Best Binoculars for Bird Watching (Australia, NZ) 37

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Are you looking for binoculars that are specifically designed for bird watching? The following guide talks about what to look for when picking out a pair of binoculars and some of the features that top-notch bird watching binoculars have. We’ve also included our Top 5 Bird Watching Binoculars for 2018. (Note that these selected models are also suitable for wildlife and nature viewing, travel or general use).

Bird watching

 

What Do the Numbers Mean?

Binoculars are always represented by two numbers. The first number is the magnification, also referred to as the power or zoom, and the second number is the lens size. 10×42 binoculars, for example, means 10x magnification and 42mm lenses.

The Ideal Magnification for Birding Binoculars

Any pair of binoculars that you buy should have a powerful zoom feature, after all, you want to get close to the subject to get a better view. This is the number one reason for buying a pair of binoculars. As a result, a majority of people makes the assumption that they should purchase binoculars that have the highest magnification.

Big Does Not Make it the Best

There are many reasons why powerful binoculars are not always the best ones, especially not for bird watching. The following are just a few:

  • The field of view (FOV) is not as wide
  • The depth is not as focused
  • The image is not as bright
  • The slightest amount of movement makes it hard to steady the binoculars

To have a steady view using high magnification binoculars (generally above 10x), you will need to use a tripod. If you want to use the same pair of binoculars each time that you go out bird watching, then the 8x or 10x magnification is considered to be the best option for the following reasons:

Wider field of view: If a bird is in a tree, it would be easier to put your binoculars to your eyes and quickly see it. With a wider field of view, it won’t be as hard to focus. Basically, you won’t have to spend wasted time searching for the bird. Obviously, many subjects are not going to remain still and wait to be observed. Using a slightly lower magnification means that you will have a much wider field of view. This is why bird watchers opt for magnification in the range of 8x to 10x.

The image will have better stabilisation: When it comes to handheld binoculars, having powerful magnification is not always a benefit. A 12x or 16x magnified image will shake significantly more than a 10x magnified image.

Eye Relief: The relief is the amount of distance between your eye and the eyepiece when you can still see your subject. You will find more 8x or 10x binoculars that have a good amount of relief and can be used with glasses. The binoculars will be easier to use if you wear eyeglasses. Your eyes will not need to be as close to the eyepiece.

Bird watching image

All in all, 8x binoculars can be used with most kinds of terrains and many different environments. This applies to both heavily wooded areas as well as wide-open spaces. When using a pair of binoculars with a lower magnification, your images will come out brighter. You will have a wider field of view, which means that you can follow around birds that like to move fast and the ones that are off in the distance.

When you are using a slightly higher magnification, such as with 10x binoculars, you will be able to take in more details. This is very practical when you want to look at different types of wildlife. Slower moving birds will usually be in an open environment, which will not be hard to see even when your binoculars have a narrower field of view.

If you are using binoculars that have extremely high magnification such as 16x or more, you will need a tripod to help you gain a steady image. Also, do not buy the inexpensive binoculars that have a high magnification – they are significantly inferior in image quality, clarity and durability. Cheap, high magnification binoculars often produce distorted images.

For most people and their particular outings, the 8×42 or 10×42 binoculars are the best ones for bird watching as well as for general use.

The Field of View / Angle of View

The width of whatever you can see whenever you look through the binoculars is called the field of view, or FOV. As stated before, a wide FOV is essential and preferred by a majority of bird watchers and available with most binoculars made for bird watchers. Basically, binoculars with a lower magnification will have a wider field of view and vice versa. If the FOV is too wide, this will somewhat distort the borders of the images. This is usually the case when you buy cheaper binoculars.

So, it is recommended that you get a pair of binoculars that have a good amount of magnification. When you are trying to decide which pair of binoculars to get and magnification is not an issue, always go with the ones that have a wider FOV.

Bird watchers

Size and Weight of Bird Watching Binoculars

When it comes to binoculars, you must also pay attention to the size and weight. As can be expected, this might play an essential part in many different instances. But, this will basically depend on what you like to do as a bird watcher. The lens size (also referred to as the objective lens size) is actually much more important than the weight and size of the binoculars.

