO HD binoculars, including a video, specs and customer reviews here:

      https://procular.com.au/avalon-10×42-pro-hd-binoculars-black/

      Adam Murray, Procular
  4. you have written about some good product in this segment. overall every single product looks good and you able manage to write all the details about hunting binoculars. I never use these before. so can I have any content on how to use these products please.?

  5. If you had the choice between the vortex viper 10×42 or the vortex razor 10×42 which one do you think would be the better choice or do you think there is something better than the razors for around the same price of the razors

    1. Probably nothing better than the Razor 10×42 at that price, unless you go for Zeiss Victory SF which are much more pricy. The only thing is that it’s still hard to justify the big price difference between Viper and Razor. The Razor’s do have sharper optics but not such a noticeable difference to truly justify the price variation..

      Adam Murray, Procular
    2. Hi,
      Looking for a pair of hunting binoculars,
      Am really loving the zeiss victory, both HT and SF,
      What are the main differences and which would you recommend?
      Or any other manufacturer in that price range?
      Thanks.

      1. Hi Kon,

        We can highly recommend Zeiss Victory binoculars. They are probably the best available these days!! Leica come pretty close but they are normally bulkier and in our opinion over priced for what they provide. Regarding specific models, both the HT and SF have outstanding 10×42’s. The HT 10×42 have been around for a while, 3 years as far as we can remember, the SF are the newest model which was released in Australia earlier this year. The focus is smoother and they work well from as close as 1.5 meters. They also featuring an outstanding low light performance and excellent detail. The design is open-bridge so better for use single handed. You can read more about all the Zeiss Victory models on their site here:

        https://www.zeiss.com/sports-optics/en_de/nature/binoculars/victory-binoculars.html

        We sell all of them and offer the most competitive price too. You can read more about the Zeiss 10×42 Victory HT here: https://procular.com.au/zeiss-victory-ht-10×42-binoculars/

        And their newest model, the Zeiss Victory SF 10×42 here: https://procular.com.au/zeiss-victory-sf-10×42-binoculars/

        Adam Murray, Procular
  6. Need to get a new set of hunting binos. Looking at a 12 power as my 10×25 nikons were really hard work. Apart from weight what are the pros and cons between 42 or 50 field of view and yes cost is a major factor? Cheers Stu

    1. Hi Stu,

      As you mentioned, size and weight. 50mm binoculars are larger and bulkier than 42mm ones. On the upside the larger objectives take in more light resulting in brighter images at dawn and dusk. (or any other poor light conditions). Field of view is NOT relative to lens size. So you need to look at FOV for every product. These days high end 42mm hunting binoculars can produce nearly the same brightness as 50mm models. So many people opt for them as they are much easier to carry and handle in the field. Regarding magnification, 8x, 10x and 12x all work well. The more power you have the narrower your field of view will be. But you will see in more detail. If you are hunting in open spaces and long distances then 10x to 12x work best.

      Adam Murray, Procular
  7. To whom it may concern, I am looking seriously at a pair of vortex vipers on your website and they appear well priced. I would want them primarily for deer stalking but a secondary use would be general everyday viewing in my role as a park ranger. One of the critical importance is light gathering and twilight factor as I would need them both early morning and late evening. I have had a look through a few different brands of binoculars and many pairs seem suit my eyes and are more than adequete during full sun daylight days.

    I am specifically interested in the 10×42 vipers. My question is will these be more brighter than the 10x 50mm during low light, early morning and last light? Does the lifetime warranty apply if I purchase from you? How popular have you found these binoculars by your customers for hunting purposes? Any further advice regarding the suitability of these binoculars for my purposes would be appreciated. I look forward to your reply. Regards dan