Small Binoculars

A lot of small binoculars have lenses that are in the range of 20mm to 28mm. Obviously, it will be easier to carry around a lighter pair of binoculars than heavier ones. Also, being compact binoculars, you might take them along more often and come across more bird watching opportunities. Small binoculars are also wonderful for those times when you are travelling because they are portable and can easily be chucked into a bag or a suitcase at a moment’s notice.

However, one of the bad things about smaller binoculars is that they have smaller lenses and are not able to get as much light in as the bigger ones. This means that the images will not be as beautiful and bright as the ones that you can obtain with large lens binoculars. Unfortunately, this situation is even worse in low light conditions.

Standard Size Binoculars

Most standard sized binoculars have lenses that are 40mm or 42mm. These are the most popular choice by bird watchers. Some people still use full sized 50mm binoculars; they are willing to overlook the fact that their chosen binoculars are heavy if those binoculars provide benefits such as a brighter image or a wider view.

Birding binoculars

Eye Relief and Using Binoculars with Eyeglasses

If you are a regular eyeglass wearer and need to wear them when out bird watching, then the eye relief is going to be a very important feature to you. Simply put, it is the distance your eyes can be apart from the eyepiece and still allow you to see a focused image. For anyone who wears eyeglasses, the most suitable pair of binoculars would be those that have a longer eye relief.

So, if you are an eyeglass wearer, always try to get an eye relief that is a minimum of 15mm to see the entire image. On the flip side, understand that a longer eye relief is going to reduce your field of view.

A lot of people want to know if wearing your glasses is a necessity when using binoculars. If you use your glasses for near-to-far or far-to-near vision impairment (near sighted or far sighted), then it is possible to use binoculars without having to wear your glasses. The binoculars will already enhance and magnify the image, eliminating the need for glasses.

However, if you have astigmatism, then you must wear your glasses. The binoculars will not adjust your vision. The bird watching binoculars recommended at the end of this guide are suitable for use either with or without eyeglasses. They all have a long enough eye relief as well as twist down eyecups. These allow you to adjust the binoculars for use with glasses on.

Fog and Waterproofing

A decent pair of binoculars will be okay to use in light rain and humidity. However, you really should think about getting a good pair of waterproofed binoculars, even if you are not the type who likes to look at your subjects while out in the rain. Make sure that your binocular choice is not only waterproofed but also fog proof. If the binoculars have been sealed with O-rings, then they will be moisture proof.

Not only will this seal stop moisture from getting inside, but it will also deter dust and other debris from getting onto the lens and messing up your vision. Also, try to get binoculars that are either Nitrogen or Argon purged. This simply means that the inside air has been substituted with dry gas and will not fog up on the inside. Proper waterproofing will protect your binoculars from corrosion.

Birding binoculars image

Anti-Reflective Lens Protection

A majority of binoculars are available with an anti-reflective lens coating. This helps to transmit light. Anti-reflective coatings can help enhance the amount of brightness that an image has. For instance, binoculars that have small lenses but good anti-reflection coatings can sometimes have a nicer image than large lens binoculars that don’t have as many coatings.

So, watch out for low-quality optics by listening to what the vendor says about its product. The definition of “coated” might mean one layer of anti-reflection protection per some vendors. This is usually just the top and bottom elements or the things that can be seen. The definition of “fully coated” is that all of the air on the glass surface has an anti-reflection coating. This is a good thing. The definition of “multi coated” is that some of the surfaces, normally the bottom and top one have a lot of layers of the coating.

A multilayer coating does a good job of reducing reflected light that cannot be eliminated with just one coating. It also transmits more light. Quite naturally, more than one layer will provide more protection than one. The definition of “fully multicoated” is that the air to the glass surfaces has more than one anti-reflection coating, which is very beneficial when it comes to binoculars.

Our Top 5 Bird Watching Binoculars for 2018

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

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

 

Avalon 8X32 Mini HD Binoculars

Current Price: $195

Avalon 8x32 Mini HD Binoculars

If you like to travel light but still want to enjoy beautiful, sharp images while bird watching then we highly recommend the Avalon 8X32 Mini HD Binoculars. They are slightly larger than your average pocket size binoculars but much smaller than any standard size binoculars. We believe they are a perfect balance between small size (32mm lenses), lightweight (416 grams) and excellent quality optics. They fit in a jacket pocket, glove compartment or a small backpack pocket.

This model combines Avalon’s HD lenses, compact easy to use design and a wide field of view (6.9 degrees) to spot and follow moving birds or wildlife. Just to top things up, the Avalon 8X32 Mini HD binoculars are also 100% waterproof and fog proof. They currently sell for only $195, which is a bargain for a product at this level. Available in BLACK or PLATINUM colour.

 

Avalon 10×42 PRO HD Binoculars

Current Price: $249

Avalon 10x42 PRO HD Binoculars

The Avalon 10×42 PRO HD are the world’s lightest professional level binoculars. They are not strictly bird watching binoculars but more of an all-around performer, suitable for any kind of wildlife exploration, site seeing or travel.

They combine good power (10x) with a wide field of view (5.4 degrees). These modern looking roof-prism binoculars are lightweight (550g), very durable and produce a beautiful image in nearly any setting. Their lenses are fully multicoated. This popular model by Avalon Optics is 100% waterproof, fog-proof and can easily handle rough weather.

The Avalon 10×42 PRO HD binoculars would be an ideal choice for someone looking for the best mid-priced bird watching or general use binoculars. With a solid image quality and attractive design, they can serve as the perfect gift for any nature lover. Available in BLACK or PLATINUM colour.

 

Nikon Prostaff 8×42 and Nikon Prostaff 10×42 Binoculars

Current Price: $459

Nikon Prostaff 10x42 Binoculars

The Nikon Prostaff binoculars feature wonderful optics, fully multilayer coated lenses and are very affordable considering they are built with Nikon’s highest quality optics. These are perhaps the main reasons why this particular binocular is so popular.

The Nikon Prostaff 10×42 and Nikon Prostaff 8×42 binoculars are also 100% waterproof and shockproof. Simply put they combine a unique, comfortable design with superior image quality. As a result, this pair is one of our best sellers and is the number one seller in its class.

The Nikon Prostaff 10×42 are lightweight, offer a wide field of view, waterproof, fog-proof, highly durable and provide a clear, bright image even in very low light conditions. With beautiful colour reproduction, these binoculars by Nikon are a fantastic choice for bird watching or any type of nature observation. This is an all-around good pair of binoculars for a very good price.

 

Zeiss Terra ED 8×42 Binoculars

Current Price: $799

Zeiss Terra ED 8x42 Binoculars

If we had to pick one mighty binocular without taking a second mortgage then these would be the ones!

The latest and greatest from high-end optics manufacturer Carl Zeiss. Unlike previous models of Zeiss binoculars such as the Zeiss Victory HT and the popular Zeiss Conquest HD, this particular model is actually quite affordable. Zeiss certainly didn’t compromised on optical quality here. Featuring their fully multicoated ED glass these binoculars practically produce crystal clear images every time. In our opinion just as beautiful and bright as their $1,500-$2,000 Zeiss Conquest versions.

Looking at the specs of the Zeiss Terra ED 8×42 Binoculars you will notice the immersive 7.1 degrees wide viewing angle for easily spotting and following moving birds and wildlife while still enjoying the 8x magnification. Excellent 18mm eye relief for optimal use with glasses/sunglasses, roof prism design for carrying and handling the binoculars single handed, easy central focus mechanism, solid durability, 100% waterproof and fog-proof and many other great features.

But what you will notice the most when looking through these binoculars is their superior image brightness and optical quality. An optical quality that can only be found in high-end European binoculars such as these. The Zeiss Terra ED 8×42 are excellent for many different uses but are specifically great for bird watchers. They are suitable from close-range (5 foot) up to long range maintaining exceptionally high quality crystal-clear images.