    1. Hi Dan,

      First of all we must say that the Vortex Viper HD models are outstanding binoculars and quite popular for deer stalking as well as other outdoor use (nature and wildlife viewing etc.). We believe that they can easily be compared to the highest end european brands such as Zeiss and Sawrovski but for half of their price! They especially excel in low light performance and were indeed designed for hunting and viewing during these hours. The Vortex Viper HD 10×42 binoculars will have better brightness than other 10×50 binoculars of other brands. But.. if your main consideration is low light performance then you should also consider the Vortex Viper HD 8×42 or even brighter the Vortex Viper HD 10×50 binoculars. The 8×42 are the same as the 10×42 model but with less magnification (8x vs 10x) which actually improves their brightness. Many of our customers, including hunters, favour the 8×42 over the 10×42. If you don’t mind carrying a heavier and bulkier pair of binoculars then the Vortex Viper HD 10×50 would work even better in low light.

      All this in mind, if you want a more portable pair (42mm) and that extra magnification (10x) then the Vortex Viper HD 10×42 will work just fine. They have an outstanding low light performance compared to nearly any other binoculars on the market! You can view our full range of Vortex Viper HD Binoculars here:

      https://procular.com.au/?s=Vortex+Viper+HD+Binoculars&post_type=product

      Adam Murray, Procular
  8. How would you rate Nikon Monarch 7 8X42 DCF Binoculars? I read some review that compare them to Vortex Viper HD 8×42 and 10×42 Binoculars and they come very close, they are a little bit cheaper too.

    1. They are Nikon’s finest. The Nikon Monarch 5 have been around for a while now and are extremely popular with bird watchers and other avid users worldwide. The Monarch 7 is a slightly improved version. We can definitely recommend them in terms of both image quality and good design. In comparison to the Vortex Viper HD 8×42 – they are pretty much on the same level, or at least very close to it.You can’t really go wrong with either of these models. Looking at the specs for these binoculars the Nikon Monarch 7 8×42 outperform the Vortex. They are lighter 649g vs. 686g. They have a wider field of view 420ft vs. 347 ft of the Vortex. This would be their best feature and was an improvement from previous version of Nikon Monarch. Very useful for hunters and birdwatchers alike. Downsides? the Vortex has 20mm eye-relief vs. the Nikon’s 17mm. As both are very generous numbers this difference is not important. The Vortex had a closer minimum focusing range. 1.5m vs Nikon’s 2.5m – again not important as you will hardly EVER focus from 1.5m when hunting! So overall specs we would say Nikon takes the prize in this case. But Vortex HD would still win in low light performance. This would be their only selling point against the Nikon Monarch 7.

      Adam Murray, Procular
  9. Hi Carlo,

    Thank you for your kind words. We try to test and review as many binoculars as possible, especially the higher-end ones. We are also always on the lookout for the best value for money options. Unfortunatly we have very little experience with VIXEN as we don’t carry the brand here on Procular. So it would not be fair to give you our opinion here. There are a-lot of good options for hunting binoculars under $1000 though. And this guide lists a few of them. If we had to choose one to compete with Zeiss, Leica or Swaro and not break the bank it would be the Vortex Viper HD 8×42. We find that their low light performance is remarkable for their price range and specs. We would rate them at “95% Zeiss Victory performance” but for half the price !! Details below:

    https://procular.com.au/vortex-viper-hd-8×42-binoculars/

    They are also very compact and lightweight (686g), nicely balanced, truly waterproofed and highly durable. You will notice a brighter, very defined image when looking through them. The Vortex Viper HD 8×42 is probably our best selling Vortex model for hunting.

    Adam Murray, Procular
  10. Hi, I am looking for a present for someone who enjoys hunting.
    I want to get him binoculars, but really I would love to get him one that is suitable for both day and night.
    Are there any on the market? And if so can you please recommend some?

    Thanks

    1. Hi Reahn,

      Hunting binoculars and night vision binoculars are usually different tools. Most night vision goggles have limited magnification, 1x to 4x normally. They wouldn’t work well with your standard 8x or 10x power because the image be very grainy – this is due to the technology used in NV gear. Night vision binoculars are good only up to a certain distance, short range, while binoculars are good for up to a few Kilometres. Some NV binoculars can be used without the IR illuminator, like standard binoculars, but again their magnification will NOT be as strong. We can recommend the Yukon 3.5×40 for example which can be used as normal binoculars from close to medium range (using their 3.5x magnification) and for night vision using their IR illuminator. Details below: https://procular.com.au/yukon-rx-3-5×40-nvb-tracker-night-vision-binoculars/

      Unfortunately binoculars that have stronger magnification plus night vision capability are very pricy and only available for military / government / police.