At 720 grams, they are reletivly lightweight and easy to handle. Everything about this product, including the build, focusing, stability and image quality, is simply flawless – as you would expect from the German manufacturer Carl Zeiss. Basically, the Zeiss Terra ED 8×42 is an ideal pair of binoculars for birding and nearly any other application.

Also available at this range are the Zeiss Terra ED 10×42 for those who prefer a little extra magnification.

[ Show me all the bird watching binoculars ]

37 Comments

  1. I have a pair of 10×40 binoculars but find that I cannot see details of birds such as leg or beak colour. I am looking at higher powers i.e.12+ but should I look at just better optics? A problem is that my viewing point is south of the birds so I am looking into the sun and the bird is shadowed.

    1. Hi Bill,

      Great question. We know exactly what you mean. As you mentioned, the best way to go around this is to test if the issue is the lower magnification or the quality of the optics.

      If you can see the bird’s leg or beak in your field of view at a good size, but blurry, then you can just opt for better optics. If the bird’s head for example is visible and takes let’s say 20-30% of your image then all you need is to achieve a sharper image by using 10×42 binoculars with high-end optics – ED lenses to be exact.

      If the bird’s head seems very small, i.e. 5-10% of your image, then you can opt for 16×50 binoculars. These are larger and bulkier but do magnify better. They are also harder to hold still depending on how stable your hands are. Please note that 12x magnification binoculars won’t show any noticeable difference from your current 10×40 pair.

      Regarding specific models, we like the Avalon 10×42 Titan ED which offer VERY sharp images as well as a nice wide view. They are a hidden gem, as they provide outstanding value for quality high-end ED binoculars compared to any other model on the larger (Zeiss, Swarovski etc.). We will be adding them to our review above. You can read more about the Avalon 10×42 Titan ED binoculars here:

      https://procular.com.au/avalon-10×42-titan-ed-binoculars/

      Again, if you can see the bird’s head or leg in good size but blurry then these will do the trick! Otherwise, if you like to try high magnification binoculars (less ideal for birding) then we like the Nikon Aculon 16×50 binoculars below:

      https://procular.com.au/nikon-aculon-16×50-cf-binoculars/

      We hope this helps.

      Adam Murray, Procular
  2. Hello

    I would like to buy a pair of binoculars for my 14 year old daughter who is a keen birder. We do a lot of tramping in NZ so really need a lightweight pair. I am trying to decide between the Avalon mini 8×32 or the larger 8×42. Do you have the weight of the latter and do you have any advice for us? Carrying a pack for several days means weight is a major consideration but I would still like to get her a quality pair.

    1. Hi William,

      We know what you mean about achieving a balance between lightweight binoculars yet a good enough image and viewing experience for birding. The Avalon 8×32 do exactly that. The difference between 8×42/10×42 (weight range from 550 to 800 grams depending on model) and these ones (weight: 416 grams) is not only the weight but the smaller size. Note that they are NOT pocket size binoculars. We don’t recommend pocket size binoculars for bird watching. If you visit any page on Procular, scroll down and click on the “Additional Information” tab, you can see the weight and size of that specific product. For best selling products we also include a video which helps you see how the binoculars look in real life. In terms of image quality and brightness, we still favour the Avalon 10×42 PRO HD binoculars over the smaller 8×32 Mini HD model. But the latter does come pretty close so if size & weight are an issue, especially for tramping, we would go with these ones.

      Adam Muray, Procular
  3. About 20 years ago I treated myself to a pair of Zeiss Night Owls, 10×56. Obviously they weren’t cheap but the clarity and depth of field are great. The only disadvantage is their weight and I don’t know what I would replace them with. Any ideas?

    1. Hi Mike,

      We know what you mean. The 56mm objective lenses of the Zeiss 10×56 do allow for increased brightness but on the downside all that glass makes for very bulky heavy binoculars. Most of our bird watching customers opt for either 8×42 or 10×42 i.e. 42mm lenses. You will find that the image is just as nice and sharp while the binoculars remain light and portable. You can refer to the guide above for some ideas regarding the best 8×42/10×42 models currently recommended. The Zeiss Terra ED 10×42 for example are an excellent choice for birding and not overly expensive. Details below: https://procular.com.au/zeiss-terra-ed-10×42-binoculars/ alternatively if you want an even smaller pair then we love the Avalon 8×32 Mini HD binoculars below: https://procular.com.au/avalon-8×32-mini-hd-binoculars/

      Adam Murray, Procular
    2. Can the Ziess binoculars adjust for small faces?

      1. Hi Kate,

        Thank you for your comment. There is a specification in binoculars called Interpupillary Adjustment which relates to how much they can open or close to fit various faces. In specific to suit more narrow faces and various distances between people’s right and left eye. The Zeiss Terra ED binoculars can adjust from 58cm to 75cm. The average female’s distance would be around 52cm to 76cm. This means the binoculars cover most of the range and should be alright. But the best way is to test them and see (we offer a 60 days return policy). Alternatively there are other, normally compact size binoculars, who fold down to 50cm or less and fit even small children’s faces. We hope this helps.

        Adam Murray, Procular
  4. I have had one leica 10 x 50 binoculars for over 40 years and they are still excellent. However the one problem they have is that they do not focus close enough. Recently I was at a brilliant bird hide with a range of interesting birds. However annoyingly the water source was just too close to enable me to focus. Please advise your recommendation for 10×50 binoculars with close focus as an issue.

    1. Hi Duncan,

      Thank you for your comment. Optics have come a long way in the last 40 years so you will find a few new models on the market which solve this issue and also offer razor sharp images. 10×50’s are not too common anymore for birdwatching, mainly because of the extra weight. There are a-lot of good 10×42’s on the other hand with the bets of them focusing from as close as 1.5-2 meters. We can recommend the Zeiss Terra ED which focus from as close as 5.25 feet: https://procular.com.au/zeiss-terra-ed-10×42-binoculars/ and closer to your Leica 10×50, we can recommend the Zeiss Victory HT 10×54 (54mm lenses) which focus from 1.9 meters: https://procular.com.au/zeiss-victory-ht-10×54-binoculars/ — If you are considering other options simply look for the “close focusing distance”. But note that most models can only focus from as close as 3-5 meters with the exceptions we listed above.

      Adam Murray, Procular
  5. Do you have any comments re Leica Trinovid 10×42 Hd for birdwatching? have also been following your comments on the Zeiss Terra Ed 10×42. I do wear glasses for distance vision.

    1. Hi Bev,

      We don’t have personal experience with Lecia Trinovid binoculars, sorry. The Zeiss Terra ED 10×42 can easily be used either with or without glasses. We do have personal experience with this model and highly recommend it for bird watching.

      Adam Murray, Procular
  6. Hi Adam
    Thanks for all this fantastic information and your replies to the comments above. I’m just getting into bird watching and I was wondering if you could direct me towards the most lightweight binoculars that would perform well enough for a casual beginner. The reason is that I’ll be riding my bike out into the bush and the less weight I have to lug up the hills the better, even a hundred grams here and there can make a difference.
    Thanks again

    1. Hi Imogen,

      We are happy to hear you found the information useful. Your question is a good one as many of our customers are interested in lightweight binoculars that are suitable for bird watching. Basically there are two options. You can either go for compact pocket size binoculars such as 10×25 or go for medium sized binoculars such as 8×32. Good quality compact ones are the Bushnell H2O 10×25 which are durable, water and fog proof and have a good image quality. They are small, folding and weigh only 281 grams. They are OK for bird watching and general viewing. The downside is that they do not have as much brightness or clarity as the larger models. But for “quick views” they are excellent. Details below:

      https://procular.com.au/bushnell-10×25-h2o-compact-binocular/

      Alternatively, and this would be our ideal recommendation in your case, we have the Avalon 8×32 Mini HD binoculars. These are slightly larger but still smaller than any 8×42 or 10×42 binoculars. Their 32mm lenses provide nearly the same viewing experience as full sized 42mm binoculars but you get a much easier to carry and handle product. They weigh 416 grams which is not much. They also have an extra wide angle of view (6.9 degrees) and we believe an outstanding image quality for their size and price. Like the Bushnell these are 100% waterproof and fog proof. Details below:

      https://procular.com.au/avalon-8×32-mini-hd-binoculars/

      The binoculars come with a nice carry case but if you want to save more on size and weight you can just chuck them in your backpack or wrap a T-Shirt around them. The binoculars include all the protective covers etc. so there’s no worries about getting any scratches on them while you travel. We hope this helps.