      Adam Murray, Procular
  11. I own the Zeiss Victory HT 10×42 and the Swarovski EL 8×32 SV. As far as a hunting binocular is concerned the Zeiss Victory HT 8×42 would be a better choice for hunting because the low light performance is greater due to the larger exit pupil. I prefer 8x to 10x mainly for this reason and also I’ve never seen an animal with my 10x that I couldn’t have seen with an 8x. For everyday use I prefer the much smaller Swarovski EL 8×32 SV because of the handling and weight. However, If I could choose one binocular for everything with the main emphasis for hunting and low light performance, it would be the Zeiss Victory HT 8×42. I’m going to sell my HT 10×42 and buy the HT 8×42.

  12. I have Zeiss 10*30B MC binocs, and would like to get a 10*42 pair of Zeiss (or Swarowski).
    Could someone tell me why I should pay $2300 for Swarowski, or $2800 for the Zeiss Victory?
    What is wrong with the Terra ED 10*42??

    1. Hi Richard, your question is a very good one.

      We would like to share our thoughts about binocular pricing and in particular the high-end ones. Firstly as you probably already know there are several high-end binocular manufacturers on the market with the industry leaders being the European brands Carl Zeiss, Swarovski and Leica (which is even more overpriced!!). In general the cheapest ones you can get are Porro Prism binoculars with different types of lenses and lens coating. This type of binoculars will cost you between $50 to $300 depending on the brand and model. Roof Prism binoculars, having straight tubes rather than “curved, angled” tubes will be pricier and offer a more compact design and in general better optics. These are nearly always waterproof / fogproof and sometimes shock-proof.

      Now, good 10×42 roof prism binoculars will generally cost between $400 to $3,000. Every optics manufacturer will offer a few lines and price them accordingly. For example Bushnell will have the cheaper Powerview line, then the Legend HD line and then the Elite HD line. Vortex has Diamondback, Viper, Razor HD. Swarovski have theirs and Zeiss as you know have Terra ED, Conquest HD, Victory FL and now Victory HT. The reason why Zeiss/Swarovski are significantly more expensive is more about light intake than product design, weight, field of view or waterproofing. Because the lower range roof prism binos all have waterproofing and many of them have a wide field of view and a compact lightweight design. So the big $$ is charged for extra light gathering capability. With Zeiss being leaders in this department reaching over 95% light intake and specialising in hunting/birding binoculars.

      The Terra ED is Zeiss’s newest release (we started selling them late 2013 if i can recall). Terra ED is an interesting one. They look, feel and work exactly like the Zeiss Conquest HD which are double in price! The Terra ED are designed by Zeiss in Germany but are manufactured in China. And here is the reason why Zeiss could offer them cheaper. A-lot of people would shy away from them simply because of that. But as most of today’s products are made in China this is not always a rational decision.

      In theory they are on the “lower-end” line and that is why they are priced around $800 compared to the Victory at over $2,000. In real life they are fantastic 10×42 binoculars, light, durable and have all the great features as the other Zeiss models. Beautiful image quality like you would expect from Zeiss. We have personal experience with the Zeiss Terra 10×42 because one of our staff members owns a pair and uses it daily. Compared to the Victory – the Victory do excel in low light – this is true. So looking through the Victory, and particularly the Victory HT 10×42 you will notice a brighter image. The rest, such as product design, waterproof, durability, field of view, weight and ease of adjustments (focus) are very very similar. So are the Victory worth the extra price compared to the Terra ED? It is a personal choice and depends on how much you can afford to invest in high-end binoculars and how much you will use the binoculars in low light.

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