      Adam Murray, Procular
  7. Hello,
    I am completely new to bird watching, always been keen on birds but until I looked through the binoculars of a friend – Barr and Stroud Sahara 8×42, I thought I was visually impaired as I could never see what I believed others could see. Now I am keen to get my own binoculars and start enjoying bird watching as others enjoy it. I have read some of your comments – thank you I find them quite helpful. I particularly like your comments on the Zeiss-Terra ED 10 or 8 x42; but I remain confused as there are so many choices. We have spoken to a couple of bird watchers but they have been surprisingly not very helpful with their comments, I have looked through the Barr and Stroud (belonging to our friend) and also the Monarch 5, SOL and Bushnell, the latter I was not so impressed with. What is your recommendation please, I wear glasses, live about 200 metres above a lake full of birdlife which we can see from upstairs in our house and watch birds flying past very close to where we are positioned. (yes bird watchers heaven). thank you in anticipation maybe you could reply to my email as well.

    1. Hi Marina,

      You’ve probably read our above guide and even tried a few pairs yourself so this makes it easier. Nearly all birdwatchers opt for 8×42 or 10×42 binoculars. These models simply provide the best balance between size/weight, stabilisation, field of view and magnification. As you are positioned so close to the action (sounds lovely by the way!) you will be better off with 8×42. The wider field of view will also make it easier for you to track the birds in flight. Regarding which model, there are a-lot of choices depending on quality and price. In the mid-range to top-end we can narrow them down to the Nikon Monarch 8×42 and the Zeiss Terra 8×42. And this is a very tough competition!! In fact you can’t go wrong with any of these two. They are both fantastic choices for birding. The Monarch has SLIGHTLY more vivid colours (greens and blues) while the Zeiss are slightly brighter in low light. A-lot of people choose Zeiss because of the brand name and stylish design. In your case since you already tried the Monarch 8×42 yourself we would lean towards these ones. They also have a longer eye-relief for use with glasses. We haven’t encountered a bird watcher yet that didn’t like them. We hope this helps.

      Adam Murray, Procular
  8. Hi Adam
    Thanks for the helpful website.What do you think of the Swarovski EL50 10 x 42 for birdwatching. I have friends who are happy with them, but they are expensive $3000+ Are they worth the extra money.?

    Chris Rinehart
    1. Hi Chris, we used to stock some Swarovski models but only the more compact models CL 8×32 and CL 10×32. These are good binoculars I admit but expensive. I don’t have any experience with the EL50 10×42 so wouldn’t be able to advise for or against them – sorry. $3,000+ is quite a price tag for binoculars though! Even for a high-end model.

      Adam Murray, Procular
  9. The monarch 5’s are best, I’ve been using a pair of Monarch 5 8×42 for birding from 3 years ago and they’re really great1

  10. Hi there
    Do you have an opinion of where the Monarch 7 8×30 stands in relation to the M5 8×42? I am suspecting that it might be am overlooked gem.
    Robert

    1. Hi Robert,

      There is a-lot to be said about the Nikon Monarch 5 vs. 7 series so we’ll try to keep it short and to the point. Nikon Monarch 5 came to replace the older version Monarch 3. With the M5 version Nikon has made some nice improvements there which are noticeable. These include better lens coating, lighter weight, wider field of view and better eye-releif. Monarch 7 is their newer version (and pricier). What changed? Monarch 7 has a wider field of view (351 ft vs. 288 ft of the Monarch 5 8×42). Monarch 7 is slightly heavier (669g vs 621g), has less eye-releif (16.4 vs. 18.4) which means less adequete for use with glasses. Close focusing range is the same for both models and optics coating is the same. Performance in low-light – the Monarch 7 prefers slightly better. Resolution of details – Monarch 7 performs slightly better than Monarch 5. Overall image quality and viewing experience – very similar between the two models. So the only main advantage Nikon added is the wider field of view. Now, regarding to your question – 8×30 binoculars have the advantage of being smaller and generally cheaper than the 8×42 pairs. But what you save in price you loose in field of view. And for birdwatching FOV (together with image quality) is perhaps the most important feature to have. If you are investing in Nikon Monarch binoculars – and especially Monarch 7 – our advice is to get an 8×42 pair. Because the Nikon Monarch are already compact and easy enough for any birdwatcher to carry and use. So if the choice would be between Monarch 7 8×30 or Monarch 5 8×42 our bet would be on the Monarch 5 8×42 – especially for bird watching. Overall Robert, any Nikon Monarch would work great for birdwatching. We highly recommend them for birding and any wildlife viewing. They are a best seller in this department.

      Adam Murray, Procular
  11. Would like to know how 8.5 x 45 compares with the 8 x 42 for birdwatching….?

    1. Hi Rajiv, there is not a significant difference really. The 8.5x vs 8x magnification won’t make a difference. The 45mm vs. 42mm lenses – the 45mm lenses are a-bit larger so will slightly increase your field of view. If you are comparing a 42mm and a 45mm binocular you need to look at the field of view. The 45mm is likely to have a slightly wider view but on the other hand be slightly heavier (again these will be minor differences). So if you don’t mind the extra weight you will be winning a wider view. But the more important feature to compare will be the actual optical quality. So for example a Zeiss or a Nikon 8×42 binocular will always win against a lower quality brand 8.5×45. For birdwatching the wider field of view allows you to easily spot and follow birds. Especially ones that are in bushy areas and ones that are moving quickly. The optical quality of the binoculars, that increases with investing in a better brand, model and price, allows you to see a nicer, brighter and sharper image with true to life colours. We hope this helps!

      Adam Murray, Procular
  12. A bird watching newcomer .very interested in the review and comments…especially on Nikon pro staff.
    Currently living at maroochydore

    1. Welcome to the birding binoculars club Bob 🙂 The Nikon Prostaff is an interesting one because it’s simply a longer version of the famous Nikon Monarch 5 (which has always been extremely popular here on Procular). Both are excellent choices for birdwatching mainly because of their optical quality, light weight and beautiful colours they produce.

      Adam Murray, Procular
  13. My father had seen some hands free binoculars on the tv and I said I would make an enquiry to an expert, so thank you very much.

  14. Are there any hands free binoculars avilable for bird watching /

    1. Hi Jan,

      In order to use binoculars hands-free you will need to either mount them to your head or helmet or otherwise use a tripod. Unfortunately we don’t currently have any head-mounted binoculars on Procular. These are very hard to come by. They are more commonly available with night vision goggles rather than standard binoculars. But I assume you are not after night vision gear. You can also search for “magnifiers” – there are some that come with a head-mount and are commonly used by watch makers or jewellers. But they are usually low magnification ones designed for close range (not always useful for birding). If you are spotting birds from a fixed location you can purchase a small tripod which will help. We also have focus-free binoculars which you still need to hold but at least don’t need to adjust. Link below:

      https://procular.com.au/?s=PermaFocus+&post_type=product

      Adam Murray, Procular
  15. Following to your kind feedback and requests we have now added the complete range of Zeiss binoculars for sale on Procular. The highest end model currently offered is the Zeiss Victory HT 8×42 and 10×42. These are award winning binoculars with world renowned superior performance. Perhaps the “Word’s Best Binoculars” as some may say!

    Details below:

    https://procular.com.au/zeiss-victory-ht-8×42-binoculars/
    https://procular.com.au/zeiss-victory-ht-10×42-binoculars/

    Adam Murray, Procular
  16. My suggestion is never buy China made Binoculars. You might save some cash because its cheap but you will suffer with the quality. That’s a lesson for me when i bought one. Go for good quality.

    John@ExpertRemovalist
  17. I want to buy binoculars for bird watching. We also kayak We’ve had water proof ones before. Not great. Next year we will be doing a float trip in Alaska. Is there a compromise between good binoculars and water proof (to a degree)?The old ones we could strap onto our kayak but that meant they were continually being exposed to water. On the float trip we will be able to take them out of a water proof bag use them and then put them back and continue the trip. Sue

    1. Hello Sue,

      Thanks for posting. This is a good question. Some lower range models of waterproof binoculars are not as good optically as what we’d like to have for birding. Mainly compact ones (8×25, 10×25). But luckily these days manufacturers like Nikon, Vortex, Avalon and others have better series binoculars that were designed for the more adventurer bird watchers. These are 100% waterproof yet still offer superior optical quality. You won’t need to worry about protecting them while kayaking or getting them completely wet. Make sure that the binoculars are described as filled with Nitrogen gas and O-ring sealed. This is your indication of REAL waterproofing. For Alaska they also need to function (not fog-up) in extreme temperatures. You will probably be looking at $300 to $600 depending on quality. Good 8×42 models we can recommend to fit your requirnments would be the Nikon Prostaff or the Nikon Monarch 5. Both have a high quality image. Links below:

      https://procular.com.au/nikon-prostaff-7-8×42-binoculars/
      https://procular.com.au/nikon-monarch-5-8×42-binoculars/

      The Nikon Prostaff are just as good as the Nikon Monarch but slightly longer design – so we would recommend them (about $100 cheaper). And if you can afford to invest a-bit more then the Zeiss Terra ED 8×42 would be our winner model for kayaking+birding. They have a beautiful image and were designed for the roughest hunting conditions. They will NEVER fog up and are fully waterproofed. They are also lightweight and with a generously wide field of view. Details below:

      https://procular.com.au/carl-zeiss-terra-ed-8×42-binoculars/

      We hope this helps.

      Adam Murray, Procular
  18. This is an extremely useful guide – thank you.

    As a result I’m interested in the Zeiss Terra ED but am not sure whether the 8 x 42 or the 10 x 42 is appropriate. I would prefer the extra magnification of the 10 x 42 but I’m worried about shake. Does it have Image Stabilisation in which case shaking presumably would not be a problem. If it doesn’t I’m guessing the 8 x 42 would be the better option. Would you be kind enough to give me your thoughts on this please?

    Thank you

    Lee Williamson
  19. Hi Lee,

    Thanks for your kind feedback. The Zeiss Terra ED are very recommended for birding mainly because of their image quality vs. price. for being high-end birding binoculars. Regarding image shakiness: this usually occurs with higher magnifications i.e. 12x to 20x. It is not really an issue with the Zeiss 8x or 10x models (from experience). Some 8x models have better eye relief but in this case the 8x and 10x are exactly the same. They are also the same size and weight. Field of view is very good on both so we would recommend getting the 10x version. This is because the extra magnification will allow you to see even more details on the birds. Both from close range as well as from a distance.

    Adam Murray, Procular
  20. excellent compilation.
    please tell me if i go for used binoculars of German make Hensoldt German binocular 8*30

  21. Thanks Jayan. We were unaware of the brand. ZEISS WEST (HENSOLDT). Could be OK but unfortunetly we can’t recommend for or against it as we don’t know it. We can recommend Carl Zeiss though 🙂 Very expensive binoculars of course. Many birders and hunters swear by them!! We will add some Zeiss recommondations to this birding section as it is an outstanding brand. Optics wise as well as product quality. Regarding Hensoldt – we will look into it just out of interest. 8×30 is a good size as long as the optic is good. Because 30mm is more compact you really need good light intake capability in order to enjoy them in low light. This is possible with more expensive binoculars as their glass and lens multi-coating is superior. Beware of second hand binoculars as sometimes lenses can be desaligned or scratched which can really affect performance. Since they are used. If you can test them then good otherwise buy at your own risk.

    Adam Murray, Procular
    1. We have added the Zeiss Terra ED 8×42 binoculars to the birding recommendations here. There is also a 10×42 version. Product details are below:

      https://procular.com.au/zeiss-terra-ed-10×42-binoculars/
      https://procular.com.au/carl-zeiss-terra-ed-8×42-binoculars/

      Adam Murray, Procular

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